It’s easy for people like me in privileged positions—white, heterosexual men—to be blind to issues that we don’t face on a daily basis. That’s how I used to be about feminist causes. And then I learned what the word feminism really means: equality of the genders.
Now I understand that the Free the Nipple movement is not solely about being able to be topless in public. It’s about women being able to take control over what they do with their bodies. It’s part of the bigger picture of how we view women’s sexuality and bodies. There’s a double standard—women are called “sluts” while men are called “cool.”
One of the reasons it’s hard for people to understand this cause is that breasts are inherently sexual in our culture. Breasts are sexual to me because I grew up in a society that hides them. But I don’t think that that means men will always find them inherently sexual. It just may take time to normalize. And it’s possible that that acclimation may occur in future generations based on the change that we are trying to elicit right now.
I believe that when it comes to supporting freedom, even if you choose not to exercise those rights, you support them for other people. When I post on social media in support of the Free the Nipple movement, I’m appealing to the me of six months ago. It’s hard to change the mind of someone who is bigoted. But we can convince more people like me, who do believe in equality but perhaps are just blind to the deeper meaning of this issue.
McGorry is an actor known for his role in Orange Is the New Black.