Nipple phobia in the United States

By Stephen Fraiser

What’s wrong with America when it comes to physical human traits such as breasts – and especially nipples?
Look, let me just get this out of the way for starters: As a writer, blogger, and web professional from a conservative family in Nashville, Tennessee – ensconced deep within the Bible belt, this is not the sort of post I normally publish. This blog — Another Day, Another Digression, taken as a whole — reveals precious little skin. Besides, I’m no libertine. Blame the press and the Puritanical American sexual shame for goading this writer into revealing a long-simmering personal pet peeve: the great lengths women go to in order to hide any and all nipple outlines, nipple traces, and of course, nipple exposures. No, it’s not so much that as American society’s overall attitude toward exposed female breasts. (I mean, come on!) It’s embarrassing and stupid.

Only in the United States does the sight of a mere (female) nipple offend or excite such a large swath of the populous so as to generate capacious headlines in national news! WTF? What is wrong with these people? It’s preposterous, ridiculous, and indicative of some seriously flawed, strait-laced, repressed attitudes about what ought to be viewed as the beautiful and amazing human body.
No wonder the United States is home to an inordinate number of seeting perverts and experiences more sexual crime than comparable Western countries where nudity is neither feared nor shamed. The latent Puritanical attitudes end up doing far more harm than good.

So, when, where, and how did this odd American shame about breast exposure spring into being? (Please don’t say “The Garden of Eden.”) Are men in the United States supposed to lose control at the mere sight of a nipple? No, I don’t believe that’s it.
Many clues point to America’s Puritanical roots: Overly fundamentalist, rigid, fear-and-shame oriented, (ultimately false) religious views which practically criminalize the uncovered female breast – not to mention sex. Breasts, lest the reader need reminding, are natural. Well, once upon a time, all female breasts were natural; IMHO, the most beautiful breasts still are. For the female at least, breasts are necessary and worthy of acceptance and appreciation, not shame. Beautifully shaped female breasts (and like everything else, beauty is in the eye of the beholder) are not unlike well-toned abs, striking blue or green eyes, a fitting hairstyle, shapely legs, the preferred posterior, or any other physical characteristic of either women or men.

What are the prudes and the religious fundamentalists so afraid of? Are they so lacking in control that they fear pouncing on women they find attractive if their chest is visible? If seeing something like the female breast — or even the outline of a nipple — were something shameful, then let those groups adopt strict wardrobe guidelines such as those followed in backwards, woman-repressing regions like Afghanistan. Bring out the burqa.

Is it possible that this needlessly shameful/ shaming attitude regarding the unclothed human body will begin to recede anytime soon? (I speak of non-explicit freedom, of course… not hard-core, XXX action in public!) I suppose it’s not likely.

America’s negative obsession with the female breast


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