Look at the current year: 2016. Look at how far civilization has come. Look at the progress that the world has made in at least the past decade. The way civilization lives today differs tremendously from life during the mid-20th century. The way we interacted with others during our adolescent years no longer applies to the world. We have broken down race barriers, gender barriers, and even sexual preference barriers. However, although America preaches equality for all, discrimination still runs rampant in all corners of this glorious country. It may not appear as evident, but people of color still get treated differently, and women get treated differently in the workplace. How can this country claim “equality for all” when other countries have greater forms of equality, such as topless equality in many European countries? The time has arrived to spread the awareness of gender equality with the National Go Topless Pride Day.
Because we want equality for all, this past Sunday represented National Go Topless Pride Day, a day where both men AND women can expose their upper bodies to the sun. According to the Constitution, women have just as much the right to go topless in public as men; however, the United States does not allow women to do that, while other countries WITHOUT a Constitution already allow it! National Go Topless Pride Day aims to spread awareness that women deserve the right to do what men have done for decades without the stigma of drawing unnecessary attention due to the over-sexualization of breasts by the media. One of the problems derive from people growing up seeing breasts as a sexual object, not as a natural part of a human body. The media represents the greatest perpetrator of this notion because the media portrays women’s breasts as sexual objects. Imagine a world where mainstream media never existed, or at least never portrayed breasts as sexual objects. Nudist colonies already represent this theoretical world because their members view each other equally – they see nothing sexual in each other, even their lower parts. A world without mainstream media shoving ideas down our throats represents a world truly run by the people, not one run by a select few manipulating a massive population.
Unfortunately in today’s society it all comes down to still having to cover up just the nipples. I still attribute this to mainstream media portraying breasts as sexual objects though, because someone or something had to program that into our minds from a young age. Earlier this month, I saw a post saying something like “instead of sending my daughter home because she wore something that distracted the boys, why not educate the boys on the human body and how we all have normal human bodies?” We learn gender identities from an early age through parental guidance and the media. Traditional families will raise their children to behave as their respective genders, while a more modern approach allows children to define their own roles. Growing up with this stigma makes men view women’s nipples as some sort of holy grail, and it takes an epiphany to get the men to open up their minds and change their views. Women should never feel ashamed of their bodies. The issue that topless women face stems from the unwanted attention it draws from the locals. Placed in the correct setting, this would not present a problem. For example, nudist colonies and certain European beaches would not pay unnecessary attention to a topless woman because their cultures accept it. Send that same topless woman to a crowded Southern Californian beach where the culture does not yet accept it, and the woman faces arrest for “disorderly conduct.”
In order to spread awareness during National Go Topless Pride Day, organizers across the world staged Go Topless Pride Parades, organized marches/rallies where both men and women could bare it all, strut their stuff, and inform the public to not view them as sexual objects, but as human beings. Anyone wanting to participate still had to cover their nipples, so the women got creative in the ways they covered up such as using tape, pasties, and other things that could stick onto their bodies. Men also exhibited just as much support by applying tape, pasties, or anything else they could find. Due to the overwhelming press that this event received, it surely attracted tons of unwanted attention, such as religious protestors, old creepy men, and just general trolls. While the heavy police presence helped to curb the amount of trouble that surfaced, many undesired problems caused delays in the parade’s starting time. While waiting for the path and smoke to clear, many of the participants eagerly mingled with each other while dodging the bad people. Unlike other events I have attended, many of the participants declined to have their photo taken. Thankfully, a handful of energetic individuals did not hesitate to allow me to capture their beauty, so I got to work until the parade went under way.
This year’s parade saw some major differences from previous years. Unlike last year, the parade started significantly earlier, likely due to fewer distractions and obstacles. The religious protesters returned again, but appeared a lot more aggressive than previous years, some inciting violence against those that do not believe in their faith. It appeared that they have fallen into the stigma of “If you’re not a part of the solution, then you’re a part of the problem.” This year’s parade drew a lot more media attention – I spotted CBS, ABC, NBC, and at least two other news vans. The usual old creepy men trying to get really close to the women & obstructing the real press/media people clustered the scene, and many men took photos of women without asking for permission. Last and probably the most disheartening, significantly fewer women participated in this year’s rally compared with previous years. I can only wager what contributed to this: either lack of advertising the event prior to Sunday, lack of interest, or worry over the unwanted attention from gawkers.
National Go Topless Pride Day encourages women to stand up for their constitutional rights, whether or not a state allows it. In states that forbid it, this encourages women to get it legalized. In states that allow it, this encourages women to exercise their already-existing rights. The organizers want women to feel comfortable about their natural mammalian breasts as a body part, nursing or not, and not as a sexual object. Because this movement emphasizes equality, this movement has just as much a meaning to men too. Men have fallen under the lull of the media for too long, seeing women’s breasts as something sexual rather than just a body part like arms and legs. Unlike the lower body parts which have to do with reproduction, breasts have nothing to do with reproduction – instead, it has to do with the phase after reproduction: child care, a significant part in the upbringing of children. Over time, men have become desensitized to the sight of a woman’s suggestive appearance such as short skirts, yoga pants, or revealing cleavage, and this movement aims to desensitize men’s sexual impulse on the sight of a woman’s breasts. Go Topless Pride wants men to respect the beauty of the human body rather than oogle over it.
How did the success of these worldwide Go Topless Pride Day Parades fare? Did they successfully spread awareness that women have the equal rights to go topless in public? Or did they merely provide an outlet for men to get a free show? Think about the year 2015, and how far civilization has come after all this time. Just this year the United States finally legalized same-sex marriages, further strengthening the equality gap for all. Can the nation tackle topless equality next? Other things the nation worries about now that we have legalized gay marriages include marijuana laws, prison reform, campaign finance, right to die laws, student loan debt (currently exceeds credit card debt), prostitution, climate change, privacy laws, widening of the upper class-lower class gap, education, health care, and so much more that topless equality does not measure as a “big issue” that the nation needs to address. Until then, you can support the Go Topless cause by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter. Lastly, we as a collective human society need to stop viewing women’s breasts as sexual objects, start viewing them as just a regular body part, and respect women’s decisions to treat their breasts as just a normal body part as well.