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Going topless for gender equality in North Carolina

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Summary of story from Citizen Times, August 22, 2011

Thousands of people gathered in Asheville, North Carolina, on Sunday, to promote gender equality and protest the social stigmas restricting a woman’s right to go topless.

The town centre was soon packed with onlookers cheering and taking photos as topless women, accompanied by men wearing bras or bikini tops, danced on the nearby fountain.

Police estimated the crowd peaked at around 2,000.

Although many people came just to see the spectacle the protest met a positive and peaceful response from the local community, despite causing some significant traffic delays.

The Asheville event was just one of several across the United States of America organised by the group GoTopless.org, which maintains that laws and social stigmas against women baring their breasts in public are unfair (see WVoN story).

Livienne Love, who helped put together the rally, said that the display was needed to raise awareness. While North Carolina has no law against women baring their breasts in public, some states and cities do.

“Before this event, a lot of women didn’t know they had the right here in Asheville and North Carolina,” Ms Love said. “We want to say to women: You have this right if you so choose to exercise it.”

Organisers at the event collected signatures on a petition seeking a constitutional amendment declaring the practice legal.

Shanda Panda, 38, who took part in the topless march, said: “I have faith in men that they can control their responses to seeing a breast. I think it’s important to empower women to be comfortable and feel safe being topless.”

  1. Do people think this protest is justified?

    After all, if we are promoting complete gender equality would people really be ok with seeing men baring their penises in public?

    My guess is not.

    There is feminism and refusing to be ashamed of the female body, and then there is disregard for anyone who might be embarrassed (e.g the very young or very old) by what is in my opinion a needless display of flesh.

    There is no NEED for women to display their breasts in public. To call this feminism makes a mockery of everything the word stands for.

    • The equivalent of women going topless is not men taking their trousers off, it is – surprisingly enough – men going topless.

      Rather than making a mockery of feminism, this protest instantiates one of its most basic principles – that women and men should be treated equally. Our culture accepts men’s desire to walk around shirtless, regardless of whether there is any ‘need’ for them to do so (what is a ‘need’ anyway? Thousands of years of Western philosophy have failed to come up with a definite meaning). Therefore if women want to do it, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be able to.

      • There is also the problem that it is acceptable for women to walk around in bikins which are rather close to being not there at all – as long as they conform to most of the standards of beauty. This is not the same as men tossing aside their tops as soon as the sun appears (at least, they do in Glasgow) no matter what their build or appearance.

      • What does treated equally even mean? If I build a building that requires stairs to enter, I could argue that the right to climb those stairs is equal to all – even the people in wheelchairs.

        Of course, what most people think is fair here is equal access not equal treatment… build a ramp to allow the person to enter the building. Thus being treated equally isn’t the end-all-be-all you seem to claim it should be (your words: “I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be able to.”)

        Further, outside of breastfeeding, why do women need to be topless? The question of whether men need to be is completely irrelevant legally… it just makes you feel better that you have something to compare it to. I’m sorry, but Lucy is exactly right: topless advocates are boobs that abuse the legitimate gains feminism.

        • Your argument is rather silly. I also wonder if you notice the tone of complete entitlement it exudes? ‘If people can’t climb stairs that’s their tough luck, if women aren’t treated equally under the law that’s also tough, the world is set up just fine for currently able-bodied, cis-gendered male me so everything’s A-OK!’. I don’t think I want to engage in any debate with you.

        • Equal treatment means what it says on the tin: that no obstacles are put in the way of men and women doing the same things if they want to. I’m not sure what your wheelchair analogy really adds to this conversation.

          You haven’t given any reason why it’s so awful for women to be topless, apart from saying that there’s no ‘need’ – a word in need of so much qualification and definition that any debater worth her salt avoids it.

          Why do we need to do anything? Why do you need to eat Greek olives rather than bread and water? Why do you need to go swimming? Most of these examples aren’t needs in the sense of fundamental to our continuing existence. It’s less philosophically dubious to just talk about people being prevented from or allowed to do things that they want to do – desires, wants, not ‘needs’.

          So, in case you somehow haven’t been able to work it out, the reasons a woman would want to take her top off are the same as mens’ – heat, comfort – except there’s perhaps even more reason for a woman to want to take her top off, because bras are uncomfortable in hot weather.

          I’m not even some vociferous public toplessness campaigner, I just don’t see why other people should be told what to do with their bodies on what seem to be baseless – and sexist – grounds.

          Also, you’re wrong to bring legality into it – women being topless is legal in many places, not least in North Carolina, where the protest was held. This is a question of social attitudes, not the law.

        • Chris in California says:

          I don’t see the parallel between being able to climb stairs and being allowed not to wear a shirt. Seems pretty silly to me that women get treated differently than men just because it’s always been that way.

    • There is no NEED for men to display their chests in public. Thinking about it I am no more uncomfortable with the thought of men walking around in the altogether than I am with them walking around topless.

      Why should anyone arrange their lives so they avoid embarassing someone *else*? In my experience the very young are not at all embarassed usually by most things that make their parents mutter and stumble over explanations. Bits of naked flesh is one of those things.

