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STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLES

The Topfree Equal Rights Association (TERA) helps women who encounter difficulty going without tops in public places in Canada and the USA, and informs the public on this issue.

This website is intended as an information resource. It should interest women (and men) who understand---or want to understand---that women's breasts are just fine, and in no way indecent, obscene, dangerous, or some other version of bad, any more than men's are.

In most jurisdictions in North America, explicit sexual activity in public view is illegal. That is not involved here! If men may decide to have exposed breasts without it, so may women.

If women act on this understanding by innocuously having uncovered breasts in public, they are usually criticized, ridiculed, and hassled, and may be fined or jailed. Their experiences tell quite the story, which is gradually unfolding on this site and similar ones.

Our basic claim is that women deserve equal rights. We do not suggest that women or men should go about with bare breasts. That is every individual's decision. We do believe that since men may choose to do so in many situations, women must also be able to at least in the same situations. Without penalty of any kind.

Women pay severely for North America's leering punishment of their breasts. Many find themselves the object of unwanted and unwarranted attention from men in positions of power over them. Many have debilitating body image problems, hating the breasts on their own, unique bodies. Many undergo hazardous cosmetic surgery to conform to some non-existent standard. To please others, many wear bras that confine and hurt and may be harmful. Many are afraid to breastfeed, especially with others present.

Why do many women want to let their breasts out of the prison our society has put them in? They want to be comfortable. They want the convenience. They want to further their well-being. They want ownership and control of their own breasts.

They deserve equal treatment under the law.

If you think that the issue of exposed breasts is trivial, or you disagree with the above, have a look around this site. You may change your mind.


If you are aware of current femninist theory, read on; otherwise you may wish to skip this bit.

TERA is aware of the conundrums posed by proposing equal rights. Many difficult questions arise. Why should women want to do things the way men do them? Even if so, they should be equal to which men, where, and how?

Why should men be considered primary and women try to rise to their position? Why don't we start tabula rasa so that women may do things in ways that may ignore how men do them? Shouldn't sex or gender differences allow women to set their own rules?

These are basic objections to classical liberal feminism. While acknowledging their importance, TERA finds many of them have reduced effect on the issue of topfreedom, because the basic solution to women's exposed breasts is so simple: let individual women choose as they wish. That would suit almost any type of relevant feminist theory.


 

NEW ON THIS SITE

  • VP Julia Goforth describes her experiences in York, Maine. Do the authorities know whereof they speak? Read on . . .
  • More new photos: topfree activitsts describe their activities.
  • TERA's VP calmly turns potential trouble into potential education---for the police. Read about it.
  • Judicial opinions that have changed topfreedom history. We start with the Topfree Seven case and the Arlene Vogt case.
  • A chronology of topfreedom events is begun. It's small just now, but wait . . .
  • Outline and summary of the presentations given by TERA near Seattle on June 1, 2001, with photos.

 

COMING SOON (we hope!):

  • court case decisions (we have a few already)
  • topfreedom history (some is already available)
  • getting comfortable with topfreedom

 

TOPFREEDOM NEWS (January 2007 through December 2010)

More recent news is here.

2010 December 11. In a few days (December 15), the French group Les TumulTueuses is to undertake action at a swimming pool in Paris, France. It promises "new ways" to get across the equality of men and women. Members of the group have had to face police on two previous occasions for being topfree. A little further information is here (in French).

 

2010 December 01. A campaign in New Zealand to aid breast cancer research has drawn criticism. NZ Girl wants women to send in photos of their breasts, promising in return to donate money to research. But there are problems with how this is being done, and the attitude accompanying it.

Photos of breasts, like photos of anything, are not always appropriate. In our view, this campaign is not well thought out.

 

2010 November 24. For a good illustration of why one shouldn't depend on an unknown source or on advice which one hasn't verified, go here. The question asked (in early 2009) is: "Is it illegal for a woman over the age of 18 to expose her breasts to a boy under the age of 18?" The answer assumes that all breast exposure in the presence of a minor, in public or private, occurs for a harmful sexual purpose. The answer is wrong.

 

2010 November 22. From our friends at gotopless.org, a T-shirt:

shirt.jpg

It's not a new idea. Many years ago, Linda Meyer, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, wore a shirt with a picture of her own breasts on it. But this is the first commercial version we've seen. It's available via the gotopless site in several styles, sizes, and colours. The site selling it says it's "rated R."

As usual, TERA doesn't tell women what to do, what to wear, what not to wear, etc. That's every woman's choice --- or ought to be. We simply thought this shirt worth mentioning.

 

2010 November 19. The city of Madison, Wisconsin is apparently appealing the ruling that Cesilee Dean was not guilty for being topfree during the 2010 World Naked Bike Ride there. The trials of those charged have been postponed. (A news item appeared about this on November 24. Go here, second item.)

 

2010 November 14. A few days ago in Kiev, Ukraine, the women's group Femen protested topfree against the plight of the Iranian woman Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. They also protested topfree in October against a visit from the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.

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Ukrainians protesting the October state visit of the Russian Prime Minister

Somewhat free English translations of the signs the women held, with more photos and a video, are here. An article about Femen is here.

Topfree protests, designed to get attention, are slightly outside TERA's usual interests. But they also are situated on a "border" between sexual tension and non-erotic ideas. The women do nothing sexual that depends on their breasts being considered that way. For an important approach to this subject, see the article by Ruth Barcan titled "Female Exposure and the Protesting Woman," in the journal Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 8 No. 2 (November 2002), pages 62 to 82.

 

2010 November 13. Here's a brief video from the topfree demonstration in Key West, Florida last July 4. Typically, there's a bunch of people taking photos and nothing happening.

keywest.jpg

 

2010 November 12. We haven't mentioned Jordan Matter's book Uncovered in a while. It's the best portrait celebration of women through topfreedom that we know of, and altogether a magnificent book. Here are a recent article and an interview with Jordan and others. Some of the interview video is superficial and the photos are censored, ruining their artistry and significance.

uncovered.jpg

Some publicity for this book is here. Especially notable is this well-made video. This one too! Note the "very immoral, very sinful" comment. Also, the pleasant BBC announcer errs in saying that New York is the only state with legal topfreedom.

 

2010 November 11. There's an interesting audio recording of the major hearing so far into the charges resulting from the Madison, Wisconsin World Naked Bike Ride event last June. Topfree women were improperly arrested. The arguments of Cesilee Dean's attorney, ending around the 10-minute mark, are certainly worth consideration. The city attorney makes irrelevant procedural points. At around the 26-minute mark, the presiding judge dismisses the case against Cesilee Dean.

 

2010 November 10. At the end of October, headlines in Santa Barbara County, California were saying that a topless woman caused a car crash. That's like saying snowflakes caused a car crash.

No report on this we've seen makes sense. They all say the woman was taken in for mental and psychological evaluation. Yes, when someone does something you don't understand or don't like, she must be ill. Maybe this person was, but maybe she wasn't.

 

2010 November 06. In June, several women were arrested in Madison, Wisconsin for riding bicycles without tops. The charges of disorderly conduct in a very orderly bike ride were bogus, and the claims made by police self-serving and absurd. Now one woman has had the charge against her dismissed by a judge.

It appears that the Madison Police Department was informed before the ride that they could not arrest anyone for mere exposure of skin. They went ahead and did that anyhow, having charges laid against nine people.

 

2010 November 03. Unsurprisingly, the move to redefine public nudity detailed in the next item below failed in a western Massachusetts district, by a vote in the approximate proportion of 7 to 3. TERA has maintained that putting the question on a ballot was not the way to gain acceptance for topfree equality.

 

2010 November 01. Just before the American "mid-term" elections, the Berkshire Eagle has come out against Katherine Gundelfinger's proposal to redefine public nudity in the Pittsfield area in Massachusetts to exclude women's breasts. The paper's position is unsurprising, since it wrongly claims that forcing women but not men to wear tops has nothing to do with inequality, and it reveals it knows nothing about what it wrongly calls "nude beaches," which have no relevance to the topic at all.

This report, however, sees nothing wrong with Katherine's proposal. It could certainly be more knoweldgeable and explain its importance. There are many more people who support the idea of topfree quality than the mainstream media want you to know.

A vote "yes" in the Pittsfield area tomorrow will be ignored by the politicians. A vote "no" will enable them to say "I told you so."

 

2010 October 21. Ten days ago in Port Jefferson, New York, the infamous "Naked Cowboy" was given a summons for being topfree. The longtime performer in New York City's Times Square appears not to know that Port Jefferson's law, if it even exists, is almost certainly unconstitutional in the state. The law blogger in the link above appears not to know that either.

The "Naked Cowboy" is neither naked nor a cowboy, which may tell us something. Port Jefferson is a small town on the northern coast of Long Island.

 

2010 October 18. A fine article on the subject of women's topfreedom is here, written by Sophie Kaner, an English major at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

 

2010 October 16. About a week ago, a woman was reported to be suing the US government for the way she was searched at a Texas airport in the security area. This is another example of the control men have over women's breasts. The woman involved would not choose to be topfree in public or be mishandled in the way described. That's her choice and her right, and it should not be violated.

 

2010 October 15. In this article, the Boston Globe describes Katherine Gundelfinger's attempt to make the Pittsfield area in Massachusetts a place where women have equal rights to men. It makes the usual mistake of talking about nudity, which topfreedom is not, and quotes the Mayor of Pittsfield, James Ruberto:

When we have people out of work, when we are struggling with balanced budgets, when we have two wars overseas, I don’t think the voters are particularly interested in the question. I just don’t think that the issue is worthy of discussion.

It's typical of political hacks not to think clearly. The Mayor makes distracting, irrelevant points to deny women their rights. "My problem is bigger than your problem" is an immature non-argument.

Rupe Davis of Connecticut has another take on the Mayor's position: if topfree women aren't worthy of discussion, then prosecuting them is no longer worthy of action.

 

2010 October 14. In a recent discussion about topfree women in a small city in northern Ohio, a major law official there wrote the following:

. . . whether a female appearing "top-free" at a public beach, may or may not be offensive and constitute a nuisance based on the circumstances, i.e. a family beach with children would constitute offensive conduct as a nuisance; a screened off beach exclusively designated to nude beach goers would probably not be offensive or constitute a nuisance . . . My City is comprised of strong family residential neighborhoods, and would not be an appropriate location for a beach area for any type of conduct that would be considered offensive, given our City’s family composition.

That people like this are in charge of legal matters is the real crime. He confuses topfree with nude, assumes that topfree women can't ever be seen by children, takes his own ignorance and prejudice as universal and necessary, and hides behind the word family, which he misuses. He also considers himself to be the sole proprietor of the city, apparently.

TERA's Co-ordinator responded, in part:

There are also problems and a contradiction in your message. Firstly, public "nude" beaches are not screened off in any state in the country. Secondly, there are no public beaches in the country "exclusively designated to nude beach goers." Lastly, clothing-optional beaches often have families with children, i.e. minors, on them. (Your first and second points above are thus contradictory.)

There is nothing anti-family, to use your word, in women being topfree or in a clothing-optional beach. If you use "family" as a code for "children present," your remarks about [this city] imply that it is the only jurisdiction in the country with children, and that there is something unstated and peculiar about them or their families.

I also find it odd that you have made a definitive decision about "a family beach with children" with no case before you and no evidence presented.

 

2010 October 12. In contrast to the item below for October 2, a woman was arrested in Portland, Oregon for threateningly swinging a meat cleaver. But note an editor's need to put topless in the headline. What has that to do with anything?

Although the story isn't basically humorous, we're tempted to say that the implement involved suggests the woman showed too much cleavage.

 

2010 October 03. Although we question the method being used to fight topfree inequality in Massachusetts, Katherine Gundelfinger's letter on this subject is well worth reading --- except for its headline, which she didn't write. Again some unthinking editor calls topfree people nude.

[The abolve link to the letter is now gone. Part of the letter is here.]

 

2010 October 02. In Billings, Montana, a woman was arrested for driving around with only body paint on the upper part of her. The police said she "'could not provide a legitimate reason' as to why she was naked." Since she wasn't naked, why should she have provided anything? And what legitimate reason did the police have for stopping her?

The only "disorderly conduct" involved might have been caused by the police.

 

2010 October 01. Yesterday, Facebook's button-pushing censors deleted without reason the entire account of breastfeeding and women's rights educator and activist Emma Kwasnica, of Montréal, Québec, and the artist Kate Hansen, of Courtenay, British Columbia. Today Kate's account came back.

emma.jpg
Emma Kwasnica's daughter Chloë with Emma
in one of many of her photos banned by Facebook

TERA's Co-ordinator had this to say:

Facebook claims that a visible breastfeeding nipple is obscene and unsafe for children. Its attitude and censorship are not only wrong but harmful. There isn't any evidence for its claim, even without breastfeeding, and even for full nudity. In deleting photos capriciously and carelessly, in total ignorance and arrogance, it is an enthusiastic contributor to intolerance, misogyny, poorer infant health, and the epidemic of body image problems amongst women and girls.

 

2010 September 29. In its zeal to block the annual World Naked Bike Ride in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the city council there has passed an ordinance that once again criminalizes women's breasts but not men's. The same old false arguments were brought out, and one individual claimed that his poorly stated, pseudo-religious notions must rule everyone.

Unfortunately, two councillors against the ordinance weren't present when it was passed.

 

2010 September 28. Katherine Gundelfinger of Pittsfield, Massachsuetts wants women to have topfree equality. She's managed to get a "non-binding public policy question that will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot in the 3rd Berkshire District."

Whether the issue passes or fails, no legislator is likely to take it up. Indeed, we are not aware of any law that has been passed at any level of government in North America that specifically says women may be topfree. The way women win topfree rights is by exercising them where there is no law and by court cases, which if high enough in the system have the same force of law as any ordinance or statute.

Katherine's effort is well intended; but with her excellent rationale not widely promoted, and legislators determined to evade or block the issue, a different approach is indicated.

 

2010 September 17. Yesterday, the Indiana Appeals Court ruled that women can't uncover their breasts in public because the voters there elected legislators who passed a law against it.

We find this nonsensical. It is the court's task to rule on the legitimacy or legality of laws, not to presume that all laws are valid. If that were the case, there would still be official segregation in the USA, and probably slavery as well.

The girl in question may have been flashing cars --- it's hard to rely on details in news reports, because many people presume that all exposure is flashing (the article's headline is a giveaway). Regardless of the circumstances, the court has made a dangerous ruling. It is saying that Indiana voters are free to overrule the US constitution.

The appellant's brief is here, followed by the state's response (mostly distracting irrelevancies) and the appellant's response.

 

2010 September 07. Recall the Italian woman accused of committing an obscene act in a public place for putting on sunscreen while topfree? The case against her was dismissed.

 

2010 August 30. Two don't-miss articles about the demonstration in Guelph, Ontario on Saturday are here and here. One of the few heroes in this movement, whose name should be known to every reader of this website, went to Guelph for the topfreedom day of pride: GWEN JACOB (pictured below, in the middle). Her remarks (in the second article) are more trenchant than nearly anything said about this subject since her court cases in the 1990s.

guelph2010jpg
The two people on the outside organized the Topfreedom Day of Pride.
The person in the middle needs no introduction! (But see above.)

It's like Susan B. Anthony coming to a voter registration drive!

For another report from the same newspaper (they went all out at the Mercury), go here. And lastly, two more photos from the day:

guelph1.jpg guelph2.jpg

Photos by Nadine Maher

 

2010 August 29. Here's the first article we know of about yesterday's topfree event in Guelph, Ontario. A positive, respectful article. (Just don't read the stupid comments following it.) The newspaper in the city itself produced many respectful articles on the topic before the event day. Here's its report from the 28th. Its useful photos cannot hide the censorship in them, which the newspaper tried to justify by claiming to be "tasteful."

 

2010 August 28. Here's a different take on the idea of topfreedom for women. The writer, Dr. Michael LaBossiere, is a Professor of Philosophy at Florida A&M University. (Also, we've added to the report on last weekend.)

 

2010 August 26. Last Sunday was a day of topfreedom for women organized in several American cities by gotopless.org (not by TERA). There have been many reports, whose positive or negative contribution may be outweighed by their mere quantity. The quantity of participants in various cities was also higher than ever. Clearly this day grows more successful every year.

In many cities, women wore nipple covers. While we recognize that may have appeared to make some events legal, it's distracting. In addition, the connection of the protests or celebrations with another movement has led, rightly or wrongly, to some people rejecting topfreedom. (For an example, see this clever but bad 2009 article from Denver, Colorado.)

Sometimes reported is the notion that if women must wear tops, so should men. That created some good publicity (men wearing bras and so on). But it may lead body-phobic legislators to think it's a fine idea to forbid men to be comfortable in addition to women, thus setting this whole effort for acceptance of the body back 80 years. It also plays into the attitudes expressed by "There are men (and women) who should never be seen without a top" and "I don't want to see that." The former would allot legal rights according to beauty contests; the latter would do so according to personal prejudice.

Regardless, we salute the effort of gotopless.org to make women's topfreedom normal. Awareness of this issue in the past few years is much increased.

Here are articles from San Francisco and New York. The latter's rally, in Central Park, lasted about two hours. Below are two photos from that, with thanks to John Martzouco:

centralpark1.jpgcentralpark2.jpg  

 

This is a video from Austin, Texas. It's long but has its fun moments, suggesting that some people turn advocating topfree equality into a circus event, sort of. (The video was removed about a week later for no determinable reason.) From Venice, California, outside Los Angeles, there's this censored video report. Despite realizing what she's saying, the woman at the beginning negates equality by asking for topfree women to be allowed on some beaches only, because she wouldn't be comfortable anywhere else. (See above, on personal prejudice.) The same unwitting idea is expressed in this report from Haleiwa, Hawaii: "If guys can go topless, we should be able to go topless at the beach." Really? If whites can go anywhere, blacks should be able to go to a few locations?

 

2010 August 14. In Italy recently, a woman was harassed by police for sunbathing topfree because she had put on sunscreen, a couple of boys happened to get a little excited by that, and their mother complained to the authorities. If more women could be topfree, wouldn't such events become non-events?

Here's the article. Not free of bias, but you'll get the idea.

 

2010 August 10. In case you thought you'd heard everything, try this. A person in Québec applied to register the name of his convertible-car club. It's called Topless Montreal. In rejecting the application, the Business Registrar wrote to the applicant that "Topless comprises an expression implying a concept that is immoral, obscene, or outrageous."

The province of Québec permits registered clubs for swingers, which were declared legal by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2005.

 

2010 August 08. In July, Facebook continued its capricious and immature censorship by removing and banning the photo below. It's of a painting by Donna Grabow.

liberty.jpg

 

2010 August 07. A Canadian TV network broadcast a short item about the topfree event on August 28. Although the network didn't always get information correct that involves Gwen Jacob or her famous case from 1991-96, it presented the subject fairly, and the two event organizers made their points well.

A good article on the coming event is here, from August 3.

 

2010 August 07. A photograph in a contest in Sydney, Australia was denied a prize because it shows two topfree women. The Wesley Mission demanded that the photo be removed from the contest because children might eventually see it. The mayor of Sydney stated, "I don't agree with censorship in public art." So far, it seems almost no public figure agrees with the censorship.

 

2010 August 06. Not every day does someone get arrested for offensive showing of skin when fully clothed, but here's a recent example from Florida, even though the woman may not officially have been arrested for that. We're glad the woman, who was wearing a T-shirt, is suing for violation of her civil rights, among other things. (Of course, to us it doesn't matter whether she was wearing a shirt or not.)

 

2010 August 02. Although nudity and topfreedom are different subjects, they are often mixed together, usually with poor results. But in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an attempt to pass a new anti-nudity ordinance brought this welcome remark from city councillor Patti Bushee: "It's just unfair to mandate in a law that men can take their shirts off and women can't."

The ordinance in question is a copycat version of what is sometimes known as the Indiana Law, first introduced many years ago there to, among other things, criminalize women's but not men's breasts. These days, politicians enacting such a law may fear lawsuits for sex discrimination, and rightly so.

 

2010 July 23. Coming soon: a topfreedom day of pride in Guelph, Ontario. Shortly after the day noted below, there will be a topfree event --- on Saturday, August 28 --- held in St. George's Square in downtown Guelph. Bands, speeches, and an open mic set are booked from 3 PM to 10 PM.

The event will begin in the Goldie Mill Ruins with a motivational talk and discussion with the women who may be going topfree in public for the first time. This will start at 2 PM. The organizers, Lindsay Webb and Andrea O'Malley, may be contacted via e-mail for more information!

 

2010 July 19. This 19th anniversay of Gwen Jacob's arrest in Guelph, Ontario brings the announcement of the annual "Go Topless" day organized and promoted by gotopless.org. Several cities are planned for topfree protests against women's inequality. This year's date is Sunday, August 22. Here are two photos from last year's event in New York City:

NYC2009-1.jpg NYC2009-2.jpg

One point of demonstrating there is that even though topfreedom for women is legal in New York, they're still subject to harassment for it; and of course it isn't legal in many places --- which constitutes unjust discrimination against women.

We're pleased to see a striking increase in the past few years in legitimate interest in and understanding of the topfree equality issue. These demonstrations are clearly part of that.

