Happy Frigg and Freya’s Day
Disclaimer: The topics covered in Freya’s Chambers include serious discussions of sex, sexuality and related issues. If it isn’t your thing; you can move along, otherwise enjoy and feel free to discuss. Given this week’s topic be prepared for images of topless females.
I have to say that since the first time I wrote on the topfreedom movement in the United States, they have made quite a bit of progress. I originally examined them in my Christian blog many years ago. Mostly the issue back then was legal. But the real trick of any social movement is to address all concerns including cultural, social and political. If you are not aware, the topfreedom movement is basically pressing for equal rights of women to appear topless wherever a man can appear topless. Basically asserting that the different laws for the treatment of men and women’s chests are sexist and violates equal protection under the law. The issue for them is equal rights under the law.
I was supportive of the topfreedom movement back then even as a Christian because unlike many other Christians I actually realized that the constitution is the law of the land, not the Bible, and even with the Bible, there is no, I repeat no, statement or even indirect reference in the Bible that says a woman exposing her breasts is a sin. From my point of view then, a Christian woman who decided it was too damn hot and took off both bra and shirt and mowed the lawn was not a sinner, she was just being practical.
But what about now without Bible as some sort of appeal to authority and being you basic deistic humanistic pagan, where do I stand on this issue now? Without the whole sin question to consider, then the issue becomes very practical and about equality.
From a cultural/social point of view, this is going to be a long fight but I stand with these ladies for a lot of reasons. Most notably to me is a simple fact that socially I feel that these ‘modesty’ constraints are kept mostly to allow the unattractive, the insecure and religious women of the world to have an advantage over those women who are attractive, secure and non-religious. I see it every time I go to the beach and some attractive woman is wearing a very revealing swimsuit. All the other women are judging and criticizing because they are not secure in themselves or have a positive body image about themselves. I love it when a woman asks her significant other, who is watching said attractive female, what he thinks and he says: “whatever you think dear.” This is far more about pecking order among females than anything else. To aid them in this quest for dominance, some women turn to religious moral codes and such to force their way into the law and on other women.
My libertarianism kicks in as well to support these women. If an action is not about force to harm, the threat of force or fraud there is no violation of the Non-Aggression Principle and if there is no victim you can point to and say who was harmed – there is no crime. Can someone tell me who is hurt by a woman walking down the street on a hot day topless? As far as I can tell the only thing that is harmed is people’s opinions, feelings and sensibilities and none of those things count as far as the NAP violation or a crime.
This leads me to the legal issues that how is exposing female nipples a crime and the exposing of male nipples is not a crime? Note that most laws talk about nipple exposure and not the actual breast itself. I have found this an interesting part of the law as the nipples on men and women are essentially the same. It is the mammary glands that lead to the mound of the flesh a women’s nipples are on that is the difference between the chests. However, in most places, if the woman were to put tape over her nipples then she is perfectly legal as she would not actually violate the wording of the law.
But I started this post out with the pagan and spiritual side of this and from that standpoint, I would have to say there is something liberating and freeing to the spirit when one frees themselves from the spirit of being a moral busybody and judge of other people. There can be no greater judgemental attitude that the one where you impose what you think is modest on another because modesty is a spiritual quality of heart and mind, not one of the dress or undress.
The other spiritual quality is the appreciation of beauty and in particular the beauty of the human body. I find a lot of religious believers in God will talk about the beauty of creation and then spend a vast majority of their time trying to cover up one of its most beautiful parts: the human body, both male and female. In this appreciation of beauty, I have also started to discover something about my attitude about women and their appearance. I have found a greater understanding that sexual desire and nudity are not always connected. Put simply just because a woman is topless it doesn’t mean she is thinking about or asking for sex anymore than a man who is topless is doing so. Personally, I have learned that real modesty is letting other people be free and if a woman wants to freely walk down the street with her breasts bare, that is her business and I should respect that and not look at it as an invitation for a sexual encounter.
When I first was made aware of the topfreedom movement, only one state of our fifty had changed its laws to reflect and equal treatment of men and women regarding toplessness. Since then there are now 35 states that have followed suit realizing that legally there can be no distinction between a man and a woman’s chest.
The challenge now is in these states many local governments have reacted with their own ordinances and so what the topfreedom movement focuses on there is trying to get the one legal case in that state that will bring the locals government to heel with state law. There is currently one woman bringing legal action against the city of Chicago before the Supreme Court of the United States. That might be the legal silver bullet that brings about the remaining states and locals to realizing they can either lose money in a lawsuit every time or just let women be topless.
The real problem, of course, is that the long term will require society some time to change. Cultural norms change slowly but inevitably. Like when women were first allowed to show their legs and more cleavage, it takes some time for it to be more normal to everyone in a society. I see change coming for American society regarding this issue and the majority of pushback will come from women and the religious. In time, even they will have to submit to the inevitable. Sure men will probably at first avert their eyes, but eventually, they won’t think of bare breasts, as usual, any more than bare legs. Time will tell.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.