Some teenagers on Saturday night were passing around their phones and making "Wow. She's so brave!" noises about pictures of their friends.
The friends were girls. On Twitter. They were topless. They had exposed their bodies for everyone to see. They were being passed around a room. It could be any room. That picture of them naked can be all over the world really quickly and used in all kinds of ways by all kinds of people (men - you know I mean men). They can never take it back. They have no control over it. They have joined a hashtag craze #FreeTheNipple - that has the word "Empowerment" tagged on by some flimsy explanation but the message is simple. Get your breasts out. Show them to men. It makes you free. It means you are claiming your right as a woman.
Well, I pondered this. I knew something wasn't right. I asked for their explanation. It was quite vague. "Nipples are censored in some parts of the press and social media and that isn't fair on women who shouldn't be shamed for their bodies. Miley Cyrus is supportive. Instagram are mean and do the same. It's sort of linked to breastfeeding being censored too but we aren't sure how. There are some iffy laws in the US about going topless." A few other things were mentioned. They very much liked the hashtag. It felt quite rebellious and cool to them.
What I saw was young girls being given an incitement to selfie naked. Being urged to do it. Now who would want that to happen?
I went to bed and still wasn't sure. Feminists wanted this apparently and you can't have it both ways. Women should have the right to show their breasts without fear of shame - clear message.
Except I don't think it is clear at all.
The next day I tweeted my doubts. I wasn't fully formed in them, I just smelled patriarchal bullshit and needed to think.
Rather quickly a man popped up. It's like they hide in the bushes watching my fingers reach for the keyboard sometimes they are so fast. It took him just one tweet to tell me I was wrong and hadn't understood properly.
I smiled and popped my phone on the table. Said to my friend "Yup. I was right. Here he is. The man who will spend a lot of time now telling me what feminism is and why I am oppressing women who want to show him their breasts. You watch."
She ignored me and glugged wine. She rarely gets involved - she said "don't you ever stop??"
Answer. No, not really. Once someone or some moment has opened your eyes to male crap, no, you can't stop seeing it. It's like a special sense has been flipped on. It's rubbish at times. It's like you'd love to unsee it all so that you can love the world again. But you can't. You just can't. So you can do 2 things. Get really despondent or fight.
So I gently popped back a comment at the explaining man to ask who the producers of the film were. He shouted at me a bit about the WOMAN behind it. I pointed out that 50% of the producers, i.e - the men with the cash who wanted the film to make more cash - were in fact male. So men needed young women to get on board with a "craze" of baring their bodies for all to see so that they could make more money.
Now this made sense for me. No empowerment. No feminist campaign. No ultimately fighting for a better world where women were proud of their bodies.
Just cash and lust.
Well that wasn't ok with the explaining man. He still had quite a lot of explaining to do. He properly loves the campaign that makes young women show him their naked bodies. He is absolutely sure the "right kind" of feminists agree with him. Not the bad kind. Not the radical kind. Not the kind that would say "Hold on a minute - who is pulling the strings here? Who is stripping these girls?"
Apparently, second wave feminists are annoying. Anyone who wants to look out for the interests of these young girls is oppressing them. Some feminists are just too stupid to grasp the campaign. He tweeted his need to see breasts for more than 24 hours - blocking any feminist who disagreed. He is still at it. You can find him at @Guy4Progress - Freethinker. I'm too young to have been a second waver but I am bloody thankful they did what they did. They show us the way to stop having feminism whipped from under us by dudes like this one.
If we know anything at all it is that you always have to look for the patriarchal puppet master no matter how lovely the entertainment show. If a man comes along to tell us to look the other way whilst he looks at breasts. There is only one thing to tell him back.
Fuck you mister. Fuck you.
So this campaign? It's bullshit. Keep your bras on to spite the men. Take them off when you feel like it and not for a hashtag. Because the men are watching. They all have their dicks in their hands. They all like the show.