 

2010 July 07. The city council in Asbury Park, New Jersey said "No" today to having a topfree beach there. In our view, that's the right decision. But of course it was made for the wrong reason: "It would scare away families who have recently started coming back to the once-famous resort." Even better is this ignorant comment: "This is a family town. It would be a disgrace to be out there with children on the boardwalk and have them looking at body parts that don't belong to them."

It's a disgrace that Americans think they are protecting children by denying women equal rights and by promulgating the insidious notion that women's breasts harm children.

 

2010 July 07. Here is a report on the topfree protest in Key West, Florida on July 4th. Most of the women covered their nipples most of the time, under threat of arrest by attending police. The article repeats the myth that breasts are sexual organs without so much as commenting on it.

 

2010 July 02. This article today is all about topfreedom at ComFest, the annual community festival in Columbus, Ohio held in late June. Although it contains good information and quotes Nadine Gary of gotopless.org extensively, one can't help feeling that ComFest is the exception that proves (tests) the rule on topfreedom in Ohio, despite the city allowing it or court cases in Ohio asserting women's topfree rights.

 

2010 July 02. In a letter today, Richard Mason, President of South Florida Free Beaches, points out that the planned topfree protest in Key West on the 4th is unconnected to the attempt to procure a clothing-optional beach there. He notes that Miami Beach has a policy, created by discussion, that allows women to be topfree on all its beaches, not just South Beach.

 

2010 June 30. There are many people who think women's breasts are sexual organs. That seems to include the police department of Madison, Wisconsin. This article tells how a woman was issued a ticket for not covering her breast "genitalia" in a recent demonstration there.

This video shows a woman being taken away in handcuffs for being without a top. (Go to 1:51 in the video. On her back is "Up with bikes, down with pants," although she's wearing a bottom.) The subsequent police interview in the video exudes self-congratulation. It's a whitewash and untrue from the point of view of riders --- especially those ticketed or arrested.

Police did stop topfree women. They are convinced that one complaint means that the women are guilty of "disorderly conduct." Where was the disorder in an orderly bike ride, except for what the police caused? Why do ignorant, prejudiced complaints make anyone but the complainer wrong?

Other reports exhibit the usual hand-wringing of "What about the children?"

 

2010 June 28. Partly in response to the story below from Delaware, where a few people with women's breasts weren't charged with violating laws because they were deemed men, Heather Cushman-Dowdee created the cartoon below. We've featured her wonderful work before, often about breastfeeding and topfreedom, in her series of Hathor the Cowgoddess.

certificate.gif

Heather's been busy with her new site, on which this and many other funny and pithy commentaries may be found. Her work may also be found here.

 

2010 June 27. There's been a recent pitch to declare a beach in New Jersey topfree for women. In the multitudinous commentaries on this (including here and here) are the following assumptions:

-- a topfree woman is nude.
-- a topfree woman is inviting immoral sexual activity from others.
-- the sight of women's breasts harms children.
-- topfree women must be hidden away, unlike topfree men, because women or women's breasts are dangerous / second-class /disgusting / obscene / (pick one or more).

All that is behind the proposal or would result from its acceptance. A specific area set aside by any government where women may be topfree is just another means to control them and deny them equality with men. There must be no legislated topfree beach in New Jersey. If women decide to congregate topfree voluntarily in one or more places, that's another matter. They must be lawfully free to be topfree just about anywhere, not in some legislated ghetto --- beach or other.

 

2010 June 24. The planned topfree protest in Key West next week is drawing wrong comments from law enforcement, such as this from a state attorney: "It's exposure of sexual organs." For an article that gets a lot wrong, try this.

 


2010 June 14.
Here's a question we've often considered: would women participate in a topfree event to support breast cancer research? Recently a website asked that question and posted a few of the responses. Note that even the "best" answer thinks that women's breasts belong to men. Other responses refer to breasts as degrading and sex organs.

America still doesn't get it.

Then there's this, from a few days ago, about raising money for breast cancer research. No comment from us, for a change.

 

2010 June 04. Sometimes in these struggles, it's hard to define what topfree is. In Delaware recently, it became clear that it's sometimes hard to define what female is.

At the end of May, a few transgendered persons (in this case, genitally defined males with enhanced, female-like breasts) decided to go topfree on a Delaware beach. Although they were reported, police stated that they broke no law against topfreedom for women because in law they were men. We won't discuss the sexological literature that helps define the sexes (male/female) or the various genders. What's clear here is that laws against topfreedom constitute unjust discrimination based on sex, which is unconstitutional in the USA and many other countries.

That conclusion is inescapable: the individuals in question had the same chest appearance as women, but only genitally defined women would be charged with breaking the law. It is obviously not the breasts that are the deciding factor, but the sex of the person. Men and women doing the same thing get women charged but not men. That is unacceptable!

 

2010 June 03. Tracy Leigh, planning a topfree protest in Key West, Florida on July 4, has written a cogent note about it here.

 

2010 May 25. There was a protest yesterday outside the Houston headquarters of British Petroleum. Code Pink women were topfree, although they may have been advised to cover their nipples. If such is required, this is effective for such an event:

BP.jpg

 

2010 May 23. There will be a topfree equality demonstration in Key West, Florida on July 4. It's being organized by Tracy Leigh. For more information, write this address.

About ten months ago, Key West maverick Sloan Bashinsky wrote this letter to the city's police chief. In it, he explains why arresting topfree women there would be a singularly bad idea. That turns on the district's state attorney having said he would not prosecute such women on beaches.

 

2010 May 18. Thanks to Brent Danley, we have three photos from the April 3 topfree walk in Portland, Maine, organized by Ty MacDowell. They're found here.

 

2010 May 16. After the two topfree walks in Maine, "Topless Tuesdays" have sprung up in Keene (the only one we're aware of so far being May 4). It's no surprise that Cassidy Nicosia is involved. Here's an excerpt from what she wrote in response to the predictable objectors to this activity:

Society has perverted what women’s breasts are seen as to enforce puritanical thought processes. The idea that woman is inherently a temptress, and all actions by her are to lure in the unsuspecting, innocent male. That’s ridiculous. And we need to stop teaching our children this, enforcing these narrow-minded ideals, and using the gun of the government to get what we want. Anyone should be able to look at a woman topless in public and barely think about it, the same way it is with men. It happens, and it’s not a big deal.

 

2010 May 15. This is probably the best interview with Catharine Pierce about her recent fight with officials in Boulder, Colorado over her topfree gardening there.

 

2010 May 05. Thanks to Eric Taylor, a student at the University of Maine at Farmington (and a basketball player, he notes), we have a few uncensored photos of his from "the walk that went around the world" --- the topfree walk in Farmington on April 30 to demonstrate and assert women's topfree equality.

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The blanket in the photo above centre appears to belong to Elaine Graham. A well-known conservative homophobe in the area, she walked with the topfree women trying to cover some with her blanket, claiming that their wish for equality was degrading. The photo above right has the walk's organizer, Andrea Simoneau, in its centre. Bravo, Andrea!

 

2010 May 03. Get a Load of This Department: the Attorney General of Virginia wants to replace the state seal with his specially made John Ashcroft-approved version, which covers an exposed breast. Someone called this "one big boob covering one little boob."

 

2010 April 30. The first report we have about the topfree walk in Farmington, Maine today is from the west coast! We like what Charles Jacques has to say about women's topfree equality: "Keep making a big deal about it until it's not a big deal."

Other, sometimes informative articles are from Portland, Bangor, Portland again, and Lewiston. Better analysis may be found in some blogs, such as this one.

 

2010 April 29. Maine's Andrea Simoneau is interviewed about her topfree demonstration tomorrow in Farmington. (You may have to scroll down.) Another interview is here, from television.

 

2010 April 28. Boobquake! Our hearty congratulations to Jennifer McCreight, who inadvertently became famous overnight (or at least "overweek") for suggesting a humorous but meaningful response to an Iranian cleric who blames women for natural disasters.

"It began Monday, April 19," noted Jennifer, "when I had just read the quote by Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi. 'Many women who do not dress modestly . . . lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,' he said in a Friday sermon in Tehran."

On her blog, on Facebook, and elsewhere, she suggested that women test this theory by showing as much of their breasts as they wished on April 26. Although she didn't ask for women to be topfree, she left that possibility open.

Attention to the event was worldwide, with participants in many cities. The range of participation may be indicated by this photo from the Vancouver Province in British Columbia:

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2010 April 26. The next march in Maine for the social equality of women's topfreedom will take place at 13:00 (1 PM) in Farmington, at Meetinghouse Park (going to Abbott Park). As noted below (April 13), the event is under the direction of Andrea Simoneau, who's been out and about promoting it, topfree, of course!

Women and men welcome.

 

2010 April 14. A woman in Boulder, Colorado who has gardened for years without a top was threatened by the housing authority where she lives, who wanted to pass an ordinance against her. Today the housing authority gave up, citing a recent city ordinance that allows topfree women. Congratulations to Catharine Pierce, who never gave in.

Despite her victory and correctness throughout, some townspeople have treated her poorly.

2010 April 13. A second topfree event is coming to Maine, on April 30. Andrea Simoneau, a student at the University of Maine in Farmington, is organizing a topfree walk/march in Farmington. This news report describes her handing out flyers on April 11 for the event while topfree.

We read that the police were helpful. Then we read, "if rubber necking causes an accident because of the unusual sight, she may be held accountable." If a woman is doing something legal and someone else does something wrong, then the woman is responsible? Haven't we had enough of women being blamed for what others do? If she were wearing fancy, expensive clothes and there were a car accident because someone was looking at her, would she be responsible?

The police should not promote unconscionable ideas.

 

2010 April 12. Here is by far the best article we've encountered on the recent Portland, Maine topfree march. It's by Sarah Moon, of the University of Southern Maine. It deserves to be read by anyone interested in this general topic, or in the troubling aspects of the position of women and their bodies in America today.

And here's a reasonable article written by a man at the University of Northern Iowa. Although he doesn't go far enough with this or quite get the legal picture, it's worth reading.

 

2010 April 11. Ty MacDowell of Portland, Maine has responded well to criticism of her or the topfree walk she organized a little over a week ago.

 

2010 April 07. As expected, Boulder, Colorado adopted an anti-nudity ordinance last night that shows it cannot distinguish between the World Naked Bike Ride and a sexual threat. The ordinance does not criminalize women's breasts, which is obviously good.

 

2010 April 03. The topfree stroll mentioned below for Portland, Maine today went off as planned---more or less. The walkers/marchers were outnumbered by spectators, many with cameras. That was to be expected, given the advance publicity. The organizer, Ty MacDowell, was displeased with the ratio of participants to gawkers and some of the behavoiur of the latter. There were no arrests; the stroll was legal. In fact, police were present.

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The photos above are by Brent Danley. The writing on the woman in the middle of the middle photo is "Freed boob."

One video for the event is here, also here. It raises obvious questions but does not invalidate the event. We don't know how representative this video is. The videos we've seen from news outlets are censored or expurgated. Because of that, they're inaccurate, misleading portrayals.

 

2010 April 02. In the past couple of months have been a few articles about the project "b for a cure." The well-known San Francisco photographer Peter Bruce is creating a book of anonymously pictured women's breasts to raise money to fight breast cancer. The website is here.

The project is still looking for subjects: "We are always looking for models of any size, shape, cup, or race, and volunteers across the country." The country is the USA. Only those 18 or older are wanted.


2010 March 25.
A topfree stroll is planned for Portland, Maine on April 3. Both women and men are wanted, "to point out the inequality in the social acceptance of male toplessness as compared to female toplessness." A good start? (We don't know who is organizing this, although there's more here.)

 

2010 March 21. Last month, the City Council of Boulder Colorado was to debate a nudity ban. A few people, it seems, don't understand events like the World Naked Bike Ride and the Naked Pumpkin Run. In the end, the Council voted 5 to 3 to remove women's breasts from any such ordinance.

Speaking about the ordinance in mid-February at a Council meeting was Seth Brigham. He appeared topfree before the council. He had been assured by police that his appearance that way was legal. Despite that, he was arrested and removed from the meeting---after the Council had tried to interfere with his presentation by making noise in the PA system and then cutting off his sound entirely. With commentary, the video of that part of the meeting is here. More commentary (rather good, we think) on this whole matter is here.

Eventually, the charges against Brigham were dropped.

And then this month, people called police on a topfree woman who was gardening at her house (on March 17). The ignorant response reported was the usual "What about the children?" Despite the fact that the woman's behaviour is legal, the housing authority governing where she and her husband live wants to forbid it.

 

2010 March 19. A major defeat has occurred for a coercive former county prosecutor in Pennsylvania. A US federal circuit court has ruled in the case of three teen girls who were threatened with being charged with child pornography offences. Their "crime" was being pictured topfree or in bras---unless they agreed to attend the prosecutor's paternalistic, demeaning "education" program.

Congratulations are in order to the girls and their families, even though a year for this nonsense to go on is a year too long.

 

2010 March 14. For some reason, photos of Zia McCabe are making the rounds again. She's a founder of the rock band The Dandy Warhols and has often performed topfree, as this older photo suggests. Does the photo indicate something immoral?

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2010 March 12. Whether it was fun or just silly, FM 96 in London, Ontario decided to stage its own version of the Braunlage, Germany topfree sledding race. It was the famous Tucker & Taz all the way as they found two intrepid topfree tobogganers to slide down a hill---not on toboggans, but who cares? The results were, shall we say, predictable! Go here for the topfree twosome's tumbling tournament.

We commend Tucker & Taz for choosing a man as well as a woman for this edifying event. No matter that they didn't quite get an audience of 14,000.

 

2010 March 11. Elizabeth Book held an eight-day protest with various others in Daytona Beach, Florida. She reports on it on her Facebook pages. Although we don't know what she did exactly, it obviously involved being topfree a good amount of the time. In contrast to other years', this series of events seems to have gone off with no or few problems.

Liz kindly sent us photos, a few of which we reprint here (Liz is on the right in the first two; it seems we're meant to ignore the date stamps):

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Clearest of all is what Liz wrote before her week of protest:

This is my challenge to the world:

There are close to 6 1/2 billion human beings on Earth. I challenge you to find me even one child who has been harmed by the female breast.
Bill O'Reilly once threw that statement at me: "What about the children?" Yes, what about them. Find me just one, Bill. Good luck looking for that child. I doubt that you will ever find it.
I find it sad to see that there are women who have come to despise and curse their own breasts. They are shamed by that badge of femininity that rests on their chests. How sad, for they actually carry the most blessed fluid on Earth, within them.
It is societies that carry hate and prejudice. Ours has taught us to hold our very own bodies in contempt.

 

2010 March 05. Yesterday many women held a Breast Party at the University of Arizona in Tucson to make papier mâché moulds of their breasts "It's not as scary as I thought it was going to be," noted one student. "Getting in here and realizing I had to take my bra off in front of people . . . there was a moment of terror."

"It's great to feel comfortable around other women and to embrace our bodies," said another.

2010 February 21. What's been called a naked sledding event wasn't. In Braunlage, Germany yesterday, 30 topfree people took to colourful sleds and raced down a 100-metre hill in front of the town hall. The event was sponsored by a radio station.

Two notable aspects of this race: 1) According to reports, the participants were outnumbered by a mere 14,000 onlookers. 2) More significantly from our perspective, the sledders were 15 men and 15 women. Now that's topfree equality!

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Yes, it snowed, and no, they didn't all stay on their sleds.

 

2010 February 11. One of the more important articles on Facebook's attitude towards breastfeeding mothers is here. Facebook routinely deletes from its site photos of breastfeeding. It has labelled them obscene and pornographic. It says that it has rules for what is allowed on its site, but its careless actions show it does not.

Facebook's clueless manner of censoring is not just pointless but harmful. There are other ways to deal with unwanted material than by immature, arrogant, and foolish removal of what one doesn't like, especially when photos of breastfeeding are claimed to harm children---a claim Facebook has made for years.

Below is a recent photo Facebook removed. Could Facebook have a bad case of nipplephobia? Is there a cure?

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See also the following pages for more photos of breastfeeding deleted by Facebook as lewd, obscene, pornographic, etc.:

www.tera.ca/photos13.html
www.tera.ca/photos12.html
www.tera.ca/photos11.html
www.tera.ca/photos10.html
www.tera.ca/photos9.html
www.tera.ca/photos7.html
www.tera.ca/photos6.html

2010 February 07. A few women in Kyïv (Kiev) protested today's Ukrainian election topfree, demanding democracy. They used tape to cover their nipples but appear to have been arrested.

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The signs they held up say "Today the war begins!" (left); "Enough raping the country!" (not visible here); and "Help! Rape!" (right) --- plus the one in English (centre). Many photos and a few YouTube videos are here.

 

2010 February 03. Last night the city council of Boulder, Colorado removed women's topfreedom from illegal behaviour in its anti-nudity ordinance. That's the good news. The bad news is that it voted to move the altered ordinance forward. It's unnecessary and badly thought out, reflecting America's general body phobia and refusal to understand certain events, such as those mentioned below (in the January 29 news announcement). Nonetheless, that topic goes slightly beyond TERA's mandate.

The best analysis of the situation comes from the ACLU's Judd Golden. It is here.

 

2010 January 29. Boulder, Colorado is considering adopting an anti-nudity ordinance that would make it illegal for women to be topfree in public. Unwilling to allow the significance or fun of the World Naked Bike Ride or the Naked Pumpkin Run, and believing that exposed skin always brings public disorder, it thinks that to discriminate unjustly against women is part of the way to deal with matters it could easily deal with in other ways.

The ACLU in the area would agree with TERA. Among other things, it's concerned that the proposed law will violate Boulder's non-discrimination laws and criminalize protected behaviour.

 

2010 January 25. Shannon Claire, a woman in Auckland, New Zealand, wants to campaign for topfree rights there. Although the written report from TV3 News is slight, the accompanying video is good. It doesn't get into deeper issues but does quote many people.

Shannon Claire is breaking no law. Therefore, no "authority" should approach her to complain. Note all the "What about the children?" statements. These people need educating, although for some, their ideology, which they attempt to hide, precludes such a possibility. The person dressed in black (below, right) seems as an excellent example (from what she says).

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Before the beach part of the video, from which come the above screen shots, the announcer says simply, "If you don't want to see breasts, look away." Although he was casual, better than alarmist American newscasts on this subject, he could have done better yet by issuing no warning.

 

2010 January 22. This from England's Daily Mail. The BBC has ordered a painting at an auction hidden because of a visible nipple.

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For once, we have no comment.

 

2009 December 30. A mural in Las Vegas showing topfree women was required to have pasties added to it. The question centred around whether the mural was a sign or a work of art. Its location was at the Erotic Heritage Museum, which takes it outside TERA's usual interest.

Still, there's a lesson here. The figures themselves suggest little of their context or purpose; but the eyes, on a head or not, suggest voyeurism. The question: If it's in a sexual context, how could the addition of pasties make this a more acceptable mural?

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Regardless, it's clear that in Las Vegas, women's breasts/nipples are allowed to be visible only if the viewer pays. That point, true in many places, is one reason TERA exists: to defeat the negative commodification of women's breasts.

 

2009 December 23. A woman in West Virginia was fired as cheerleader and cook at two schools for having been in a hot tub clothed with some topfree female students. She posted a photo on MySpace of the group fully clothed, although news media originally got that part wrong and reported the girls were topfree in the photo. In the photo in question, the girls covered their breasts. It was taken with their permission.

The woman won reinstatement as cook only, but her school board is appealing that decision.

 

2009 November 27. Yesterday in Victoria, British Columbia three women staged a topfree protest over cuts to the arts by the B.C. government. They claimed that the cuts amounted to 92% in some cases and so removed about 92% of their clothing. They also painted themselves green.

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The organizer, Dianne Searle, said that one of the conditions imposed on the event by the authorities was that it be "trouble free." That makes no sense for a protest in a free society. Also making no sense is the CBC headline, which starts with "Nude protesters."

 

2009 November 25. Yesterday, the student newspaper at Portland State University in Oregon published an engaging article about women's topfreedom by Meaghan Daniels. It makes the case calmly, mentioning an experiment conducted on a Portland street by a women's studies student at PSU.

 

2009 November 24. Earlier this month, the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected a guilty verdict for Ed Stross. He had painted the word love and a biblical scene including a barebreasted Eve (after Michelangelo) on an outdoor mural in Roseville.

The court ordered a new trial. Because this is the appeal court's second ruling in favour of Stross, we think it's time to dump this one. The city of Roseville should stop wasting money and looking foolish.

 

2009 November 11. A week ago, artwork of breast cancer survivors was removed from an exhibition in Waikiki, Hawai'i. Rita Coury's five large photographic prints are of five women in different stages of breast cancer, including mastectomies and reconstruction. The bank café that had initially agreed to the exhibition said, "All art must be appropriate for all audiences and age groups."

 

2009 October 30. The second segment on breast self-examinations is broadcast by WJLA (see the October 29 item, below), with another full breast shown as a woman is taught the technique.

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This woman refused to be identified, which unfortunately gives the impression that someone thinks she is doing something wrong and immoral. And the comments WJLA makes outside the news item itself are still too much. "Viewer discretion is advised," for example, is a stock, patronizing euphemism by now.

