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The Fundamental Right of Women
By Suzanne MacNevin
Toplessness/Topfreedom is a fundamental women's right. It is a basic freedom and without it women will always be subjugated and considered to be "lesser" simply because they are censored.
The right to bare skin is as basic to all human rights as the right to food, the right to safety and the right to have children or not have children. We were born without clothes, therefore why should it be a "sin" to show the body that we were born with?
Even the Bible endorses the natural beauty of the human body, showing that Adam and Eve (or Lilith) were born without clothes, and only after they were tainted with original sin (the eating of the apple) did they cover themselves. If they had done what "god" had told them to do, which is never eat the forbidden fruit, then they would have continued living peacefully and running around nude all the time.
We were made naked, we were meant to be naked. We are certainly not meant to be wearing clothes or shoes or anything.
So why do some people consider a little thing like walking around topless such a big deal?
Men do it all the time. Nobody makes a fuss.
What makes the breasts of women so special?
Are some people just afraid of breasts?
Not really. Their primary problem with breasts is CHILDREN seeing them.
Which is funny, because if you raise the children in an environment where breasts are casually seen, the children simply don't care. This is true in Europe, Canada, Australia, Africa, Brazil and a variety of places around the world.
The notable exception is the United States, a country which prides itself on basic human rights and yet often denies its women those same basic rights.
In certain parts of the United States there is a more liberal attitude towards the showing of breasts (New Orleans for example), but the vast majority of the states denies women this basic right. The problem in the United States is that local states govern over many of the laws and the result is a patchwork of different laws across the country. The local laws in cities and towns are also different, so even if the state has no obscenity laws the city or town you are in may still have its own laws that prohibit toplessness.
What is really needed is a federal law to erase all of the patchwork laws from the different states.
This is precisely what happened in Canada several years ago when toplessness was finally made legal. Women in Canada had been going topless for years, but had rarely ever been tried and punished for it. The different provinces in Canada (including local town and city by-laws) all had different laws with respect to toplessness/obscenity. The federal government finally stepped in and stated that toplessness is legal and a basic human right, thus erasing the patchwork of provincial and local laws. Lower half "obscenity" is still illegal in public in most places.
So will the United States do the same some day?
George W. Bush is actually in favour of toplessness. In his homestate of Texas, during the time that he was governor, he passed a law that white women are allowed to go topless in public... but only white women. Apparently black, asian, latino or native women are somehow "obscene" just because their breasts are a different colour.
Apparently Bush is a racist.
Its very strange that he supports toplessness for white women, but not for women of colour.
The term subjugated basically means "enslaved". Slavery of women is a historical fact. It was true in Greek and Roman times and it is essentially true today. Women may not be "enslaved" in most countries, but there are still countries that do it (regardless of laws in those countries against it): China, the United States, Indonesia, Hungary, Sudan, Niger, United Arab Emirates, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Its not that these countries don't have laws against slavery, its simply that these laws are not really enforced. In the United States, Chinese slaves are imported to work in illegal sweatshops in California. The sweatshops produce cheaply made American clothes. The sweatshops are kept a secret because the people inside them are essentially illegal immigrants that have been forced into working there under threat of blackmail.
In China, slavery of women and children is very rampant. Extra children (usually female because most parents want boys) are often sold off, used as slaves or prostitutes. The slaves sometimes escape or are sometimes killed in order to prevent them from escaping. The Chinese government does very little to prevent the slave traffic.
While slavery of women is certainly a huge difference from having the right to go topless, it is symbolic of how women are treated differently and unfairly.
If we are ever to have equal rights, then we need to make laws that are equal for both men and women. Treating women differently is like saying they are somehow inferior.
And here is another right women have: The right to breastfeed. If their baby wants milk and they are in a public place, why not let the baby have its "bottle"...? Its only natural.
Even when topfreedom becomes legal that doesn't mean that women will suddenly start running around topless all the time. Its a choice. Many women have been raised to think its not proper. Things will change slowly after the new laws are in place. A few women will go topless, the same few who likely would have broke the law anyway. The square people and religious freaks would still be against it, but thats their opinion and they're entitled to have their opinion.
Just like women are entitled to the rights they have thus far been denied in the United States: Their Topless Rights.
So what can you do about it?
Research your local laws and see if you can find loopholes.
Organize a topfree protest.
Get arrested for breastfeeding in public and fight it out in the courts.
Join a nudist/naturalist group and find other women who are interested in the same thing.
Start a Topless Club for Women.
Make T-Shirts and bumperstickers and artwork promoting a topless lifestyle.
Start a petition and recruit others to make it work.
Get the media involved.
Think about it seriously and you'll come with lots of ideas.