      Plus there is a need for women to be able to show their breasts in public, when they are feeding children. Unless you support the current double standard where newspapers and magazines can display womens’ breasts with impunity but women get tutted at and shamed for feeding their children?

      • Women who are breastfeeding usually can do so discreetly by covering their baby and shoulder with a small towel. Its not a big deal — I did it for years.

        Frankly, I think you’re trying to rewire men in contemporary Western society. Of course men can control themselves and almost all of them do. But to pretend that breasts aren’t a turn-on to men is ridiculous. That’s why almost all cultures have codes of modesty, which is exactly what you’re trying to undo. What you’re asking for is a return to primitivism, to a time when the Judeo-Christian worldview didn’t hold sway in the West.

        Most cultures, as they advance, cover the differentiated areas of men and women. Its a way of de-sexualizing the culture, by keeping sexuality behind family doors, in-doors or inside, not out-doors and outside. Covering sexual part of the body is the way our society bounds the in- and out- areas of life, perhaps as an evolutionary tactic to protect the child-rearing bonds in a family (the in’).

        Anyway, I’m rather saddened that you don’t fight the worst and most disgusting degradation of women — that of female genital mutilation, forced marriage of young girls, demeaned and diminished expectations of teen girls, the covering and isolating of women, honor killings by male family members and the ilk. This sort of patriarchalism is worth fighting. If feminism/feminists can’t see this, if they refuse to see the big picture and the elephant in the room, they’ll be set back to medieval mores, and lose everything they’ve striven for.

        You’re making mockery of real feminism and the real work that has to be done to make our society safe for all women.

        • Err…I’m assuming you’ve only read this article, then, because if you look anywhere else on the site you’ll see that WVoN covers an incredibly wide range of stories from all over the world. It’s always easy to belittle Western problems of both men and women while looking worthy at the same time, but in reality it’s possible to be concerned about more than one thing at the same time. If every time someone had a problem in the West we said ‘sorry, no point helping you, people are starving in the Horn of Africa’, we’d all be clinically depressed and jumping off the nearest bridge.

          Personally, it’s not like I spend all my time advocating for this particular issue, it’s just a principle that I’m interested in. I just think it would be quite nice to be able to be take my shirt off in a park on a hot summer’s day. But what you’ve introduced is a broader criticism that is often used to silence Western women’s legitimate complaints.

          But, if you want to lecture us on how we ought to allot our feminist time here, consider this: I worked for Oxfam for three years, worked as a caseworker for an MP dealing with forced marriage cases, I’m doing a PhD in Middle Eastern politics and I give regularly to charity, as well as writing for WVoN. How about you? Now do you want to lecture me on how to spend my time, because I’m prepared to listen if you’re honestly spending more time combating the global disempowerment of women?

          The ad hominem isn’t my favourite argument, but I have heard this accusation levelled at feminism in the West so many times – ‘oh why don’t you just go away, you’ve got the vote and a vague shot at having a job, aren’t you happy now?’ that I’m completely bored of it.

        • Are you really trying to present societal restrictions as the natural products of an advancing society? Have you considered that one of the reason breasts are a turn on is because there is such an emphasis on them being things for men to have fun with (but secretly, as showing them is a little bit taboo – not much, but a little) and not just another body part? What about men’s chests, are they not a turn on for straight women? If not, why not? Why should men not be just as ‘modest’ in their dress as women have to be? Why should men not be compelled to control themselves *all* the time, as women are? Why should we be responsible for the effects of their gaze lazily resting on us?

          I totally reject the argument that differentiating between men and women has desexualised the culture or kept sexuality behind family doors. Have you glanced at any billboards, posters, magazines, newspapers, television adverts, programmes, web pages…? I further find it insulting that you have basically said that cultures where people are relaxed about bare female chests are primitive. I expect a few of them would take issue with that sentiment. Are you also therefore saying that the Judeo-Christian worldview has been a positive thing for humans? I believe I’d take issue with such a statement too.

          One of the points of this is that breasts are secondary sexual characteristics which have evolved to feed children, they are not a ‘sexual part of the body’. It is insulting to men to expect that they will turn into salivating idiots at the mere sight of a breast, it is insulting to women to have to be the moral guardians of each others bodies because of some arbitrary fashion for ‘modesty’.

          Further, it appears you have not heard of ‘multitasking’. Feminism has lots of work to do in lots of areas, why on earth would you think that having strong feelings on this issue would prevent anyone for also campaigning about any other issue? This is a straw man of an argument, although you have inadvertently highlighted the wider issue – policing of women’s bodies by the patriarchy, often enforced by women themselves. Telling a women she has to cover up out of modesty is exactly what you’re advocating further up your comment but you don’t seem to see the contradiction when you mention covering women in your second last paragraph. Policing our dress (or indeed undress) is big patriarchy business when it should be the choice of the woman concerned if she wants to wear string knickers and pasties or hijab. Policing female bodies by insisting they look a certain way and behave only in certain ways is something feminism has always been concerned with highlighting and opposing.

          I also reject your last sentence and I’d like to point out that slagging off other feminists simply because you don’t entirely agree on an issue is not productive.

        • copleycat says:

          “Frankly, I think you’re trying to rewire men in contemporary Western society.”

