Everyday I see men with fuller and juicier breasts than mine. They walk down the street with their manmelons bouncing freely, their nipples poking through their white tees eagerly jostling for a peek at the world. And no one seems to care at all. But I go to the grocery store without a bra (it’s one of the best things about having tiny breasts and I take advantage of it as frequently as possible), and men lose their gotdamn minds.
And not in a fun way, either. They gape, they stare, they crane their necks, they say disgusting things, they tell me I’m not allowed to leave my house that way (true story). It doesn’t matter that there is very little breastmeat to speak of and zero cleavage underneath my shirt; I’m basically just nipples. If my breasts were battered and fried at Popeye’s you would be pissed and ask for your money back.
When I wear a padded bra that makes me look much bustier I get no reaction. But an unrestrained nipple on a mostly flat chest is somehow still an invitation to a freaky sex party I don’t mean to be organizing. And judging by the terrified look in their eyes, they don’t really want to be attending either. It’s like I’m holding them hostage and forcing them to endure something painful and thrilling against their will. It’s as if my nipples were terrorists.
What in the hell is wrong with them?
Check out the #freethenipple campaign
I have scoured the internet unsuccessfully in search of answers to this question (note: it is really hard to do a web search for nipples and find real information). Even Instagram’s guidelines do a pretty bad job of explaining why they police nipples so militantly. So I have no other choice but to come up with some ideas of my own. And I am pretty sure that women’s nipples are terrifying because…
1. They make milk
Fetuses have nipples before their sex organs develop. So basically, we were all shrimp-like mutants swimming around in amniotic juice with nipples and smooth Barbie crotches until the sex fairy decided we’d get penises or vaginas (or some other surprise). Hormones determine who gets the ability to bake a baby and nurse it and who gets to freak out at nipples on the street. The plumbing stays pretty much the same. In fact, men can get tig ole bitties and breast cancer. There are some urban legends about male lactation, but for the most part milk production is the sole domain of lady breasts. I think men are jealous. Or maybe they’re lactose intolerant?
2. There are no nipples in the wild
Even though we live in a breast-obsessed world where squished boobsacks dangle under every starlet’s chin, it’s rare to see real women’s nipples IRL. In fact, the only place that nipples abound is in porn. So basically we’ve created a Pavlovian response that associates a woman’s boob buttons to the staged orgasms of professional adult film actresses. I would imagine that men see lady nipples and feel an irresistible impulse to gather tissues and lotion and their high school yearbooks. (SN: if they would just take the few extra seconds to remove their girlfriend’s shirts during intercourse this would be much less of an issue.)
3. They remind men of their mothers
And specifically, nursing at their mother’s teat. Freud would probably say this dynamic is at the very core of our subconscious mind but I actually think it’s much less buried. I think guys go home for Christmas or the annual family BBQ and have at least one moment where they’re filled with dread at the realization that this sweet middle-aged lady once put her nipples in their mouth. Therefore any woman presenting her nipples to the world is acknowledging the unforgivable and horrifying fact that women’s breasts sustain human life.
4. Nipples confirm the existence of God
I think it’s very likely that men see nipples (or their outlines) and get overwhelmed at the sheer diversity. Nipples are like snowflakes, you see, no two are alike. The two nipples that I own are more like cousins than twins and there is little resemblance between my nipples and other sets I’ve seen (this is totally normal, btw). Bumpy, puffy, flat, hairy, inverted, tiny Tic-Tacs or extra large pepperonis, some folks even have three or more nipples ornipples on their feet. People say the devil is in the details, but actually the sheer volume of combinations proves that God exists and she takes a lot of creative license in the nipple department.
5. Dude nipples are neglected
We hate most in others what we hate most about ourselves. And in this case,I’m pretty sure men are terrorized by women’s nipples because they’re afraid to ask for the nipple attention they so desperately want. One of my exeshated it when I would engage his nipples in any way. He’d say, “Stop that! It makes me feel weird,” which I’m pretty sure was code for: “Oh I like that, but I’m not supposed to cuz nipple play is for chicks.” The guy who broke my heart into one million pieces could barely orgasm without some attention to his nipples, but it took him a long time to muster the courage to mention it. To make them feel better, I should have told them that kings in ancient Ireland used to get their nipples sucked by their subjects as a sign of submission. But who wants to be recreating that scene every night?
What other reasons explain men’s terror at women’s nipples? I’d love to hear your comments :)