Meet the Women Fighting for Your Right to See Boobs Online

Help filmmaker Milena Salazar finish her doc on trans activist Courtney Demone and #DoIHaveBoobsNow—her campaign about to free all boobs on Facebook, once and for all.

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All photos by Becca Carroll/Rivkah Photography

What defines a boob? It may seem like a pointless question, but if you start thinking about it in the context of our times, it’s more relevant than ever. Is it a nipple? According to Instagram and Facebook’s censorship of breasts as soon as you can see nipples on them, apparently yes. Is it breast size? Facebook seems to think so, considering the network stars censoring boobs once they’re deemed big and recognizable enough to be ‘inappropriate’. Is it gender? Again, Facebook and Insta say “yes”: dudes have no problem posting obscene, mostly-naked gym selfies online, but women can’t do the same. It’s the last question that spurred Canadian trans activist Courtney Denone to start #DoIHaveBoobsNow: a social media experiment meant to shine a brutal light on the sexism inherent in Facebook’s censorship regulations. When Courtney was about to start hormone therapy, she decided to document her transition online through bare-chested selfies—waiting for the moment Facebook would deem her breasts feminine enough to censor them. Courtney wrote a widely-shared article about it all on Mashable, and #DoIHaveBoobsNow rapidly took off as a hashtag on social media. Now, Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker Milena Salazar is continuing the conversation through Do I Have Boobs Now?—her latest short film focusing on Courtney and her journey.

“I knew immediately that I wanted to make a film about Courtney because she had found a brilliant way to call out double standards and sexism in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand, even for people who were not already taking part in this discussion,” says Salazar.  “As a woman, these issues interest me and shape my life, and Courtney was tackling these questions from a very unique point of view. With this film, we’re interested in raising questions that will challenge people’s assumptions about gender, censorship and the sexualization of feminine bodies.”

Working with producer Joella Cabalu – a filmmaker experienced with presenting stories of queer realities and struggles – helped give Salazar, a straight woman, the perspective she needed to portray Courtney’s story as respectfully and compellingly as possible. “As a cis woman, I certainly can’t put myself in Courtney’s shoes but I can relate to many of the questions she raises in her activism,” Salazar elaborates. “When Courtney’s first article on Mashable came out, there was a part that really struck me where she pointed out that a lot of the harassment and abuse she started to experience was more related to her increasingly perceived femininity than the fact that she was trans. I can’t understand Courtney’s reality as a trans woman, but I can identify with some of the struggles that come with living in a woman’s body. This is a constant challenge for us as documentary filmmakers and something that my producer Joella and I don’t take lightly. The ethical questions around representation are always there when you’re making a film about someone else’s life.”

Salazar and her team still need funding to get this project done, though. They went to Storyhive: an online platform that awards $10,000 grants to the projects that get the most votes. Bonus: in this round of competition, Salazar’s film is competing against a batch of films entirely made by women, which is pretty cool. Voting closes on Friday, so don’t sleep on it! Click a button to vote and make sure Courtney’s story gets told—because it’s not a story that’s just relevant to Courtney. Ultimately, her commentary on regulated self-expression and systemic sexism is relevant to all women. So c’mon, people: let’s make this happen!

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