          Ya and that’s a problem because??? Funny how you refer to feminists as “they” and pull that don’t-you-know-other-people-have-worse-problems tactic. Most of the people here are concerned about and fighting against the more purulent manifestations of misogyny. Doesn’t mean there’s no reason to fight this battle too. As for keeping “sexuality behind family doors” the media is saturated with images of a very all-about-domination sexuality – you want to talk about a re-wiring process?

          Bras are uncomfortable period. Why the should anyone be subjected to them, they hurt. Why should women bear the brunt of any culture’s codes of modesty? Is there something inherently shameful about us? And if you buy that, which it sounds like you do, then how far have we come from covering and isolation and what’s to stop us from rolling back? After all the underlying assumption is still there; women are to be held accountable for the feelings of others, this includes the feelings others have just when they look at a woman. How is that fair? How is that not tyranny? Why is it demanded that women be responsible for making sure that everyone around them is as emotionally comfortable as possible? Could it be that way too many people think it’s OK to be babies their whole lives and expect a cadre of surrogate mommies to perpetually nurse them? Well then no wonder they can’t abide the sight of a breast that so obviously isn’t theirs. If you didn’t come out of my vagina then I shouldn’t have to deal with your mother issues.

    • Here, Here!

      This type of behavior is regression. Women are entrapping themselves further–we are trying to prove that we’re equals and respectable by using sex, so that men can continue to see us as mere objects. How about demanding respect rather than declaring us undeserving of it? Were all those men taking pictures doing it so they can show them to their little girls as an example of how to be a strong, powerful, respectable person?

      • Wesley Harris says:

        Alright, when a man wants to simply have a one-night-stand, or something only for physical gratification, yes we see a woman as primarily an object, a person sure, but not a person we wish to get to know in-depth. Evil, I know. But, you’re extending your own narrative towards the belief that such things are wrong. It’s no more wrong for a man to see a woman as primarily a useful bit of sexual gratification, than it is for a woman to see a man as the source for all of her emotional fulfillment.
        Men and women approach relationships from completely different dynamics, and you should appreciate this.
        One night stands ARE primarily sexual objectives.
        Long term relationships require commitment, communication, and understanding in order to fully realize whom the person is that you are interested in, and what they require in order to sustain long-term happiness in the relationship.
        I love my wife because she is mine, and I am hers. I do not love her because she is only a sexual being to me, but because she is everything that I could desire in a relationship or partner.
        There are many ways to view the world Angela, not just mine or yours. Currently there are between 6.5 and 7.5 billion ways to view the world. Pick more than one :D

      • Angela, I read that as men having to demand respect instead of declaring women undeserving of it – I don’t think that’s what you were saying but it’s an interesting point! Isn’t there still an assumption that hetero cis-men and their POV are generally to be respected as the ‘norm’ away from which all other POV deviate?

  2. Views / stigmas / laws about baring of flesh – male or female – climate permitting – are fashion trends. Men – try walking around Rome with your shirt off and see how long it takes for the Polizia to instruct you to cover up..

    • Didn’t know that about Italy. Also haven’t noticed any topless men in Ireland, although there hasn’t been much hot weather so it might be that. Very good point about the local trends though.

  3. chris123 says:

    “While North Carolina has no law against women baring their breasts in public, some states and cities do.”

    Help me understand how you protest against a law that is NOT on your books.

    • Ok Chris, I will help you, since you seem to think you’ve found a flaw in the plan that all these protesting women must have missed.

      There is no law in North Carolina, but there exists a social stigma that prevents women from doing this. They were protesting the social stigma, while also drawing attention to the fact that this action is legally proscribed in other states.

      As Kirsty said in the article:

      ‘Thousands of people gathered in Asheville, North Carolina, on Sunday, to promote gender equality and protest the social stigmas restricting a woman’s right to go topless.’

  4. In England, a woman can ‘flash’ (e.g. during the middle of a football match or suchlike) and it is NOT against the law. A man, however, is committing a crime if he flashes his goods.

    Most feminists are disgusted by men who show their genitalia (intentionally or otherwise)… So why do you support double standards, where women are free to show their sexual goods (breasts) but condemn men who do so?

    Ahh good ol’ feminist hypocrisy.

    • Sorry when did you ask ‘most feminists’ how they feel about male genitalia? Can I see your research please?

      Yeah, thought not.

  5. Everything looks like fun when you can do it in the warmth of summer.

    If feminists really want to show the strength of modern women, let them go topless in the winter:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIr8Nl22eoE

  6. Wesley Harris says:

    Men see breasts as a sexual thing.
    Men are visual creatures, we like to
    see and feel with our eyes, just as much as
    say a baby with lots of fuzzy toys. We look
    we can control ourselves sure, but if we see
    naked Female breasts in public, we shall look
    and we shall comment, and most likely the lady
    will not be happy about the comments and/or thoughts.

    • I see, so you want women to police their appearance so men don’t need to be polite? Have you noticed that women get comments and cat calls anyway, whatever they wear?

      Also, this ‘men are visual’ excuse is a bit wearing. So are women. So what?

  7. Wesley Harris says:

    It’s also very true. Men are stimulated sexually to a much larger extent in the visual stimuli category than women are. If it’s wearing thin, test out the theory. Heck, I know i am. If I see a pretty lady walking down the street, my eyes follow unless I happen to tell them no. Which is quite a bit difficult sometimes.

