The Nipple Effect
This is one of those hard, uneasy posts to write.
The kind that puts a pit in your stomach because you realize it’s opinion, and probably not a popular one.
But then, you realize there are others that feel this way. Maybe they are afraid to say something too because (what seems like) a raging majority feels the opposite. More and more, my thoughts on this subject keep bouncing around, and hitting me in the back of the head as if to say, “Joy, come on. No one else is going to say it. Be that person…”
So here I am.
First though, let me make a few things clear.
- I am a Christian.
- I am ALL for breastfeeding. In public.
- This isn’t just for parents. This is more than that.
Currently, there is a campaign making the rounds on Instagram with the hashtag #freethenipple. Many believe there is inequality in the fact that men can show their nipples without persecution, but women cannot. So of course, photoshop being the ever useful tool that it is, women are simply using men’s nipples to cover their own and make it acceptable to Instagram’s policies.
On a similar campaign, breastfeeding moms who do not use a form of covering are being shamed on the internet left and right. It’s sad, I agree wholeheartedly. It’s mean-spirited. Breastfeeding mothers are in constant battle with society shaming them for feeding in public.
However, I need to pose a question:
What do we teach our little girls when they are learning about their body parts? When that little face looks up at you in the bathtub and points to the little dots on her chest, what do you tell her?
“Those are your privates.”
At least in the case of my upbringing, and those of several I’ve asked, that is what we were taught as little bitties. It’s true. It’s appropriate. If a little one were to point at mine and ask what they were, the same would be true. Those are my privates.
In the case of Instagram…
The youngest legal age of their users is 13. I think we all know there are plenty who are even younger and are breaking the policy. According to these stats, the average age of boys’ first exposure to pornography is 12.
AVERAGE age. Meaning there are plenty more who are far younger.
If you’ve ever been on Instagram, you know it wouldn’t take long to see something risqué. Right now it’s the pop-culture icons who are spreading the campaign to “free the nipple.” Are they not aware that 11 year olds (that’s a 5th grader, by the way) follow their feeds? Whether it’s boys or girls, what does that say to these young minds?
Go ahead girls, show your breasts. Men can show their nipples. #equalitygoals
Boys, this is what a breast looks like on a photoshopped, perfect body! It’s sexy isn’t it?
Doesn’t it occur to society that girls will compare, emulate, and aspire to be like these icons? And that boys of that age, whose hormones are figuring themselves out, will only wonder even more? Of course we should teach young boys that lusting is wrong and we need to respect women by looking beyond physical looks and into their character instead. However, that’s not an excuse to pour temptation in front of them. Let’s not ignore the way our brain’s are naturally wired. Men are more visual: FACT. Stop dancing around it like it shouldn’t be that way. It just is! Again, it’s not even about boys, it’s a message for young girls too; the wrong message, in fact.
I would seriously urge you to read the articles, facts, and statics found on FighttheNewDrug.org. Pretending that nudity and exposure in society is “natural,” equal, and okay is (according to facts) doing more harm than good to our culture and society.
In the case of breastfeeding without the use of something to cover up…Please. Don’t misunderstand me. I wholeheartedly agree that breastfeeding is natural and women should have the right to feed their babies anywhere in public. At a restaurant table, on an airplane, in the park, at the mall, etc… Trust me when I say I’m all for it.
But this is not another excuse to “free the nipple.”
I often hear the arguments:
It’s natural. People need to stop being so shocked by breasts.
How is feeding my baby sexy? Stop acting perverted. Society sexualized the breast.
It’s too hot to put a cover on and it makes me and my baby uncomfortable.
Ladies, it’s still your privates. Women seem appalled that someone would find them sexy while feeding their baby. Really? It’s unfathomable that a 16 year old boy who hasn’t seen a woman’s breasts in person would find them arousing? He can’t help it — his brain is wired to find that stimulating. Just like you can’t help feeding your baby when she’s hungry, you’re wired to understand her needs.
You think society made them sexy? …. wrong. GOD DID.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
The chapter actually continues on, telling us why it’s ridiculous to commit adultery (lust, affairs, etc) when we already have someone to enjoy sexually and love, not lust after.
Of course breasts are natural and beautiful. Of course your husband sees you feeding his child and finds it so incredible. It truly is amazing! He can appreciate it without being turned on, and just marvel at your ability to do that.
But what if that 16 year old boy from before was your brother? Maybe it’s just me, but I would feel an automatic need to feed my baby modestly, knowing he has some awkward, raging hormones going on. Heck even with grown adult brothers with families of their own, they don’t need to see my nipples while I feed my child. Or my husband for that matter; at this point, my breasts are purely for his enjoyment. Not that he’s some sicko, but when he sees a bare breast feeding a baby in public, he maybe can’t appreciate in the same way that woman’s husband appreciates it, so he may only see it sexually. Personally, I don’t find that very shocking. I’ve never breastfed a baby, so when I see a bare breast in public I get a little uncomfortable, myself. You know, that feeling that you just saw something you weren’t supposed to see?
What I’m saying is, it’s okay to be uncomfortable with that. That breast is for her husband’s enjoyment and her baby’s needs ONLY. The rest of us shouldn’t see it.
As for being too hot while feeding with a receiving blanket… somehow the generations before did survive while feeding their babies covered up.
Why are we trying to de-sexualize the breast? It was created by God for the enjoyment of our husbands and for the feeding of our babies. Are you going to tell me that after you’re done breastfeeding that your husbands no longer enjoy them sexually because *gasp* they’re for babies?! Of course not.
What an interesting contradiction. A breastfeeding woman might say, “how can you look at me sexually?” Then later, in an attempt towards intimacy, the same woman would want to be be seen sexually.
To me, these confusing double standards are what cause the problem of boob culture in our society. Free the nipple because men can! Free the nipple because it’s natural to feed babies! Free the nipple!
As Christians, freeing the nipple on Instagram should be appalling. Think of your kids, future kids, nieces and nephews, or even the kids you babysit who have full access to something that may wreck their brain paths for the rest of their lives.
Also as Christians, freeing the nipple while breastfeeding should remind you of the importance of modesty. That breastfeeding is a gift between you and your baby, not between you and the 50 other people eating dinner. That your breasts are also a gift meant for your husband, and only your husband to enjoy.
Your breasts are still your privates, ladies. Please, let’s keep them as such.