I never thought I’d say this, but this is my blog entry about boobs. I happen to have two of my own, which makes me feel particularly passionate about this issue. Let me clear the air first by saying that this is coming from a constant advocate for female rights, health and safety. I’m not big on the term “feminist” and this whole battle of breast censorship is actually a small part of why. When people think of feminists, one of the cliche’ jokes made is their bra-burning tendencies…
Here is what I’m responding to. Many journalists have been covering the hopes for a new law. Here are some of the expectations/ideas/demands I’ve been reading about:
1.Remove the discrimination in law that treats female breasts differently to male breasts despite both consisting of breast tissue, areolas and nipples.
2. Revise the laws on public nudity that effectively deem a woman’s breasts to be inherently sexual. A man can swim topless despite his toplessness being sexual in certain contexts, male strippers for example – women do not have that right.
3. Revise gender discrimination laws so that requiring a woman to cover her breasts is treated as gender discrimination if the same is not required of a man e.g. at a public sauna.
Frankly, I think equalizing female toplessness is not only unrealistic, but unsafe in this world we live in. Lets get real, girls. For the record, that wasn’t me addressing the readers as girls, that’s how I talk to my boobs. My boobs that I don’t cover up because I’m being censored or treated unequally– I cover them for many reasons. Here’s a few of them:
DISCLAIMER: Before you all throw tomatoes…or the bras and tops you are clearly not interested in wearing, I’d like to clarify. Yes, I realize this is not a fight for mandatory toplessness. If I choose to be the uncool girl with the top at the beach or park or casual fast food restaurant, then that’s my prerogative. I get it. But…really, girls? By the way, this time I’m addressing the readers and not my breasts. What’s next? Are we going to rally to do away with clothes altogether? If you are part of some nudist revolution – good for you. Take your terrycloth towel and plant your seat at your nudist camp, but please don’t pretend like it’s the same. Changing the laws and thereby disrupting the general social expectations around whether women need to clothe their upper half is a dangerous idea with serious implications and consequences. It doesn’t just affect the women who get to bare it all for the world to see, if affects the way girls are brought up, what men and women feel is appropriate.
1. Sexualization. I’m sorry, I may be guilty of taking a glance at a perfectly toned chest of a guy or two in my time, but it’s not something that happens often. Whether they are wearing a shirt or not. I can’t speak for other women. But even if hot-business-guy trades his tie for tanning oil, I am still going to be looking him in the eye. Men have been looking me in the breast for more than 20 years. It didn’t even matter that I was 9 when the girls started to grow in. I was treated differently at school, at businesses and everywhere I went, even though it was obviously inappropriate. They weren’t giant dolly-parton boobs, but sorry, girls who have “girls” need only show a tiny bit of cleavage to get attention and that’s something they have to deal with whether they want it or not. Boobs = Attention. Breasts are looked at as sexual body parts and for those who happen to have them before they know more about sex than 5th grade health class, they don’t need any more attention. Or are those in favor of bare-chests suggesting we reeducate the entire human race and de-sexualize breasts?
2. Sensitivity, i.e. “what’s in a breast.” For women, breasts are an erogenous zone. I don’t know much about the amount of nerves and sensitivity. I know that mine are sensitive and I’d assume other women’s are… Likewise, I’d assume mens are less sensitive. I’m pretty sure science backs me up – if you want to dispute me, go do your scientific research. That “titty twister” thing in all the jock movies, that chest-bump thing guys do and many other instances seem to be clues in that direction. My girls are sensitive and walking around without a bra or something to shield them is going to make them more prone to sensitivity. I hardly think it’s the same thing for the man at the boardwalk whose chest is accidentally brushed, versus what situation a woman would be in.
3. Hormones: Breasts change sizes constantly. One minute they are sensitive because your body is going through it’s monthly cycle. Then they grow half a cup for the same reason. Not to mention their complete shift during pregnancy. Is that going on each month inside a male chest? Wait, is it? Let me know…
4. Safety: I’m sorry, I don’t know where you all are from, but I actually live in the world where a woman in the US is raped every 2 minutes and something like 75 percent know the attacker. You know what puts women a step closer to a creeper? I’ll take lack of clothing for $500, Alex. Would this be a woman’s fault? No, of course not. But that’s the world we live in. In many of the 250,000 reported rapes in the US each year – at least the ones that make the news, a common question raised is “Well, what was she wearing?” Do you think it’s going to help the “Well-she-was-probably-asking-for-it” mentality out if she was already half-naked?
5. Get your story straight: “Women are allowed to go practically topless at the Oscars” is one of the arguments I read pro-topless. But this argument is put up right next to breasts not being considered a private part. You said it yourself – why is “practically” topless so scandalous? Because people don’t look at the tops and say, “I wish those women had the freedom to set their non-sexual breasts free.”
and just for fun…
6. Back Health: I’d like to think bras serve an important function other than suppressing our freedom. If I walked around topless, public or otherwise, for more than a few hours, I’d be in back pain. My Victoria’s secret underwire is not handcuffing the girls in, it is supporting a part of my body. A private part.
7. Imagination: Do we not want anything left to the imagination? Are we going to veto panties next?
Thanks for reading. If you read this topless, know that I don’t judge you. But if you read it topless at a public newsstand (and you have boobs) put on a shirt.
By Bonnie Sludikoff