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Before there was ‘big dick energy,’ there was ‘nipple confidence’

Lesbians were there first.


Published Jul 12, 2018   Updated May 21, 2021, 11:22 am CDT


Ariana Grande’s new man might have what the internet is calling “Big Dick Energy,” but what most are unaware of is the secret to true power and positive energy that was coined a decade ago by a bunch of lesbians.

In The L Word, queer (and soon-to-be queer) women were introduced to Shane McCutcheon, the lesbian fuckboi of our simultaneous Sapphic dreams and nightmares. Androgynous with a Tegan and Sara haircut and a disregard for bras or feelings, Shane was the problematic fave that lots of lesbians and bi gals wanted to bed, and that others wanted to be.

The pilot episode of the Showtime series had Shane’s friends talking about why Shane gets all the women she wants, and then some. Dana, upset by losing a prospect to her Casanovian friend, wonders aloud if it’s because she’s “too stupid to be insecure.” Others (Alice, Marina, Tina) argue it’s her attitude; her confidence; and her tits. Combined, it’s her Nipple Confidence.

So what is Nipple Confidence? Like Big Dick Energy, it has little to do with actual genitalia or body parts, or masculinity vs. femininity. Instead, BDE and Nipple Confidence (NC) are about the consistent swagger emanated by an individual of any gender or sexual identity; the IDGAF way of moving about the world, but without being violent or overtly harmful to others (although Shane clearly had some emotional issues and definitely had low Nipple Confidence at certain times throughout the show’s six seasons). What BDE and NC is NOT is toxic masculinity.

As gendered and genital-driven as any conversation about dicks and size comparison can be, let’s not forget how Nipple Confidence was the first true phrase that embodied a suave, attractive assertion of oneself, one that everyone else is dying to get their hands on one way or another. (See also: Joan Jett, Grace Jones, Janelle Monae, Jenny Shimizu.)

Whether you are binding, single-handedly keeping Victoria’s Secret in business, or freeing the nipple, you can have a craveable confidence that doesn’t require anything phallocentric. You, too, can look very Shane today.

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*First Published: Jul 12, 2018, 5:30 am CDT