I came up with “free the nipple” because it’s engaging and funny—and the fuel we needed to start a serious dialogue about gender equality. The shaming of the female nipple is a direct reflection of how unevolved this puritanical country is. You can pay to see women topless in porn videos and strip clubs, but the moment a woman owns her body, it’s shameful.
The normalization of the nipple will take time. In New York, it wasn’t legal for men to be topless in public until the 1930s. Bare ankles used to be considered inappropriate for women. Now we look back at that and laugh.
Women should be able to do what they want with their bodies. In some states, women can get jailed or fined for being topless. If it becomes legal to show your nipples in public, do you honestly think all women are going to run around topless? “Free the nipple” is simply about having the choice.
If framing the equality debate as “free the nipple” is creating such a controversy, then let’s use our boobs to make a change.
Esco is the director of the Free the Nipple film and the founder of the movement