James College hosted a film screening and discussion on the Free The Nipple campaign Friday night to help make students aware of global censorship and oppression women are facing today.
Around 25 students, almost equally male and female, gathered in James in H Quad at 8 p.m. for the event.
The event coordinator, Teresa Tagliaferri, resident assistant at James College, said she was “hoping to receive an even mix of men and women, but it’s possible that there may be more women than men.”
“Free the Nipple” is not just a film, but an equality movement and operation to empower women, stand against global censorship and dismantle oppression worldwide.
It is illegal for women to go topless in 35 states, breastfeed in public or expose a nipple. Men, however, are allowed to walk around topless without legal repercussions.
The 1992 court decision People v. Santorelli declared that banning bare female breasts in public violates equal protection clauses of the Federal and State Constitutions.
Though New York legalized public-toplessness for women over two decades ago, women still get arrested for exposing their breasts in public.
Free the Nipple is supported worldwide and by celebrities as well. Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Chelsea Handler, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna are a few advocates of the movement.
The celebs have shown their support for the campaign on their social media accounts and have flashed their own nipples at red carpet events.
“This event [Free the Nipple screening and discussion] is part of F-Word and Gender Equality Week, which is taking place now. It is a large collaboration of events and programs focused on discussing past and present gender issues in society in honor of Women’s History Month,” Tagliaferri said.
Tagliaferri had been planning this event for a few months now.
“I first watched this movie over winter break and knew right away that I wanted to host a program about it this semester. I started brainstorming a bit then, but the more in-depth planning process didn’t happen until the semester began,” she said.
The event began with a group discussion to put the film into context before it started.
Tagliaferri asked the audience to write down three reasons they thought female breasts are looked at differently than a males and to then discuss these reasons with a neighboring individual.
The group called out reasons like “female breasts are seen as sexual organs” or “private parts,” “female breasts usually hold more fat than a males does, making them look better,” “they are seen as a distraction to some males” and “bras hide breasts, almost making them seem like hidden objects.”
Once the group’s reasons were discussed, the film commenced.
There was laughter during a few entertaining scenes and there were moments of reverence and deep silence as the group took in some of the powerful ideas of the film—inequality, sexism and freedom.
Tagliaferri had put together a list of talking points to guide the post-film discussion, but she said that she expected that the residents would have plenty of great ideas to contribute after watching the film, and they did.
“I thought it was really great that the discussions were before and after the film. I think that was smart planning and I think it really helped us to think about the movie afterwards—we didn’t just leave, we sat there in that moment and talked,” Rachel Cocca, a freshman political science and theatre double major, said.
“This was really informative. ‘Free The Nipple’ and all about this double standard that men can be topless and women can’t. It was this whole different idea that I never really thought about. I never thought that it was controversial and I was really surprised that it was such a big deal. It really got me thinking,” Jamella Chesney, a junior chemistry major, said.
A male’s perspective on the event was not much different than that of the females.
“I thought it was very good movie. It definitely proved the point that there should not be a double standard and there should not be inequality in this situation. I thought it was a very effective movie and event,” Robert Maida, a junior business management and sustainability studies double major, said.
Tagliaferri said she received support from fellow committee members, staff for the F-Word and Gender Equality week as well as her staff members and supervisor.
“It was great to receive suggestions and feedback from them,” she said.
Correction: March 9, 2015
A previous version of this article referred to James College as James Hall.