Friday, April 30, 2010

More Stupidity on Topfreedom

It truly is amazing how idiotic and irrational people can be when it comes to matters of nudity and the human body. While seemingly supporting women's topfreedom, an editorial today in the Bangor Daily News veers off in an asinine direction.
In some cultures, bare-breasted women would not garner a second glance from a man. But here in the U.S., they get second, third and fourth glances. Unless someone can show that bare-chested women would not cause the sort of distractions that result in car crashes, twisted ankles and slaps from spouses, the women’s point is lost.

Before they organize the next parade, they should consider what happened when gun owners hosted a barbecue recently in Portland with side arms strapped to their waists to assert their gun ownership rights. The demonstration spurred some to call for stricter gun controls. Bare-breasted parades are an assertion of legal rights, but they ultimately empower those who would want to change the law.
Slaps from spouses? Talk about losing a point! Show me exactly who, what, when, where and why the sight of a woman's breast caused any car crash. If automobile accidents are going to be touted as a reason to prohibit the public display of female breasts, then let's ban cell phones in cars altogether because anytime I see someone driving dangerously they always seem to be laughing and talking with their phone pressed to their ear.

No, the point of women's topfreedom is simply equality. Men can take their shirts off just about anywhere in public, and women simply want the same right as protected under the Constitution of the United States. It's not about distractions, or leering, or gun rights, it's about women's rights.

And it's not like women everywhere are suddenly going to start taking their tops off. Men have the right, and certainly not all of them take their shirts off. What's the percentage of shirtless men on any given summer day walking down the main street of town? The point is that nobody cares about how many men take their shirts off because it's simply legal and accepted that they can.

And let those who want to change the law give it their best shot. It's high time this issue is tested in the courts. When the laws were tested in Columbus, Ohio, and in New York State, the right for women to be topfree was upheld. Either women have to be accepted as having the same right as men to be shirtless, or the law needs to be changed to force men to wear bikinis at the beach, and t-shirts when playing basketball on public courts. And you know that ain't gonna happen.

People get all worked up, calling the baring of breasts immoral, or dangerous for the children, or a manifestation of the homosexual agenda, or any other irrational reason they can pull out from their confused minds. The bottom line is that it's simply no big deal, they are just breasts, and they do no harm to anybody. If someone does not want to see a topfree woman, there is a wonderful part of the human anatomy called the neck which allows the head to turn and look the other way.

Television Interview With Andrea Simoneau

This Is Why They Are Marching

The only way to end the discrimination against (and sexualization of) the female in American society is to let people see what a normal human body looks like, and demonstrate that the exposure of the female breast in public, by women exercising the same rights extended to men, is not the end of civilization, but rather an expression of a higher consciousness and another sign of the true equality women have been fighting for over the centuries. The lesson to be learned from this photograph is that more women need to join the fight for topfreedom, otherwise their bodies will be continued to be gawked at like the freaks in a circus sideshow. It's time for America to get over this notion that the female breast is something to be marketed for profit and sexual gratification, and to stop criminalizing women simply for their bodies.

The Face of Women's Topfreedom

Andrea Simoneau points out the route for a march for women's topfree equality today in Farmington, Maine. Story here.

The Stupidist Thing Anyone Has Ever Said About Women's Topfreedom

Maine Republican legislator Lance Harvell doesn't want women baring their breasts in public, but the reason he hesitates to enact legislation against bare chests against it is because "none of us wants to see a teenaged boy playing basketball outside get arrested". So, if not for the Constitution of the United States, which requires that laws must treat men and women equally, this jerk would love to lock up any woman for exposing a nipple in public.

Nudist Photos of the Day 04/30/10

South Florida Free Beaches Newsletter May 2010

Online here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Anatomy of a Topfree Activist - Andrea Simoneau

When Andrea Simoneau was seven years old, she took her shirt off because she was hot. Her father came outside and told her she could not do that in public. When she asked why, he said, "I think its really stupid, but the rest of the world thinks that girls should not go shirtless."

That memory stuck with Andrea, and when she marched topfree with Ty MacDowell and others in Portland, Maine, a few weeks ago, she was inspired to take action.

At 1 PM on Friday, April 30, Andrea Simoneau and a crowd of both men and women will exercise their topfree rights in Farmington, Maine. The march will begin at Meetinghouse Park on Main Street and will go about a half mile to Abbott Park. Andrea says that 60 people have signed up on her Facebook page, but due to all the publicity it's impossible to predict the number of people who will participate.

"If we're protesting anything, its that societal double standard of women's chests being considered sexual, no matter what context they are presented in, and men's chests are only sexual in certain context", said Andrea.

