Friday, October 9, 2015

A Tale of Two Titties

A few weeks ago I found myself at a swimming pool. It was another lazy afternoon at a local pool. Nothing special or profound about it. Nothing special about most of the people in the pool either. Just the normal people. Some fat, some skinny, some barely able to dunk their heads into the water without gasping like they're drowning.

Among this collection of humanity was this girl. She looked like she was in her mid or early twenties; very pretty, with a slightly stubby nose which only made her prettier. It was obvious she was a beginner from the way she clung to the edge of the pool and rarely left the shallow end unless supported by someone.

At first she kept everything below her neck underwater, but with time as she got more comfortable with the surrounding she started revealing more of herself. All she had on apart from a pair of white trunks was this thin t-shirt that had turned completely transparent after getting wet especially where it clung to her body. Which was just about all over. For all intents and purposes, she was topless. Her breasts were firm and out there, proud and defiant to all stares. If she was self conscious about it, then she hid it really well.

On Instagram there is this hashtag that has been floating around for a while now called #freethenipple and the story behind it is on the treatment of women's nipples like they're obscene body parts that shouldn't be exposed in public, while men's nipples are viewed as normal and no censorship is ever applied to them anywhere online or in public.

There is a point to it. If you'd ever seen a woman breastfeeding in public, it looks normal and no-one ever comments about. Is the nipple suddenly not erotic because there is a baby in the picture drinking from it? Take away the baby and they suddenly become obscene again and people start grumbling. Human psychology and culture are funny sometimes.

The girl in the pool was frolicking with her friends, and getting taught how to swim. There was some staring initially but after a few minutes it was like nobody cared or noticed anymore. She went about her business, comfortable in her own skin.

I admit that at first I was worried especially after all the incidents of women getting stripped in various parts of the country under the claim that they were immoral and indecent. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe I was expecting someone from management would come over and tell her to dress up or wear a proper swimming costume like they do at the Kasarani public pool where they don't allow bikinis or any costume that exposes a woman's stomach. For guys pretty much anything goes as long as you don't swim naked.

Whenever you ask around why there is a such a rule, especially regarding exposure of the stomach, you get the stock answer that it is intended to protect children from immorality. African culture has changed over time. We claim that it is against our culture for women to appear topless, but when you dig around the archives you will find that in most tribes women always walked around topless just like the men. Does this mean that rather than becoming more liberal we have actually become more restrictive towards what women can do, contrary to the progressiveness we claim to have achieved over time?

I remember as a child when we went upcountry I used to love swimming in the river. At the swimming points it was not unusual to find women swimming stark naked. It didn't stimulate me and that didn't turn me into a sexually obsessed little perv(high school did that).

Do we even bother to find out why such a restrictive modern culture evolved? Or do we just accept it as it is even though evidence shows there is no much difference between male and female nipples. If the reason we dislike female nipples so much is because of their role in foreplay, and during intercourse, well, the male nipple should be banned from the public also. Speaking from personal experience.

I admit, breasts are fascinating and are a huge turn on in the bedroom or wherever a woman lets you play with them. But is this enough reason for us cut down on a woman's freedom of where she can let them loose? Of course it wouldn't be okay to expose them in many situations like in the workplace. But that is a matter of the same ethics that would also forbid a man from being topless in the workplace.

There have been arguments that breasts are distracting to men. Is it really a woman's fault when a man can't contain his idealization? Wouldn't it still happen whether a woman is topless or covered from head to foot? I'm not claiming to be a saint and that I have not ogled women in the past till they were uncomfortable. When it was pointed out, I was able to control it and actually stop. I actually try to make sure even romantic involvements are more about the companionship and less about sex. And it's working out. Sorta. But that is a different post altogether.

So is it that men aren't aware they do it? Is that what self consciously drives us into oppressing women's bodies because we can't control our own sexual urges, or rather assume we can't control them? Are all these rules we have a way of projecting our own weaknesses and denial onto women?

 Case and point, the girl in the pool. No one seemed to be offended by her nudity. No one seemed to care. Did people who would have otherwise cared not care because everyone else seemed not to care? Or was it a coincidence that in such a random assembly of people all of them had been conditioned to look at is as normal. Or is the discrimination of women some sort of mob psychology where a critical mass of bigots must first be attained and the oppression begins?

No comments:

Post a Comment