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“Free the Nipple & Make a Clean Breast of It!” — The Questionnaire

A “Free the Nipple!”-like movement from the past offers a healing and empowering resource for the present.

This past year while cleaning out a storage unit I came across several boxes labeled “Breast Book.” Four decades earlier, my then-wife and I (both in our late-20s) devoted several years to “freeing the nipple” by interviewing hundreds of women of all ages. Back then we called it “making a clean breast of it.”

Our book, BREASTS: Women Speak About Their Breasts and Their Lives (Simon & Schuster) was hailed by the Washington Post as “an important contribution” and became the subject of an entire Donahue Show (the Oprah of that time).

As I re-read our book’s Introduction, I was reminded how profoundly women are oppressed by the “breast fetish” of our “mammary mad” culture. I was also struck by women’s comments about how healing it had been to be interviewed—to talk about their breasts in such an intimate way. It was something they found “therapeutic” and “consciousness-raising.”

I don’t know if women today will be interested in what women back in the late-’70s had to say, but the questionnaire we developed for the interviews may still be a healing and therapeutic resource.

So to celebrate “Free the Nipple!” Day on March 26th, I shared the questionnaire that we and the hundreds of women who were interviewed developed to “make a clean breast of it.”

You can read the article and access the Questionnaire on Medium.


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