To mark the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, a crowd of over 200 people gathered to witness 12 dozen scantily-clad women fighting for the right to bear their chests in public this past weekend. These brave women, dawning only strategically placed red tape and bandaids, marched along Venice Beach Boardwalk as part of a larger demonstration organized by gotopless.org. Marches also took place in Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Oahu (Hawaii), and Chicago. Men, not to be left out, wore red bikinis to represent the double standard for men and women.
It is currently illegal in California for women to go topless, and some feminists argue that this is yet another example of blatant, institutionalized sexism. Nadine Gary, organizer, argued that "If we are not allowed, men must be forced to hide their chests on the basis of gender equality." Surprising enough, many onlookers agreed. Onlookers were quoted in saying "Women should have the right to express themselves as they want, as long as it doesn't hurt someone else" and "We walk around topless. They should be able to if they want."
I'm genuinely curious about what you all think of this. Is the right to go topless a feminist issue? On one hand, yes. It is obvious. Men are allowed to, women are not. Further, society's obsession with and hyper-sexualization of the breast causes many women to feel ashamed about their own bodies. Clearly, this poses a problem for achieving true gender equality. The cynic in me, however, questions the consequences of such a movement. Would women ultimately be "more free" if California allowed women to not wear tops, or would they continue to be (even more so) objects of men's sexual desires, fantasies, and gaze? What do you think?