Go Topless Day: Still Relevant

August 23 was Go Topless Day and it appeared to be a smashing success. Women were encouraged to bare their breasts to rally for equality, and men were invited to go shirtless as well, or, as many lovely gentlemen did, to wear a bra. This is exciting to see. In July I wrote an article on public breastfeeding (found here) where I discussed what the law actually says about women going topless in public, and the social implications that would have (hint: almost none), as well as why it’s such a big deal anyways.

Now that it’s getting cold out, there’s not bound to be any nipples of either gender out in public for another three seasons, so why bring this up again? Well, during the winter months we have a lot of adjustments to do within our mentality. Is the female form really so stigmatized that we automatically associate it with sexual provocation? Why is the male form not perceived similarly? Maureen Ryan wrote a great piece on the female gaze in television where she discusses why we treat women as sexually desired objects for us to look at, but men are not such a visual feast. That seems unfair to all straight women out there, not to mention gay men, who feel robbed of the sensation of sexy visuals in the naked form. I mean if you’re going to stare at someone’s body, at least be consistently fair about it, right?

So why is the naked body sexually pleasing anyway? That’s probably a question for an awful lot of overlapping sciences, but from a sociological perspective, why then do we treat it as something profane? Aren’t all the great works of art done about the naked body? They aren’t even exclusive to the female form, if you trace back the history of art you see patterns where at some times the female form was naked and the male clothed, while at other times, the opposite was true. Surely the artists saw great beauty in their subjects or otherwise they wouldn’t have wasted their time. Not to say the naked form is the only source of beauty, but it certainly is a predominant inspiration. Which raises the question, are all artists just disturbed creeps?

Certainly not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all, or so they keep telling us. So you can put up a giant statue of Satan with an erect penis (probably a NSFW link) but if you’re a woman you can’t take off your shirt on a blistering hot day. Tell me, what’s the difference? The statue has been taken down, although some are protesting for it to be put up again, but does it constitute a work of art? If so, then why is a living being scandalized for possessing natural body parts? If not, then, well, why is a living being scandalized for possessing natural body parts?

In no way am I saying we should all walk around naked. One person’s comfort is another person’s privacy, and nobody should be pressured into taking any clothing off that they don’t want to. I’m also not saying that men shouldn’t be allowed to take off their shirts. All I’m saying is that it’s unfair to expect half the population to adhere to a rule that doesn’t actually make any sense and isn’t even necessary. What do we think is going to happen? Do we really believe that the only reason women don’t walk around naked is just because they can’t? Maybe they don’t even want to. Maybe if we made it legal for women to bare their breasts, nobody would. Have we even tried that?

The rule is irrelevant, really. We’ve got almost a year until the next Go Topless event. In that time, can we not learn to focus on something else?


Read more on the event from the Huffington Post:





Photo Taken From: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Video+Women+Topless+returns+Vancouver/10145458/story.html?__federated=1



  1. You’re from Canada, right (according to twitter)? Your article is interesting because I didn’t know that nakedness (of the female body) is such a big deal in Canada, too (I only know about the US). From a European perspective it’s interesting because we don’t have these kind of taboos in most countries. Although sexualization of women is definitely an issue, there’s usually no problem with breastfeeding. It’s also normal that you find naked men and women on public beaches.


    1. It’s really interesting to me how different norms are in different cultures. I find that with the exception of my outspoken feminist friends, most people don’t understand that there even exists a different way to look at it.

      As far as I can tell, most of us don’t think breastfeeding is a big deal, or at least we say that, but it’s pretty rare to see it happen anyways. Nudity though, although it’s technically legal, is a really outrageous thing to see.



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