The news segment itself, like the one from the previous day, is good. Not to be missed are the interviews with two well-known women with breast cancer: Elizabeth Edwards (October 29) and Tanya Snyder (October 30). So overall, we congratulate WJLA and hope it successfully repels the immature and ignorant comments.

Can American broadcasting now tolerate breasts in connection with disease and disease prevention? How about a program or two about breastfeeding, usually a cheerier subject, and just as important? The proper latch is something that must often be demonstrated to mothers of newborns.

 

2009 October 29. A SIGNIFICANT AMERICAN TV NEWS SEGMENT IS BROADCAST, and it isn't even about topfreedom. ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington D.C. broadcasts an important few minutes about breast self-examinations for women in which two entire breasts make their appearance, in the late afternoon, even.

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We think Lauren Albright, the subject in the video, did a great thing, and we empathize fully with her in this situation. Thousands, perhaps millions, of women are prepared to do the same. If they haven't done so, it's only because of a monstrously foolish Federal Communications Commission that has put repressive ideology before the public good in declaring the glimpse of women's nipples harmful and to be removed from all basic network broadcasts under threat of huge fines.

WJLA produced a good broadcast that was nonetheless marred by claiming it was adult material, containing "revealing," "graphic" images of someone "unclothed." In case viewers didn't understand what a "full breast examination" meant, they were advised that Albright took "the extraordinary step of baring herself."

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That's false and sensationalist. So is the headline on this nonetheless useful Washington Post report. It notes that the FCC can't fine a station for indecency in a news broadcast. ABC's own Good Morning America website, however, reported on all this by saying it wouldn't show "any full nudity," claiming that women's breasts are "private," and putting white bars over Lauren Albright's breasts and nipples. It falsified WJLA's news broadcast with distracting condescension.

The USA is still in official denial about bodies. Its official attitude towards women's breasts constitutes mass manipulative madness, with harmful results that we and many others have noted.

Despite appearing in a poisonous broadcast environment, WJLA's segment should do some good. Maybe it will lead to every station declaring itself to have 24-hour news broadcasts. Let's hope it leads instead to broadcasts in which women's breasts and nipples are seen to be doing nothing on a variety of programs, and to the immediate removal from the FCC of its unwarranted and unconstitutional censorship.

 

2009 October 27.

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On Hallowe'en (October 31), New York City artist Andy Golub will have some of his topfree bodypainted models in a parade in Greenwich Village.

After he began painting in Times Square, police challenged him. So he contacted a lawyer to find out that topfreedom for women has been legal in New York State since 1992. Whom did he contact? Spencer Tunick's early lawyer, Ron Kuby.

Check out an engaging video of Andy in action here. There are more still photos here.

 

2009 October 10. Fortunately, it's not every day that you can call 911. Robin Whitten, however, seems to have enjoyed being the hero when she spotted what she saw was a topfree woman standing outside a coffee shop in Washington State. Although we have no comment on the shop, we must commend Ms. Whitten for her alertness in phoning 911 and tying up an emergency line that's needed for reporting abuse, heart attacks, car accidents, and natural disasters.

Megan Lenn, an employee of the coffee shop, was arrested for indecent exposure. She had small bits of black tape over her nipples on a "Pasty Wednesday."

"You could see boobs," Ms. Whitten explains. Well, we sure know who the boob is in this one. Thanks, Robin, for nippling that one in the Bud.

TERA does not generally go in for corny pasties.

 

2009 October 10. A few days ago, the case of Emily Gillette of New Mexico came back in the news. She had been removed from a Delta Airlines flight in Vermont for not covering herself while breastfeeding. That was in 2006. Because Delta or its partners refused to compensate her properly, she is now suing in a federal court in Burlington, Vermont.

"Delta fully supports a mother’s right to breast-feed." Except when it doesn't.

 

2009 October 06. Two major statements on breast cancer: which is better? Here they are:

1. A video for an event called the Boobyball (which has been around for seven years), in aid of a charity called Rethink Breast Cancer.

2. A magazine production from the French Marie Claire.

Is there really a comparison? Here's a perceptive article about the first, from Erin Chapman, a student at Indiana University.

In the second, the magazine has had ten famous French women pose topfree to promote mammography and other breast cancer detection. The photo below is of Rachida Brakni, a French actor known from many movies. The French words say: "I had a mammogram before my pregnancy. I will continue to be vigilant. It goes with my responsibility as a mother."

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2009 September 29. The magazine Pink Ribbon has launched its version in The Netherlands. It's a unique"charity glossy" whose sale proceeds go to the Pink Ribbon Foundation, for breast cancer awareness and research. The magazine's campaign uses several still images, of which one is the following.

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Many English-language web locations mentioning the magazine crop the breasts out of the photos or don't show photos at all. Some provide links and decry them patronizingly as NSFW.

Pink Ribbon also produced a short video with equally simple lines about breasts spoken (in English) rather than printed, and many images like the one above. The first and last images in the video follow.

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2009 September 20. We don't generally post examples of topfree women that aren't what we're interested in. This is an exception. The photo below is of a woman who is merely standing outside. But the context of this is different.

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Naomi McDonald stood and sat topfree on the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square today from 12:00 to 13:00 (London time) as part of Antony Gormley's artwork One and Other. It involves members of the British public being on the plinth for an hour each, 24 hours a day for 100 consecutive days. The divergence, from TERA's point of view, is that Naomi McDonald describes herself as "a professional model/dancer and streaking addict" and a "natural born exhibitionist." That is not what topfree equal rights are about.

Her performance, a mild version of what she probably does professionally, reinforced the automatic association of women's topfreedom with sexual display, which we have to get rid of. But there is no doubt that she was entitled to be topfree on the plinth.

 

2009 September 09. This article analyzes the decision to drop charges against Cassidy Nicosia (see the next item below). It suggests that either the police didn't know the law or knew it but arrested her regardless. It also suggests that the decision not to proceed was made mainly for a political reason: to prevent removal of an overbroad law. TERA is not surprised.

 

2009 September 03. The charges against Cassidy Nicosia are reported dropped. She had been arrested in a topfree demonstration in Keene, New Hampshire on August 23, and faced arraignment on September 9, for a charge of "indecent exposure and lewdness."

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photos by Mike Barskey

Note the topfree men, who were of course not arrested. Also note that the referenced letter was unsigned and sent to Oklahoma! Do the Keene police have a clue? Surely they do; but some appear not familiar enough with New Hampshire law. They had responded to a complaint or two about Cassidy on the national "Go Topless" day; politically, it seems they felt they had to arrest her, when they should merely have explained to the complainants that there was no problem with what she was doing.

Cassidy was prepared to fight this, and stated that this body equality was important to her. TERA advised her but is glad its advice is probably not going to have to be used.

We congratulate Cassidy on her position and the result.

 

2009 August 29. This recent article is a lively, funny, well-written account by a woman who decided to go topfree in New York's Central Park. Only one problem: who's the nut who told her it wasn't legal to walk that way?

 

2009 August 24. The Go Topless demonstrations took place as scheduled yesterday in several US cities. There were good-sized crowds of participants and observers in some. Many videos are on YouTube.

Here is a text report from New York. And here a photo:

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Women in Central Park, New York City, handing out gotopless.org cards for the event
photo by centralpark2009

One of the demonstrations' useful components was men wearing bra-like breast coverings: an ideal adjunct to topfree women, to demonstrate the illogicality of the usual restriction on women and girls.

In some locations, women wore pasties over their nipples. In our view, that defeats the purpose of the protest, rather like protesting racial inequality by painting blacks almost white. (That women's nipples aren't obscene is obvious; that they're not illegal in this situation is likely, even if women may not want to spend time and money proving that.) Paint, however, is a longstanding element of these demonstrations that makes some sense, especially in this photo from Chicago's demonstration (left) or the one from Columbus (right):

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Left: Amanda Springborn and Doug Hickok with a poster in Chicago
Right: Body painting in Columbus (photo by Chet Kresiak)

Many news reports mentioned that the protests were organized by Raëlians. That was a distraction. One headline in particular suggests that American news media weren't taking this event seriously: "UFO Cult Would Like To See Your Breasts."

In using every artful dodge in their photos to hide women's nipples, they also implied that topfree equality is wrong. Why should the media be allowed to present news in a slanted manner?

Unfortunately, in Keene, New Hampshire, a woman was arrested. TERA is involved in her defence.

 

2009 August 12. On August 23, the second annual "Go topless" day will take place in several American cities, to promote topfree equality. For the rationale and a list of cities where demonstrations and other activities are planned, go to the site of Go Topless. (Although we know some of the people involved, this is not a TERA event.) It seems that in New York City, Jordan Matter will be present, with his fantastic new photographic book, Uncovered. More about his book will appear here.

2009 August 02. This is the big one for the play The Strong Breast Revolution! The finest representation of what topfreedom is about, this 50-minute "cult hit just waiting to be released into the world" runs every day at 14:45 from August 7 to 29 (except Sundays) in the mother of all fringe festivals, the Edinburgh Fringe. Anyone within reach of southeastern Scotland must see this!

This is the third incarnation of TSBR by Vicki Hambley, co-created by the cast and co-director Tanith Lindon.

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top: Alice Fernbank; left: Linda Mathis; centre: Jennie Barbrook; right: Suni La

 

2009 July 20. In Australia, teenagers in a Melbourne school had to get parental permission to see a demonstration of breastfeeding. This is inconsistent with a generally more benevolent attitude in Australia towards breastfeeding.

The school principal said he had to be sensitive to various nationalities in the school. With that attitude, he should disallow teaching anything about Australian history or culture. If the goal is not to offend anyone, how can he justify having any school?

 

2009 July 04. We've received so much material from and about the recent ComFest! That's the annual Community Festival in Columbus, Ohio. So we put a couple of photos here (by Lauren Damon) and tell much more of the story, with eleven more photos, on a special page. The connection between topfreedom and breastfeeding has never been closer. Read on.

CF12.jpgLauren Damon
feeding her daughter
at ComFest 2009
in Columbus, Ohio

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There's another fine article on the whole matter here, with Lauren Damon on the cover!

 

2009 July 02. A major article on topfreedom by Laura Roberts is here. She writes about it very well!

 

2009 June 26. Two days ago, Malmö, Sweden decided to allow women to swim in its public pools topfree. This decision was made after well-reported action by the group of women Bara Bröst (which means Mere Breasts and Bare Breasts). We've reported on Bara Bröst and its sister organization in Denmark a few times.

A longer recent article (in English) is here. For those who read Swedish, there are two different reports here and here. One commentator in a third article echoes a common statement in Sweden that "breasts have disappeared. Topfree culture has basically died out. At the same time, breasts have become icons and oversexualized. The Nipple has been accorded absolutely magical properties. As soon as it shows its wrinkled snout, the whole world goes nuts. Think Janet Jackson."

The question behind such a trend, if true, is how much influence the USA has had on "topfree culture" in western European countries where it may have flourished, at least at beaches and similar places. For several reasons, the answer is probably: a lot of influence.

Still, the photo accompanying this opinion piece would not appear in any mainstream newspaper in the USA:

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Although the closeup headless image invites attention, the author of the article, Patrik Svensson, concludes, "The world needs to see more breasts, to learn to stop staring."

This isn't the first time a photo contradicts what an accompanying article says. In America, however, it's usually the other way around: an article promoting topfreedom for women is accompanied by a censored photo.

 

2009 June 25. In mid-June, a woman riding the MAX light rail train in Portland, Oregon decided to be topfree and was stopped by security guards on a station platform. There's no state law against what she did; she was badly hassled anyhow. The story and photo are here. The photo appeared also in the Portland Mercury's print version.

 

2009 June 19. Revisiting the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro, Maine.

We thought we were done with this topic, then along came this fine little documentary by Briget Ganske and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. It gives a human perspective to people who until now remained mostly unknown objects in a simplistic category. (Although there was a male waiter employed, only women were interviewed for this short video.)

The wait staff people interviewed do not identify much with their role in their former job. Nor do they come right out and say that the job was sexual or non-sexual, although a few of the still images (the video is a series of them with music and the women's words) suggest the former. That's one reason TERA took no interest in this venture; it was an opportunity missed. That the owner wanted to open a strip club confirms that.

The video is labelled NSFW. That reveals the presumptuous attitude that's responsible in the first place for the problems TERA has been presenting for twelve years now.

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2009 June 17. More information about the events listed below under June 12.

At Comfest in Columbus, Ohio this year, gotopless.org has a booth! We encourage people to drop by, June 26 to 28. The major wording from their poster is this:

"In cities where the law is already honoring our constitutional right, we focus our efforts on helping women perceive their breasts as a noble, natural part of their anatomy that does not have to be "modestly" or shamefully hidden from the public any more than their arms, legs or feet."

Women may be topfree in Columbus and have been on many occasions at Comfest.

A demonstration is also planned for Comfest by breastfeeding women. There's an important connection there to TERA's principles, as you will find acknowledged below the photo.

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We quote from this event's promotion: "While not required, participants will be encouraged to breastfeed topfree, which is legal in Ohio. A sister virtual event is being held online for those on Facebook, asking participants to change their status for the day to something similar to "Hooray for Boobies! I am celebrating the wonderfully multi-functional purpose of breasts . . . especially their perfect ability to nourish and nurture babies!"

It's rare to find women who understand the connection between topfree equal rights and breastfeeding in public. The organizers of Hooray for Boobies are two such people.

Meanwhile, the program booklet for Comfest has a photo of a painted topfree woman accompanied by instructions not to harass such people.

 

2009 June 12. A breastfeeding event with topfree women is planned for Comfest in Columbus, Ohio on June 26 and 27. Called "Hooray for Boobies!" its announcement is here. TERA recommends this one. The announcement tells you how to contact the organizers.

Also at Comfest will be a booth run by gotopless.org, which should also be worth looking for.

 

2009 June 12.The Strong Breast Revolution is at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 7 to 29! No one should miss this if they can possibly get to it. It's a short theatrical work that TERA would have written if it could, and the best introduction to what topfree equality for women is and means. "A theatrical cult hit just waiting to be released into the world" (Skye Crawford, West End Whispers).

 

2009 June 09. TERA has long maintained that interest in and viability of equal topfreedom would advance if a celebrity took it up. Despite a few movies with somewhat non-sexualized bare breasts and a few prominent breastfeeders, this has not happened, because the women in question have not promoted the issue. Recent events reveal how difficult the concept is in view of several celebrities being in the news for some sort of bare breasts not indicating how this whole question might be dealt with.

1. Carla Bruni. The wife of the French President: another photo of her was sold at auction. This is a model posing 15 years ago, not our interest by any means. She's naked but for a sheet covering her abdomen.

2. Britney Spears. This pop singer posed for topfree photos two years ago while making a music video (Gimme More). Pseudo-tattoos are seen around her nipples as she herself is seen around a stripper's pole. Again, not our interest. But some of the mediocre photos recently released are not particularly erotic in intent.

Some bloggers are treating these photos as if they've cracked a long-standing set of secret war codes. Given Spears' sexualization of her public persona, that's almost understandable.

3. Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian Prime Minister is in trouble for hosting topfree women at his private villa on Sardinia. Although we have no love for Signore Berlusconi, it's wrong that he should be criticized for allowing women to sunbathe or (see below) take a shower topfree.

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From the Spanish newspaper El país, which pixellated all faces in the photos

He is describing the photos as private. They may be; but his attitude implies that topfree women are inappropriate for the public: another opportunity lost, even though this politician is not known as a promoter of equal rights for women.

 

2009 June 08 Two 15-year-old girls were charged with disorderly conduct for doing topfree cartwheels June 5 in Lewes, Delaware. The source calls this a "lewd act."

 

2009 June 03. This morning the "topless coffee shop" mentioned in the next report below was destroyed by fire.

 

2009 May 27. The coffee shop in Vassalboro, Maine that employs topfree servers of both sexes is now in a little difficulty. It seems that one waitress stepped outside the restaurant. Oh the horrors. Then there was a story that she was outside but she covered her breasts. Next maybe we'll hear that her right nipple was visible for 9/16 second and the FCC was called in.

The town considers the shop to be adult entertainment. The coffee shop admits people only 18 and over, and a casual report has it that only one topfree male is employed there. In addition, the shop owner wants to open a strip club, in which we take no interest. An anti-nudity ordinance seems next up, predictably.

Are topfree people nude? Most Americans probably still say yes for women but no for men.

 

2009 May 16. We missed this one a few months ago. Two women from Breasts Not Bombs were arrested as they put on a topfree protest in Sacramento, California in November 2005. For a report of their arrest, go here, and for the dismissal of the case, go here.

Sherry Glaser and Renée Sheba Love then sued the California Highway Patrol for wrongful arrest. They won the case late last year. The settlement was $150,000 and a requirement that CHP properly train its officers. The arguments put up by CHP in the case were among the most specious we've ever seen. They're nonetheless the three most common arguments in this subject.

Congratulations to Sherry and Sheba on this win.

 

2009 May 07. Major protest in Paris. Yesterday in Paris, a group of about ten women calling themselves "Les tumultueuses" staged a topfree protest at a swimming pool. It was their third, and they promise another for France's Mothers' Day, June 7. They were protesting the oversexualization of women's bodies and socially imposed standards of beauty. "My body if I say so, when I say so, as it is. Bare breasts at the pool because we will no longer be controlled!" They also address questions of femininity and heterosexuality.

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photo by Lionel Bonaventure, AFP

A pool official unsuccessfully tried to get the women to put their tops back on, claiming that their action would lead to people swimming nude. Unlike at the other two protests, no police came in.

The video is here, with Spanish narration.

 

2009 May 06. Some years ago, one of the rides at Disneyland in Anaheim, California became famous. Called Splash Mountain, it enabled riders to have their photos taken by a machine for souvenirs as they entered the final drop on the ride. Some women lifted or removed their tops for the occasion.

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Because this seems like flashing, we wouldn't normally discuss it. Perhaps it constitutes flashing oneself in a kind of fun protest. We make an exception also because of this witless article, which calls barebreasted women on Splash Mountain lewd and obscene.

Disneyland felt it had to stamp this practice out and employed people to refuse to release photos with topfree women. Now, however, as a cost cutter, it has removed those positions. So the photo ops are uncensored once more. Topfree women may thus make a comeback on the ride, which earned its nickname of "Flash Mountain." Disneyland, however, is still planning to forbid the sale of the photos when the riders go to pay for them.

Regardless, photos are usually better with people just topfree, without the top lifting. If Disneyland allowed topfree women in the first place, the photos wouldn't even be an issue.

 

2009 April 26. Perhaps the most successful topfree activist in North America, Linda Meyer recently sent us this photo of herself at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, in British Columbia. It was taken on April 16. Linda notes that she went for a topfree walk on the 21st, with no problem.

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2009 April 20.A store in Philadelphia has announced "topless bikinis" to go on display in its window. On topfree mannequins, of course. Since these are bottom-only swimsuits, we wonder where the store thinks its customers will wear them.

The idea of a "monokini" is not new. The most famous creator of women's topfree swimwear was Rudi Gernreich (1922-85). His second topfree suit made waves in 1964. This iconic photo of it dogged him the rest of his life.

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Click on the photo to go to a large size. The water droplets
on the model become visible.

 

2009 April 10. On March 28, a traditional party called Shock Your Mom was held at Kenyon College in Ohio. Interesting details are provided by what happened later. Shortly after a few women were turned away from the party for inappropriate attire, photos appeared attached to trees on the campus. They were of women's breasts. The following appeared by way of explanation:

"This was not really a response to Shock Your Mom. The party acted as a catalyst . . . We love our bodies and we want you to see why. We just wonder why 'common decency' requires us to cover a part of our bodies that not only do men not have to cover, but that is a natural, integral part of ourselves."

Whatever the logic there, if women's breasts aren't obscene, then posted photos of them aren't likely to be either. Other questions may be raised, nonetheless.

 

2009 April 09. Someone in the provincial Liberal Party in Nova Scotia tried to discredit an NDP candidate up for nomination by distributing a photograph of her topfree. In this case, the subject is well known: Lenore Zann, who acted in, among other things, The L Word. Which photo was circulated, we don't know. There are plenty available from her many acting roles.

The Liberal leader eventually apologized. Zann must be used to this silliness by now. We'd like to point out to the CBC, meanwhile, that "topfree" isn't "nude."

 

2009 March 31. As expected, yesterday a temporary restraining order was issued aganist a Pennsylvania county prosecutor in his attempts to threaten three girls with criminal charges over photographs that are reported to be perfectly lawful. The prosecutor objected, saying that the whole criminal justice system was threatened by the order being granted.

"L'état, c'est moi" indeed. Maybe next he'll claim "national security." (Another article here. A fine analysis is here.)

The entire judgement against the prosecutor is worth reading, here.

 

2009 March 28. According to this article, only three states do not allow women to breastfeed in public: Nebraska, North Dakota, and Idaho. A bill under consideration in North Dakota's Senate demands that women feed in a "discreet and modest" manner --- which may be worse than no bill at all.

 

2009 March 27.The ACLU in Pennsylvania is suing a county prosecutor, and rightly so. A digital photo showing two teenage girls wearing bras were found in others' hands. A county prosecutor threatened the girls with charges relating to child pornography unless they attended counselling sessions that he had set up. A similar threat was made to another girl pictured in a scond photo with bare breasts and a towel around her waist. "The lawsuit claims this is a form of unconstitutional retaliation against the parents and children who assert their right not to be bullied into participation," notes the ACLU.

