Strict gender binaries dictate what is and isn’t acceptable, yet one celeb child is protesting for the sake of boobs. Last week, Scout Willis, the oft forgotten middle child of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, went around New York topless to protest Instagram’s “no female nipples” policy as well as the general patriarchy. LAUREN WISZNIEWSKI reports.
It all started when Instagram – the home of gpoys (Gratuitous Picture Of Yourself Saturday), rich kids and pictures of food – suspended Scout because she posted a photo of a sweatshirt she had designed called the “babe bomber”, featuring two babes showing off their bare bosoms. She then made a second account for the purpose of posting “beautiful, artistic nudes” which was deleted shortly afterwards. Free the nipple started trending on Twitter as she attempted to bring about boob freedom and allow women to expose themselves to the world. Willis penned a piece for xojane on Monday, writing, “I never claimed to believe that my actions of the past 48 hours would solve anything. But what they did achieve was to provoke conversations about gender equality and body positivity that are both necessary and sorely lacking.”
Cantaloupes, honkers, jugs, bazookas – whatever you want to call them have been around since Adam and Eve. Centuries ago, breasts were a common sight in Europe with artists making the female nude the subject of many paintings. Some cultures today still accept toplessness as the norm, while in others the best chance of seeing a bare boob is in a gentleman’s magazine. Apart from the fact that the actual purpose of female breasts is for lactation, many men have signed up to the ‘boobs r so gr8 club!’ and salivate like a puppy over a pair of double D’s.
The thing is that the female breast isn’t that different from a male breast. Sure sometimes they’re bigger and bouncier but all the same scientific names still apply. Yet the female body has become fetishized and sexualised over time, resulting in a rigid rule system that dictates what is and what isn’t right.
One such example is the ‘pink is for girls and blue is for boys’ rule. The march towards gender specific clothes occurred in the mid 19th century; before babies were dressed in a confectionary-induced mess of white frills. It was only just before World War I that pink and blue were promoted as gender signifiers. Now if you dress your child in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted and damned to a fiery hell. Most parents who have a little boy who likes to dress in sparkly princess outfits have to Google whether their child is ‘normal’ before booking a double spread in a national newspaper showing how ‘unique’ their parenting method is.
Accordingly, you must act with caution to ensure that you remain within the status quo. Boobs in, pink for girls, white for virgins- constant rules that govern the female body. It has only been in the last century that wearing pants for girls has become acceptable. Men
can still not wear a skirt or dress without enduring dirty looks and constant harassment from bystanders thus preventing them from re-enacting a Disney princess twirl. Social conditioning has meant that strict gender binaries have become internalised and some things just can’t be. Scout might have to wait a while yet before she can truly free her nipples.