Going topless for gender equality in North Carolina
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.”