Breast Wars: Let Women Go Topless!by Don Lacey on Aug. 17, 2012, under Arizona Families, Art & Culture, Critical Thinking, Freethought, History, Libertarianism, Nature, Question of the Day!, Reason, That's Life!, Willful Ignorance
Jim Wilson knocks around a few feelings. Apparently, he’s interested in allowing more than our thoughts to be free:
Did you know that women in the State of New York are legally free to go bare-chested in public? This has been true ever since the 1992 New York Court of Appeals case: People v. Ramona Santorelli and Mary Lou Schloss. In this case, the defendants were arrested for showing too much of their breasts. They were effectively able to effectively challenge the law as being discriminatory since it defines the ‘private or intimate parts’ of a woman’s but not a man’s body as including a specific part of the breast.
Since this case, there have been women wrongfully arrested for exposing their breasts and one received a $29,000 settlement. In the meantime, a “Topfreedom” movement has grown to promote the freedom of women to go topless around the world. In this country, victories include the freedom to breastfeed on federal property. Two groups have emerged: the Topfree Equal Rights Association, which helps women charged with illegal toplessness and GoTopless which organizes demonstrations.
I support the right of women to publicly go out bare-chested. It is consistent with my opposition to any government restrictions on harmless personal freedom. There is no harm caused by women going about topless. Men have been shirtless in public for ages and certainly did not cause any demonstrable harm. It’s a bit silly that women can wear extremely revealing clothing, leaving little to the imagination and yet we draw an arbitrary line at the full breast. Partial breast exposure is apparently OK but showing the wrong parts is somehow taboo.
Why is this considered taboo in the first place? We allow men to go bare-chested why not women? Women’s breasts are for milk production and a perfectly normal part of human biology. There is no need to scandalize it or make it taboo. The female breast plays a role in sexual attraction along with every other part of the body for some individuals and yet I don’t see a push to have us all wearing Burqas, in western society. The most attractive and seductive part of a woman is her face for me and many others yet there is no movement in this country to prevent facial nudity.
In the western world, people of both sexes are free to dress as modestly or immodestly as they want. Why not take this principle to the next logical step? Despite what some Muslim clerics claim, there is no evidence that female immodesty creates earthquakes or other natural disasters. In other traditional cultures around the world it is perfectly normal women to be topless throughout their daily activities. The children in these cultures are not scandalized by this.
A positive development is that western society is dumping Victorian prudery and is more open about embracing the sexual aspects of human nature. It is time to dismiss the notion that breasts are somehow indecent. Human bodies come in many shapes and sizes, so why single out this particular anatomical feature for censorship? It seems that for many males in this culture, breasts have some sort of mystical status, which is in part because exposing them is somehow taboo. Many males may also have an idealized view of how breast should look, and living in a world where women go topless may give them a more realistic view.
Perhaps changing the law would not actually change much. I’m sure most businesses would keep their “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policies. Schools would almost certainly maintain their dress code. Of course, the topless bar industry might be forced to modify their business model to remain relevant. Yet after a while, we’d all become accustomed to the sight of bare-chested men and women alike. We can look to Europe as a good example – across the pond, topless beaches and spas abound and society survives in spite of the partial nudity.
In summary, I support the pro-topless movement. It’s time to modernize our modesty laws and finally leave the Victorian age behind us. It’s rational, it’s practical, and it costs us nothing.