Monday, August 23, 2010

Bearing It All...

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 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?


StephanieMcC said...

Interesting post. While I believe that these women have a valid point, it is a double standard that men can walk around shirtless while women can not, it seems to me that there are a lot more pressing issues at hand they could be focusing on. Take for example the fact that while Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional millions of both women and men are still being denied their rights to marry. Or another example, even we finally approved universal health care women are still being denied comprehensive reproductive care. Or better yet, how about the fact that while studies show that strangulation is one of the most common acts of violence against women in DV situations it is still not even on the books as against the law in 30 states! I'm not trying to say what these women did was pointless, but if they are so concerned with women's rights and helping to move women's rights forward maybe they should consider some of the bigger issues we are facing.

Anonymous said...

I'm completely against it. I don't want to see topless women any more than I want to see men topless. Everyone should just keep their clothes on.