Free the Nipple and simplifying the battle for social justice

Carina Fitzpatrick made a statement on everything from parenting to sexuality

Carina Fitzpatrick said she was subjected “to the Garda’s subjective news regarding personal modesty at Knockanstockan”.

Carina Fitzpatrick said she was subjected “to the Garda’s subjective news regarding personal modesty at Knockanstockan”.

 

Hats off, or should we say tops off, to Carina Fitzpatrick, the jazz singer who got thrown out of a music festival two weeks ago for going topless.

It was no small thing given what is currently passing for summer weather, but that is not what is admirable about Ms Fitzpatrick’s actions. Lesser musicians might whip their kit off in public in a desperate attempt to gain some publicity for stuttering careers. But Ms Fitzpatrick has done it for all of us; for social justice.

The injustices she drew attention to by the simple yet dramatic act of disrobing in a public place include the very right to protest itself and the limits of police powers; the sexualisation of women; male consciousness raising; sexual equality; body image and the notion of beauty; censorship; outdated western parenting norms; LGBTQ issues; victim blaming and, of course, freedom in its many forms.

Personal modesty

Knockanstockan

Meanwhile, shirtless men were running around shouting “What about us? Arrest us?” at the Garda. Other women, it seems, were persuaded to take off their tops despite doubts over their own physical appearance. They wrote “Free Carina” on their bodies and were promptly arrested for their trouble.

Other men – shirtless or otherwise, we are not sure – found Ms Fitzpatrick out to thank her for opening their eyes to the inherently sexist nature of society. “For the first time in my life I feel free from the macho teenage chauvinistic, stereotyping, misogynistic bullsh*t I was brought up in and bought in to,” one explained.

Healthier attitudes

And somewhere in the midst of all this mayhem Ms Fitzpatrick found the time to talk to some LGBTQ people about their experiences of homophobic behaviour at the concert, and also get in a couple of rather sombre conversations about victim blaming.

To top it off she spoke to a Bulgarian woman who said all of this – going topless – is no big deal in her country.

It must have been a pretty exhausting afternoon and if such things won awards, Fitzpatrick would definitely win one for the most efficient and cost-effective protest of 2016. In one fell swoop she drew attention to almost every cause on the millennial “to-do” list. A veritable full house in Generation Snow Flake buzz word bingo.

Fitzpatrick realises she is on to something and, inspired by her experience, has started an Irish franchise of the “Free the Nipple” movement. If Knockanstockan is any guide it will be a sort of omnibus protest movement that hopes to advance all the various causes listed above through the simple action of women (and we presume men) exposing their breasts in public places.

Divide and conquer

As anyone crippled with excessive self-esteem knows, there are a lot of causes to be supported. A truly committed warrior could find themselves having to attend three or four separate events over a weekend, which could make getting to the farmers’ market a bit of a head wrecker.

But Fitzpatrick has found a solution with her one-stop- shop approach. Instead of attending four or five protests, just get along to a Free the Nipple event and you will have ticked the box on a whole range of issues.

It will not be plain sailing. It never is. Problems, of course, will arise. What if you are not onboard for the entire Free the Nipple platform? What if you were not so bothered about the modern parenting, or deep down were not that concerned about body image? The prospect of a schism must be guarded against. The other problem is that it is already August and soon the winter weather will be here.

But that is for further down the road. Right now the focus should be on congratulating Fitzpatrick for revolutionising and simplifying the social justice business.

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