    • Poor you.

      If I have time later I will attempt to track down the recent study that challenges this excuse. I would suggest that it’s a load of hooey. Further I would suggest that what is actually happening is that men feel they can be more obvious with their gaze than women do. I can assure you that I also notice attractive people walking down the street and I am a cis-gendered female. The rise in ‘ladette culture’ (horrible phrase) in the UK over the last fifteen years or so should give us some nice anecdotal evidence that women can leer and catcall just as much as any man can.

      • Wesley Harris says:

        It has nothing at all to do with policing one’s appearance, and everything to do with using common sense.
        Honestly, your point is dragging this down into a name calling session, instead of a discussion of the subject at hand aye?
        I find such things quite interesting really.
        I am not one to cat call or none such other things, BUT if a man walks down a street late at night, wearing quite a bit of gold, and counting his riches, especially in a rather dangerous neighborhood, well he WILL find himself robbed. It’s called commonsense ma’am. I haven’t down-rated myself to attacking you on a personal level, and I expect the same from you.

        • Wesley, I would strongly advise you to reconsider your words here. Though I am male and yes, see breasts as sexual objects because they are typically revealed during sexual activity, I do not “feel” with my eyes.

          Now, by “feel” I assume that you are attempting to find a euphemism for leer. Let’s be clear, leering is creepy, it is rude, it is invasive and it has a habit of making the victim feel uncomfortable.

          Please stop leering at women, please stop attempting to justify leering at women, please do not attempt to substitute “leer” for “feel” and please, please, please do not appoint yourself as a spokesperson for men.

          Men do not feel with their eyes Wesley. Men do not leer or try to make women feel uncomfortable. They do not shout out at them or make comments about naked female breasts in public.

          Some men do feel entitled to make a variety of immature, sexual and offensive comments to women and girls regardless of whether they are wrapped up from head to toe, dressed casually, wearing sports ware, beach ware, or breast feeding.

          But that’s just a minority of men Wesley. Men like you.

          Sadly you’re a more visible and audible minority than I like, but you are a minority. The majority of men go unnoticed because they’re not leering, commenting, or acting like babies with fuzzy toys.

          Now, I’m aware that you claim that you don’t cat call women, but a few posts back you did state:

          “we shall look and we shall comment, and most likely the lady will not be happy about the comments and/or thoughts.”

          So I’m curious as to what these comments might be that aren’t cat calls and that separate you from the “men” on behalf of which you seem to speak.

          You see, men can tell their bodies no. Seriously, they can. I know because I can. Let me help you. If you don’t want to follow a woman with your eyes as she walks down the street. Don’t, it’s that simple.

          Go and look at something else.

          If you can’t then I seriously recommend that you seek psychological help because not being able to restrain your sexual urges is a problem. A really big problem and not one that is coded into male DNA either.

          As for your rich man example, comparing a “rich” man walking down the street “wearing quite a bit of gold, and counting his riches” who then gets robbed is not equivalent to you looking at a woman you find sexually attractive.

          It is not equivalent to you cat calling a woman.

          It’s the equivalent of a woman walking down the street with something that you sexually want but can’t have and taking it from her by force.

          So I really hope you didn’t just attempt to justify sexual assault as being just a “man” thing that “we” do.

          • Simon, you also rock. :-D

          • Renalda Ishi says:

            Wesley, you sound so Christian and old fashioned. I agree with Halla and Simon. And why would you comment if you know it makes a woman feel uncomfortable?

        • Where is the common sense? I have called you no names at all.

          Your example doesn’t work for me. It suggests that we all bow to criminal behaviour, which is not good enough, clearly. How about the example of Agatha Christie – she was one of the first UK people to master stand-up surboarding. I expect that drew some crticism and ‘common sense’ responses along the ‘she mus tbe mad’ lines. Until people got used to it of course. How about things like woman’s suffrage? Doesn’t that seem like common sense now? It didn’t used to, nor did giving every man a vote. Times change, people and their behaviour can too.

          • I love the Agatha Christie example! I’m going to remember that for next time I have to argue against the ‘conventional wisdom’ excuse for discrimination.

        • copleycat says:

          Oh and there we go with the assertion that if you’re a woman then your body isn’t the house of your soul it’s an object like gold and so you have to expect that it will be constantly coveted and even stolen from time to time. This analogy shows a fundamental lack of respect for women’s humanity.
          Another funny thing about that analogy; a man gets robbed and the robber is caught, how likely do you think it is that the cops, judge, prosecutor and jury will assume that the man really wanted to be robbed?

