Let's talk about non cis-male nipples. Let's talk about the fact that in 2020 so many body types are banned from existence for not fitting into society's 'norms'. This is exactly the point of discussion with Emma Shapiro, creator of The Exposure Therapy Project, based in Valencia, Spain (est. 2017). She had some time to answer a few questions for us.
FFU: What is your mission with this project?
ES: The Exposure Therapy project fights for gender equality and opposes censorship of the non cis-male body by creating and spreading simple and accessible methods of resistance. The Exposure Therapy nipple sticker represents real women from around the world who have “contributed” their nipple to the cause. Stickers are sent for free to anyone who asks for them, regardless of location or situation.
FFU: What do you hope to accomplish?
ES: My goal for the Exposure Therapy project is to change the way society regards the non cis-male body by exposing the hypocrisy of its censorship. Oppression of women takes many forms, one of which is the notion that our bodies alone are pornographic. Fear, stigma, society, danger, and misinformation work together to create a narrative that our bodies are sex itself—provocative, offensive, obscene, and disorderly. This, in turn, generates a world which is in fact dangerous for us who happen to possess a non cis-male body. The most obvious example of the inequality and hypocrisy is the censorship of the non cis-male nipple. A non cis-male nipple alone is not pornography, it’s not even gendered but none-the-less is targeted for censorship and body-shaming. The Exposure Therapy project endeavors to correct this narrative, and thereby create a safer and more equal world for women.
FFU: I completely agree, it's just perpetuating these unacceptable and noninclusive ways of thinking. What do you have coming up in the future?
ES: I am continually looking for ways to strengthen and spread the message of the Exposure Therapy project. While word spreads through stickers which are sent around the world, I have recently created a “Nudity Is Not Pornography” tote-bag, as well as the “Nipple Wall” wallpaper for indoor and outdoor interventions. I have recently collaborated with @BeAPeach on a poster campaign, with @MyChapter.co for their Women Who Give A Shit pop-up in London, and will be creating a panel discussion and event in Valencia for Summer 2020.
FFU: Excellent! How can people participate in the promotion of this project?
ES: A pillar of the Exposure Therapy project is that the stickers remain free for anyone who asks for them, no matter where they are. I want to make sure that this method of resistance is accessible to anyone who wants it, no matter their circumstance. All one needs to do is ask via the website or @NIPeoPLE and I will send a few for free with some information about the project. This is also why I have begun selling the tote bags and am accepting donations, so that I might be able to keep the stickers free. Likewise, every sticker is created thanks to “contributions” of nipple images from women around the world. I have a perpetual open call for anyone who wishes to have their nipple represented - they can fill out a form on the website to get in contact and receive instructions and a release form.
FFU: How can people donate to your project?
ES: The Exposure Therapy project is entirely self-funded by a committed artist and activist (myself). I graciously accept donations of any amount via the “Donate” button on my website. All donations go directly to print and send stickers and the Nipple Wall around the world. https://www.exposuretherapyproject.com/donate
FFU: What is your opinion on censorship in 2020?
ES: I have seen censorship silence artists and women. It hurts when your artwork or your body is denied and misunderstood. It damages us all when that happens, and it makes the world a less equal place every time. But I also feel something else happening: basically, it feels to me like censorship of the non cis-male body is getting worse, but that is probably because more of us are fighting against it. It was easier when we were quiet, and they could pick us off image by image. But now that we are rising together, the censorship machinery is working twice as hard and overcompensating at times. We have to keep going, keep fighting until we break the machine and enlighten the world that the non cis-male body is NOT dangerous, it is NOT obscene or provocative. It is only sexual if WE say so, not society, not the machine.
I started this project as a way to vent my own frustration, and I have been humbled and thrilled to see it become a way for others to do the same. Exposure Therapy has reached over 28 countries, and it continues to grow thanks to awesome feminists and supporters. I am truly grateful to feel part of a community of fighters, each of whom have made me a stronger advocate and a stronger woman.