The 22 year-old University of Maine Farmington senior, who has been on the Dean's list for academic excellence, has been walking topfree through the town handing out flyers for the event, with the word "Freedom" written across her chest. As for public reaction either pro or con to her free expression, Andrea says that it's "pretty evenly split, and there have definitely been uncomfortable confrontations. You just have to keep on going, and ignore them and do not engage with them or escalate the situation in any way, as that hurts the cause far more than helps it." In a radio interview today, Andrea says that most of the negative reaction comes from people who oppose her on moral grounds, and, of course, for the sake of the children.

"I believe no religious group should have any sway in lawmaking, as it promotes special interests for certain groups. Morality is subjective. Therefore, I feel that morality is not a grounds to stand on to make policy, and should never be."

Ms. Simoneau believes there is "no time like the present" to promote women's topfreedom, and credits Dr. Paul Rapoport and TERA for "great encouragement and assistance". She hopes that other organizations interested in equal rights for women will also pick up on the movement.

The April 3 topfree march in Portland, while successful in generating lots of publicity, descended into somewhat of a circus, with hoards of men tripping over each other to take photographs, and some of the female participants obliging with some cheesecake posing. "There's nothing that can be done to stop men from taking pictures or making inappropriate comments. However if any inappropriate touching occurs or assault, the participant must report it to the police. There are going to be a lot of counterprotesters present also, I am told, and the police have expressed that they will be present to hold order."

As for anyone acting in a sexual manner, Andrea makes it clear that she wants none of that. "Anyone I catch doing that I will personally ask to leave, with great admonishments about them undermining our cause. Those women's actions disgusted me about the Portland march far more than the men taking pictures and leering."

Although there are no laws in Maine specifically prohibiting the exposure of female breasts in public, Andrea admits her actions could result in a backlash, and people are already calling for laws prohibiting topfreedom. "The town of Farmington has decided not to take an official position on the issue, and has decided to defer it to the State legislature to be ruled on, possibly even put to state referendum. Since support seems to be so evenly split for it, I feel confident that even when that happens, we stand a good chance for it to be officially legalized, as I believe the law stands now that only genital exposure is "indecent" exposure. I will do my part to speak out to the legislature as well, as I hope women's equal rights organizations in Maine or even national ones will do the same."

Perhaps the most high-profile opposition to Ms. Simoneau's protest comes from conservative activist Michael Heath of the American Family Association of Maine, who is seeking records from UMF regarding a recent campus event for EqualityMaine.
Heath said he draws a connection between the upcoming march in Farmington and his records request because "the promotion and presentation of public nudity is a staple of the homosexual rights movement." Heath's recently founded organization is a chapter of the Mississippi-based American Family Association.

"We see an organic connection between the two," Heath said. "Many still confuse sexual license, and indifference to the gospel of Jesus Christ, with true freedom and liberty."
Calling the march "more typical of San Francisco than Maine", Heath joins other religious groups who plan to counter-protest, including women from local churches holding a silent prayer vigil, and Rev. Bob Emrich who recently helped to overturn Maine's gay marriage law.
But Simoneau says all of the criticisms of the march are off-base. For instance, the march will be held while children are in school and will follow a route that is away from schools, Simoneau said.

And in a way, Simoneau said, "we are doing this for children -- to create a more equal world for them by presenting a female body that is not a sexual contest."

"This is for a noble cause of gender equality," she said. "Giving up has not crossed my mind."

Adelle Shea, Canadian topfree activist and naturist, has come to Andrea's defense.
It is curious that it is not enough in our society that something not be illegal but instead must be made specifically legal in order to be enjoyed freely? In North America a woman going topfree risks being charged with anything from ‘causing a disturbance’ to a sex crime. Breastfeeding women faced, and in some cases still face, the same discrimination and many States and Provinces had to enact laws to make breastfeeding a child in public specifically legal. In some cases even this was found to be insufficient and laws had to be enacted to make harassment of a nursing mother (by passers-by, business owners, police) illegal. In this case the attending constables were a great help in protecting Ms Simoneau’s legal right and informing the public that she was doing nothing illegal. In my opinion, it isn’t topfreedom that is immoral but the systemic discrimination of women that surrounds it.
Andrea understands the wide societal ramifications of women's topfreedom in America. She says, "it saddens me greatly that nursing mothers are particularly discriminated against in this matter. I encourage nursing mothers particularly, as well as breast cancer survivors and those who have been victims of sexual assault to come out and experience the empowerment and freedom of going topless in town."

Eventually the topfreedom movement will need a leader, or an organization, which can mobilize women nationwide. Is Andrea up to the challenge? "I'm not a leader by nature, but if that role falls to me, I will do my best to fill it. I cannot do it alone, not by a long shot. I'm having a terrible time trying to handle this myself, though I have had help in advertising, definitely, from UMF students and friends."

If you would like to help Andrea, or participate in her march this Friday, you can contact her on her Facebook page here.

Nudist Photos of the Day 04/29/10

The camera can represent flesh so superbly that, if I dared, I would never photograph a figure without asking that figure to take its clothes off.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)