  8. Wesley Harris says:

    Wait a moment mate. Did I or have I said in any form or fashion that cat calling is acceptable? No. Did I say it happens, of course. A person, when they dress in a way that attracts the male eye, WILL attract attention.
    You seem to have concluded, based on my postings that I would, or heck, any decent person would support attacking a woman or belittling a woman in a verbal or physical way. I did not say this.
    If a woman walks down the street topless, she WILL invite attention, this is the honest truth. I am a married man, and a father, I don’t post under pseudonyms, if you look me up on facebook or google plus you will find me.
    Nor does alluding to a common male desire as being a minority mean that one needs psychological help. It is quite healthy and normal to find the body of a woman who is adult physically and sexually attractive.
    I am not justifying, I am simply stating a fact, men do look, we do feel with our eyes, it is not a point of leering, it is a point of thinking, and while you may think us to be a minority, I would point out to you that being an educated male does not subject oneself to being neuter and sexually neutral in all things.
    I prefer women, I find the form beautiful, I would find it amazing if ladies would walk around the street topless, but alas such things where I am now would not happen.
    What I would suggest though, is instead of debasing this conversation towards attacks on my mental health, you engage me in a proper and verbose debate on the topic at hand, instead of attacking my mental health.
    Oh quite the libertine you are sir.

    • Wesley, if you hear cat calling what do you to? Do you remonstrate with your fellow man and point out that what he is doing is unwelcome and intimidating, at the very least? Or do you continue to tell women to police ourselves, our conduct and our dress? What exactly is clothing that is attractive to men anyway? Is this attractiveness increased so much if body parts aren’t covered up that you are unable to control your attraction? So what if women get attention? “Attention” is not the same as “brazen leering”.

      I’ll point out too that what you are stating are not facts but opinions. You can’t possibly claim to speak for all men, in fact I know you don’t as Simon has already pointed it out to you.

      The so-called ‘Naked Rambler’ has just been arrested and jailed again in Perth, Scotland, for his refusal to wear clothes when rambling or in court. He’s spent most of the past ten years in prison. How much attention has he received, and he’s doing something that Western society says is much more taboo.

      • Wesley Harris says:

        Halla,
        I do a bit of both. If a woman is walking around topless she’s going to draw attention. Heck, she’d draw my attention. But, leering is simply staring.
        Have you spent time in Asia ? I’ve spent the past 3 years teaching in South East and Central Asia. I’m stared at EVERY DAY. This isn’t opinion, it’s fact, often times it doesn’t bother me, murmurs of laowai are quite common in china, weiguk in Korea, and so on. How do I deal with the staring? I shake hands, greet people, ask them if I’m a monkey, ask them if their jaw ever closes, humor is a wonderful motivator.
        Cultural norms are quite that CULTURAL, they aren’t based on fact, they’re based on opinion, and it is my opinion that going
        topless for a woman in public WILL attract more attention to her than a man would. I asked my wife if she’d do that for me, she said, ” I’m not Russian.”
        So instead of arguing with me about the moral ambiguities of imposing a male chauvinistic mindset on the modern day female, take it as it is a cultural no-no in most places.

        • Shan’t.

        • Hi Wesley, I’ve spent time in Japan and also experienced the staring, as well as people pointing out my presence to their friends. It was mildly unnerving at first, but once I got used to it I wasn’t bothered, because I realised that this staring was very different to the staring and comments and abuse I am regularly subjected to by men in England.

          Leering is staring with a sexual intent, which many people (not least but particularly those who have suffered sexual violence) find distressing. It is often accompanied with that horrible ‘undressing you with their eyes’ look, which some men use to to assert power over women. In contrast, as you’ll know, the staring in East Asia is more to do with surprise or curiosity at seeing a gaijin in an unexpected place, and isn’t threatening. The phenomenon of being a foreigner abroad is undoubtedly interesting, but as someone who has experienced both kinds of staring, I don’t think they can be compared.

  9. Wesley, unfortunately for me I had a spare half an hour, so I read your comments in this thread.

    I’m a little confused as to what you’re talking about. Is it that everything’s okay so long as you view it as cultural?

    You have made your case with no supporting research. Do you have any scientific evidence for your assertion: “Men are stimulated sexually to a much larger extent in the visual stimuli category than women are. If it’s wearing thin, test out the theory”?

    Kim Wallen and colleagues have done some research into responsiveness to sexual stimuli and responses in the amygdala. They found a slight difference, which was then compared to rats’ brain processes, but it was inconclusive about whether that supported a theory of innate gender difference.

    More research has been done in the area, of course, using empirical study and theoretical frames of reference, and a large proportion have found that any difference is easily explained by social influence as opposed to biology. (Murnen & Stockton for example.) But perhaps you were thinking of some other study?

    Other than you thinking that you might “feel with your eyes”, do you know of any research, studies, or articles that have investigated this and reported on it? A rudimentary search on google scholar hasn’t thrown anything up, but maybe I haven’t used the correct terms.

    You have also managed to avoid considering intentions behind and nuanced consequences of behaviour, shown by how you equate “staring” with “leering”.

    It seems as if you’ve become tangled up in your own attempts to assert a common sense.

    Stating your opinions over and over to the point of bruising the internet will not turn them into fact any more than clicking your heels three times really will spin you right back home.

    You may have a wife and kids, but this doesn’t make your opinions any more acceptable.