By the available descriptions, the photos have as much connection to child pornography as does a cement sidewalk. The prosecutor, George Skumanick, comes off sounding like an ignorant bully. The girls in bras are Melissa Miller and Grace Kelly. The third girl is not named.

We don't comment much on this phenomemon, called "sexting" (transmission by cellular phone of photos of people partly or totally undressed). By bringing up child porn charges for such cases where no abuse or coercion is involved, American authorities often abuse their power and show that they understand neither the law they're supposed to uphold nor principles involving the body and teens. If there's a problem, making teenagers criminal pornographers and registered sex offenders for what are legal photos is no solution and is a horrible miscarriage of justice. It also furthers the body phobias and resultant psychological traumas that North America is famous for.

A fine article by Pittsburgh commentator Tony Norman is here.

 

2009 March 27. Earlier this month, Linda Meyer was again criticized for being topfree by visitors to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, in British Columbia. Yet she won that battle in 2000. This time the pool is handing out information on the legal situation. Although what it writes is correct, it sounds in part like "Our hands are tied, we don't like her either" --- which the Centre should not be implying.

The solution to complaints is to educate the complainers about why Linda won legally. And whom do we turn to for those nice words? Surprise: The Maple Ridge News. On March 5, the paper came through in grand style. In its editorial, titled "Just breasts," it said, calmly, "Frankly, we don't understand the hysteria." The last lines of the editorial we quote in their entirety as a model for others:

"Tell your children that she's just more comfortable that way. Tell them that grown women have breasts, that they come in all shapes and sizes. Tell them they are where breast milk comes from. Tell them Mommy covers her breasts because she feels more comfortable that way. Tell them it is Ms. Meyer's choice to go topless. She earned that right.

"So, please, give her the respect she deserves."

Two letters appeared in the paper about this. One was the usual complaint about Linda; the other was from TERA praising the newspaper's editorial.

 

2009 March 24. This may seem unrelated to topfree equality, but we think its connection is clear. Last week in Norfolk, Virginia, a jury began deliberating the 2006 case of a female dock worker who was punished by her union for urinating on the job, while a male co-worker having done the same was not. She has sought US$300,000 in damages.

 

2009 March 17.Alison Kennedy's swimming pool protest went ahead as planned on March 8. Several friends breastfed, without incident this time. The simultaneous feedings took place towards the end of the pool's public hours. They were also away from the water, for convenience.

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Left photo, from left: Helen Schwalme, Alison Kennedy, Sarah Dubé, and Janet Jackson, with their children
Right photo, from left: Carrie Cutforth-Young; Alison Kennedy, Sarah Dubé, and Janet Jackson, with their children
(The breastfeeders at this event were the three women breastfeeding in these photos.)

Before the protest, Alison was informed that the city was revising its policy. "We'll see," is all that may be said about that.

 

2009 March 08. Today Liz Book staged another topfree protest in Daytona Beach, Florida. In a message to her supporters, she related how, after defeating Daytona Beach legally recently, she was now able to complete her topfree protest without incident. That's excatly how it went (much better than ever before) until a policeman eventually came up to her, threatened her, and handcuffed her to arrest her.

He had clearly not been informed that this was a legal protest. Regardless, his language was bad, his attitude worse. Some 20 minutes after this incident began, another officer arrived and told the first one to let Liz go, along with another woman, who had put her top back on and had also been intimidated.

A well-known Florida lawyer plans to launch a suit against the police on Liz's behalf. So far, this sounds at least like a false arrest.

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Left photo: a topfree supporter at Liz Book's 2009 protest in Daytona Beach, later detained along with her
Right photo: Liz is handcuffed again in a legal protest

 

2009 February 25. Yesterday, a "topless coffee shop" opened in Vassalboro, Maine. Ordinarily we wouldn't report on a place with topfree servers where no one under 18 is admitted, no cameras, etc., because the implications are obviously sexual. The notable thing about this shop is that the servers are both female and male.

 

2009 February 22. Alison Kennedy, of Burlington, Ontario, was told today to move from a warming tub at the Tansley Woods pool because someone "complained" about her breastfeeding her son. The staff there picked on the wrong person. Alison launched a human rights complaint of her own and planned a protest at the pool for March 8. (See the second report, dated March 17, above.)

The city has this as part of its policy: "If other patrons are uncomfortable with this situation, you may make the mother aware; however, it will be her choice to remain in the pool area. Staff should not ask her to leave under any circumstances."

Staff asked exactly that, violating its own policy. But even worse, the city policy itself violates what the Ontario Human Rights Commission says: "They should not ask you to 'cover up,' disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more 'discreet.'" The city even denied that Alison had been asked to move.

The pool staff also said that there was a health hazard if the baby spat up in the pool. The "health hazard" is bogus.

 

2009 February 20. Tomorrow another protest takes place largely on Facebook against Facebook's continued deletion of some breastfeeding photos. The deletions follow no rule; and Facebook's supposed rules on what is acceptable on its site make no sense. See below.

 

2009 February 19. On the 22nd will be a protest against Denny's, the restaurant chain, for its brash mishandling of a woman breastfeeding legally in one of its restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina. On February 8, Crystal Everitt was told to stop breastfeeding or leave by the restaurant's manager, who then called police. The police then threatened to arrest Everitt for trespassing.

So much for North Carolina's protection and promotion of breastfeeding. A fine analysis of the situation is here. The protest Sunday is at 13:00, at the Denny's on Patton Avenue.

 

2009 February 19. A protest was held today at New York University's Kimmel Center, which was occupied by a number of students. The slogan "Exposure till disclosure" was created by a few topfree women who were involved in the protest.

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Photo by Sandy Gordon

The use of women's breasts in protests has a long history. TERA has no comment on the essence of the protest.

 

2009 February 03. The two women who were convicted for sunbathing topfree in northwestern Poland in November were acquitted today on appeal. There may be no specific law in Poland against their action.

 

2009 January 27. In Perth, Western Australia, a photograph was removed from a library exhibition because the image of a topfree girl was feared offensive or illegal.

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Kids in Suburbia by Nicole Boenig McGrade


The photo was put back up the next day. It had been removed because of a series of events that began last May in Sydney. A few prominent Australians, including Hetty Johnston, head of a child protection agency, have decried the existence of anything they can deem child nudity in a picture, claiming that such images cause crimes against children. Their claims are demonstrably false and harmful to children. Unfortunately, the Australian Prime Minister supports them.

Dr. Marty Klein of Palo Alto, California calls fear-mongers like this "vampires of the Sexual Disaster Industry."

 

2009 January 23. More "go topless" days have been announced by the Raelian organization in the USA. Go here for information.

 

2009 January 11. A weeek ago, there was a nurse-in held in Lubbock, Texas to protest the repeated censorship of art by Lahib Jaddo. One of the pieces of hers that has been refused space in a city-run gallery is this:

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2009 January 06. Last month, Rev. Fred Nile, a prominent Australian, decided he wanted to get rid of topree women from the beaches of Australia's New South Wales and got a couple of politicians to join his campaign.

Sunbaking, as it's sometimes called in Australia, draws topfree women much more than in North America. TERA's co-ordnator was on Australian radio to explain why the proposed ban was a bad idea. Rev. Nile then explained that his ban was to protect Muslims and Asians. (Sure it was. Rev. Nile's newfound appreciation of religions other than his should have called for a closing of all beaches in the country and a national ban on Western clothing, food, entertainment, schools, courts, and religious institutions like his own.)

The whole idea was shot down by a few local councils with authority over the beaches.

 

2009 January 01. The protest against Facebook continues. Meanwhile, very many news organizations picked up recent aspects of the story, and some have made TERA part of it. Of course, we're a small part only; but we continue to post some of the banned photographs with comments, mostly by their owners, the breastfeeding mothers themselves. That has been mentioned in several prominent media locations, like here and here, as well as outside the English-speaking world. The variety of photos is notable! They're all here.

The result for this site? Guess. In the past two days, the number of visits here has increased above the 2008 average by (respectively) 18 times and 27 times, the highest traffic in the 11.5-year history of TERA.

If you're unaware of what this is all about, continue reading below. We note in passing that the excellent Time magazine article, by Ada Calhoun, stated, 2008 October 12.

What do you think? Comments are welcome, sent here. We can't promise to answer all of them but we will consider all. They may end up on this or another site. Signed comments will be given more consideration than anonymous.

TERA is very grateful to all the amazing breastfeeders --- especially the ones who posted their photos on Facebook, and notably the remarkable women who've played prominent roles in this story: Kelli Roman, who started the Facebook group "Hey, Facebook, Breastfeeding is not Obscene!" in June, 2007; Karen Speed, whose banned photos and deleted account created news around the world a few months later in 2007; Heather Farley, who led the on-site protest at Facebook's headquarters in California December 27, 2008; and Stephanie Knapp Muir, who the same day led the online protest against Facebook, in which more than 10,000 people took part.

In the continuing battle for women and their bodies, we recognize the leadership of these excellent people.

 

2008 December 30. Here is the news release (for immediate use) sent today to selected locations from TERA. See also news items below for December 28, December 27, and December 22.

MASSIVE FACEBOOK PROTEST BRANCHES OUT

ANCASTER, Ontario, Canada --- December 30, 2008

--------

Breastfeeding women angry at the online utility Facebook for removing their photographs now have a place to post them. A long-standing website in Canada is collecting banned photos and posting them with their owners' comments.

BACKGROUND

On December 27, women mounted a protest against Facebook's policy on breastfeeding photos. About 20 demonstrated at Facebook's California headquarters, and thousands around the world posted breastfeeding photos to protest groups on Facebook itself.

Facebook staff continue to say that photos that include women's nipples or areolas violate their terms of service.

UPDATE

Into the issue steps a Canadian website, TERA --- the Topfree Equal Rights Association. It has been running for over 11 years.

"There are two problems," states its co-ordinator, Paul Rapoport. "First, Facebook removes photos arbitrarily. Second, its policy clearly implies that visible nipples or areolas always make photos of women "nude," "obscene," or worse. Women justly reject those labels for their life-giving breastfeeding.

"Facebook stigmatizes breastfeeding and demeans women, feeding and feeding off wrong assumptions about both."

On Facebook, Dr. Rapoport offered to post the banned photos, and has been putting them up as fast as he can. "It will take a while to get to all we're being sent," he explains. "We want to give women a chance to celebrate breastfeeding in all its splendor. We also want to gather Facebook's banned photos in one place. Now people will see what the fuss is about."

Does the TERA site contain a warning about its frequent bare-breasted content, its exposure of nipples and areolas? "Never," responds its co-ordinator. "Our site has nothing to do with obscenity, pornography, or even overt sexual expression. Why would we warn people away from celebrating breastfeeding or treating women fairly?"

LOCATION OF BANNED PHOTOS

http://www.tera.ca/photos6.html

CONTACT PERSON

Paul Rapoport
Co-ordinator, TERA (Topfree Equal Rights Association)
telephone: (+1) 905-304-4836
e-mail:
info@tera.ca

 

2008 December 28. TERA is giving a home to those photos of breastfeeding that Facebook declares obscene. TERA has long been an advocate of what this group and M.I.L.C. (Mothers International Lactation Campaign) are about and has been operating for 11.5 years. It does not post sexually orientated photos. Photos with exposed areolas or nipples are not obscene.

It's important to collect in one place a group of breastfeeding photos Facebook has deemed obscene. Please have a look here.

Anyone wanting to send a banned photo or one they think would be banned, please send to this address.

Send:

-- Your photo(s), at Facebook profile size or bigger;
-- Your name (and whether you want that indicated);
-- Your best contact e-mail address (will not be indicated);
-- The date (month/year will do) when the photo was banned (if it was);
-- Accompanying comments: whatever you want to say. Links are possible to your e-mail address and/or your breastfeeding-related site if you wish.

Unlike on Facebook, the photos remain your property. We will not use them for any other purpose whatever. They will be deleted on request of the owner or provider, with no reason required.

We're looking into a discussion capability. Meanwhile, TERA is at your service. Send any questions/comments also here.

And please pass the word around. (You may write us in most European languages.)

 

2008 December 27. Thousands protest Facebook's action against breasts. In a two-pronged protest today, the Internet's social utility Facebook probably got the message which has been prominent on Facebook itself for over a year: "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!" About 20 women went to Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, California, from which we have these photos, thanks to reporter and activist Ruth Robertson:

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photos by courtesy of indybay.org

The much bigger part of the protest involved thousands of women (and a few men) posting breastfeeding photos as their profile pictures and elsewhere on Facebook. They ranged from women and children almost completely dressed to both mostly or (in a few cases) completely unclothed. Facebook's attitude and action, which caused the protest, are outlined in the item below, for 2008 December 22.

 

2008 December 22. Action planned against Facebook this weekend. The Internet utility Facebook, with its tens of millions of users, still removes from its pages photographs of women breastfeeding, despite complaints about that practice beginning well over a year ago. This Saturday, December 27, two events will occur:

1) A protest feed-in by breastfeeding mothers outside the Facebook headquarters: 156 University Avenue, Palo Alto, California. Time: 11 AM to 2 PM.

2) A virtual protest. Women and men on Facebook are asked to do two things: post as their profile picture a photo of a woman breastfeeding a child (it may also be a work of art, or a non-human mammal); and change their status line to "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!" These changes should be in place for the 24-hour period of December 27.

Facebook claims that breastfeeding photos are "obscene," "pornographic," or "sexually explicit" if they show "an entire breast." That's Facebook being dishonest, for they mean "a nipple." But women's nipples, breastfeeding or not, are not obscene in California law; and in no state are they obscene in photographs. In most places, of course, they're not obscene even apart from breastfeeding; whatever legal restrictions are placed against them don't use that word or the other terms with which Facebook demeans and stigmatizes women. Facebook also claims that images of breasts harm children.

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TERA urges all on Facebook to participate in this protest, and any breastfeeders near Palo Alto to go there in person as well. The main page for this event is here.

 

2008 December 21. Just what every woman needs this holiday season: this really bad idea. They'd be better off stuck onto greeting cards.

 

2008 December 14. A correspondent has alerted us to important action in France. On December 10, in a pool in Paris, about 20 women swam without tops and a few men wore them. The group calls itself "Les tumul-tueuses," a French pun ("the tumultuous ones" and "the tumult-killers"). Its slogan: "Sexual breasts if I want, when I want!" It protests social control that's sexist and heterocentric, calling it discriminatory and hypocritical: "You have to be pretty (feminine and heterosexual), and it's bad news for those who dare to reveal a body that's heavy, wrinkled, or hairy: they show bad taste or are not 'real' women."

Pool staff called the police, who came and threatened the women with prosecution for "sexual exhibition."

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from a pool in Auvergne in 2004 (photo by Pascal Aimar/TF)

 

2008 December 08. Last week Sally York, a columnist with the Flint Journalwrote this article about the 14-year-old girl who sent a photo to her boyfriend---and got a ten-day suspension from school for it. It is unofficially stated that the photo of the girl was of one breast only; no face, even. An expert in law at the University of Pennsylvania had a few things to say about the case. From the Flint article:

"'It is not sex discrimination,' said Anita Allen, who specializes in privacy and sex discrimination issues. 'It is considered indecent for a woman to appear in public undressed . . . Courts have upheld those laws, even though they obviously don't apply to men.'

"How does the law justify the difference in treatment? 'Three thousand years of Western culture,' Allen said."

----

To which TERA's co-ordinator said:

"I would like to point out the case of the People vs. Santorelli et al., 80 N.Y.2d 875, 600 N.E.2d 232, 587 N.Y.S.2d 601 (1992), in which Judge Titone wrote about Ramona Santorelli's and others' topfree picnic of 1986 . . . In any case, even if the current situation in Michigan (as opposed to New York and several other states) does not allow a woman to appear topfree in public, I assume that this has no bearing on the photograph which is the subject of the article, any more than the illegality of murder has on films depicting it.

"As for 'considered indecent for a woman to appear in public undressed,' not long ago it was considered indecent for a person of certain skin colours to do things which the dominant culture forbade for purely biased reasons."

Dr. Allen doesn't get it.

 

2008 December 05. A few days ago, a sculpture was created out of sand on Miami Beach for an international art festival. An official is reported to have gotten the artist to alter the sculpture because "There's sensitivities that there are a lot of families with children around there."

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Getty Images / Juan Castro Olivera

It's clear that the Swiss artist Olaf Breuning created this work with a nod to his famous countryman, the artist Paul Klee (1879-1940). It isn't clear that he changed it to suit anyone's wish.

 

2008 December 01. A previously unkown painting by an 18th-century Italian master is to be auctioned off in London.

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Portrait Of A Lady As Flora (ca. 1760), by Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770)

The grandparents of the present owner had apparently hidden the painitng away in a French chateau because it was too risqué. Until recently, it probably had not been seen since the 19th century. This is not the only painting by Tiepolo to be in the news this year, for the same reason!

(Postscript from December 3: the painiting sold for more than £2.8 million, i.e. more than 3 times its estimated highest selling price before the auction.)

 

2008 November 30. A woman in Louisiana posted a statement on Facebook recently that immediately received very positive comments from several breastfeeding women, past, present, and imminent. She has kindly given us permission to share it.

----

I really feel that this needs to be said. I'm tired of being spoken of as if I'm some sort of mythical creature. I'm not. I'm not figurative. I'm real. I'm that woman.

So when people complain about "that woman" that "lets it all hang out" . . .

I am that woman. I'm that woman that's comfortable enough with herself and her child to pull her breast out over the top of her shirt. I am that woman that happily breastfeeds her toddler in the middle of the mall. I am that woman that will stare right back at you if you give her a dirty look while she's feeding her child. I am that woman. And I am proud to be that woman.

Because every time someone sees me, in all of my motherly glory, feeding my little girl . . . you know what? They're a little softer on the next woman they see . . . the woman quietly trying to nurse her baby in the corner . . . the woman struggling with her latch, the woman trying desperately to keep a blanket over her curious 4 month old's head. They're a little more endearing with the woman that's desperately trying to keep her young baby from pulling her shirt up, or trying to fix her child's latch without exposing a split second of nipple.

Because at least she isn't exposed, like that woman was.

I do my part. I do not let other people's comfort zones deflect from what my body was intended to do, which is nurture my children. If my breastfeeding is offensive to you, you were born with this glorious instrument, attached to your shoulders, which allows you to move your head upwards of 90 degrees in either direction. Use it.

----

Thank you, Shari Leigh Veal.

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2008 November 29. A 14-year-old high school girl in Grand Blanc, Michigan (near Flint) has been suspended for taking and sending via cell phone a photo of herself topfree. Two boys subsequently took the phone without permission, copied the photo, and sent it to others. In total, seven students have been suspended, for either possessing or sending the photograph.

Among the pronouncements in the media is this: "Since the girl who took and sent the picture is under 18, the picture is considered child pornography." That's nonsense. The only person to say or do anything sensible so far is the girl's lawyer, Michael Haley. Among his statements: "The school district is discriminating against females. They're going against the law."

 

2008 November 22. It's reasonably clear that most objections to women's exposed breasts are about nipples (and areolas), even if that's rarely stated. What happens when it's not clear whether a man or a woman is being depicted? Here's an engaging article on this subject which throws a different light on the prohibition that TERA is so against and on the manic obsession so closely connected to it.

 

2008 November 19. A former teacher near San Antonio, Texas, age 27, has been arrested for "displaying harmful material to a minor." She sent a photo or two of herself topfree to a 14-year-old boy (who was not one of her students) many months ago. Although this may not be central to most people's topfree rights concerns, it poses a serious problem. Bob Morton, Executive Director of the Naturist Action Committee, put it well: "The underlying, unchallenged understanding is, of course, that female breasts themselves (and images of them) are toxic and harmful to minors. This, even in a state that has no general statute criminalizing the public display of uncovered female breasts."

We neither support nor criticize the woman's action, not having nearly enough information. We do criticize state action if it is based on a lie.

 

2008 November 16. A few days ago, a poster in Milano (Milan), Italy received some negative reaction as sacrilegious and blasphemous. It's part of a campaign against violence towards women. In other cities there was less or no problem.

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Part of a campaign for (at the top) November 25, 2008 / World Day against Violence towards Women
The caption in the middle reads "Who pays for the sins of the man?"

Someone involved in the campaign said, "As a Catholic I can't see anything offensive or blasphemous. We chose a strong image to encourage more rape victims to break their silence."

 

2008 November 13. The breastfeeding issue has ignited once again. Yesterday, the Toronto Star detailed how a woman was tossed out of an indoor pool. We've heard before that breast milk supposedly fouls pool water; now we have an aquatic centre owner claiming that pool water fouls breast milk --- and it's her right to eject someone because of that! There's more: she went and hired four security guards to prevent a peaceful breastfeeding protest.

The pool owner changed her story, freshly claiming that regulations about "no food or drink in the pool area" support her. We've heard that one before. Go here for reporter Susan Pigg's follow-up article that deals with that --- and brings back a warrior in this battle whom TERA admires: Shannon Wray. She persevered against much derision in winning a settlement from the Ontario Human Rights Commission in a similar case.

