opinion

Men in Sydney are supporting 'free the nipple' for literally all the wrong reasons.

The share function on Facebook is primarily reserved for reposting content a person truly endorses.

Like a Joe Biden meme, or an article about how to make sure your dog has a great summer. You share content you really believe in, are passionate about, and feel fundamentally represents who you are.

Which is why I wasn’t surprised at all when I noticed this story dominating my Facebook feed, as a byproduct of a number of men (at least, men I’m friends with) sharing it:

FML. Image via Facebook.

The outrage!

Men weren't only sharing this story, they were commenting on it in droves, voicing their ~genuine~ concern for very hot young women not being able to show their boobs in public.

Derek, whose comment had received over one hundred likes, and was the most popular comment on the post, wrote "The more topless girls the better, I think they look great and it should be encouraged."

Aww...um, thanks Derek.

"Definitely NO for the older women however, not nice."

Oh.

Well, that's rude. I thought Derek might genuinely have noticed the double standard that exists when it comes to men and women at the beach - you know, that men are able to go topless and women aren't, because through no fault of their own, women's breasts (and more specifically, nipples) are seen as inherently sexual.

Image via Instagram.
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Another man wrote, "People have the right to go topless if they wish to. What's the big deal? Silly to have fines. Quick quick protest and go topless at beaches everywhere."

*Runs to beach topless to satisfy request of Internet stranger*

Another said, "If it's women ONLY baring it all, I don't mind..............In fact they should be encouraged to :-P!," while yet another commented, "Topless 'sunbakers' eh!? Well, lovely views ladies. Keep it up!"

Ew.

But...(hopefully) the point of this article (of which there really wasn't one - the argument was that while women COULD receive a fine, they won't, because it's 2017 and law enforcement have far better things to do) was that limiting only female bodies is fundamentally unfair. The case for women being able to 'free the nipple' has nothing to do with male titillation - it's to do with a sexist double standard.

But it seems this double standard pertains to age, attractiveness, and body shape as much as it does to clothing.

For these men, who appear so passionate about women's right to go nude, there's a caveat: you can take your top off, but only if you look sexy while doing it.

This is what happened when Mia Freedman decided to 'free the nipple' during a podcast. Post continues after audio. 

And, oddly enough, to me, this attitude is just as oppressive as a tangible fine.

I won't ever sunbake topless. Not in this social climate. The thought of men leering at my exposed chest and commenting on whether or not I'm the 'type' of woman who's entitled to show it is just as restrictive as police telling me to cover up.

The 'free the nipple' movement and the issues related to it are stifled every time a crude man encourages it for his own pleasure.

But then again I don't know what needs to come first - the normalisation of women's breasts through mainstream exposure, or a change in attitude that would allow that to occur.

Either way, many men on my Facebook feed missed the point today. It's not the first time, and it most definitely won't be the last.