Imagine my surprise (and shame at not having known this before) to have learned that courts in Canada have been overturning decisions in which women have been charged with public indecency for being topless, since 1996! The website mentioned up there, for the Topfree Equal Rights Association highlights many cases of women charged with crimes, simply for going topless.
In some cases, women have been charged with public indecency for breastfeeding in public, and I’m pretty sure you know where Yours Truly stands on that particular piece of bull-twaddle.
Here’s the deal. The most important part of this entire discussion, that being whether women ought to have the right to go topless if they so desire (the answer to that is simply: “yes”, by the way), is not “YAY, PUBLIC BOOBIES!” (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but rather the fact that breasts are *not* sexual objects.
We have made them so, particularly since the early part of the 20th century. Back in the 1800s when table and piano legs were considered immodest, women’s bodies were dangerous places where the sin of the flesh may be found. Men? Not so much. Poor men were merely the victims of overpowering lust, incited by women’s immodesty. See how ridiculous that sounds? Well. Times change.
Women, by and large, do not and will not go topless, because, truth be told, they will be stared at, harassed, photographed, and filmed. Nobody pays any attention to Joe Jogger who’s carrying his shirt in his hand. But if there’s a woman walking topless, traffic stops and people stare and, sometimes, she gets arrested for public indecency.
And there are some people out there who are all in favour of topless freedom because they love boobies. Because to them, breasts *are* sexual objects, and the more boobies they get to see, the better their lives are. Bully for you guys, I say. I’m not going to tell you you can’t look and get your jollies that way. But what I *am* saying is that you may be in favour of topless freedom for the wrong reasons.
Head on over to the Go Topless website. Take a look at some of the “legal/illegal” images on that site. Incidentally, there are some people who say that ‘topless’ is a word that somehow is more synonymous with strippers and sex workers, and that ‘top free’ is an expression that promotes equality.
Not to belittle that argument, but whatever. I’m’a stick with ‘topless’ for the most part. ‘Top free’ sounds too much like some weird yoghurt product.
Anyway. Right. This is about equality, and the freedom of women to be topless (and here’s the important bit) **without persecution, harassment, or unwanted attention**. When you go to a beach or a park where it’s never been an issue whether people wear tops, regardless of gender, the only people staring are the people who are repressed, or who have been taught that breasts=sex. It *is* first base, after all.
I just…I’ve always figured that if someone is uncomfortable with my decision to read books in my backyard, wearing a top or not, that’s their problem, not mine. Yet, as a woman of means in the breast department, let me just tell you that there aren’t very many times when I enjoy people staring at my chest.
I might joke about it, or play along, but for the most part, I’d really rather there wasn’t such a big deal made about it. Or them. And if I decide to be topless in Wascana Park (as a woman was in 1998, who was later charged with indecency after the pool staff convinced someone to complain about said toplessness), I not only have the right to be so, but I also have the right to be so *free of harassment, staring, snickering, picture taking, comment, etc.*.
So I think what I’m trying to say is that folks should, by now, have figured some things out.
And also, that courts in Canada routinely overturn public indecency for being topless charges. Although I’m positive that this will never happen while certain sweater-vest-wearing knobs are still in power, it would be nice to see official legislation enacted that unequivocally offers this freedom to women *and* to men (and to every gender in between, for that matter) so that organisations like TERA don’t have to help Canadian women with their court costs when they’re arrested for doing something they have every right to do.