    • Wesley Harris says:

      That’s sweet, you assume that I’m asserting methodological research in an attempt to assert my opinions as fact. They are as always my opinions.
      My opinions are my own, and to say 75 or 80% of the general public, the Western Public acceptable, in Eastern society, it’s probably even more so, I have yet to see a single woman in Korea or China walking around topless.
      But, I do assert that my opinion is valid, no matter how much you rail and disregard a males opinion as tripe, simply because he is male.
      There IS a common sense to this, it’s a culturally relevant thing, you’ll find that culture dominates our society, with those that disagree with the culture being themselves aberrant and abnormal as compared to those that toe the cultural line of acceptable and unacceptable actions, and their consequences.
      Leering is in effect a chronologically elongated stare, and folks DO leer pretty much every where.
      So PLEASE, debate with me a bit more, without debasing my opinions as simply unacceptable rubbish, simply because you disagree with it.
      Heck, if you want to walk around topless, do so, do so every day, but please don’t complain if this results in negative cultural situations for you throughout your given day.

      • But you keep stating your opinions as if they are fact. In which case I am free to hear them and ignore them, which is pretty much what my last response is about. Your opinion is only valid as your opinion, same as anyone else’s.

        • Wesley Harris says:

          Facts are simply generally accepted opinions.
          Opinions are personally accepted facts.
          I’m a cultural relativist. Deal?

          • Well…as a philosophy of science grad I am going to call this fact/opinion stuff out as bullshit.

            You seem to be substituting the word ‘fact’ for what is in fact a cultural convention, giving your argument more of a sense of objectivity than it ought to have. Your terms need clarifying. A fact is the best approximation to the objective reality of the world that we have, given certain technological and historical contingencies (i.e. different models of the universe have been ‘fact’ at different times). It’s not just created out of nothing from common consensus, although consensus is needed for it to be accepted as a fact (see Kuhn on paradigm shifts). This is why people are asking for the statistics you’re using to prove your statements.

            An opinion isn’t anything to do with fact, unless you can state the facts on which it is based. Otherwise it is just that, an opinion, a declaration of your personal value systems and principles.

            In fact, I think your whole argument relies on a confusion of facts and values. You say that because observation shows reality to be a particular way, that is the way it ought to be. Women get harassed/leered at/whatever on the street, you say that it is inevitable (you deny that you think it’s acceptable – but doing nothing to challenge it is the same as condoning it). I’d like to point out that Hume and all the Enlightenment critics of nature as a basic for moral behaviour are against you here, so it doesn’t seem like you’re onto a winning argument.

            You’re not a cultural relativist, you’re a cultural absolutist – asserting that because things are a particular way, they can never change. History has proven you wrong, again and again. (Incidentally, cultural relativism has no place in a rational person’s moral worldview. It’s not far from condoning street harassment in the West to condoning FGM and forced marriage elsewhere – ‘oh, it’s just culture’, but that’s a whole other post.)

            No-one’s been hostile to you on here because you’re a man. If you scroll up the thread, you will see that I also engaged critically with a poster using a female alias. Basically, my point here is: don’t use the terms ‘fact’ and ‘opinion’ so lightly and loosely.

  10. Wesley Harris says:

    Deal means understand, it’s newspeak. Goodness. I’d almost think ya’ll were rather hostile towards those that espouse differentiated opinions outside of your current forward-thinking world-view.

    • Now you’re simply attempting to derail the whole debate. We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this because I see no value in continuing to talk to you.

  11. Wesley Harris says:

    Alright Halla, I’ll agree to disagree, but I’d also like to point out the end product of this, if taken to it’s logical extreme. Sexless bathrooms for one, I’d say after HighSchool after PE showers would be quite interesting if such things were Uni-sex as we’d all imagine them.
    Heck, unisex athletics should be interesting, Woman and men competing on an equal level, this is something we should all aspire for.
    But, if we’re to play this game , we can’t move the goal posts any more we have to agree on a standard, and STICK to that standard. Many complaints that we men have revolve around many of the women in the feminist movement playing a game, but constantly moving about the goal posts and the rules, so as to cause the men to constantly lose at this.

    Heck, my grandmother was and probably still is a feminist, in the classical sense, she raised me, my older sister, my aunt, and my father, she did this while married to a husband that was constantly away at work, and still managed to run a business, be active in local politics and social work, AND she still managed a fairly active social life situated around the local church. So, when I hear someone complaining about things not being equal enough, I do get a bit tiffed, and I should rightfully so.

    • That is not a logical extreme, Wesley. Kudos to your grandmother, you actually highlight an important point in that women, for the most part, have always had to go out to work etc. and *some* achieved positions of similar power to men. However that’s hardly news, and it doesn’t require you to ‘tiff’, whatever one of those is.

  12. Wesley Harris says:

    My grandmother is our matriarch fair lady, she holds more power and sway in our family than anyone else, and has done so since before I can remember. This is typical in our family, the oldest female member typically ends up as the effective familial leader in matters related to
    keeping the family structure intact. She’s a hard woman, with a big heart, and I happened to be the only baby boy. So eh.
    My wife is alot like my grandmother, strong headed, and often times leads me more than I lead her. Sure a relationship is a codependent addiction, but each person provides a different strength that the other person may depend on .
    I think that’s what I see missing here, a lack of understanding of both sides of the fence.
    It’s quite annoying really.

    • “I think that’s what I see missing here, a lack of understanding of both sides of the fence.
      It’s quite annoying really.”

      Yes, same here.

