Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington and his landmark “I have a dream” speech. Yesterday, thousands of people descended to Washington to commemorate the historic event and celebrate the progress we have made toward racial equality.
Tomorrow is the 42nd annual Women’s Equality Day, a designation created by a Joint Resolution of Congress in 1971 at the behest of Congresswoman Bella Abzug of New York to commemorate the ratification of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920.
GoTopless.org seeks to make a woman’s right to go topless part of the American Dream. Since 2007, when their spiritual leader Rael founded the organization, GoTopless has held an International GoTopless Day on the Sunday closest to August 26. That’s today this year. GoTopless is holding rallies in 51 cities around the world. In many of those cities, and in most states in the United States, going topless is already legal, according to the organization’s own map.
Today in New York City, where the right to go topless was degreed by a Court decision in 1996 and reaffirmed in 2007 when Phoenix Feeley won a $29,000 Judgment against the City for her wrongful 2005 arrest for going topless, Go Topless advocates are marching from Bryant Park to Times Square and back. Street vendors should stock up on sunscreen and hydrocortisone.
Here in New Jersey, Feeley’s recent efforts fell, umm, flat. She got herself arrested for going topless, twice in the same day, in Spring Lake in 2008, fought her conviction of violating Spring Lake’s anti-nudity ordinance up to the NJ Supreme Court and lost. Rather than pay her $816 fine, Feeley went to Monmouth County Jail and staged a hunger strike. A GoTopless organized protest drew two fully clothed women. Feeley was released early and healthy.
At the March on Washington celebration yesterday, women kept their tops on.
GoTopless says that laws prohibiting a woman’s right to be topless where men can is a violation of the 14th Amendment rights of equal protection. They note on their Topless Timeline, that men were prohibited from going topless until the 1930’s when there were mass arrests of topless men in Atlantic City.
Yet, our unscientific observations indicate that this “right” is something most women don’t want, or at the very least don’t care about. Toplessness has been legal in New York for 17 years. Yet, topless women in public are rare and often “an event” when it happens.
MMM publisher Art Gallagher put out an announcement on facebook asking for women writers to submit 500 words on equal rights. 18 women responded and were told the topic is “Should women have the right to go topless where men do?” Art gave them links to GoTopless’s facebook page and MMM’s coverage of Feeley. Three women sent in essays. One sent in a Haiku. Here’s what they had to say:
I grew up during the height of the women’s movement, so I tried to take Phoenix Feeley seriously. I really did. After all, Ms Feeley, self-proclaimed topless advocate, alleged sword swallower and recent inmate in Monmouth County Jail, was “willing to die” to ensure that women have “equal rights.” The least I could do was check out her website, “gotopless.org” and give her point of view a fair hearing. After all, in this day and age one does not want to be judgmental. Gotopless. org describes itself as “… a U.S.-based organization founded in 2007 by spiritual leader Rael and we claim that women have the same constitutional right that men have to go bare-chested in public.”
I’ve got my pocket Constitution right here and I can’t find a single reference to bare breasts. But, then, the Supreme Court has found a penumbra of rights in our Constitution, so I let that one go. My inner voice, what I affectionately refer to as my “bs meter” whispered, “who is Rael?” but I ignored it in the interests of properly expanding my mind.
Well, first of all, I used to live in Manhattan, and it is LEGAL there, but no one really takes advantage of it–except, for this mid 40s woman named Sue. I was acquainted with her when I lived on Roosevelt Island (RI), which is considered part of Manhattan’s borough. This all took place in the mid ’90s when I was in my late 20s (I am now 46)…
Sue decided on one lazy summer day at the local RI swim club to sunbathe topless. Well, that’s how I first found out about topless legality in NYC. Of course, the nimrods at the club read her the riot act due to children being present.
Sue kept protesting it was legal, but they didn’t listen nor care…why should kids be bothered by some innocent boobies? I mean, they are fortified on titties or a bottle with a nipple. I’m certain it is no big whoop to them or you!
When the world began there was only one man and one woman on earth. They were married, naked, and unashamed. Then they ate the forbidden fruit and suddenly guilt fell upon them and they were ashamed of their nakedness. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves clothes.
From that time on, people have recognized the differences between men and women. We are built physically and emotionally different. A lot of the ways we react to those differences is based on society and how as a society we view our bodies.
Advertisements in magazines, television, and internet has sexualized women’s bodies. Women that flaunt their bodies whether they realize it or not are prowling on the lusts of men.
“For the commandment [is] a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life, To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot [A man is reduced] to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared?”
(Pro 6:23-28 NKJV)
By Sylvia Jones
standing up for equal rights
woman versus man
Haiku-three lines-5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables…..My website is TheHaikuCorner.com
While Feeley was in jail earlier this month, we asked people in Asbury Park what they thought about a woman’s right to go topless. Unfortunately, the sound is not so good on most of the videos due to wind on the boardwalk. Still, the responses were interesting and stereotype busting. The African-American couple hit the nail on the head.