August 26th is Women’s Equality Day. This isn’t a day that’s widely celebrated in the UK, but I wanted to do something about it so together with five other female circus artists we did a topless photo shoot on triple trapeze.

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This was to highlight that, although we’ve come a long way in terms of women’s rights there are still issues in the collective perception of women that could use some evaluation – for example the over-sexualization of women’s bodies and of their breasts in particular.

After the photos were taken, they were sent to me by the photographer. Before putting them out there I wanted to check with the other women in the group that they were ok with all the photos being published. I shared them in a private group on Facebook, which resulted in my account being deleted immediately.

The message from the social media giant included lines as follows:

Some examples of actions that aren’t allowed on Facebook include:

  • Uploading sexually explicit photos
  • Sharing content that contains sexually explicit language
  • Engaging in sexual solicitation

The photos I uploaded, although containing images of women’s breasts are NOT SEXUALLY EXPLICIT IN ANY WAY. It is the male gaze that brands a woman’s breasts as sexual – and I’m sorry, but that’s just not our problem.

Furthermore, images on social media of men’s chests and nipples are totally fine and not censored in any way. Although equally capable of inspiring desire, male torsos don’t have to be covered up in photos and on a warm day a man can easily take off his t-shirt without being socially shamed.

The message from Facebook is clear – all women are objects of desire and their bodies need to be covered in a certain way – for their own safety or for that of others. I call bullshit.

Thankfully WordPress doesn’t go by the same policy – so here are the photos (taken by Paul Maguire):

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