Ok, I’m gonna level with you. This month has been cray-cray-zy for me. I usually don’t have any social events (or interaction at all) but all August there seems to be one thing after another which will conclude this Thursday when I go to see Jack White with my mom. That’s right. A rock concert with my mother. I’m cool like that.
Anyway I just haven’t had a lot of down time between weekend engagements and everyone at work other than me getting vacation time this month so I dropped the ball this week. Plus I honesty had no idea what to write. I’m sorry. I suck.
Anyway… this past Sunday was the 5th annual Go Topless March. For those unfamiliar it’s exactly what the name suggests. A topless march.
The idea behind the Topless March, of which are held in over 50 different cities, is that in the spirit of equality it’s only right that women should be afforded the same right to shed the confines of clingy shirts and unbreathable bras on a hot summer day. The same right that men enjoy without being harassed or labeled a slut.
Public breast feeding is another part of the issue. Though in most places in the western world nursing mothers are protected by the law and have the right to breast feed their infant in a public space, this doesn’t stop people from staring, or asking mother’s to leave restaurants or parks because how dare she use her breasts for their intended purpose. For a split second I totally saw her nipple and everything. Everyone has nipples people. Why are they so much scarer on a woman’s chest than a man’s?
It’s not even so much men who make it impossible. Other women are just as bad. If we’re so quick to judge each other based on a little side boob can you image how we’d react to full boob? As firmly against slut shaming as I am, sometimes I see a girl with her bum hanging out her shorts and I have to silence that little voice in my head that says “skank”. We’ve been conditioned by societal standards to be ashamed of our bodies and sexuality and demean any girl who isn’t. This is totally uncool ladies and I think we can all agree that we need to check ourselves when checking out other women.
Most people are surprised to learn that it is legal for women in B.C. and other provinces and some U.S. states to be topless in public. If I was less body conscious and less likely to be gawked at, or have my picture taken for being topless, maybe this would be a right I would exercise. As it stands the looks and odd comments I get for sunbathing off my balcony in a bikini make me uncomfortable so it’s unlikely I’d go walking down a busy city street without anything covering the top half of my body, but a clothing optional beach after a drink or two… who knows. I might not want to be topless all summer but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the option.
Not to sound like a hipster activist or anything, but I was on wise to this cause before it was cool. I actually wrote an essay on it back in the 11th grade. We had to pick a controversial topic to write an argument for and I figured abortion and gay marriage would be done to death and I should pick something no one had done before. After a little looking I decided on female toplessness. I’m going to share with you this essay written by my 16 year old self complete with added humorous captions! I don’t remember what mark I got on it but it was at least a 5/6.
My Body My Business
It’s a hot summer day and you’re out for a stroll. There are people everywhere enjoying they’re day off and soaking up some rays. A couple on a walk through the park. Some kids playing catch. A man trying to beat the heat by abandoning his shirt for the day. Your typical July afternoon. Now, imagine that instead of a man walking down the street with a bare torso it’s a woman.
On July 19th, 1991 that is exactly what twenty year old Guelph University student Gwen Jacob did. Jacob was arrested and charged on grounds of committing an indecent act. She was convicted by the Ontario Court of Justice and after turned to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Five years later in 1996 the court ruled in favour of Jacob declaring that female toplessness was not an indecent act as described in section 173(1)(a) of the criminal code of Canada (Guelph’s Hot Days of Summer).
Whether or not women should have the right to bare their breasts in public is an ongoing debate. Some see it as inappropriate and other’s as empowering. Female toplessness is an issue of equality, choice, respect and tolerance. Confidence in yourself and body is something to be admired and nurtured, not discouraged.
If men and women are supposed to have equal rights why would 50.4% of the population be neglected from a right that the other half enjoy. Some argue that the exposer of breasts is “nudity”. Well, in that case shouldn’t men be forced to cover up as well? After all technically men do have breasts. The word ‘breast’ refers to the upper region of the torso where the nipple is located.
In a 2003 interview on the topic Alex Artful-Dodger, vice president of the University of Toronto’s Student Administrative Council said, “While I admit there is a difference between a man going topless and a woman going topless, it is unfair to impose outdated morality on women.” (Busting Out All Over).