  13. What ever happened to context? I would no more reveal my breasts in the street than turn up to a client meeting in jeans. I have sunbathed topless on beaches were it is common practice. A mother feeding her child should be able to do so almost anywhere. I don’t feel this is a feminist issue because society is conditioned to make assumptions based on how a person is dressed – male or female. We rely on this conditioning to decipher whether a person is working, an official of some kind, or simply relaxing. Personally I find it useful that I can use clothes to indicate whether I want to be taken seriously in business or I am up for a little fun.

    Surely we should discourage women from allowing themselves to be exploited by crass media expectations rather than encouraging all women to whip their tops off. Just because fat men do it – doesn’t make it nice. We all have to live together and should respect each others’ needs. Work, family and leisure all have different context with very different boundaries.

    Perhaps the bigger picture is what we want breasts to represent. They were designed to feed babies, but we shouldn’t forget that some experts believe they also serve to attract a mate. No amount of feminism is going to deprogramme how men and women interact. Will we ever be able to remove the association between breasts and sexuality?More interesting perhaps is to ask the question. What would women do if they were given messages reinforcing values like self-worth, inner development, community, family, intelligence and pursuit of a fulfilling career. My guess would be we would have fewer women queuing up for naked photo shoots and more investing in a self-image that is a reflection of who they really are…whomever that may be.

    Just one more point, feminism to me is deeply personal thing that we all consider slightly differently. IMO one thing it absolutely should NOT do is encourage women to behave as men do at their worst. No-one seems to notice that women everywhere are raising standards for EVERYONE by making positive behaviour the standard – to which men are increasingly having to comply. The workplace is a good example of this.

  14. copleycat says:

    “We all have to live together and should respect each others’ needs.”

    There’s that word again!

  15. As it turns out, this “protest” had nothing to do with gender equality. It was a scam/publicty stunt by a cult to recruit new members. Below is a link to a news video and article by a NC historian and author.

    WLOS – What’s Behind Go Topless

    http://www.wlos.com/shared/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wlos_vid_5298.shtml

    A local historian and author says the Go Topless demonstration last week in Asheville was not about feminism. Poet Laureate Laura Hope-Gill says the women who took off their tops were part of a movement to raise awareness of Raelism, a strange worldwide movement led by a man who believes he’s learned the secrets of life from Aliens.

    Hope-Gill says she began questioning the motives of the demonstrators from the beginning when they claimed it was about equal rights for women. She says never in the history of the feminist movement has this been part of their platform and it never will be. Hope-Gill says “Rael,” who’s real name is Claude Vorilhon, is using women and their breasts to draw attention to his movement known as “Raelism.”

    Opponents have criticized the city for allowing the event, claiming it was obscene and abused children that were present on the city’s street. The Rael Movement website contains information about the Go Topless events, including Ashevilles.

    • Really? How odd! :-D It did start a discussion, anyway.

    • Reflect says:

      “Opponents have criticized the city for allowing the event, claiming it was obscene and abused children that were present on the city’s street.”

      I guess I’m going to have to assume that every child that was breastfed was abused in similar fashion? The only part women are required to cover up is the nipple. Children have seen so many nipples on men and other children that it certainly shouldn’t be an issue. Perhaps a child going to the beach and seeing a woman in a bikini would then be just as abusive as she pretty much only covers the nipple.

      Whether this particular protest came from aliens or not, the general concept is ridiculous. If given the ability to go topless, MOST women wouldn’t walk around town that way any more than you see men doing it now. It’s not like you’d go into work and the women would be taking off their tops anymore than when a man goes to work, he takes off his shirt.

      The concept is flawed any way you look at it. Quite honestly, if it didn’t make STDs more easily transferable, I’d not care if complete nudity was legal. At the basic level, we all know there are two genders, and neither is a mystery.

  16. I can totally see this as a feminist stunt. It falls right in line with most issues feminists have in modern society – things that men are able to do (because their physical & mental attributes and/or the law allows them to) that women are not allowed to do. The fact that society finds it unacceptable for men to exercise their ability is never considered.

    In this case, the fight is for the right for women to go topless simply because in most areas it’s illegal. The fact that it’s socially unacceptable for men to go topless in just about any setting other than a beach in apparently irrelevant. When we consider what’s socially acceptable, it’s the men that should be fighting for their right to go almost naked wherever they happen to be. American society has gotten to the point that most people apparently find it acceptable for women to have most of their breasts hanging out no matter what the setting.

    Take a look around. Look at how most female news anchors are dressed now compared to their male counterparts. The men are still dressed in traditional suits & ties while the women are dressed in low-cut sleeveless tops. I suppose the feminists will say this is not a case of women having more freedom but rather a case of men forcing women to wear revealing clothes.

    Anywhere you look in America women choose to and are allowed by society to expose their bodies. Men are not. And still, instead of their being rallies to encourage men to be more comfortable with their bodies and encourage society to be more accepting of men exposing their bodies, we have yet another rally for women to gain legal rights for something the law allows men to do but society prevents them from doing.

    • Har. You’re about two weeks too late with your ‘pooooor meeeeeeeeen’ rant/whine combo. You have shown that you paid no attention to any othet comments though, well done.

      • Just commenting on the ‘pooooor meeeeeeeeen’ rant/whine “we want the right to choose” rally. BTW, I did read the other comments before I posted.