The real issue may well be that the mother in the current story, Cinira Longuinho, exposed a breast or two above the water line to feed her daughter. You knew it, didn't you? What was she supposed to do --- feed her under water? An apparently solid reading of the whole episode is also here.

 

2008 November 08. Two women in northwestern Poland, not far from the German border, were convicted recently of sunbathing topfree. They plan to appeal. How that may work, we have no idea.

"I see nothing indecent about the chests of men or women," said one of the two. Good for her.

The judgement against them noted, "Personal freedom ends where the freedom of another person begins." For fatuous nonsense, that would be hard to beat. But we hear it even in North America.

One of the better articles in Polish is here. But we completely reject any argument based on the absence or presence of children (made in the section with the heading "Na to nie ma paragrafu").

 

2008 October 16. This wine label, designed for Australian vintner Peter Lehmann by Anelia Pavlova, may be found on bottles in Canada and Australia. It shows the Queen of Clubs holding a wineglass.

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In the USA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms banned it.

 

2008 October 12.The November cover of W magazine, out on October 21, looks like this:

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Readers are being asked to look closely. You may see a tiny hand covering the person's left nipple. Many Americans have objected to the photo already, perhaps because the woman is feeding one of her twins, more likely because this is Angelina Jolie, and she is a sex symbol. Some act as if that's all she is, certainly nothing human. Maybe detractors would prefer the cover to have the photo below of her, from the movie Gia, about ten years ago. Anything wrong with it?

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It would be interesting to have a combination of the two photos: a casual breastfeeding image, or series of images.

 

2008 October 07. Recently, Linda Meyer ran into trouble in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, where she lives. Longtime readers of this site will know that she is the most successful topfree activist in North America in never having been convicted of anything for many occasions when she was topfree. Moreover, she eradicated Maple Ridge's unconstitutional bylaw against topfree women in June 2000 in the B.C. Supreme Court.

On September 29, she was out for a topfree walk. She was arbitrarily arrested and detained by the police for breach of the peace and indecency. She refused to put her top on.

On September 30, she went for another topfree walk and was followed/chased by a police cruiser, which she kept turning away from. Then a young man in a parked truck yelled encouragement to her. He offered her a ride, so she could escape from the Ridge-Meadows RCMP. After ascertaining that she would be safe with this man, Linda got into his truck and eluded the RCMP. As on the previous day, she did not put her top on.

In these episodes, Linda alleges that the police officers involved violated five parts of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No charges have been laid; we await further news. Meanwhile, as she put it, "No one violates Linda Meyer's constitutional rights."

 

2008 October 06. We're grateful for photos from a demonstration for equal rights in the Castro area of San Francisco on August 26 (2008).

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2008 September 30. STUPENDOUS THEATRE PRODUCTION IN LONDON. As we post this, the play, The Strong Breast Revolution, has begun its last week in London, England. Anyone within reasonable train distance of London should drop everything to see it, at the White Bear Pub/Theatre, Kennington, in London (remaining performances nightly at 21:00 to October 4). TERA's Co-ordinator reports as follows:

"Yes, it's that good. The London version is a new one, written by the original director, Vicki Hambley, and her talented cast and crew. The play is about women's breasts: a series of skits that range from the uproariously funny to the sad to the pensive to the angry. But this is not a negative piece; it's a glorious celebration of women through their breasts. It ends in an exhilarating exhortation to women to be free.

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On the left, from top to bottom: Alice Fernbank, Miranda Roszkowski, Linda Mathis, Jennie Barbrook. Photos by Carl Glancey

"The play opens similarly to how it did five years ago; but the various skits are mostly new, because the performers are new. The sense of timing is phenomenal and there isn't a weak link anywhere. (Well, the small theatre could be better.) The four actors, Jennie Barbrook, Alice Fernbank, Linda Mathis, and Miranda Roszkowski, are magnificent. And they're all so different. What characters! (in a couple of senses)

"Vicki's and Tanith Lindon's directing and Kat Wolfe's producing are equally magnificent. The play, as mounted twice now (in Canada and England), is the most important text about women's topfreedom that I know of. The Strong Breast Revolution deserves and needs to be seen everywhere. It's powerful, subtle, clever, and very lively. It's completely convincing. This is a revolution --- and brilliant theatre!"

A rambling, favourable review that provides many important details is here.

 

2008 September 24. It seems to have been possible since March for women to swim topfree in pools in Copenhagen, Denmark. It also seems that none have been reported to have done so.

 

2008 September 18. Sean Cephus, an 18-year-old man, was fined $25 for being seen in public in Easton, Maryland without a top. Nadine Gary said the Easton law is "backwards." She is surely correct.

 

2008 September 12. The protest in a few cities in the USA August 23 gained national attention in the mass media. Here's a short clip from the famous Tonight show with Jay Leno. Choose Sep 03 and go 9:49 into the first segment (not viewable outside the USA).

Although the host doesn't shoot down the idea of women being topfree, his brief remark reveals little understanding of it. It's an open question whether making a joke about something advances or retards it. Certainly this one resulted in a temporary gigantic increase in interest in the organizer's website.

2008 September 12. The artist who got into trouble over breasts and the word love in a mural he painted in Roseville, Michigan, has lost at the state's Supreme Court level. Ed Stross had dared the city to appeal an earlier decision on the legality and meaning of the town's forbidding lettering and "genitalia" on his mural. What happens now is unclear. Go here and here.

 

2008 September 12. The Mermaid Parade on Coney Island (Brooklyn, New York), took place on June 21 this year. Many women were topfree, many were painted. Go here for photos. (We suggest ignoring the blather that forms the comments.)

 

2008 September 08. Artie Bigley, of Columbus, Ohio, a faithful contributor of information for this site, alerted us to these two significant photos of the same person from Comfest 2008 in Columbus:

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photos by Rob Walker, painting by John Rapach

Topfreedom for women is legal in Columbus, as it ought to be everywhere, of course.

 

2008 September 08. A former teacher in a middle school in Ohio has been barred from teaching or any profession that involves juveniles. Lisa Temsey's crime: sending a photo of herself topfree to a 14-year-old (male) who not only was no longer her student but at the time didn't even live in Ohio. The felony charge was "disseminating matter harmful to juveniles."

Will someone some day in the USA, especially Ohio, kindly demonstrate the harm in this sort of case? Real harm, not an assumption, suspicion, or fear.

 

2008 August 30. Remember Sherry Glaser and Breasts not Bombs? One of their protests, in Sacramento, California, ended in arrests, although no charges were eventually laid. Subsequently she and Sheba (Renee) Love launched a civil suit against the authorities; it was upheld in part two days ago.

A California Superior Court has ruled that the women suffered false arrest and imprisonment and that the action against them violated the California Civil Code. Pertinently, the judgement noted (scroll down to item 6 if you go to the link):

1. "The [California] Constitution does not permit government to decide which types of otherwise protected speech are sufficiently offensive to require protection for the unwilling listener or viewer. Rather, the burden normally falls upon the viewer to avoid further bombardment of his/her sensibilities simply by averting his/her eyes."

2. "No showing of how exposed female breasts would cause injury has been made by defendants [the police]."

3. "[The police are] liable for the negligent inclusion of the language on the face of the permit misstating the law regarding indecent exposure."

What this means is that the police unconstitutionally tried to prevent the women from carrying out their legal activity by threatening them with a law that does not exist and then arresting them on that basis.

The protest was held November 7, 2005. At the time, police claimed the women's action would "corrupt children, prompt drivers to veer off the road, and cause sex offenders to run amok."

Within a week, the Sacramento District Attorney's office determined that no charges would be laid. But it took nearly three years to achieve redress for the victims of the police mistreatment.

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2008 August 25. The gotopless.org protest day (August 23) took place in a few cities around the USA, with mixed success. Unsurprisingly, there were many women topfree in New York City, because the state recognized topfree legality in 1992. The site Gothamist has several photos, including this:

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That site, however, contradicts the whole point by calling the photos "NSFW" (not safe for work). If women's topfreedom either is legal or ought to be, what's unsafe about the photos? It's time to get rid of that glib, condescending designation.

In Venice Beach, California, many women wore fake nipples. The point they were making escapes us.

Note that some protests had topfree men in support of the women, which we find a good idea. There are no reports of arrests August 23, which also constitutes (slim) progress.

 

2008 August 19. We don't report on topfree events connected to the pornography industry. Sexualized topless women are not our topic. But today we make an exception. You will see why.

The parade in Auckland, New Zealand called Boobs on Bikes has been going on annually since 2003. It's organized partly, if unofficially, to promote an event called Erotica Expo. This year, the Auckland City Council passed a bylaw to stop the parade but was overruled by a court judge. The parade will take place, without a permit, on Wednesday, August 20, which it already is in New Zealand as we post this report. Photos from a 2006 parade are here.

The question remains: does this help or hurt what TERA believes in? Or is it irrelevant? Not an easy issue. We may, for example, imagine a topfree parade that isn't connected to something like Erotica Expo. Would it be different? Or are parades the wrong event for topfree equality? What if the women in the parade weren't porn actors? What if only a few were, or if that fact were not widely known? What if they still rode motorcycles?

How much of this matters? Let us have your opinion.

 

2008 August 17. With about a week to go until the planned demonstration in several cities by gotopless.org---we present below the card that organization made up for distribution. For further information, go to the organizer's site, where you'll find specific locations for August 23 and 26, plus much other information.

TERA recognizes the potential value of this event but is not involved in it.

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2008 August 16. With the Olympics come many notices of bodies. One commonly printed image is swimmer Amanda Beard in a nude photo covering her breasts, confirming American mammariphobia. The one that interests us is the following:

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photo by William West/AFP/Getty Images

Christina Tsoukala of Greece is on the right and Gemma Beadsworth of Australia is on the left in a women's water polo match August 11. Does it matter that Tsoukala is 17? Why should it?

 

2008 August 08. A woman breastfeeding on a flight from Montréal to Vancouver in July was told by a WestJet flight attendant to cover herself with a blanket because "some men find the sight of a bare breast quite offensive." Obviously she was clueless, since it's usually women who complain, and on this flight no passenger other than immediate family could even have seen the woman in question.

Although the attendant later apologized for that unwarranted interference, the company supported her right to impose her prejudice and zealous fabrication on any passenger. The breastfeeder, Erin Tarbuck, has launched a complaint with the federal Human Rights Commission.

A few days before this hit the news, a woman was tossed out of a McDonald's restaurant in Berea, Kentucky for breastfeeding despite a state law forbidding interference with that activity. When the police arrived, they threatened to arrest the woman for trespassing. The restaurant owner later apologized. Curiously, the Kentucky state law on not interfering with breastfeeding carries no penalty for violation.

And around the same time, a woman in an H&M store (Hennes och Mauritz) in Vancouver was told to go breastfeed in a change room. H&M's head office apologized.

A sizable nurse-in was subsequently held at the store. Its organizer, Veronica Polanska, put it well when she described harassment of breastfeeding women: "It's about every business, whether it's an airline or whether it's a restaurant, whether it's a pool…It doesn't matter where it happens, it's not acceptable."

On the subject of breastfeeding, although not really breastfeeding in public, this article, "Breast-Feeding Kills," is worth reading for its commentary on one of America's vicious internal wars.

 

2008 August 04. In a move worthy of the infamous American former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has had a famous breast covered in an office in Rome where he meets the media. The painting by Giambattista Tiepolo is called "Truth Unveiled by Time" ("La verità svelata dal tempo").

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Before and after (with discoloration, sorry)

Of course, before this happened, Berlusconi never veiled the truth.

 

2008 July 25. Here's a new one. A shirtless woman was charged in Edgewater, Florida with "lewd and lascivious conduct in the presence of of a minor" for wearing a bra. Although there were other charges, which is common procedure in many arrests, this one looks unsustainable, and therefore the rest also.

As one commentator put it, women wear bras in public often, only they're called bikini tops.

 

2008 July 21. The infamous Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction." In 2007, CBS argued against the imposition by the FCC of a fine of $27,500 on 20 of its stations ($550,000) for the half-time Super Bowl broadcast in 2004 during which Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson's right nipple for 0.5625 second. Today the Third Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled against the FCC, stating that it had acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" and that CBS was not responsible for action of the "independent contractors" Timberlake and Jackson. The entire ruling is here.

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In our view, the FCC is so narrow and wrong in all its recent attempts at censorship that it should be forced to give up the role of moralistic, bullying state censor, which Congress did not intend it to have in the first place. Meanwhile, this is not necessarily the end of the Super Bowl case. It's a good result for now, however.

 

2008 July 19. We take the anniversary of Gwen Jacob's arrest in Guelph as the background to announce another event. The dramatic revue The Strong Breast Revolution, by Vicki Hambley, played to packed houses in Guelph in the fall of 2003. It's a major, brilliant piece of theatre about breasts and women's lives. At that time, we wrote:

"This is the kind of artistic creation TERA has been looking for throughout its existence. The play consists of several linked skits that shout out (sometimes literally) respect for women, their breasts, and topfreedom. They deal with body image, breastfeeding, breast disease, and much more, including reactions to breasts and to topfreedom from family, friends, and strangers. Some of the lines and actions are uproariously funny, some are piercingly poignant."

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"The play, honouring women and breasts, was magnificent. Stunning. Eight performances, eight standing ovations; much laughter, some tears; and audience remarks you couldn't buy.

"TSBR goes in for polite narrative, mild confrontation, forceful demonstration, biting parody, and dithyrambic joy. Its richly varied humour is profound in the way that only theatre can be. Every taboo about breasts is smashed in this impeccably timed production.

"The play launched not only a calendar, but world-changing notions about women's breasts and women's whole lives---and reinforced the truly revolutionary power of women's laughter."

The Strong Breast Revolution is being revived in London, England, in a British version, running from September 23 to 27 and from September 30 to October 4, at the White Bear Theatre, Kennington (southeastern London). Go here for more information.

Anyone in England interested in this topic should drop everything to see this production. If it's even remotely like the Canadian version, it's a "don't miss under any circumstances" event.

 

2008 July 19. Today is the 17th anniversary of the arrest of Gwen Jacob for her topfree walk in Guelph, Ontario. In a little over a month there's to be a nationwide (USA) protest over restrictions on topfreedom, organized by a group from this website. How wide that protest actually is remains to be seen. Because TERA has no role in this and cannot predict its outcomes, it recommends neither for nor against it.

As you will see from this report, part of the original plan was to push for a constitutional amendment for topfreedom. TERA believes that was counter-productive. The plan now is to emphasize the 14th amendment, which makes more sense to us.

The people behind this event (actually two events, on August 23 and 26) have basic ideas on the subject of topfreedom that strike us as correct and valuable.

 

2008 July 15. Chad Hardy issued a 2008 calendar in Las Vegas with topfree men in it. Nothing unusual, really. But it matters that the photos are of returned Mormon missionaries. For his effort, Chad Hardy has been excommunicated from the Mormon church. It's a little late; he hasn't been part of it for some years.

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The calendar's photos are all of men, both clothed and topfree. Some proceeds of sales of the calendar go to charities (not the church). The 2009 calendar, in production, will be released in September.

 

2008 July 05. Remember Phoenix Feeley? formerly known as Jill Coccaro. Last week she was arrested in New Jersey for being topfree. The Spring Lake ordinance under which she was charged is analyzed a bit in this article. Aside from that, it looks vague and overbroad to us---never mind unjustly discriminatory in applying to women's breasts but not men's---and therefore unconstitutional.

Phoenix's comments are here.

 

2008 July 05.This report states that Jen Moss did show up topfree at but not in the Ashland, Oregon parade yesterday. The parade and news media have downplayed her presence. On Jennifer Moss's MySpace blog, however, we find this:

"I danced 100% NAKED in the streets in front of EVERYONE on the 4th of July in Ashland, Oregon! It was awesome and totally legal! The documentary will be coming! We were unconstitutionally removed from the parade by Jim Kidd even though we are law abiding Americans. We are breaking no laws and have the right to be different and lawfully express our freedom on the day that is supposed to EMBODY FREEDOM."

 

2008 July 03.This report states that Jen Moss will not be topfree in tomorrow's parade in Ashland, Oregon. "It's unfortunate that on the day Americans are celebrating their civil liberties, mine are being taken away," she said. What she will do is anyone's guess.

 

2008 July 02. There's widespread reporting of teens taking topfree or nude photos of themselves with cellular phones and e-mailing them, thereby usually losing conrol over them. Here's an article on the subject. Aside from its not recognizing any issue close to TERA's, it's worth reading.

 

2008 July 01. Some recent headlines amuse some people, we suppose. They use the word topless but have nothing to do with topfree women. In one case, it meant merely that the top four ranked women in the Wimbledon tennis tournament in England were eliminated before the quarter-finals. The headline: "Women go topless." Funny? Or jejune journalism?

 

2008 June 30. ComFest, in Columbus, Ohio, went on again this year, June 27 to 29. Typically there are dozens of topfree women at this big, free-spirited festival, many painted. ComFest's site noted that it's legal for women to be topfree in Columbus and that it had a "resolute commitment . . . to intervene to stop any imposition on, or inappropriate behavior toward, women who choose to go shirtless." So what's wrong with the rest of the country?

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photo by DRust

 

2008 June 26.Pam Bennett and others of Code Pink have had the ridiculous charges against them thrown out. Excellent! Now if only American courts and governments would stop trying everywhere to stifle constitutionally protected protest and women's rights.

 

2008 June 25.The Vatican now says that it approves of images of Mary breastfeeding Jesus, because it is fine evidence of the word of God made flesh. Well, they're only paintings. But does this change of attitude, after just a few centuries, indicate acceptance of women's bodies? What about the painting below, in which there seems to be no breastfeeding going on and the baby is naked?

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Virgin and Child, by Jan Gossaert (early 16th century)

 

2008 June 24. In Toronto, Ontario, restaurants are to introduce decals placed in their windows to indicate a "breastfeeding friendly" environment. Sounds great, doesn't it? But this will wrongly imply that women can't breastfeed elsewhere. The decals may be nice advertising, but they're seriously misleading. Better education is the answer to this one.

 

2008 June 17. Jennifer Moss ("Earth Friend Jen," she likes to be known as) went about Ojai, California frequently clad only in a hemp G-string and pasties. Essentially chased out of there by the town and its officials, she relocated to Ashland, Oregon. Ashland has no law against bare breasts on women. So Jennifer announced she would go in the 4th of July parade there wearing a G-string but no top covering at all.

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from a video by Jennifer Moss

No way, said the parade chairman, James Kidd. "We don't feel that someone in the parade who is topless or nearly naked is appropriate for a family audience." That makes it appropriate to shame girls and women for being female by attaching a permanent stigma to their breasts and by teaching "families" intolerance and unjust discrimination.

 

2008 June 16. Last Friday, Pam Bennett of Code Pink was arrested in Berkeley, California in a topfree pro-peace demonstration. She called it "a totally political arrest." Details suggest she is correct. More here.

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Pamela Bennett is arrested in Berkeley on June 13.

 

2008 June 12. On June 4, someone was issued a ticket for being topfree in Easton, Maryland. A man. Seems he has a bit of a record, for other things. Nonetheless, the news is that there have been only three such citations in the past five years. We'd be surprised to hear of three in the last 35, which is almost how old this silly bylaw is. It was not likely enacted to make women equal to men, was it!

There's always someone who likes this idea wants to enact it elsewhere: read this.

 

2008 June 12. A report from the Center for Disease control in Atlanta, Georgia reports that US hospitals are doing a poor job encouraging breastfeeding. "About a quarter of hospitals reported giving formula or some other supplement to more than half of their healthy, full-term newborns." We regard this as direct and deleterious interference, given what's known about the benefits of breastfeeding and the disadvantages of substitutes. This article offers a good commentary on the situation.

 

2008 June 10. In May, Lily Taylor of Sydney, Australia sent us the photo below, from an exhibition she visited in Sydney called Mind Body Spirit. We post this to show how censors often draw more attention to women's breasts or nipples than people who don't have such a bad attitude towards them and just let them be. Censoring also defaces the original and is condescending to viewers.

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Thanks, Lily!

 

2008 June 07. This blog contains a common story of a restaurant employee harassing a breastfeeding woman, in Fort Myers, Florida. Read it to see one ideal way to handle the situation. Bravo, Nicole Newland!

 

2008 June 06. The public witch hunt of Australian artist Bill Henson is over. Higher authorities decided that Henson's works should not be prosecuted as obscene or child pornography; and a classification board described the image we presented as "mild" and not sexualized, a kind of PG rating.

This did not stop the infamous Hetty Johnston from vowing to cleanse Australia of photographs by this artist and others because of their danger to children. Her slanderous attacks, however, shame and blame children like the girl in the image---pressuring them to be anxious over their own bodies and adolescence. That harms children more than any photograph by Bill Henson.

 

2008 June 05.An athletics committee in Wisconsin wants to ban bare breasts from indoor high school sports events. Male breasts. Body paint is also to be disallowed, unless the chest area painted is covered. The stated reason is that paint drips on seats from chests---but not from faces, apparently.

We suppose that punishing women and men equally for breast exposure is totally egalitarian. We don't suppose that the reasoning makes much sense.

 

2008 May 31. Matthew Hennebury has been body painting weekly for the last two years in night clubs or restaurants in three provinces, about 90 times in Ottawa. Patrons may be painted for free, while others may watch the art in progress. At no location have police said anything until May 29 in Ottawa.

