A nipple! Will no one think of the children?

Sara Martínez 8/28/2020

Let's hark back to an incident known as ‘Nipplegate’, which brought the term ‘wardrobe malfunction’ into popular use. Easily eclipsing the on-field sporting action and even those famous half-time commercials, It was by far, the biggest talking point from Super Bowl XXXVIII. Despite lasting for less than a second, the horrifying incident involving Janet Jackson's unshielded right nipple has found its outrageous way into the annals of American history.  The whole nation stopped (media, Congress and Senate) in the middle of the Iraq War to discuss the indecency of that naughty nipple. Even then First Lady, Laura Bush, waded in on the argument, describing it as "the kind of television viewing that you don’t want little children to see". (Holy Mother of God! Will no one think of the children?).

So, has American society changed since the infamous Super Bowl of 2004? Well, let's see — in 2016, 'The Women of Algiers (Version O)' by Pablo Picasso became the most expensive work of art of all time. The painting was auctioned for nearly 180 million dollars and, of course — this was widely reported in the media. If you can't picture the painting, we suggest you do a quick search for it. Well, Fox (the most-watched cable news network in the US) considered the cubist nipples of those ladies to be distasteful enough to hurt sensibilities and awaken dormant penises among their viewers. So, without even a hint of shame, they broadcast the story with the aforementioned cube-shaped mammary glands blurred out. It should be noted that in the United States, you can volunteer to watch a live execution and a person with diagnosed severe mental illness can purchase a gun in a supermarket. What's more, the pornography industry has made California its Mecca, and on average, Americans watch more porn than any other country on the planet.

In 2018, a theatre director used Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People (an image which, by the way, inspired Picasso) to promote his work on Facebook. In the painting, a woman with bare breasts raises a French flag in one hand while holding a bayonet in the other. Although this is not the time to analyse it, we can clarify that it is not a sexual, but a political picture. The woman and her breasts represent rebellion and struggle. She is the mother of all workers, soldiers and the fallen. Alas, the unclothed nipple fell foul of Facebook's nudity and pornography censors and the image was subsequently deleted. If today's rules had been applied throughout history, then no one would have been able to enjoy the works of Tintoretto, Modigliani, Manet or Gauguin in public (only in dark corners and for a fee, of course).

So here we are, well into the 21st century and we're afraid of the female nipple. No social network will allow the exposed nip, but they all permit the tit of which it forms an integral part. We don't understand what is obscene or offensive about the humble nipple. Both men and women have them, they define us as mammals, they feed us, and yes — your mother has a couple too. They are a life source, and undoubtedly — also an erogenous zone. The male nipple is also aroused by a caress. It's not eroticism that is being censored or the innocence of children that is being preserved (if your young children have access to an Instagram or Facebook account, perhaps someone should make a call to social services). If you're shocked by the Venus of Willendorf — well, that's a completely different problem!

Who makes the rules? Perhaps, what is sold, what is commodified — cannot be exhibited freely. It must be controlled. But let's get something straight — her nipple doesn’t have to be your erection.

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