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Is Female Public Nudity Empowering?

by Beth Divine 28 Aug 2018

There is something of a massive disconnect in the ranks of the – for want of a better word – feminist world: women demand equal treatment and pay with men. Fair enough. But women also want to be able to have their cake and eat it too, it seems…

There was, a couple of years ago, the so-called ‘free the nipple’ movement, which demanded that anywhere that men could take their tops off (revealing their nipples) then women should be able to do so also. This demand perhaps also has merit because it does seem unfair that men and women are treated differently over the exposure of a similar bodily feature.

This has led to the expectation that women should be able to wear whatever they want without censure or fear of assault – again, seems imminently reasonable – on paper…

The fact is, the practicalities are quite different, because sexual attraction is not a cerebral abstract, it is physical reality. And sexual attraction for many people begins with the sight of a potential mate. Primitive brain receptors subconsciously add up curvaceous hips, rounded breasts, and number of other subtle signs that indicate good health and sexual maturity in women. Women, on their part, are drawn to strong bodies, muscular limbs and similar tokens of health and ‘mateworthiness’.

So, some women are demanding the right to fly these sexual advertisements while simultaneously expecting that biology will stop working: let me wear hardly any clothing, but don’t look at my body. This is a ridiculous notion and one that will not work for a large percentage of the population. Men, even the most civilised, feminist men in committed relationships, cannot help but see that which is around them. And if that which is around them is enormous jiggling boobs, wobbling asses, and bare toned tummies curving into generous hips, then they are going to become aroused. This is a physical reaction, one that cannot be controlled any more than a woman can prevent her nipples from swelling and hardening in the cold… There is, there must be, a line that can be drawn between controlling women’s bodies, and deliberate sexual overexposure that is wilful and naively expectant of no consequence for that exposure…

The main argument against female public nudity is one simple fact: male public nudity is not acceptable, is not condoned and – importantly – is not common… Men do not walk around with their testicles peeping out from the bottom of their pants, nor do they (often) reveal their penises through their clothing unless they are explicitly looking for sex, ie usually in the form of dick pics.

Now, female public nudity might be a part of some kind of healing process: a reclaiming of the body by choosing to reveal what was forcibly seen on other, darker occasions, a way to be seen without the memory of that traumatic event, whatever it may be. Public female nudity may be, as some claim, a celebration of the female form.

But what it really is not is a demand for equality. It is a demand for unnatural special treatment, one that insists that people behave so far against their natural inclinations that it is no small surprise that such demands engender arguments, debates and even descent into online slanging matches and trolling.