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‘Free the Nipple’ Day’s Success Disputed in Iceland

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‘Free the Nipple’ Day’s Success Disputed in Iceland

Laugardalur swimming pool

Women went (semi) skinny dipping yesterday as part of the #freethenipple campaign. Archive photo. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

It’s debatable whether the goal of counteracting the pornification of breasts and making naked breasts less of a taboo will be achieved by women walking around topless and posting pictures of their exposed breasts on the internet, as Icelandic feminists did this week as part of the #freethenipple campaign.

A ‘Free the Nipple’ Day was held in junior colleges and the University of Iceland yesterday. As part of the campaign, a group of students at junior college Kvennaskólinn marched topless to the Icelandic parliament building and a group of young women entered the Laugardalslaug swimming pool without a bikini top.

Gyða Margrét Pétursdóttir, associate professor in gender studies at the University of Iceland, told ruv.is that she welcomes women defining themselves what is acceptable and what isn’t. However, in a society where pornification is widespread and women are expected to wear skimpy clothes, it’s uncertain whether such methods will be successful, she added.

“And there’s a question whether this will increase the power [women] have over their own bodies or whether it will strengthen the notion that the power is held by others and affirm the traditional ideas of women instead of revolutionizing them,” Gyða commented.

Yesterday, women were encouraged not to wear bras if they felt like it. “Girls are told that it can be seen if they’re not wearing a bra and they are looked at,” said chair of the University of Iceland’s Feminist Association Heiður Anna Helgadóttir.

“It still seems to be a bit embarrassing if the nipples can be seen, which is weird because everyone has nipples,” Heiður reasoned.

University of Iceland student Nanna Hermansdóttir added that the #freethenipple campaign is a way for women to fight against so-called hefndarklám (‘revenge porn’), where naked pictures or sex tapes are distributed online without their consent.

“I know of many girls who have fallen victim to revenge porn who are taking the power back by distributing their own pictures on their own terms,” Nanna explained. “It’s a revolution.”

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