A Thing or Two about Topfreedom
By Paul Rapoport, Co-ordinator of the Topfree Equal Rights Association
Many naturists aren’t down for it, clearly. It’s an out-there public issue rather than a private campground one. Then there’s “It ain’t nude, so it ain’t naturist.”
But women’s topfreedom is in thick with naturism. It too aims to free the body from priggish prudery. It too wants to demolish the unholy notion that skin = sin. It too attacks the rampant body phobia so beloved of politicians.
Still, we shouldn’t stand for people screaming “Nude!” at topfree women. Of course, the media love to pin that word on them. What do you expect, when they use “nude” for nearly anything less than a winter coat, including the asinine label “nude evening gown”?
The Topfree Equal Rights Association (TERA) was formed in 1997. Yep, we’re going on 15. Our founding aim was to help women hassled for being topfree. Ideally, we’d like to help them before they get into trouble, to avoid it!
Over the years we’ve managed to meet every major North American topfree activist. All five of ’em.
Just kidding. There are more, like the Rochester 7, from 1986. But the women who’ve taken a long-term stand against patriarchal control of breasts are still few and literally far between. Progress is slow.
In recent years, another organization, GoTopless, has organized protests in August in favor of topfreedom. Good for them. Those happenings get the media salivating, and we need all that yakking. But GoTopless doesn’t understand legal situations. It also comes with certain baggage that the media don’t take seriously.
Our main colleague in topfreedom is the Naturist Action Committee, whose Executive Director, not an attorney, can write a legal brief better than many attorneys.
The co-ordinator of TERA is a male. Oops, another credibility problem, although we don’t encounter it much any more. We give out information, help in legal matters, and encourage women: not to be topfree (’cause that’s their decision) but to take steps to allow that choice if they want it, including supporting other women who do.
In the early days, we heard lots of gripes against women’s topfree equality that naturists may easily imagine. Here are a few, with comebacks we’ve never used (’cause we’re polite and all):
1. Breasts are sex organs!
They’re glands, ma’am, just modified sweat glands. How sexy is that?
2. Women prancing around showing their tits make men assault them!
See that cow prancing over there? It’s gonna force me to eat it.
3. Still, it’s not safe!
Psst, I’ll tell you a secret. Women have brains. Let them use them.
4. What about the children!
Yes, what about forcing your ignorant bigotry on children?
5. Only women who’re hawt should let ’em out!
See no. 6 below, you sexist pig. (Note to self: dump the ’60s talk.)
6. Only women who’re ugly should go topless!
See no. 5 above, you sexist pig. (Note to self: you failed.)
7. Women are different!
Got that right. That means they mustn’t vote, go to school, get a job, or have money. Keep ’em barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen!
Despite all that crap, we’ve noticed the topfree movement being taken much more seriously even in the last five years. More women (and men) see what it’s about and what it’s not. Some of that is due to GoTopless. It’s due more fundamentally to the many women who want control over their own breasts.
We know that breastfeeding is still a problem in this country, because every time a woman feeds her child that way in public, some nut case is likely to hiss “Obscene!” But kids love breast milk. Everyone needs to see them feeding that way, because it’s normal, natural, and necessary. Pictures of breastfeeding aren’t porn. (Someone tell Facebook.) If women’s topfreeedom were possible, we’d have no issue with public breastfeeding.
So yes, what about the children! Topfree equality is for them too, so that they grow up healthy and free of breast obsession and women’s suppression.
Here’s to all those women who get it and want to do something about it!