This particular threat to society required over 10 police and several bylaw officers to say the problem was a female nipple that had been visible---for 5 to 10 seconds, it turns out, before paint is applied, on a subject facing a wall. A bylaw officer stated that visible nipples require a strip club licence. She didn't know whether male nipples were included in that, or how to write up the infraction ticket.

Mr. Hennebury wonders how his artistic practice is equivalent to "a buck naked woman swinging on a brass pole."

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More fine painting of this kind may be seen at Matthew Hennebury's website.

 

2008 May 28. Scandal in Australia. On May 22 in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, police seized about 20 photos of teens by the well-known photographer Bill Henson. They had been on display at an art gallery, Roslyn Oxley9. Although most of the images are in shadows, the subjects are mostly unclothed. The image below caused particular ire in people who demanded the photos be removed and Henson be charged with manufacturing obscene materials and child pornography.

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Criminal charges against the gallery or photographer are likely, mostly because of public pressure. The head of a child protection group said Henson "has a tendency to depict children naked and that is porn." A psychologist said the images "could give people a taste for pedophilia." The Prime Minister of Australia, no less, claimed the images were "revolting" and had no artistic value. The gallery also received death threats.

There are a few hundred articles from Australia now on this matter. Most media were initially content to let people claim, unchallenged, that topfree females are nude and that all child nudity is sexual and pornographic; and that images of topfree girls or nude minors increase pedophile crime---all of which are manifestly false.

No doubt emboldened by the Prime Minister's grotesquely ignorant interference, police have now gone to other galleries in Australia to demand removal of Henson's photos. In some cases those photos have been in place for decades. Henson has also represented Australia at prestigious international festivals, being one of Australia's best-known artistic photographers. Many of his photographs, like the one above, express qualities such as vulnerability, mystery, beauty, and uncertainty.

While the Prime Minister's statement was made probably to distract attention from his own past, we wonder whether this madness is endemic to Australia; or has a particularly virulent strain of American self-righteous moral pandering infected the island continent?

 

2008 May 27. Last week, a Swedish town ruled that women would still be prevented from swimming topfree at its one indoor pool. Persons on the recreation committee making the unanimous decision in Enköping said two notable things, 1) about women being topfree, and 2) about the pool itself:

1) "We believe that it can contribute to anorexia."
2) "It's a place for families, after all."

Since women may swim topfree at the city's outdoor family pools, we come to the inevitable conclusion: the entire recreation committee should resign---and go into comedy.

 

2008 May 27. Earlier this month, an appeals court in Britain overturned a voyeurism conviction of a man who had been found to be secretely videotaping a man's chest. One of the judges dutifully claimed that women's breasts were sexual private parts but men's weren't.

The best commentary we've seen on this issue is here, by Ariane Sherine. She notes: "If men (and any woman or gay man will testify that men's chests can be "sexually alluring," depending entirely on who the man is) are allowed to strip to the waist, women should be too. The fact that we aren't is a purely cultural issue, not a sexual one---labelling flesh as "sexual" or "non-sexual" depending on the gender of its owner is nonsensical."

 

2008 May 27. A simple Starbucks logo, modelled on an old one, has a mermaid topfree and with two tails. A Christianist group is describing the logo as "a naked woman with a her legs spread like a prostitute."

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The 1971 logo forming the basis of a new Starbucks logo. In the new one (in temporary use),
the mermaid's
hair is redrawn to cover her nipples. Clearly even that wasn't enough for the nipplemaniacs.

 

2008 May 26. Pop singer Lily Allen about her widely reported recent behaviour in Cannes, France: "Occasionally I drink wine with lunch and yes I swim topless. This, in my book, is not embarrassing behaviour."

 

2008 May 13. Although this is a little out of our area, we present nonetheless the current southern hemisphere scandal. New Zealand model Zippora Seven has posed for a magazine, Russh Australia, in issue no. 22 (May 2008). The media's focus is on one photo in which she is in a bubble bath and another 16-year-old model, Levi Clarke, is with her. That part of the advertising spread is actually promoting his glasses, some gel, and a bottle or two of champagne.

The concern is that 1) she is topfree or presumed nude (this is, after all, a bath); 2) so is he, and they're both 16; 3) he is presumed (in the fictional sense) to have passed out from drinking (although the champagne bottles are unopened). Zippora Seven also appeared topfree lying on a horse in an advertising spread in Russh's issue no. 21 (March 2008).

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This is a complex one, we think. But we'll stay focused on the topfree girl and simply say: photos of topfree girls should not be illegal. The Australian authority for advertising says there must be no "gratuitous nudity" or "sexual activity" of minors; but we suspect that to the unknowledgeable person, 1) a topfree female but not male is considered nude; 2) all nudity is gratuitous, especially if clothes are supposedly the subject; 3) all nudity constitutes sexual activity. We disagree wih all three points, even if they are abstract. But if there are problems with this pair of photos, is that because she is depicted topfree? (We assume these photos appear together; we haven't seen the magazine itself.)

We recall many quarterlies of the American Abercrombie and Fitch in which there was full nudity (if not frontal) as well as topfree males and females, in the service of selling clothes, mostly. But they sell the emotion first and the product second, right? Under pressure, Abercrombie and Fitch stopped producing those quarterlies in the USA.

(Ultimately, the Australian Classification Board said the magazine didn't have to be classified and had no more to say.)

 

2008 May 11.News reports state that the city of Daytona Beach is offering Liz Book $15,000 to settle her suit against the city for false arrest and other illegal harassment. We haven't heard any more than that; but the original suit was for $100,000, which we thought a rather low amount for the circumstances. And the city's attempt to negotiate through the media is more than slightly wrong.

 

2008 May 11. Swamp soccer? In Scotland, this muddy game allows men to be barebreasted but not women. Read here about three sisters who want the right to play the game topfree. Predictably, someone in the organization involved says, "We can't let women play swamp soccer naked."

 

2008 May 03. Former Ohio state legislator Matthew Barrett will not be charged with a crime over the incident with the image of the topfree woman. His "crime," it seems, was pretending that his son was responsible for the image(s) when in fact Barrett himself was. (More appeared on this saga a few days later, for example this. The stories confirm that this whole episode has little to do with what TERA is mostly interested in. We might, however, have to refer occasionally to women's breasts as "weapons of Matt's destruction.")

 

2008 April 29. A woman was arrested earlier this month for being topfree in Tucson AZ (of all places; see the first story below from April 23). In this interview, Charlotte Gillis reveals a high level of understanding of the issues. Her pretrial hearing is three days from now.

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Charlotte Gillis was arrested in Tucson on April 8
• photo from the Tucson Weekly

 

2008 April 29. A Michigan judge has authorized removal of a black bar across the breasts of Eve on an outdoor mural painted by Ed Stross. The bar has been in place for three years.

It's been a long battle, which isn't over. In the main mural case, the city of Roseville is appealing a decision against it to the Michigan Supreme Court. Apparently it believes that breasts or nipples are obscene, and obviously much worse for the public than spending thousands of taxpayer dollars trying to uphold its bigoted mistake.

Further article here.

 

2008 April 25. Remember Matthew Barrett? When the Ohio state legislator was giving a talk to high school students in Norwalk last fall, he inadvertently brought up on his computer screen a photo of a topfree woman. At the time, it appeared that his son had downloaded the image. We jokingly suggested that Rep. Barrett should be arrested. The whole event had the air of a non-issue, whatever the nature of the photo.

What a difference six months make! Barrett has resigned, apparently not having been "truthful" about the photo. Now there seem to have been---wait for it---two photos of topfree women, and they're women in his district. Investigators are still on the case. That arrest may not be such a joke any more.

More details here. Reporters and others are calling the women nude, an old problem. (See the first April 23 item below for another example.)

We hope that the few students who saw the photo for a few seconds have recovered from their massive trauma, on which the local police force expended a tremendous effort.

 

2008 April 23. A topfree girl about 10 years old was seen with her parents at a riverbed in Arizona. A columnist had this to say: "She could too eas[il]y be a target for pedophiles who may lurk behind tumbleweeds or crouch beneath the overpass." The writer is wrong about that. Pedophiles don't lurk in bushes to pounce on topfree girls, whether or not they're having a good time with their parents. Words like hers promote the myths that topfreedom harms girls (only) and that clothes protect them.

Adding its point into the mix in the referenced article is the American Association for Nude Recreation. That's odd, because topfree girls aren't nude, and AANR has no involvement in topfreedom, being an organization of private nudist clubs. Predictably, AANR says that if some state of undress doesn't take place on the grounds of one of its member clubs, it's not right.

That's not a credible position.

 

2008 April 23. A short time ago, the Ohio Supreme Court turned down a request to hear the appeal of Lorien Bourne for her conviction for being topfree in Bowling Green. Her attorney has filed a new request to the court. The likely outcome that this case will die below the Supreme Court level is not entirely negative.

 

2008 April 02. Topfree equality (negative version) at work: A billboard for the World Wrestling Entertainment's Wrestlemania XXIV has had all the nipples airbrushed out ---- on men.

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No one knows who's responsible for that one, but this report makes the Mayor of Orlando (FL) look less than sensible.

 

2008 April 02. Another eruption over a cheerleader has made the news. Apparently an Indiana University cheerleader found pictures of herself posted on the Internet, some in full clothes, some topfree, a few with no clothes. Most were probably intended for a boyfriend. Why this should affect her cheerleading negatively is beyond us to figure out, especially when the photos appear to have been posted illicitly.

Similar episodes have affected many well-known people in the past year, most of them women. A previous cheerleading problem is here.

 

2008 March 29. A couple of days ago, a decision came from the Culture and Leisure Committee in Copenhagen, Denmark to allow topfree bathing for women in the area's pools. The English paper the Daily Mailtreated this to an incomplete, mistaken, and snide commentary, but sources in Denmark made it all clear. The remaining problem is, "the committee will now decide whether topless bathing will be allowed all the time or only during specially designated periods."

See the original story here. Specially designated periods in public swims for covered or uncovered women's breasts are neither required nor justifiable.

2008 March 28. A major win for breastfeeding mothers was announced today in Vermont. Emily Gillette had been removed from a flight on Freedom Airlines in November 2006 for breastfeeding her daughter. Despite living in New Mexico, she pressed her case against the airline (and its co-operator Delta) with the Vermont Human Rights Commission. Bascially, she won, and will be awarded a settlement to be negotiated.

A few negative comments on the decision show that people still want to tell women how to breastfeed. To which we say: MYOB. That B may stand for anything you want!

 

2008 March 10. On International Women's Day, March 8, Liz Book's topfree protest took place over several hours with no arrests. Others joined her occasionally as she stood (and fished) on a bridge in Daytona Beach, Florida during Bike Week. Her attorney, Larry Walters, came by briefly. The link above takes you to Liz's own words, a rambling but lively account of the event.

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Our congratulations to this persistent pioneer! She's on the right in the above photo, from the day itself.

 

2008 February 27. TERA's Co-ordinator met in Florida recently with Liz Book. Her next topfree protest against the city of Daytona Beach's costly and pointless vendetta against her and women's topfree equality is planned for International Women's Day, March 8, 2008. The story of the city's series of defeats in this issue is a long one, told in a few places on this site.

Liz will begin to set up around 9 AM and plans to begin speaking around noon, on the west side of the Main Street bridge. Supporters are heartily invited by Liz and do not have to be topfree.

 

2008 February 26. Lorien Bourne was convicted of disorderly conduct for being topfree in Bowling Green, Ohio in 2006. She lost an appeal. Now a branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has appealed her case to the Ohio Supreme Court, which has yet to decide whether to hear it.

One of the best legal briefs we've ever seen was filed with the court for this case. But it didn't come from the ACLU. It came from the Naturist Action Committee. If even a small part of this brief is correct, the State of Ohio has no case against Lorien Bourne and never did.

 

2008 February 23. Artist Ed Stross, of Roseville, Michigan, has finally won a multi-year battle against being fined and ordered to jail in 2005 for a painting he created on a buliding that included a topfree Eve. The breasts have been covered for three years. What happens next is unknown.

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Ed Stross with part of his painting

 

2008 February 19. The FCC has upheld its own decision against ABC (surprise) for violating its "indecency" standards. The charge involves 25 seconds of an episode of NYPD Blue broadcast five years ago. Although the case is not strictly about topfreedom, it does include the FCC insisting that breasts are "sexual organs." Obviously the FCC has no idea what an organ is or isn't; and as for sexual activity, it has an obsession with it that approaches maniacal, pursuing it with passion where it doesn't exist, constantly.

Complaints about the episode from the public were few and generated almost entirely by the misnamed Parents Television Council, a group wanting to impose its narrow views on all broadcast television.

 

2008 February 04. The charges against the store manager mentioned in the next item (February 02) are being dropped. We wonder why; possibly a person in the District Attorney's office knew that the posters couldn't be considered obscene. Regardless, there's still a strong tendency in America to consider women's breasts obscene.

The following photo is from an old Abercrombie and Fitch quarterly. As far as we know, A&F does not post this or any photo of a topfree woman in its stores, reasoning, we think, that such images are "adult only." Are they? (We don't endorse A&F products, services, advertising, or policies, nor anything by others on this site, unless we explicitly say so.)

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2008 February 02. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, a manager at an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store has been charged with displaying "obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles." One of the photos is described as depicting "a topless young woman with her hand shielding part of her exposed breast." The image here is partial and shows the poster through a window as someone walks in front of it:

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The police in Virginia Beach clearly think they can get away with calling anything "obscene" which they wish to read "sex" into. Is all sexuality obscene? If so, then many clothed women are also obscene. (See the other photo seized in Virginia Beach.)

While we may debate the use of a photo like the above in a store, what does calling it obscene tell us about attitudes towards the body, women's in particular?

 

2008 January 22. Some fancy Las Vegas hotels have been promoting topless options for women in their pools. Just how little this has to do with our concept of topfreedom may be gleaned from the purported county rules on the matter, which of course are part of the liquor regulations . . .

"A resort hotel may provide for its guests a specially designated portion of its swimming pool area where topless sunbathing is permitted. However, such a specially designated area must be separated from all other swimming pool and guest areas; be obstructed from the view of patrons in other swimming pool and common areas; be off-limits to all minors under the age of 18; and cannot be used for any special events, contests or parties while any topless sunbathing is taking place."

Forgive us for having no comment (for once).

 

2008 January 19. There's a new movement afoot, or should we say abreast: some women want to feed their milk to their children only by pumping it out first. It's called "breastfree breastfeeding." Read this article.

Of course, women have always pumped, for a variety of good reasons. But what concerns us are those who now say they prefer pumping to feeding "straight from the tap." Because breastfeeding isn't just about food, there's something lost that's significant. Of major concern are women who refuse to breastfeed because "this is a part of my body that's always been reserved for sexual activity."

 

2008 January 11. Someone has started a TERA group on Facebook. It wasn't one of the TERA directors. Regardless, the person has done a fine job. Because TERA has no discussion forum here, those on Facebook who are interested in posting may go there to do so. Facebook is free and has over 40 million subscribers.

 

2008 January 11. In support of the group Rethink Breast Cancer, the Schick razor company in Canada has started a "booby wall." Women may upload photos of their breasts and make comments. The photos are anonymous (no heads). The breasts may be fully or partly covered or uncovered. We're not sure that photos of covered breasts speak well to the subject.

Is the wall a good idea? Decide for yourselves: go here for it.

 

2008 January 10. Two more pools in Sweden have said it's okay for women to swim without tops: in Eskilstuna and Vingåker (both west of Stockholm). The manager in Vingåker points out that topfree bathing was quite common "10 or 15 years ago" and is simply not a problem. On the other hand, a pool manager in another city said, "We don't allow it, because other pool guests don't want it like that." He went on to specify children, seniors, and Muslims.

Not only is that presumptuously wrong, it's illogical. TERA supporters will know why.

 

2008 January 08.Yesterday a pool in the Swedish city of Sundsvall's leisure centre declared that women could swim topfree there. (Syndsvall is in east-central Sweden, on the Gulf of Bothnia.) This is the first such successful declaration for the Swedish group Bara Bröst, although their Danish counterpart has had some success in its country.

Nonetheless, a spokesperson for the Sundsvall pool made this comment: "The only condition is that other guests are not offended; in that case we will have to ask the women to leave." That negates the whole principle and implies that any complaint against a topfree woman --- but not against other attire --- is automatically valid.

 

2007 December 29. We recommend this editorial in a Canadian newspaper about breastfeeding, particularly a woman's right to engage in it anywhere, any time, in any manner. Congratulations, meanwhile, to Ruth Ellen Cummings of Trenton ON, for taking a restaurant to the Ontario Human Rights Commission and winning.

 

2007 December 28. Re: the man convicted of public indecency in a park in Columbus Ohio. He showed his penis to a topfree woman, apparently on her request. Immediately after, police swarmed in to arrest him. Clearly, with the woman there, the man did something he would otherwise not have done. The police denied employing the topfree woman; they may have just hung out to see what would happen. Or did the woman co-operate with police?

This incident led to all kinds of comment about topfreedom in Columbus and in Ohio, many of them offbase. Although the conviction is being appealed, we are more interested in what happens regarding topfreedom in Columbus, Franklin County, and the rest of Ohio.

 

2007 December 21. The Swedish action has spread. On Wednesday, a group of 9 or 10 women in Copenhagen, Denmark went swimming topfree in a city pool. The story has not yet hit North America, it seems. The women were allowed to stay. One of them, Astrid Vang Hansen, put it this way:

"This is a rebellion against a woman's body being considered everywhere and always a sex object. As women we want the right for ourselves to decide when our breasts are sexual. That isn't going to be in a swimming facility, and therefore they must not have to be covered. We want permission to bathe topfree, as men do."

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photos by Martin Lehmann, at DGI-byen in Copenhagen (København)

A staff member at the pool in question more or less agreed for now. But she went on to imagine that topfree women might be allowed there once a week. Obviously she doesn't understand that equality doesn't mean once in a while.

The video here adds no new information.

 

2007 December 13. The Pittsfield, Massachusetts City Council has denied the request of Katherine Gundelfinger for a "topless" area in a park. In a 9-2 vote, it rejected her petition, supposedly on a technicality. Ms. Gundelfinger's reasoning for her petition and TERA's Co-ordinator's letter on her request are here.

 

2007 December 10. Five days ago, the Brisbane Times (Queensland, Australia) ran this photo of a woman (who is accused of a crime, but that's not our point).

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The website philly.com censored it several different ways. It's good to know that media employ highly skilled sleuths to chase down and eliminate the atrocious areola abomination, especially in its more molecular manifestation.

 

2007 December 09. Last week, a very fine article appeared which simply and convincingly states the Swedish women's case for being allowed to swim topfree in public pools. The authors are Sanna Ferm and Frida Hellroth of the Merely Breasts Network (Bara Bröst-Nätverket). We translate a bit of it here:

"If the Equal Opportunity Ombudsperson had declined a case about a woman not being employed because of "prevailing norms" that say women get more parental leave, should that be accepted? Until the 1970s it was legal for men to rape their wives, quite in accord with "prevailing norms." Merely because discrimination has always existed is no reason not to fight against it!

"Women's breasts are more sexualized than men's in today's society. The reason for swimming topfree is to desexualize and demystify women's breasts. At public swimming pools there is no reason for breasts to be sexualized, even if there are other circumstances where they may well be.

"We are far from that situation today. Now breasts are considered only in sexual contexts whereas they are forbidden in all other contexts. Why is it okay to have bare breasts on the front pages of men's magazines but not in a swimming pool?

"It isn't valid to claim that this is about women's breasts being bigger than men's. That varies with the individual, and there are many men who have significantly larger breasts than many women. Nor may it be claimed that women's breasts are more sensitive than men's, because that too is an individual matter.

"Others claim that bare women's breasts in a swimming pool would increase sexual crimes. So it's claimed both that men can't control their sexuality and that women must cover up and take responsibility for men's supposed hypersexuality. These arguments are frightening and recall the claim that women in "provocative" clothing must blame themselves if they are assaulted.

"No, that is simply not a sensible explanation why men and women should be treated differently. There are discriminatory norms that prevail in society. These norms for how men and women must look and act are problematic for both men and women."

 

2007 December 07. Accrding to this report, a woman in Pittsfield, Massachusetts wants an area of a beach set aside for topfree women. Apartheid for women? Bad idea. Of course, politicians and other officials in Pittsfield are claiming that their conservative discriminatory prejudice trumps women's rights.

 

2007 December 03. As an indication of how sloppy reporting may be, this from the British paper Metro today: "Swedish women who want to go topless on beaches and in swimming pools have lost their legal battle to strip off."

In that one sentence, the paper made at least three mistakes. For a more accurate interpretation, see the next item below.

 

2007 November 30. Today the Equal Opportunity Ombudsperson ruled against the Swedish women who swam topfree in Uppsala and were ejected from the swimming pool. The ombudsperson Anne-Marie Bergström cited "decency" and "prevailing norms." She also said that "women's bodies have more often been the subject of sexual objectification, decrees, and dress codes. In our society, the female body is sexualized in a way that the male body is not."

