A story on Stuff.co.nz on Miley Cyrus’s bare breasted photo which was posted and removed from instagram ended with the question: “Do you think female nipples should be banned from Instagram?”
Instead of barking a dismissal at what is a very stupid question and moving on with my life of nipple appreciation and respect, I thought I’d take this question up. After all I do enjoy battling the ridiculous.
First we must deal with instagram. I have never used it and never visited the site. Like many, I prefer tumblr, and I don’t load it up with pointless snaps of my messy life. I follow interesting people. I understand that instagram is all about images, and I understand that children use it. Anything rated ‘adults only’ may not be suitable for the very young, so the point of controversy must be that one.
Is a female nipple inappropriate for children? The question is fatuous on its face since infants naturally get their sustenance via a woman’s nipple. It is accepted now that breastfeeding mothers should be able to nurse their child in public, so what is wrong with a naked nip anywhere?
The point of instagram as I understand it is to post pictures you like and see if others like them too. That is really the point of all social media! So to ban something completely on the ground that it may not be appropriate for some viewers, is to take the point of the enterprise and add so many contradictory caveats that the whole thing becomes self-defeating. If people don’t like a picture then they don’t share it, and after a while they only see what they want to see.
On tumblr there are massive amounts of pornography if you seek it. There are also picture blogs of striking houses deserted and crumbling. There’s manga, there’s American comics, there’s picture rolls of women with armpit hair. There is whatever you want to see, and nothing you don’t want because you decide whom you want to follow. Social Media can be very anti-social. It is a feedback loop and instead of exposing one to new notions and ideas it tends to reinforce whatever prejudice you already carry. It is a foe of the internet, a demon spawn of a greater sire.
So really we have more serious foes to fight rather than getting bogged down in non-issues like the appropriateness of a female nipple. Those that don’t like the female body — or even fear it — can continue their wretched exercise, but I can say with complete certainty that I do not share their view. I hope you noticed the pun.