Yesterday the eighth annual topless.org parade made its way from Columbus Circle to Bryant Park with its biggest turn out to date.
Topless men and women proudly strutted their stuff in support of equal gender rights. This years parade came at the precipice of a heated political debate regarding the topless painted women, formally titled the desnudas, who solicit money from tourists in Times Square. The outrage caused by this influx shows the great need for public demonstrations, like the topless parade, that help to desensitize the public to the stigma of topless women. While men have been showing their bare chests at beaches, parks, on the streets and even Times Square (Hello! The Naked Cowboy!) women who do the same face a backlash for simply being topless.
Although women have the right to be topless in New York few choose to do so because, although the laws are accommodating, societal standards have failed to catch up. For a woman, going topless in New York means almost inevitably being subjected to cat calls and other forms of sexual harassment. True equality means recognizing where women are being denied respect and dignity. There is nothing unnatural, immoral, or disgraceful about a woman being topless and it’s time our society recognizes that.
In the U.S. there are still three states which completely prohibit topless women and there are many more local provinces and communities that ban it as well. This Sundays protest, which was held in over 60 locations globally, was organized by topless.org, an organization that strives to change the legal and public stigma of the topless female. While the protest did attract a fair share of creepy perverts it also helped to desensitize the public to the sight of a female chest. After all it’s too hot for shirts anyway.