Got that last part right. But what kind of reason is that to reject the women's right to swim topfree? Essentially Bergström is saying, "Women are not equally treated. Therefore they will remain that way." That is hardly an appropriate decision from an Equal Opportunity Ombudsperson. We surmise that she saw no political way to rule in favour of the women, so chose the status quo. Is she influenced by American media? Yes, according to her response. Should she be? No.

A highly placed spokesperson for the ombuds office noted that the ruling wasn't definitive. It means mostly that the ombuds office isn't taking further action, that it's up to individual pools to decide. The women involved may take the matter to court.

The group Bara Bröst is considering its next moves. We quote meanwhile a response from one member via her excellent blog:

"Anne-Marie Bergström has obviously misunderstood the matters of equality, feminism, and discrimination. In all eras, women have been discriminated against because of the prevailing norms. That is no reason to continue the discrimination! Equality involves fighting for equal rights for women and men, not confirming the subordination of women occurring today by citing 'prevailing norms.'"

 

2007 November 23. Although the original information about the Swedish women is still being printed in the USA as if it's new, on this blog is the following:

"Yesterday (Nov. 22) was accomplished what may be described as the first successful action for Bara Bröst. Oxiebadet [in Malmö] did not discriminate but allowed 12 women to swim topfree. And for those who think that topfree swimmers will bring on more dirty old men, assaults, and sexual excess, I can report that:

1. No one was assaulted.
2. No one was sexually exploited.
3. There were no dirty old men at all.

"Instead, people swam in peace.

"Another world is possible. :)"

Oxievångsbadet is a small pool in Malmö. According to this report, the pool staff do not consider their action (or inaction) any sort of personal statement.

 

2007 November 20. Today a woman in upstate New York found the usual unacceptable response when she tried to get a topfree photo printed at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart trotted out its standard line, "We don't print nude photos," when topfree women are 1) not nude; 2) completely legal in New York State.

Wal-Mart defines nudity basically as anything that in its prudish, bodyphobic attitude it doesn't understand or like. Its policy seems to have been created by people who have no idea what they're saying. Its employees in photo developing continue to pretend to be moral guardians of the nation in matters they have no expertise in, legal or other.

Nichole LaRoche sent us her photo, below left. A Wal-Mart employee deemed it "not in good taste." The photo of Nichole's friend, below right, was printed without question.

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2007 November 18. We said we'd report comments on the Goshen photo. Thanks to those who wrote in. With no comment from us, here's a selection from others:

"To me the test is one of gender equality. If two men posed without their shirts in exactly the same positions, would it be wrong? Should it be banned from publication? I think there would be no complaint. The fundamental question to which we keep returning is, do women have the right to do what men can?"

----

"If topfree is legal, and it appears to be, the photo would be legal regardless the age of the girls. The teacher/student relationship is a bit shaky, but the photo should not be a problem."

----

"The topfree movement is about the equal right of men and women to be topfree. If a 19-year-old male coach and his 15-year-old male student had taken a picture of their naked torsos and posted it on the Internet, what stir would it have created? The criminalizing of female breasts in the US has terrible psychological consequences for women and especially teenage girls. Time has come to finally eliminate this 'Taliban' law!"

----

"I feel somewhat offended by the photo. It's not the nudity per se, but the context behind the photo. The coach (even though she is still a teenager herself), is a person of authority over this girl, and should not be that intimate with her. The girl shouldn't have been at that party in the first place. Did her parents approve of the party? Now the girl is going to have this hanging over her head for the rest of her life.

"This website is just promoting the harm to the girl. This photo is a lot different from what Adelle Shea did. Adelle gave permission for her photos to be on your website. I don't think the girl in the Goshen photo gave you permission to post it to your website. What purpose does it serve your website to post this photo?"

 

2007 November 18. In court, Liz Book finally defeated the city of Daytona Beach, Florida, so what does it do? It spends even more money in its stubborn attempt to stop her. Earlier this month, the city changed its anti-nudity ordinance. It's unlikely to be successful, however. Liz is planning a rally there for March 8, 2008, the next International Women's Day. She's also suing for violation of her rights in past incidents.

 

2007 November 18. A few days ago came the case of a fireman in Columbus, Ohio, who was on trial for public indecency in Berliner Park. He was seen with a topfree woman in the park. What she was doing is unclear; but our point is that it's legal for women to be topfree in Columbus --- as it should be everywhere.

(And no, topfree women do not increase the incidence of crime. There are reported problems in that park when women are completely clothed or not even present.)

 

2007 November 14. We noted earlier that two women were removed from a pool in Uppsala, Sweden for swimming topfree. Now there's a group in Sweden to stop that kind of discrimination. This article is excellent; it's the only one to explain the pun in the group's title: Bara Bröst means both Bare Breasts and Merely Breasts. Perfect!

Other women have been removed from pools, on October 13 in Malmö and October 25 in Lund. For up to date information, this blog is it, although it's in Swedish. The goal: "to foster discussion of the unwritten social and cultural rules that sexualize and discriminate against women's bodies." In another location, the original two women put it this way: "We have to defend the right to be something other than a sex object, at a swimming pool as well as everywhere else."

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photo by Julia Lindemalm

 The above photo was taken in Lund on October 25.

 

2007 November 13. TERA has made the acquaintance of gotopless.org, which has a fine website. They have several photos up from the amazing photographer Jordan Matter in New York.

 

2007 November 12. Ruth Moss's intelligent and engaging defence of breastfeeding photos is here. Take that, Facebook!

 

2007 November 04. A high-school cheerleading coach in Goshen, Ohio has been fired because she and a school student took a photo of themselves topfree at a private party on October 20. The party was at a football coach's house; he too was fired. Both he and the cheerleading coach were later charged with various offences by police.

The photo (below) has a clichéd attempt at a slightly sexy pose. Although the photo is not the usual material found on TERA, we present it here because the pose in it would not raise a fuss if the people in it were dressed more. And the public, especially TERA's audience, is entitled to know what the source of this story is without censorship.

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The words on this image were not added by TERA. The woman on the left is the cheerleading coach, Victoria Schattauer, 19. Her arm is presumed extended to take the photo. The name of the 15-year-old on the right has not been released, to our knowledge. Some representations of the photo block out nipples or the face of the girl, in pretense that a photo of a topfree minor female is illegal. That pretense is false.

There are also reports of the girl drinking a small amount of alcohol at the party, but that is not the focus of the discussion.

So we ask you, our audience: is this picture wrong? Should it be banned from publication? Let us know, and we'll post responses around the middle of the month. (Don't forget what cheerleading is about.)

 

2007 November 02. A woman from St. John's, Newfoundland was approached by an official at Universal Studios' theme park in Orlando, Florida and told to cover up because she was breastfeeding her daughter. After she was harassed by more park officials, a higher authority there stated she was entitled to breastfeed and apologized to her.

 

2007 October 26. Lorien Bourne's appeal against a conviction for being topfree in Bowling Green, Ohio in 2006 failed today, in a ruling from the Sixth District Court of Appeals. It upholds Bourne's conviction for "creating a condition that is physically offensive to persons or that presents a risk of physical harm to persons or property." That harsh language about women's breasts is completely wrong, in TERA's opinion.

Bourne wants to appeal the ruling to the state's Supreme Court. However, it is by no means certain that the court would hear the appeal, or if it did, would rule in her favour. It is also not clear that the best arguments were made by her lawyer in the recently lost appeal.

Other, lower rulings in Ohio (notably in Columbus and Athens) make it clear that women's breasts are not "private parts," and women cannot be charged with an offence merely by exposing them.

Bourne mowed down one reason given for her loss, namely that men and women are different. That's a claim that TERA points out has always been used to suppress women, without justification or indeed foundation. Bourme stated, "I know lots of females and gay males that think [male breasts] are so sexy, just like females, it's just absolutely ridiculous. Males and females both have breast tissues, women just have more. They both have nipples, they both are erogenous zones. Men and women's nipples both get hard, both are erogenous zones, both are attractive."

The social prejudice that the Sixth District Court of Appeals upholds constitutes unjustifiable and harmful discrimination against women. Its additional inferences that children are damaged by women's breasts and that people must be protected against feeling offended are groundless.

 

2007 October 18. In Bradenton, Florida, two Manatee High School senior girls were tossed out of a football stadium on October 12. For what? For being dressed.

They were dressed but wearing body paint in addition. Because a few people in the stands claimed the girls were topfree, the school principal ordered them to leave.

We'd say this was a case of the blind leading the blind, except that most blind people have more sense than those who are so obsessed over female breasts that they see them exposed even when they clearly aren't. And if they had been exposed and painted in the school's colours, so what? The high school's boys are often half-dressed that way at football games.

The principal later claimed that bikini tops weren't proper attire at school football games.

 

2007 October 14. An article on protesting against the criminalization of women's breasts is mostly written by Liz Book. It's an interview in today's Orlando Sentinel. If you want something heroic, don't miss it.

 

2007 October 11. "Officers received a report that upon several accusations a resident who lives near the Gunnison River witnessed females rafting the river topless."

This is novel. Someone makes accusations, which cause someone to see topfree females.

"Although officers have been extremely vigilant after receiving the report, they have not observed the same activities."

We wonder what extreme vigilance means. Half a dozen officers deployed? A dozen, perhaps. We wouldn't stand for anything less than day and night observation for such a serious attraction --- oops, crime.

 

2007 October 09. A 1949 photograph of a topfree woman in water with her nipples scarcely visible has been removed from a show seen by elementary school students in North Platte, Nebraska. It normally resides in an art gallery that any student could walk into. Here's the photo:

 

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photo by Harry Callahan

 

2007 October 02. A state legislator giving a civics lesson to about 20 high school seniors in Norwalk, Ohio, put a storage key into a computer and mistakenly pulled up a photo of a barebreasted woman. Rep. Matthew Barrett was surprised. (He claimed his son had put it there without his knowing.) In a Janet Jackson flash, he closed the computer, continuing his talk without it.

Police were called in. Not just Norwalk police but the Ohio State Highway Patrol too. They confiscated the storage key and the computer and possibly two more school computers, and launched an investigation. All this, note, over one legal image which only a few of the seniors present saw for a few seconds --- and giggled at.

One report says the police then interviewed every student in the class and had her or his parents contacted.

We have a question for the police: Why didn't you arrest Rep. Barrett, the class teacher, and all the students? Wouldn't all that have been more effective politically? Or maybe you just couldn't wait to see what other images of topfree women were on the storage key?

At least you could have wasted more tax dollars by sending all the students and their parents for six months of psychological counselling.

 

2007 October 01. In Victoria, British Columbia, at the swearing in of a new, aboriginal Lieutenant Governor, murals showing bare breasts of native women were covered up.

Arguments about the murals have gone on for years. Those against them say that the barebreasted women demean natives. They may, of course, merely be putting a contemporary breast-shaming spin on the subject. Whether the murals as a whole are demeaning in a colonial way is another question but hardly ever discussed.

 

2007 September 29. Breasts not Bombs held a protest in front of the the White House today, against the war in Iraq. Five women and one man were topfree. Because such dress is legal in DC, they were not harassed by authorities.

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photo by zendwarf

From BnB's website: "Funny, we hadn't sent out a press release, but Fox, CNN, AP and Reuters all were present. Gosh, I wonder what brought them out???"

 

2007 September 26. It's a simple notice, from elsewhere:

"If you're currently lactating, or will be on September 29, join the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge & be part of a large group of women, all 'latching on' at the same time to bring attention to the importance of breastfeeding."

The events are open to all breastfeeding supporters. A list of locations in many provinces and states is here, and more information here. More about the Quintessence Foundation is here.

We post this in support of World Breastfeeding Week.

 

2007 September 25. Final victory for Liz Book in her 2004 case. Daytona Beach, Florida has lost its futile and wasteful appeal to have Liz Book's acquittal contested yet again. The city's own rules specifically allow Liz or anyone else to protest topfree, which she has claimed all along. No further action from the city is possible, according to her well-known lawyer, Lawrence Walters.

 

2007 September 21. With permission, we print a couple of things by Janet Fuchs Jackson, originally found in the Facebook group "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene! (Official Petition to Facebook)." The Facebook problem is mentioned below, on September 8 and 12. The topic is breastfeeding. The connection to topfreedom is obvious. It even gets mentioned in the first post.

--------

If a woman breastfeeds with her whole breast out of the shirt, there's someone in the room wishing she would pull the shirt down a little more.
If she pulls her shirt down a little more, there's someone in the room wishing she would put a blanket over her side boob or cleavage.
If she blankets her boob, there's someone wishing she would put the blanket over the baby's head.

If she blankets her baby, there's someone wishing she was in the corner.
If she moves to the corner, there's someone wishing she would face the wall.
If she faces the wall, there's someone wishing she would leave the room.

Can't please 'em all, so do what feels right to you, I say. But regardless of how you do it, keep nursing, ladies.

--------

I for one am sick to death of people telling me what breastfeeding is "like."

BFing is like defecation or urination, because liquid is coming out of your body.
BFing is like picking your nose or scratching your balls in public, because it's rude.
BFing is like masturbation, because it's natural.
BFing is like making love, because it's private.

Let's all shut up about what BFing is like and talk about what it is: a baby eating! That's it! It's eating! It's like eating! Because it is eating!!!!

Sometimes I eat alone with my husband and we hold hands and gaze into each other's eyes and it's beautiful.
Sometimes I eat with my parents and my brothers and it's loud and we all talk at once and it's joyful.
Sometimes I eat in a mall food court with a bunch of strangers because I'm famished and can't wait to get home.

And get this: my baby does exactly the same thing!!! To everyone who thinks that nursing is gross, or private, or so freakin' special that I have to make it a Hallmark moment every time I do it, think for a minute and realize that it's

JUST
FREAKING
EATING!!!!!

--------

In the same group, the following Benetton poster was recently displayed. Thanks to Wendy Jolliffe of St. John's, Newfoundland for pointing us to the current source of information for it, which states it is from September 1989.

Benetton2.jpg

 

2007 September 20. On September 5, two women were told to leave a pool in Uppsala, Sweden for swimming topfree. Although North Americans think of Sweden as having much better attitudes in this subject, the pool staff behaved on this occasion like they were borrowing words from the USA. They claimed that "crimes of a sexual nature were particularly common in swimming pool environments" and that bare female breasts would create a security risk. Other excuses: "There is a hygiene issue, and finally there is what we call 'prevailing manners and customs.'"

A hygiene issue? Women's breasts are what --- toxic? (The same official also denied that there was a hygiene issue.) And what are the prevailing customs? Discrimination against women? The last excuses were the usual: children and ethnic minorities. (Also in Swedish, this report.)

Ragnhild2.jpg
Ragnhild Karlsson
photo by Ted Callander

We can't comment on the legalities in Sweden, nor on other issues that may affect this case. But Kristin Karlsson and Ragnhild Karlsson (no relation) have filed complaints with an ombudsman --- which is, ironically for us, a Swedish word. Ragnhild summed it up: "It's a question of equality. I think it's a problem that women are sexualized in this way. If women are forced to wear a top, shouldn't men also have to?"

 

2007 September 19. On September 1, a breastfeeder was harassed and told to leave an area in the YMCA in Scarborough, Ontario, part of the Greater Toronto Area. A prolonged discussion in front of other parents made Carolynn Prior feel "that breastfeeding my son was obscene and breastfeeding should only occur away from public areas." The articles don't come any better than this, by Andrea Gordon.

What that article doesn't say --- it will come out eventually --- is that when Carolynn approached the Ontario Human Rights Commission on the subject, the person she spoke to told her that she had no case because breastfeeding is not appropriate everywhere. Carolynn's continued upset was wholly understandable.

The article today makes it clear that that statement flatly contradicts the OHRC's longstanding position. The person who made it should be fired.

The Y's policy is also correct. So why wasn't it followed? It seems to include this: "If a member complains about someone breastfeeding, the onus is on staff to address that person's discomfort, and not the nursing mother's actions." And not even approach the nursing mother, we add. North America, please note: that is the only thing to do.

That a woman may legally be topfree in Scarborough is a useful fact but has not come up in the discussion. TERA makes the point again that topfreedom for women, if widely known and understood, even if not practised, would make all breastfeeding complaints disappear.

 

2007 September 17. Not to be outshone in the breastfeeding wars, last week a PacSun store in Toledo, Ohio told a woman to leave with her infant. "We are a privately owned family store, we don't need to follow that law," is what was reported said by the store person responsible --- or is that irresponsible. There was a protest nurse-in held near the store (in Westfield Franklin Park Mall) on Friday.

Under Ohio law, the store is probably subject to civil action for its harassment of the woman.

 

2007 September 17. Last week, an Ohio appeals court heard the case of Lorien Bourne, who was convicted of disorderly conduct in 2005 for appearing topfree in public in Bowling Green, Ohio. Lorien put it succinctly: "It all has to do with a sexist double standard, unequal treatment, and selective enforcement of the law. Time has gone on, but the fight hasn't gone away." It should not be difficult to overturn her conviction in Ohio.

The city's prosecuting attorney argues that men and women are different. Hmm, that must mean women shouldn't be allowed to vote.

 

2007 September 12. The Toronto Star today put an article by Andrea Gordon about Facebook's intolerance towards breastfeeders and their photos on its front page. So did the Torstar publication the Hamilton Spectator. In its print edition, the latter even included a photo of a baby breastfeeding that Facebook would remove. Bravo, Spectator!

 

2007 September 11. Today in a federal court in Philadelphia, arguments are heard in the appeal of the half-million-dollar fine the FCC levied against CBS for the world-famous Nipplegate, the distant, fraction-of-a-second exposure of Janet Jackson's nipple in the halftime Super Bowl entertainment on February 1, 2004. The FCC's indecency procedures are in trouble in other ways, and we do not expect it to prevail in the current case.

A US Senate committee, however, is preparing legislation to require the FCC "to maintain a policy that a single word or image may be considered indecent." If that gets anywhere (which it may not), we will see further discrimination against women, banning of a lot of legal images and bleeping of any word and removal of any subject a broadcaster may fear. The implications for fr** sp**ch are very serious.

Despite any favourable court rulings, the USA is maintaining a world-wide reputation for what some have called living in a tribal time warp, a sexual Stone Age. Government officials, including the FCC, clearly have a sex obsession far more problematic than that of the country's citizens.

 

2007 September 10.Protests around the country took place Saturday at Applebee's restaurants, against the company's action and statements denying breastfeeding mothers their rights. There were breastfeeding mothers out in force with their babies, at several dozen stores in a majority of American states. Many of the individual stores have had no problem accommodating breastfeeding.

The original incident behind the protest: an Applebee's in Lexington, Kentucky repeatedly harrassed Brooke Ryan in June for refusing to cover herself with an awkward, unnecessary, demeaning blanket while breastfeeding her son. For some fuller details, go here.

 

2007 September 08. Dicussion of breastfeeding in public goes on everywhere, especially on the Internet, usually with little consequence. But a prominent news source in Australia, among others, has reported on one of the bigger and more difficult projects: to get the social network Facebook to stop removing photos of breastfeeders. Facebook's faceless staff members go about the site removing photos which they say contravene their terms of service. Those ban photos that Facebook in its sole ignorance declares obscene. We put it that way because to Facebook, all breasts are obscene --- but only on women, of course.

tandem.jpg
A photo removed by Facebook from its website in July 2007
source:
BLISS

In most of the USA and in many other countries, women may breastfeed in public in any way they deem necessary. But not on Facebook. When confronted with its capricious and annoying actions, Facebook staff members mumble vague nonsense that shows how clueless they are --- and how they contribute to American cultural foolishness, prudery, and denigration of women.

Facebook has almost as many users as the population of California. It has a responsibility to be better than it currently is. Even though it does leave some breastfeeding photos up (for a while?), it should be ashamed of its official intolerance towards women, issue a wideranging apology, and leave all breastfeeding photos alone.

 

2007 September 04. A couple of weeks ago, the Guelph Mercurycarried an article that explains fully the lack of appearance this year of a 2008 Breast of Canada calendar. From 2002 on, the calendar built up a terrific international following bordering on devotion, fully justified. TERA considers the loss a serious one in women's breast health awareness and women's topfreedom. Meanwhile, we wish Sue Richards, the calendar's creator, nothing but the most splendid health.

 

2007 August 29. A woman in Lexington, Kentucky is on a campaign to get people to recognize the importance and legality of breastfeeding. In June, Brooke Ryan was told at an Applebee's restaurant to cover herself with a blanket while breastfeeding her son because someone had complained. It happens that in Kentucky it's illegal to interfere with breastfeeding, which is exactly what the restaurant did. What's Ryan's opinion of this particular event? "That's like telling Rosa Parks she still had to sit in the back of the bus, but we'll give her a blanket to make her more comfortable."

We couldn't say it any better. Meanwhile, Ryan is organizing a "nurse-out" in front of the restaurant where she was accosted. Date: September 8.

This has apparently spread to all Applebee's restaurants across the country on that date at noon. Reason: the official corporate Applebee's response to the above incident stated, "We believe that this franchisee made a reasonable and lawful request of this guest in order to promote a pleasant and comfortable experience for all of its guests." No, Applebee's, it was both UNREASONABLE and in Kentucky UNLAWFUL.

 

2007 August 26. The rock band Poison showed a video during one of its performances at a fair in Oregon that included a shot of a topfree woman. For this, demands for apologies from everyone involved have cluttered the news. Our favourite comments: "Those audiences generally include a large number of children and it's important that their presence be taken into account." And: "Women's breasts are luscious things but they're dirty too and should stay put away, in most cases."

