OPINION: Free the Nipple activists using social media for feminism

Todays challenge now seems to be a logging on to social media without seeing a post about feminism in response to hashtag “Free The Nipple” within minutes of scrolling.

Celebrities and activists from Kim Kardashian, Emily Ratajkowski, Miley Cyrus and several other public figures have expressed their support with this cause both on their Twitter and Instagram accounts and have been seen walking down the red carpet in outfits that reveal their entire breasts.

“Free the Nipple” is a film, equality movement and mission to empower women across the world to stand against female oppression and censorship. Kardashian and Ratajkowski recently posted a topless photo together with a black bar over their breasts to their Twitter and Instragram accounts to show their support for feminism. Ratajkowski’s post was in response to critics of feminism that seems to have upset many people after Kardashian uploaded her first nude selfie earlier this year.

“However sexual our bodies may be, we need to have the freedom as women to choose when and how we express our sexuality,” Ratajkowski wrote.

Saddleback student and mother Stacy Morin doesn’t see women defending feminism by taking off their clothing but acknowledges that there are other ways to support the cause.

“You can take feminist stances but you don’t need to do it crudely,” Morin says. “If Kim wants to be a feminist, she could be breast feeding in public.”

As of today, breast feeding in a public place is deemed inappropriate by some and is often making headlines on the news for mothers being discriminated against in shopping malls and restaurants. Anthropologie is one of those companies that made headlines when a customer who had just spent over $700 in their Beverly Hills store was asked by an Anthropologie employee to move from the sales floor to the restroom, where she had no choice but to sit on the toilet while she fed her crying and hungry child.

The customer was told that she could make other customers feel uncomfortable, and therefore had to continue breast feeding in the restroom. Anthropologie released a statement shortly after this incident, when the mothers story was picked up by several media outlets. The statement included an apology and reassured the public that proper training with breast feeding mothers would be introduced in their company who serves a wide customer base including thousands of mothers and mothers to be.

Saddleback student Andre Cabrera feels that women should have the freedom of taking care of their baby by whatever means of doing so.

“In a perfect world, it should be okay for women to do whatever they want without being judged by others,” he says. “We as a society make it to be a social norm that women shouldn’t expose their breasts in public.”

In December of last year, a new mother named Ashley Kaidel took to Facebook to post a photo of herself breast feeding her two week old baby in the middle of a crowded restaurant. She wanted the world to see that it is okay to breast feed in public, and is glaring at a woman across the way who was previously looking at her in disgust and disapproval for breast feeding. Since then her photo has gone viral and has inspired thousands of other mothers to be proud of what their bodies can do for their baby and has shown that breasts aren’t always a sexual concept.

Former Saddleback College and current California State Long Beach student Emily Prideaux also agrees that breasts aren’t always sexual unless you make them out to be.

“I think freeing the nipple is a great movement towards the acceptance of human anatomy,” she says. “America is one of few countries that doesn’t look at the human body or sex as natural, beautiful things. Many nations around the world embrace naturality and are empowered by the beauty of sex. Not every single time that I see a naked body do I think of sex, something private, or taboo. Only when it is portrayed that way.”

As of today 49 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have specific laws that specifically allow for women to breast feed in any public or private space.