Overview: For the equality of all women, a group of activists plot topless campaigns across the city of New York to address censorship in American culture; IFC Films; 2014; Rated R; 84 minutes.
Hyper-sexualization of a Non-Sexual Organ: Go back to sex-ed to the section on female reproductive organs. Ovaries, uterus, cervix, clitoris, labium, labium minora, fallopian tubes, vaginal opening, and the anus are the sexual organs. Breasts don’t make this list. Men and women both have breasts. Both men and women can be diagnosed with breast cancer. Women simply have more breast tissue. Originating from the 1992 case, People v. Ramona Santorelli and Mary Lou Schloss, activists of Free the Nipple bring to the forefront the double standard of expectations from women and men in a public arena. As a witness to a demonstration in the streets of New York, With (Lina Esco), a young writer, becomes inspired, becomes a supporter, and lastly, becomes a leader to help bring an end the hyper-sexualization of a woman’s upper body.
The Movement: The central team behind the Free the Nipple campaigns is comprised of 5 individuals: With, Liv (Lola Kirk), Cali (Casey Labow), Ros (Monique Coleman), and Orson (Griffin Newman). While the group works like a well constructed wheel towards a city-wide demonstration, the centralized hub isn’t so distinct, as the role of each member is unclear and the balance of each member is disproportionate. Ironically, Free the Nipple offers a scene wherein Cali makes a comment stating With doesn’t even know why Cali was brought onto the team. That seems to be the case with the other individuals as well. Within any organization, distrust erupts and friction manifests. As the group battle police arrests and obtaining permits for a movement of this magnitude, many downturns in the group’s effort throughout the movie seem to foreshadow a failed outcome. The resilience and downright bold actions of the members uphold the momentum. Paired with an edgy soundtrack, Free the Nipple, is fast-paced and ignites activism, all while entertaining. Esco is effortlessly amiable.
Freeing the Nipple Today: Although the driving message behind Free the Nipple is a call to cease censorship of women, it is still a major proponent in the general arena of equality for women. With the recent expose by the New York Times on Amazon’s workplace environment, echoing a heavy discriminatory tone towards women, the media’s obsession with ‘nip slips’, and flagging bare-chested women in photos, paintings, or drawings as lewd is being more frequently recognized as unacceptable. Free the Nipple continues to grow more relevant and its efforts, all the more necessary.
Final Thoughts: A rare production featuring real women and a worthwhile cause. The only drawbacks were the cinematic attempts to instill an artsy/hipster tone to the movie and the failure to showcase how they utilized (or didn’t utilize) social media on their fronts when such outlets were their leverage points.
Featured Image: IFC Films/WTFilms