The results shown by Gallup Canada’s 1992 national survey revealed that women were drastically more opposed to the idea of public toplessness than men. According to Romayne Smith-Fullerton, who teaches a course on women in the media at the University of Western Ontario, “Women all the time are seeking the approval of strangers”(Women Keeping Tops On…). The overall opposition of female toplessness is likely to influence women to further condemn the act. A large part of women’s disapproval is fuelled by societies unwillingness to accept a woman who is comfortable in her sexuality and body. Another deciding factor is the fear of objectification by men they may endure.
In 2005 another national survey gave a more in depth look into Canadian attitudes about both sexuality and public nudity (The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality). As in 1992, women were more strongly opposed to female toplessness than men. The results also showed that those with a higher degree of education were more likely to be in favour of female toplessness. 55% of those with a high school education verses only 37% of University graduates were opposed. Enough said.
The same 2005 survey mentioned above revealed that those who attend religious worship regularly were on average about 30% more likely to think female toplessness should be illegal. The heavy influence of the church in western society teaches that the body is the enemy of the soul. Nudity, or naturism, is wrong. Being exposed leads to nothing but feelings of lust. This is something any naturalist will tell you is simply untrue. Nudism is a non-sexual practice meant to connect the spirit to nature and bring clearity. Many religions practice being ‘skyclad’, wearing noting but the sky, including: jain, wicca and other pagan religions*I told you I was into this shit*, and even multiple christian groups (Dare to Bare).
One place where it is acceptable for a woman to bare her breasts is in the entertainment industry. It’s impossible not to come across a naked woman while channel surfing on a Friday night. With the constant exposure to nude female images you would think we would be completely desensitized to seeing a half naked woman at the park, or at the beach. Society has sexualized the female form so we no longer see breasts as just another part of the body like the a stomach or leg even though they are not sexual organs in nature. It’s a result of the culture we live in. In victorian England if you were to see a woman’s ankles it was considered indecent. In middle eastern cultures it’s the same with a girls face. It we today were to decide that ears were suggestive and everyone were to cover them up in public suddenly if you were to see someones ears it would be considered erotic.
Some are concerned about exposing children to ‘nudity’ having negative effects. Young children are initially very comfortable with nudity and have to be taught why it’s necessary to cover up. If we were to grow up around topless women there wouldn’t be a problem. If we were used to seeing women in that state it would be considered the norm, no different then if you were to see a half naked man out for a run.
There are parts of the world that do accept female toplessness. Topless sunbathing at public beaches is a well exercised practice for both genders at public beaches in France and Spain as well as many other European countries. Even in Canada female toplessness is legal in Ontario (1996), Saskatchewan (1998) and British Columbia (2000) though most choose not to exercise this right.
And of course toplessness is a part of life for Caribbean nation’s. People against such things at home are willing to shed some clothes while vacationing while on a tropical beach, “Somebody may have an attitude in Canada, but then their attitudes go out the window after six margaritas on the beach right?” said Psychology Professor Serge Desmarais of the University of Guelph and co author of The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality in a 2007 interview (Women Keeping Shirts On…).
For many women being able to be topless is liberating and empowering and it’s a shame that our society discourages us embracing that right without fear of being scrutinized and condemned. Fair or not, even though we have the right as women to be shirtless in British Columbia don’t expect to see women casually walking down the street or lounging at the park bare chested this summer.
Fischtein, Dayna S., Edward S. Herold, and Serge Desmaris. “Canadian Attitudes Toward Female Topless Behaviour: A National Survey.” The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 2005th ser. 14 (2005): 63-75. Sex Information & Education Council of Canada. Web. 18 Apr. 2010.
Baute, Nicole. “Women Keeping Shirts On; Gwen Jacobs’ Topless Stroll Didn’t Set Trend.” Guelph Mercury [Guelph Ontario] 25 May 2007. Print.
Benson, Lain, and Brad Miller. “Guelph’s Hot Days of Summer.” Culturalrenewal.ca. 2000. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.
Crawford, Trish. “Busting Out All Over.” Toronto Star 15 Sept. 2003. Print.
“Dare To Go Bare.” Religioustolerance.org. Ontario Consultants of Religious Tolerance, 2005. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.
Even at 16 I was opinionated as hell. And kind of pretentious.