By Jonathan Griffin
One of the things that make America great is its love its people have for fairness, freedom and equal rights. We’re all aware of what the Founding Fathers wrote about all men (this now includes women, too) being equal.
Rights for women in our society have certainly come a long way since the 18th and 19th centuries. Women can now vote and hold the same jobs as men. Yet when it comes to going to the beach or to the pool, women are still required to cover their chests.
When analyzed, this seems very odd. Modern day society has mainly used clothing in the name of public decency. The fear of exposure to genitals comes from genitals automatically being linked to sex. Breasts are lumped in the same category. This is strange, considering that breasts are used to feed and nourish children. Not only that, but the structure of a man’s chest and a woman’s breast is very similar. Both have breast tissue – albeit women’s usually much larger – the areola area, and the nipple. So what sufficient reason is there to say a man can go top-free but a woman can’t?
If it’s not considered lewd for a man to go topless, it should be considered even less lewd for a woman to do so. For what are breasts, but badges of potential motherhood for women to comfort their babies so that they can better bond with their mothers!
But this beauty is lost in many states and communities, many choosing instead to see it as obscene. States such as North Carolina want to even go so far as to make a woman who exposes her breasts in public punished with a felony up to six months in prison for first time offenders. The thought of this is frightening, considering that a topless woman is almost looked at such a threat to classify it as a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. Yes, breasts, something used to feed children, are apparently looked at being obscene, like a heinous crime.
Aside from the puritanical roots of our culture, which have influenced this mode of thinking, modern society hasn’t helped much at all, either. The MPAA is notorious for being lenient with violence in movies, but not so much with skin. If a pair of breasts is shown on screen in a nonsexual situation the movie will still at least be slapped with a PG-13. Yet a man being shirtless can still retain a G. Again, it begs the question why should something that feeds and nourishes babies be considered so taboo? If it’s about sex, it’s not like a man’s chest can’t be looked at sexually by women, just as some men look at women’s chest sexually.
Ironically enough, while society is afraid of bare breasts they are not afraid of heavily sexualizing the breasts with skimpy swimwear. It’s considered okay for women to wear skimpy bikini tops, something that really draws attention to the breast and turns lustful heads toward them, but it’s not okay for a woman to bare breasts in their natural state. Skimpy bikini tops do far more to sexualize and degrade women in our society than any exposed pair of breasts could ever hope to do. Bikini tops are usually brightly colored with vibrant designs or neon colors, thus alluring male eyes to breasts in the process. This also creates an air of mystery.
Still, some communities have allowed for top-freedom. New York City is a case in point, in which women are allowed to walk down the streets topless. Very few do, but you get a few brave souls that want to advocate for freedom and equality; that or they just feel comfortable doing so.
This freedom and equality is important for everyone. It’s important that we advocate it. Making breasts hidden and taboo does more damage to a society, causing young men – and older men for that matter – to see them as nothing more than lustful objects for their pleasure. This so-called trying to preserve a woman’s decency has done the exact opposite, making her indecent, something that shouldn’t be. They were what most of us drank from when we were children. They need to be seen in a healthy light. But this fear of them, this fear that they are inherently indecent when seen in public have warped a lot of minds, helping fuel pornographic desires and unhealthy fantasies of peoples’ mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters.
In the end, we can only hope that most cities will take New York’s lead, offering a more progressive way of life rather than a more restrictive one. We also have to educate people, proclaiming that women are not obscene without tops. In the end, this battle can be won for the betterment of peoples’ mental health.