Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Right to be Topless

“Bare with us, they’re just boobs”

That was the main focus of a recent protest in Ontario over an incident in which three topless women were told by police to cover up. What you need to understand is that in Ontario going topless is legal. And while many women do not employ their right to ditch their shirt, the law still stands behind it.

Feb25_14Sadly, it seems the “serve and collect” faction among our law enforcement agencies still struggle to understand what rights many of us – especially women – have. The freedom to go topless in public has been ours since 1996. However, this summer we have seen a number of incidents where that right has been called into question – and repressed. To me, while these incidents have drawn tremendous support for the women (go figure, standing up for some topless women in public), it underscores the issues of why women still struggle with victimization by our courts and governments.

In the particular case that resulted in the protest, one of the “accused” had to videotape the encounter with the police officer in order to record her (rightly so) claim that it was legal in Ontario for a woman to go topless. Once on record, the officer changed his tune to suggest the reason they were being stopped was “bicycle safety.”

Despite my hobby – and my occasionally titillating Tuesday photo posts – I can’t say I have employed my right to go topless publicly. I fully support the right – because these days we seem to have so few – but my own “offline” perspective on life isn’t quite that brave. I reserve my “topless privilege” for those occasional summer afternoons of tanning in my backyard with my bikini top within arm’s reach.

I also understand – and let’s be honest, frequently exploit – the fascination society has with women’s breasts. Our culture has sexualized the woman’s body to the point where almost anything can be construed as titillating, teasing, taunting or distracting. We saw it in June with the numerous reports of teenage students being sent home from school for their choice in outfits (none of them were topless, by the way); and we continue to see it in our workplaces, public settings – heck, even an 8-year-old girl was told to put a top on while she was at a municipal swimming pool this summer. But there is a small part of me that would hope the people we employ to protect what few rights we have left would just get it.

Andee     xoxo

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