When going Topless and Female empowerment collide
It isn’t difficult to find a pair of breasts if you have an Internet connection and a second grader’s understanding of Google. According to 2010 estimates on Huffington Post, online porn accounts for 12 percent of web sites, 35 percent of downloads, and 8 percent of emails per year, which are accessed by over 28,000 Internet users every second. Though women’s advocacy groups and feminists regularly cry foul, citing concerns over the objectification of women, the industry still makes over $2.8 billion per year and largely operates with impunity.
In an attempt to change some of the context of online nudity and fight stereotypes about women at the same time, four undergraduate women at Tulane started Titties at Tulane (http://tittiesattulane.tumblr.com) a photoblog which posts anonymous, model-submitted pictures of Tulane women flashing their breasts. The site, which went online in March of this year, quickly gained popularity in the Tulane community, and at press time featured 42 pictures of breasts (39 women and three men) from the Tulane community, with more pictures being posted every few days. The site has also inspired two spinoffs: Cocks on Campus, which is exactly what you’re assuming it is, and Kitties at Tulane, which features pictures of users’ pet cats. Though Titties at Tulane delivers exactly what it promises, the creators insist that the site is about empowering women, and shouldn’t be taken in a sexual way.
Though the site is unique in the New Orleans college community, its inspiration came from other universities with similar sites. “One of the founders’ sisters went to Bard College and told her about Boobs at Bard, which is basically their version of Titties at Tulane,” said the site’s creators (whose nom de plumes include Tits McGee and Krewe de TaT) in an anonymous interview. “We posted ourselves first, and just so that people would know about it we made fliers and put them up around campus, and we posted [the site] on College ACB, which is a gossip forum.”
The creators went on to explain their mis sion.
“One of the reasons we started the website was that we were realizing that a lot of girls didn’t like their boobs, which we thought was kind of weird,” said one of the creators. “We thought [the site] would be a good way for people to get comfortable with their bodies, and also for people to see different examples of breasts that you don’t see in normal life. Anything you see in the media is perky and perfect, but that’s not correct.”
With that mission in mind, the creators consider the site uniquely non-pornographic. “Titties at Tulane isn’t a sexual web site,” one said, “It’s showing nude bodies but not in a way that’s sexual or in any way meant to get somebody off. I think it’s more about having fun with your body and focusing on the beauty of each individual body.” Those who post to the site seem to agree; though the pictures are all of bare or semi-clothed breasts, few pictures show more than that and even fewer have any explicitly sexual elements. “When you look at the pictures, you can tell the girls are having fun” said the creators, “they paint their boobs, or they’re outside having fun and pushing the limit.”
One of the site’s contributors, a freshman who asked to be identified as Boobs at Bruff (Bruff being Tulane’s dining commons), completely agreed, though she wasn’t sold on the site when she first heard about it from her friends. “I got kind of a negative vibe at first, but really it was more just kind of a funny thing,” she said. For Bruff, who has been featured on the site twice, posting to Titties at Tulane was related to another big experience. “I was in the Vagina Monologues,” she explained, “and that was a transforming thing for me in the sense of [thinking], ‘everyone has hot bodies, and let’s all show them, and all females are beautiful,’ and whatnot.”
Though she contextualizes it with a larger personal change, her decision to post was spontaneous. “It was definitely spur of the moment. I didn’t think about it, and I was also kind of drunk,” she said, “I was like, ‘I wanna put my boobs online! That’s sexy.’” Bruff was also with two other friends at the time, and