On Nov. 23, the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission changed their nudity policy, as exposed female breasts are no longer considered nudity. A long time coming? I think so. Should it have happened before now? Absolutely.
The prudish and ridiculous former policy against female breasts in entertainment was as follows: breasts, including the nipple and surrounding breast tissue was considered to be nude, and even a little tasteful side boob warranted a large fine and the possible removal of liquor licenses. Furthermore, the outlandish policy dictated that the dancers had to be apart while performing, and that props couldn’t be used in any suggestive ways.
Entertainers such as burlesque dancers in Edmonton are thrilled by this change in policy, given that burlesque is a consistently misunderstood form of dance. In an iNews 880 article, Arabella Allure explained that burlesque “is not actually about being naked, it is about getting naked sometimes.” Allure said there is an element of striptease involved, but the overall purpose of it is to “satirize some public norms” while stripping “is to simply get naked.” Arielle Rombough from Garter Girls Burlesque dancing said that the six-year fight to stop defining exposed breasts as nudity is an issue of human rights, sexism.
This all derived from a predominantly misogynistic viewpoint in society about the female body. Why is society scared of the female chest, but not the male chest?
The breast has been considered a sexual organ in society, although it is not inherently sexual at all — the breast is used exclusively for breast-feeding offspring: it is used for sustenance and nutrients. Obviously breasts can be sexually stimulated, but the way society has sexualized female breasts has paved the way for breasts to be viewed as obscene, sexual and as equal to genitalia.
The former ALGC policy could also be compared to Instagram’s ridiculous nudity policy: although breast tissue is allowed to be photographed, the nipple and areola must be fully covered. Why is that? Assumedly, all humans have nipples and one could probably safely assume what is under that blurred dot, or star in the photo of a topless girl. Women such as comedian Chelsea Handler have challenged this policy several times, posting topless photos with the hashtag #freethenipple, only having those photos being promptly reported and taken down. Why are people so offended by female breasts?
This sexist dichotomy exists due to the oversexualization of female bodies.
Nearly 100 years ago, people were offended by male nipples. Little known fact, but according to The Gaily Grind, New York state banned the exposure of male nipples until 1936. I am confident that the rhetoric of women’s bodies are going in the same direction. Hats off to the ALGC for ridding their policy of an outdated, conservative standard.