  17. Jane Da Vall says:

    Possibly you read them too fast. See if you can read this more slowly, you wrote it, that might help, I don’t know.

    “things that men are able to do (because their physical & mental attributes and/or the law allows them to) that women are not allowed to do.”

    And who made this law? Did it appear etched in stone? Or did man create it, to benefit man, at women’s expense? So women object, and campaign, and change the law. Is any of that too complicated? It is understandable that you don’t want equality, it is nice to have more advantages than others, but it isn’t what most people call a decent way to live and to treat your fellow human beings.

    • Maybe you need to re-read my comment, with an open mind this time if at all possible. Society created the laws. The same society that dictates that it’s inappropriate for men to go topless in just about any setting other than a beach. The same society that finds it acceptable for women to go close-to-topless in settings that require men to wear, at the very least, a short sleeve shirt. The same society that, in the US and many other countries, requires by law that the men register to be forced to go to war. The same society that funnels billions of tax dollars into women’s health and societal issues with very little going to men’s issues.

      I could go on and on. Were these all created “to benefit man, at women’s expense?” Quite the opposite. They were created to benefit women and men’s expense.

      Believe me, I’d love for there to be equality. But it would have to be true equality. Let’s dedicate as much time and money to handling men’s issues as we do women’s. Let’s start requiring women to register for the Selective Service. Let’s start recognizing that all people, not just women, are beautiful. Let’s start giving fathers the same right to choose as mothers have. Again, I could go on and on. Equality? I’m all for it.

      Considering how many serious inequalities exists, it seems silly to have a rally to promote the legal right for women to go topless even though it would be considered socially unacceptable anywhere but the beach.

      • vicki wharton says:

        I see plenty of men topless today on the streets of London – no disapproving looks like PC Diem states. Society funds billions of dollars into war and armourments and porn – which make the funding of healthcare in the US spent on state aided women only issues minute. Society governance is largely run by men throughout the world, and getting them to deal or think about women and children as fellow, equal human beings rather than needy drains on society, is a bit like trying to get the Catholic Church to consider the issue of paedophile priests. Its hard. And when fathers start taking the same level of responsibility in wanting to properly care for their children, then they can have the same rights. Ask any groups of fathers some basic questions on children such as what’s a human beings resting temperature, name three initial symptoms of meningitus, at what age is it safe to give aspirin to a child, in what order should you feed the five food groups and why and you will be met by huge guffaws of laughter. But leaving a child in the hands of someone who hasn’t even taken it upon themselves to jen up on even the most basic facts of looking after another person is mistaking care for neglect… and no one has the right to neglect their own child.

  18. Raven says:

    Ok, you are prepetuating that which you are protesting! Our breasts should be modestly covered. It is NOT the same as men shirtless, duh! You show a poor example of women as a whole. Find an intelligent way of protesting. I agree in the equality you are demanding , of course! You are women, show your best and not your boobs!!!

  19. Reflect says:

    OK, come on people. What do women have to cover up? Nipples! That’s pretty much it. What difference does it make if men show their nipples? NONE! If we’re afraid of baring a breast in public, shouldn’t we make the part that is different (the fatty bulging part) illegal and make the parts that are the same (nipples) OK to uncover?

    I can see the reason for a law of excretion (butt, genitals) to be covered for public safety… but when it comes to nipples, 99% of the time there is no excretion. And if there is, there is generally a baby to extract it. Your nose excretes more!

    Just think about our laws for a moment. It is RIDICULOUS that it is the nipple that needs to be covered. A man’s nipple is so generally accepted we don’t even think twice. What we see is the difference is the breast itself. And right now, in every state, it is OK to show your breasts, just not the nipple. Give me a break! Get rid of the tan lines, get rid of the stupidity. Either force women to cover up their entire breast, or leave it up to them! Stupid!

  20. Look: It’s the 21st century now. Why are we being so very PRUDISH about women’s breasts? I’m a forward-thinking, left-wing hetrosexual man (albeit single, Asberger’s syndrome autism and bipolar with epilepsy) of Britisdh origins now living in Ireland and it puzzles me why women can’t show their nipples. MEN have got nipples, MEN can go round bare chested whenever they like! We are living in the Dark Ages! We should start living in the past and let it be, after all you can show bottoms but not women’s breasts. Why not? I’m comfortable that women can go topless on beaches or rock concerts, that’s a start. But why not, within reason, EVERYWHERE else, ANYWHERE ELSE too? Women’s breasts, except under the most exceptional of circumstances can NEVER be shown on British or Irish television. What’s going to happen to you if you see a woman’s nipple? it’s not going to disturb you. Topless women should be shown more on British and Irish television even before the watershed. It doesn’t have to be “titulating”. A bare chested man is not considered to be “titulating” and yet it is shown. So, Britain and Ireland and the world: Stop being so prudish and allow this equality for ALL women now!

  21. Firemanbm says:

    This is how I see it. I think it should be allowed. After all a woman’s breast aren’t considered genitalia. And if it is legalized, most women will not walk around in public topless. And if it does happen, after time passes, it will be like men. Virtually unnoticed.

    So I say let the women of the world have the same rights as men.

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