COLETTE MONCRIEFF (GRADE 10)
In around half the states in the U.S., there is a possibility of legal action being taken on women for toplessness. Whether or not this seems outrageous to you, the law in some states legally forbids women from being topless in public. Why is that? Is it trying to protect the modesty of women? Is it an effort to protect women from sexualization? Or is it because women, throughout history, have been seen as sexual, when many situations don’t imply sexual attention at all? Of course, one could argue that topless women are indecent because of their breasts. And yes, while they continue to be seen as sexual, obscene, and private body parts, they were actually designed to serve a crucial biological function. Throughout history, women have been expected, and eventually legally forced, to cover up parts of their body, creating a false sense that their bodies have to be covered in a way that men’s bodies do not.
Women’s breasts, with the exception of more tissue and more parts for breastfeeding, do not drastically differ biologically from those of a man. They take no part in reproduction, only in the nurturing of the child after said reproduction. Why is it then, that one can see a man running shirtless on the side of the road, however shirtless women are seen only in pornographic situations, and if, in fact a woman was running shirtless, or simply breastfeeding her child in public, she could risk legal consequences, including incarceration. Although some believe that men and women have the same fundamental rights, this is clearly not the case. Allowing women to be topless would not necessarily lead to abundance of bare women, seeing as our society has not progressed enough to be a place in which that is totally safe (which also sucks). A study in 2004 stated that only 43% of those surveyed believed that women ought to have the right to breastfeed in public, an action necessary to the life of a child. Are breasts really so obscene that women can’t nurture their children in a public setting? The average American child sees over 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders on TV before the age of 18, and this is not questioned. However, the beautiful and natural part of the female body is illegal, and pornographic to children? How is one supposed to raise children in a society in which mother’s bodies are shamed and sexualized, but acts of violence are normalized?
Over the summer, I posted a picture of my topless back on Instagram. I got a call from my cousin later, where he claimed that I was essentially campaigning for “public porn”. This made me question, if there was a centimeter-wide bikini strap across my back, would it still be considered pornographic? If I was a boy, would it be pornographic? Nipples aren’t nudity for men, they shouldn’t be for women. Simple as that. My body is not porn, nor is any other woman’s. Women’s breasts are not sexual commodities to be regulated by the government, people on the street, or closed minded relatives. Get your shit together, America, free the nipple.