Although we haven't seen the video, we'd bet that American prudery and its associated sex obsession (with misuse of language) are far more dangerous to children than an image of a topfree woman.

 

2007 August 21. Another victory for Liz Book! It was announced today that Florida's 5th Judicial Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a woman's right to protest topfree. The issue is fairly simple: the law as written in Daytona Beach, where Liz Book has been arrested, specifically states that this is legal, as it is under the US Constitution's First Amendment.

This has not prevented Daytona Beach from vindictively now wanting this case, originating in 2004, to be retried or reviewed. Liz's lawyer, the famous Lawrence Walters, has filed for sanctions against the city for abuse of court rules, and $100,000 in damages for the city's continual violations of Liz Book's civil rights.

Liz Book and Linda Meyer (see next item) are the most valiant and successful topfree activists in North America, and probably the world!

 

2007 August 21. In the Cambridge Times (Ontario, Canada) in July, a columnist wrote an arrogant article mostly against Linda Meyer, topfree activist from British Columbia. The best response was Linda's, a very lively one, printed today. Her concluding sentence: "I have been going topfree since I was four years old and I will continue to do so." TERA's co-ordinator had a letter on the same subject printed in July.

 

2007 August 14. In early August, an advice columnist was consulted by a father whose family lived next to a single woman who liked to sunbathe topfree. He was concerned that his twin teenage sons were hitting too many baseballs over the fence. The woman said the boys were "perfect gentlemen" when they came to retrieve them. She generally didn't move from lying on her stomach. Once, however, she asked them to apply sunscreen to her back.

The advice giver said that the family should have almost no contact with the woman, and implied that seeing her breasts, should that ever happen, would be catastrophic.

 

2007 August 03. TERA's Co-ordinator was quoted at some length in an excellent article by John Schudlo on breast exposure and topfree rights in Niagara This Week. In it, Schudlo also quoted Mauren Connolly, a Physical Education and Women's Studies professor at Brock University, as saying that women don't care about this issue, whose gestures she called "meaningless." Was she referencing research, or merely putting forth her own opinion or bias as "the facts"?

The author also quoted Gwen Jacob, the pioneer in the issue in Canada, who fought hard to win her case in 1996 against conviction for indecent exposure for a topfree walk in Guelph, Ontario in 1991.

 

2007 July 30. A Toronto columnist in the Globe and Mailtold readers that women should go to any office job with their breasts completely covered. She also advised wearing nipple covers, just in case. Allowing breasts to move (more importantly: to be seen to move) was a horrible thing to do. TERA's Co-ordinator wrote back, in a letter printed on July 31:

"Initially I thought it a joke, telling women at work to cover their breasts completely and even to wear nipple covers (Don't Be The Office Boob --- Life, July 30). But no, the author accepts sexualized hetero-male domination to the point of condoning things that are actually unhealthy.

"Women's breasts need to move some. There is research suggesting that binding and exerting constant pressure on them is bad for the lymphatic system. Indeed, apart from fashion's constrictions, women don't need bras unless their breasts are big or they are engaged in sports that are rather uncommon in offices.

"Work interactions aren't determined by clothing alone. If men misbehave because of it, they are the true office boobs."

 

2007 July 24. Breasts not Bombs was out today in San Francisco, protesting the war in Iraq, in connection with both the visit from House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the campaign of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President.

 

2007 July 24. A North Carolina woman, Tabitha Redding, was told she could not breastfeed her son in a food court near where she worked, no matter how she did it. The reason: one person was reported to have been "offended." Her boss threatened to fire her.

Only after she complained and there was a nurse-in at the mall did she get anywhere. The mall management then denied that any of its staff had been involved and said it was okay to breastfeed there.

 

2007 July 20. Earlier this month, breastfeeding activist Anna Swank of Columbus, Ohio, won a $2500 settlement via the Ohio Human Rights Commission because Lifestyle Family Fitness threatened to cancel her membership if she breastfed in a common area at the Kids' Club in one of its centres. The settlement also involved paying $2500 to the Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition for its educational purposes. LFF is also required to post the international breastfeeding symbol at its Kids' Club areas!

More of interest here.

 

2007 July 07. In August 2006, Lass King was told to breastfeed her infant son in some place other than the company showroom of Fossil, a jewellery and accessories store in New York. After she complied, she was not allowed back in the showroom. An employee told her not to come back to the store at all.

Recently she won a small amount from Fossil after she threatened to sue it. The New York Civil Liberties Union assisted, in the third such case it has been involved with in the past year. The store now understands that breastfeeding is a legal right there and has recently welcomed Ms. King and her son.

 

2007 July 06. Every year Columbus Ohio holds its ComFest, a large community arts event with many kinds of activities, displays, and entertainment. Topfree women are reasonably common. The news media and many blogs are always sure to comment, usually without understanding any of the issues involved. But what's to comment? This photo, by bloc7 on the flickr site, in which three women are being painted, is of a calm and ordinary scene from this year's ComFest, held June 22 to 24.

comfest.jpg

 

2007 July 04. We regret to announce two cancellations. First, the July 7 event in Rochester NY marking 15 years since the Rochester Topfree Seven were acquitted (July 7, 1992) will not take place. Second, the Breast of Canada calendar for 2008 will not be issued. Although it's possible that the BOC calendar will appear in the future from the same amazing person (Sue Richards in Guelph ON), nothing is definite at this point.

 

2007 July 03. The site Topfree Action is back, with information, news, photos, videos, and discussion. This site is unlike TERA's in many ways. It has more, although some items are marginal to TERA and some photos have faces blurred. It's worthwhile; and we support all sites that share our goal.

 

2007 June 17. Another woman has won damages for being arrested and seriously mistreated for being topfree in New York. The incident dates from 2005 in New York City. How many women, we wonder, have the perseverance and patience (and money) to fight police misconduct in the courts? (Recall the recent case of Amy Gunderson.)

Jill Coccaro won $29,000, a paltry sum given the reported details of the case. The date of her arrest, August 4, 2005, is exactly a week before the date of the arrest of four women in Moravia NY for exactly the same thing. Their case was dropped three months later after considerable hassle and expense. They did not sue.

 

2007 June 16. A few days ago in Denver, a woman was harassed for breastfeeding her son in Elitch Gardens, an amusement park. Kristin Skrydlak-simlai, from South Dakota, dropped her top to do so, close by a large swimming pool. Since she was wearing a bathing suit, what else was she supposed to do?

According to her own report, staff accosted her and demanded she cover herself up while breastfeeding or go elsewhere. They continued to berate her, causing her son to scream and making feeding impossible. Then they called the police.

Meanwhile, the boy breastfed, stopped, and fell asleep. Ms. Skrydlak-simlai replaced her top. The police arrived and threatened to arrest her for trespassing if she returned to the park. Her action had been completely legal.

The park then had the gall to issue a statement that it did not try to coerce her to do anything but merely "offered" an option to her. (Someone needs to make it illegal for officials to create their own cover-up.)

Although it would appear beyond the officials of this park, the person who needs to be approached in this sort of incident is the one complaining. A little education might go a long way. Meanwhile, bravo to Ms. Skrydlak-simlai!

Today a nurse-in by about eight mothers and their children was held at the park without incident. A staff member of the park back-tracked further but confirmed that she expected women to breastfeed the way others around them demand. In TERA's view, that is an unacceptable position. It also runs contrary to Colorado law. (In New York and a few other states, the park could have been fined for what its officials did.)

 

2007 June 07. A week from today, ten years ago, TERA was formed. In these ten years, we operated under our mandate of helping women who get into difficulty simply for being topfree. We've assisted in some court cases that have been won, and some that haven't. We've provided information to countless people. We've written articles and given talks. And 100% of our funds have gone to women's legal expenses (none going to office expenses).

It's easy for websites to come and go. We're proud to still be here and to be recognized around the world as an authoritative resource on the subject of women's topfreedom.

TERAlogo2.jpg
Happy birthday to us? TERA was formed on June 14, 1997.


If you too are glad we're still here, please consider marking our 10th anniversary by making a donation. You may send a check in any currency to our address in blue at the top of this page, or go through PayPal. For the latter possibility, press the button below to donate. (Send us an e-mail, please, telling us of your PayPal donation, so that it goes into the right account!)

Many thanks to all our many supporters and donors over the years! You have been the backbone of this organization, without whom it would not exist.

 

2007 June 06. A few weeks ago, photographs appeared of someone breastfeeding in public. Nothing too unusual in that. But this was someone famous.

gyllen1
gyllen2

Actor Maggie Gyllenhaal was feeding her daughter Ramona in a park in New York. The American press had the usual field day, with people writing in many both good and foolish comments. It has long been TERA's position that women may breastfeed anywhere, any time, and in any manner suitable to them and their child. If they wish to cover themselves maximally, they may. If they wish to be completely topfree, they may.

At last we have a real star (and splendid actor) leading the way on this issue. Bravo, Maggie Gyllenhaal! In a few movies, she has appeared completely naked. She is entirely comfortable with her body, despite American officialdom promulgating exactly the opposite attitude.

The current Newsweek has a relevant article. (By the way, we don't recommend emulating photo no. 2 for effective breastfeeding. But kids poke and go at nipples from all sorts of positions from time to time.)

 

2007 May 10. Although Josephine Baker will hardly be known as a TERA example, a recent news item about her is instructive. One of her adopted sons tried and failed to send postcards of her through the US mail. When the USPS saw the topless pose of Baker in a watercolour painting, it labelled the postcards "pornographic advertising." Jean-Claude Baker tried to send the cards with a big CENSORED sign over the breasts, still with no success.

Only when he got the help of the New York Civil Liberties Union did he prevail. TERA encourages its supporters to send topfree photos on postcards to see whether the USPS (or Canada Post) will play body-phobic censor or will have a better attitude than most government officials in the USA (or Canada). Feel free to send a card to us!

 

2007 May 03. It was announced today that there will be a celebration in Rochester, New York on July 7 to mark the 15th anniversary of the acquittal of the Rochester Topfree 7 on charges laid in 1986. That landmark decision was handed down on July 7, 1992. More details about the coming event will be posted as we know them.

Part of the 1992 decision is of course here.

 

2007 April 30. Last week, the magazine Jane came out with its May issue, containing a few pages about breasts, intended to help the large percentage of women who are reported to have said they're dissatisfied with theirs. After a personable introduction from the Editor come 23 photos of breasts (all 2 x 4 cm) with short comments from the women pictured (headless, therefore unidentifiable). To Jane's credit: no censoring. There wouldn't have been any point to the presentation if there had been any.

Jane.jpg

Salon commentator Tracy Clark-Flory reviewed the main article and found it deficient. TERA notes that there is some emphasis in the Jane presentation on sexual allure, in the comments and in the fact that all the women whose breasts are in the photos are young.

Women are invited to send in to a Jane blog photos of their own breasts with comments. Several have done so, to good effect. The Jane May issue also contains a short article on the attempt of ten women in Florida to make topfreedom legal there. That article makes good points but is out of date and carries a photo from a different group. The reference to "whip 'em out" suggests male influence of the unhelpful sort.

 

2007 April 30. TERA announces a sale. As mentioned on the 15th, author Ray Hansen has generously donated three of his books to TERA to raise money. The titles (paperbound), from his Nina Steel Adventure series: Reunion (Episode 1), Banking on Torture (Episode 2), and A Hamster in a Microwave (Episode 3). Note that the first book is autographed by Ray Hansen.

TERA now makes these books available at their retail cost plus a small donation for postage and for TERA. Here are the prices --- yes, you may get the books for less elsewhere, but we hope you appreciate the idea of the donation.

Reunion: US$35.00 (autographed by Ray Hansen)
Banking on Torture: US$30.00
A Hamster in a Microwave: US$30.00

It's basically first-come, so let us know by phone (905 304 4836) or e-mail (info @ tera . ca without the spaces) which you'd like, and we'll tell you if that book is available. And thanks for donating to TERA! (Please let us know as soon as possible.)

With special thanks to Ray Hansen!

 

2007 April 26. Quote without comment, from Margery Eagan of the Boston Herald (April 26): "Another day, another tale of a breast-feeding mother harassed and humiliated in a local store. Here's a modest proposal: Make this sort of thing a hate crime."

 

2007 April 16. April 5 produced the first broadcast of the "Breast Hysteria" episode of Penn and Teller: Bullshit (or Bullsh*t, as it is often printed) on Showtime TV. As usual, the guys that host this series knock down something society believes in. In this case, it is the notion that women's breasts must be covered.

On the good side, they interviewed luminaries such as Marilyn Yalom, author of A History of the Breast, and Liz Book, the successful topfree activist from Florida whose events and legal troubles have been reported by us many times. Both people have valuable things to say and are treated respectfully. Especially interesting is a video of Liz's arrest on March 7, 2004.

Only slightly less valuable are the words of Erica Jong, the well-known author. We are glad too that Joanna Spilbor was interviewed. She is a lawyer who believes that breasts must always be covered in public --- women's only, of course. Her reason: "I don't want to see that." Her attitude towards allowing public breastfeeding: Never.

Penn and Teller pillory her mercilessly, at times even unfairly. Then again, it's hard to respect a lawyer who says that it's illegal for women in New York State to expose their breasts, when it has been legal for nearly 15 years. The program should have corrected her.

On the less good side, although the episode lets women have their say, its humour is entirely of the nudge-nudge male-hormone variety. The confusion between sexual and other uses of women's breasts is continual. How many people will be convinced by a porn actress talking about breastfeeding as she is being groped by other semi-clad women? And guess how many barebreasted girls or older women are shown. The answer is a four-letter word beginning with z.

TERA had been asked for input into the episode but ended up not participating, mostly because of the production deadline. The episode doesn't make many of the major points TERA has been making for ten years. Of course, it's entertainment and not a documentary. (A short clip is available here, but note that it blur-censors the breasts on statues and in paintings!)

 

2007 April 15. In the past week, three extraordinary events. First and second, TERA received two generous donations. (Event no. 3 will be discussed shortly.) The first was from Ray Hansen, author of the three Nina Steel adventure books. Recently, he also completed a short story in which TERA makes a cameo appearance, so to speak. He was very kind to send us the story and the three books. We'll have more to say about them shortly. Meanwhile, we thank him most sincerely for his multiple donation!

The second donation was from a woman known by her handle Maeyanie. About a year ago, she created a mod for the game Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. She had discovered that one character was created by manufacturer Bethesda Softworks by having clothes put over her torso, so she simply removed the top.

ESIV.jpg

This caused the Entertainment Software Ratings Board to rerate the game from teen to mature. Probably not wanting further publicity over the matter, Bethesda did not contest the ruling.

Maeyanie's website held a vote on which organization to donate some money to, which TERA won. TERA is very grateful to Maeyanie and those who voted for it.

Both donors have a strong understanding of TERA's mandate. As usual, 100% of the donations will go towards assisting women in legal difficulty for being topfree. None of any donation is applied towards office or other expenses.

 

2007 March 28. In an otherwise fine book, Susan Seligson proves that accurate representation and quoting aren't easy (see March 23 item below). In her new Stacked: A 32DDD Reports from the Front, she misquotes TERA's co-ordinator and says he appears "incongruously and often" in photos on the TERA site with "barebreasted or nude women."

How many nude women are depcited on TERA's photo pages? Zero. How often does Paul Rapoport appear on those pages? In 2 photos out of 73, about the same as when the book was written. Is that "incongruously and often"?

As suggested, the book is elsewhere a treasure of information and insight on women's breasts in contemporary American culture. Well written and enjoyable to read, it gives considerable space to topfree activists Kayla Sosnow and Elizabeth Book, among others.

 

2007 March 23. Linda Meyer is in the news again, in a brief but useful summary article by Robyn Stubbs in Vancouver 24 Hours. (TERA's co-ordinator is quoted mostly correctly --- which isn't that easy to do.)

 

2007 March 21. Is art with women's bare breasts suitable for a capital city's legislature? The question is not new, nor is the art. Although this article is a little ambivalent, it's the best we've seen on this subject. It makes its basic position clear while providing important details.

Below is the mural. Note that both women and men amongst the indigenous people are topfree.

 

2007 March 19. Two photos of Linda Meyer as she was confronted by---or is confronting---Vancouver police in 2006. Story here and here.

Linda2006a.jpg
Linda2006b.jog
photos by eyeeye of Vancouver BC

 

2007 March 10. A report from Montréal from the beginning of the month: "The poster of the film Cashback has provoked complaints from customers in theatres where it has been posted." « Le poster du film Cashback a suscité des plaintes de clients dans les cinémas où il a été affiché. » Of course it has. We presume it's the one on the left, but for all those afraid of women's breasts, there is the one on the right.

cashback0.jpg
cashback1A.jpg

The number of complaints isn't known, but we'd bet it's very small. Why don't the media report on the number of people who think the poster is just fine? One film official noted, "I'm sure it shocks adults more than kids." « Je suis convaincu que ça choque les adultes plus que les enfants. »

Cashback is a full-length film from 2006 directed by Sean Ellis, an elaboration of his short film of the same name from 2004. The new one opens in Québec on March 16.

 

2007 February 23. A news article about Linda Meyer susbstantiates that women in British Columbia, or at least Vancouver, may be topfree there. Linda filed formal complaints to the Vancouver Police Board about her detention by Vancouver police last August 7. The current article says police mean no harm in stopping topfree women. Tell that to Linda and get her description of the intimidation and humiliation she went through last August!

The article represents a significant step forward. In the topfree battle, Linda has won every case she has been in. Memo to B.C. police: don't stop topfree women. Don't even think about it.

Background article here. Update here (February 28).

 

2007 February 23. Too often women are prevented from breastfeeding in public, and photos of that life-giving procedure are banned from publication. Now the popular Internet social networking location MySpace has banned a photo of a woman breastfeeding. Melissa Rocks, in Tacoma, Washington, posted the photo to help educate women on the subject. No stranger to prudery, MySpace took it down three times and threatened to close Ms. Rocks' account. Here's the photo:

MySpace.jpg

Some of the comments on this episode from random bloggers say things like "At least you can't really see anything." They are, of course, no better than MySpace officials who caused this problem in the first place.

 

2007 January 29. Remember The Siren? That's Norm Gitzen's sculpture of a mermaid that was banished from public view in Wellington, Florida about a year and a half ago. Over this period he has had to take off the sculpture's nipples (which he'd added) as well as justify the size of the breasts.

Well! If the sculpture didn't win Best in Show at the Wellington Art Fair last weekend! (It did.) Below we have the sculptor and his work. In this instance, given the silly politics of it all, we can scarcely blame him for where he hung the blue ribbon.

Gitzen.jpg

Here's an article from almost a year ago on the sculpture and Wellington's handwringing over what to do about it.

 

2007 January 26. We have sometimes noted ways that topfreedom might become more popular among women. One is its adoption by a major cultural figure. We don't mean the occasional "accidental" breast or nipple exposure beloved of movie "stars" and paparazzi. (Could a whole movie with non-sexualized topfreedom or nudity still serve the purpose? Legend has it that prohibitions against topfree men were overturned in the 1930s (beginning in New York) on the release of It Happened One Night with a topfree scene by Clark Gable.)

Rather, a sustained promotion by a famous actor (actress, if you prefer) is what we have in mind. Of course, it might depend on the movies a person is most known for, as well as her position in the industry, not to mention the way she might advocate topfreedom.

There have been various links to recent topfree photos of Mena Süvari in Miami (probably on South Beach, but we don't know). We wonder, however, about the comments on her appearance that usually accompany such photos. Typical, are they? They have nothing to do with the principles of topfree equality.

 

2007 January 05. In Maine, state law allows the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement to deny permission for beer and wine to be sold in the state if their labels contain "undignified or improper" illustrations. A French ale found itself refused entry because its label has a certain photograph on it (wait for it). But the state reversed its decision recently, under threat of a lawsuit from the Maine Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit will go ahead, however, unless the state stops allowing the Bureau to act as a paternalistic censor.

Also affected positively by the reversal of three import denials was a Belgian fruit beer. Meanwhile, what was the photo on the French ale's label? Why, one of the most famous paintings from 19th-century Europe. Go here.


WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

We need (1) Money and (2) Support.

1. TERA needs money to defend women and thereby protect all so that they may exercise their equal rights under the country's constitution. Please send a donation in any amount and any currency. Our account is controlled by John Abrams, a well-known lawyer in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Cheques and drafts may be made payable to "Topfree" or to TERA. The address:

Topfree Equal Rights Association
7 Cradock Court
Ancaster ON L9G 3Z5
Canada

Anyone with access to any TD Canada Trust bank branch may deposit directly to TERA's account no. 636, branch no. 2624.

What will your welcome donation go towards? Supporting women who encounter legal difficulties going topfree at least where men are allowed to do so. That's all! We emphasize that we are not suggesting that women go topfree. We are working for their freedom of choice and their equal rights in Canada and elsewhere. Although these rights are established in law, unknowing and coercive people are preventing women from exercising those rights, either through harassment or through policies which we have to challenge.

2. Phone; write letters, faxes, e-mails . . . to show your support.

Click here for contact information including convenient e-mail links to newspapers & politicians.  

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