A QPOC’s thoughts on “Free The Nipple”
written by Kai Song (xie/xyr/xem): a 15 year old, nonbinary intersectional feminist and queer person of color (QPOC)
While it is a feminist issue, we shouldn't be discounting the trans erasure and the implications behind some of the ideas spurred on by this movement that have been widely accepted.
First things first- I'm all for free the nipple. Breasts— regardless of fat composition, should be able to be exposed if the people who were assigned male at birth can freely take their shirt off in public, while a parent breast feeding in public is looked down on to the point where they're shamed or escorted out. The double standards are clear in terms of nipple censorship.
However, there is a definite reinforcement of the toxic binary in this conversation. Sometimes women have breasts. However- sometimes women don't. This idea that breasts = women not only erases trans people, but invalidates them. There is no denying the fact that the sexualization of (perceived) women's breasts is definitely an issue in the U.S.
While this constant shame towards people who are perceived as female, being remotely sexual is only evidence for the objectification and sexualization of them— it's important to acknowledge the people who fall outside of the binary and even trans people who identify on it.
Body traits such as breasts and genitalia do not determine what gender you are. The idea and identification of "male" and "female" is forced onto you from birth and is most certainly a social construct. Corresponding breasts with "female" and "women" only reinforces the gender binary and ends in negative results.
You alienate the trans men with breasts who are comfortable with them and the trans women without them who end up feeling vaguely guilty and 'not trans enough'. You alienate all the trans people with breasts who are completely off the gender binary. By reinforcing the society's definition of gender, you invalidate trans bodies and trans people.
There are no "female" or "male bodies" unless you identify that way, but no body is inherently a certain gender. We need to be able to not only exercise our freedom in gender, but also our right to claim and label (or not) our OWN bodies however we choose— and we can not do that if we're constantly restraining it to the point it is not longer an option. Freeing the nipple is crucial, but we only inhibit ourselves in the long run by constantly labeling breasts as female. The idea of certain bodies being inherently female only contributes to reducing women to their bodies.
This notion is detrimental to the future of intersectional feminism. Instead of supporting/reinforcing the gender binary: Call out the restrictions and acceptability of certain chests. Call out the sexualization of breasts. Call out the constant invalidation of binary trans people with bodies that don't match society's perception of gender and the erasure of trans people who aren't on the binary. Call out the focus on white women in the movement and how there is no comment on the sexualization of women of color. Call out how it's only truly revolutionary and acceptable when it's a white woman promoting these ideas.
By all means, support the movement and stand up to give voice to society's double standards, sexism, erasure of trans people, and sexualization/objectification of women (especially women of color). But in order to truly create change, we must be critical of the movements we are a part of.