Why #FreetheNipple Is Never Going to Happen

Imagine a world where women’s nipples are just nipples, not the over-objectified, over-sexualized punctuation of scandals everywhere. It’s hard to picture, right? According to Instagram, it’s impossible. The app’s founder recently released a statement explaining why it will not bow to #FreeTheNipple activists (including Chrissy Teigen, Rumor Willis and Miley Cyrus, above), who claim that Insta’s policy of allowing images of men’s nipples but not women’s is unfair and discriminatory towards women.

At a Dazed Digital event in London last week, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom blamed Apple’s strict decency policies for his inability to OK women’s nipples. If Systrom freed the nipple, Apple would slap Instagram with a 17+ rating, halting its enormous growth. Although Instagram remains “committed to artistic freedom,” stated founder Kevin Systrom, “in order to scale effectively, there are [some] tough calls.” In other words, business is business, and #FreetheNipple crusaders should aim their fight not at specific apps but at Apple in general.

Systrom also pointed out that one doesn’t need Instagram to view nipples on the internet, but we think that’s beside the point. Because of its enormous popularity, Instagram has the potential to be a game-changer for freedom of speech and expression. The only question is: Will it risk its relationship with Apple to fight for women’s equality? So far, the answer is, disappointingly, no.