A STATEMENT BY ROSE GIBBS
I have nipples. You have nipples. She has nipples. He has nipples. Those children over there they too have nipples. We all have nipples. Nipples are everywhere. On sunny days they stare out from men’s naked bodies, breathing in the fresh air and looking around to smile at other friendly nipples. They dance around on children frolicking in paddling pools. They assert themselves through clothing: they poke through vests and shirts and on some days even through jumpers too.
But women’s nipples are scandalous: they are little uprisings that need to be suppressed. They are too loud and too noisy to be allowed out in society; they will cause disruptions: cycling accidents, car crashes, stock market crashes, housing crises, bank failures, possibly some epidemics, pandemics, fumbling, mumbling, dribbling, drooling, all sorts of behaviour not suited to UN meetings, peace talks, climate conferences, lectures, teaching, talking, tutoring. They are just not serious enough, they have not yet grown up enough to handle court-room hearings, to deliver symposiums, to contribute constructively to cultural discourse, theories on Winnicott, Klein and the maternal. They stick out too much. They sit at tables with their bright eyes, spreading mischief, not listening to A WORD I SAY, subtly mocking us, the serious people with minds and thoughts and ways of explaining things. But that’s because they don’t know that what we do is good, and RIGHT, and will make sure that everything STAYS IN ORDER, and doesn’t cascade into chaos (this is what these little beasts want you see). They should sit at the kids’ table, out of sight and out of mind. We should bind them with sellotape or gaffer tape, we should stick them double sided to the inside of our bras so they don’t get the idea to escape into the wilds of the outside world where they would (I can assure you) start waving frantically to passers by. You must remember that they have minds of their own; they have minds of toddlers, they think differently, if they think at all, and they will do what they want.
Breasts, you see, should be round and smooth and faceless. And they are trying hard. They should be like faceless heads, like neat mounds of firm foam stuff, like a pillow. They could learn a thing or two from pillows. Pillows are good, they know their place, they lie there and wait, they know they are a temporary resting place, a cosy, sumptuous place where people bury their heads just for a while. They don’t ask for much. And this is what we want from breasts: for them to be there, a reassuring presence – all warm and cushy. A comfort. There is no room for personality here, they should be happy that they can help. But they will get distracted; the nipple will start chattering and keep everyone awake. As it happens they are quite good storytellers, these little blighters – quite funny in fact – if you give them half the chance. If you rest near them they will start to whisper in your ear, they’ll tell you tall tales, they’ll keep you up all night, your belly will ache with laughter. Then the delirium will set in, and leave us all mushy and enmeshed, productivity will go down, GDP will fall – our country will be bankrupted. The breast and the nipple need to be separated really (we’re working on it). The nipples are a bad influence, they might be small but they’re little terrors. Give them an inch and they’ll take a yard, they’ll convince the breast that it’s in their interest to speak up for pleasure and fun, breast-feeding and being all at once. You see, this is their disruptive power – they can’t decide and this is JUST NOT OK. Everything has its place, its duty, and its responsibilities and then you see we can start talking about rights and freedoms. With rights come responsibilities. I have tried to tell them this, but they just won’t listen. They think they can do what they like, when they like, and get away with it. We’ve discussed all sorts of resolutions, we’ve drawn up plans for two state solutions, we’ve discussed at length programmed decommissioning of the maternal nipple, but they just won’t have it. We’ve tried the opposite – the rehabilitation programs, the 12 step solutions, the return to the sexual alone – but these are not rational beings and before you know it we’re not just dealing with their mad-cap bids for dangerous dual citizenships, but demands to be recognised for their double, triple, multiple identities. These states are not simply incompatible, they are diametrically opposed, they are mutually exclusive, THEY MUST NOT BE ALLOWED. What hope have we for civil society, for good well ordered morality, for the healthy minds of our precious children, if we allow them to be exposed to these subversive forces? They think they can occupy this borderless psychosphere, this chaotic space mixing needs with desires and also their bids to “just be themselves”!! And it’s not just their own desires we have to consider (though it need to be said that’s all they care about) but also the desires of everyone around them. They’re not looking at the bigger picture.
So don’t even begin to engage, it’s not worth it. Because before we know it they will be espousing on subjects we know better about. They’ll assert their claim not to be spoken for: they’ll agitate for their own voice, their needs and their ‘basic rights and freedoms’. But these are just a foil, they’re anarchists at heart, they have an agenda all right, they think they can bring down government; they think it’s superfluous. As I said they’re kids really, it’s childish nonsense. But it’s our actual children we need to think about and protect: they’ll grow up. The nipples retain nothing. It’s a shame really, because it wouldn’t take much. The male nipple for example: they’ve learnt. We’ll allow them, thinly veiled, into boardrooms, and in the outside world they can roam freely. There are some seditious elements there – a few concerns at the threat they pose to gender, the blurring of boarders and binaries, the suggestion of the mammae, but by and large they’re a more peaceful species, so we’re treading a cautious line: parks, streets, beaches, swimming pools, occasionally a café, they can eat with us – a sandwich perhaps, a muffin w. coffee, but not stew, or goulash or heaven forbid soufflé, soup, mousse or chicken pie. Not restaurant food. For that they must come veiled and accompanied by a respectable senior. So if women’s nipples want a little more freedom, they need to work out what it is they’re doing, who they work for: their mission and their vision; their strengths, weaknesses, the opportunities they’re offering and at base level, y’know, we need them to put forward a simple statement of commitment to a single domain. Above all we need a proper renunciation of their demand that they should be free. Its unrealistic, because rights aren’t given, you know, they’re earned.
Artwork © MARI SIVERTSEN NORDDAHL