Cinematic events featuring toplessness—Showgirls, Swordfish—are usually warmly received by guys, and the new indie Free the Nipple, in theaters (and VOD menus) on Friday, is hoping for the same kind of love. It’s a fictional story about women protesting censorship laws by taking off their shirts in New York, made by 29-year-old first-time director Lina Esco. She wants to start a broader discussion about giving women the same rights as men—beyond simply being able to chill topless too—but is savvy enough to know that shirtlessness sells.
“There's no way you'd see a movie called ‘Equality,’” she says. “I'm sorry, but there are things you need to do start a conversation.”
When it comes to this conversation, men may fail to make consistent eye contact, but they stand to benefit as much as women whose breasts they support (or want to support). Here are the additional benefits – beyond the obvious – of joining the #FreeTheNipple movement.
1. Hanging Out With a Cool Crowd
The cool girls are doing it. Girl of the moment Cara Delevingne, is giving the film big ups on social media, which is no small thing.
2. Trolling Mark Zuckerberg
Free the Nipple started a video campaign to get Facebook to allow women to show themselves breastfeeding—previously, those pictures were routinely removed for being overtly sexual. “You can show beheadings on Facebook,” Esco says, "but the nipple was too obscene.” The social media site caved. This augurs good things for your news feed.
3. Watching the Other Kirke
You’ll be introduced to Lola Kirke, Girls star Jemima’slookalike younger sister, who stars in Free the Nipple as a bohemian crusader for women’s rights.
4. Remembering “Striptease"
In May, Scout Willis, daughter of Demi Moore, walked around topless in New York to protest Instagram’s policy of banning the areola—Rihanna’s photos have been affected by this—and posted the pictures on Twitter. “What @instagram won't let you see #FreeTheNipple.” Burt Reynolds wasn’t in any of the pictures, but it was otherwise reminiscent of one of Mom’s most memorable performances.
5. Chipping Away at Puritanism
“Men have had the right to be topless since 1936,” Esco says. “Women should have the same right to own their bodies.”
6. Listening to Miley’s Next Hit
Cyrus recorded a cover of Melanie Safka's "Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma” for Free the Nipple. Will you like it the first time you hear it? Maybe, maybe not. But it won’t be the last time you hear it and you’ll have heard it before everyone else – for what that’s worth.
7. Taking Care of Christmas Shopping
Like all great movements, this one comes with great merch. A Free the NippleT-shirt is the perfect last-minute holiday present for a lady. Liv Tyler wore one.
Photos by Frank Wartenberg / Getty Images