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Many sites would carry a warning: NUDITY! Keep away if you're under 18! We don't believe in that. Women's breasts bother no one except those who have unfortunately been trained to be embarrassed by them.
So if you're under 18, go ahead and view our photos. Besides, women who are bare-breasted in public places aren't nude! Are bare-breasted men nude? These women are exercising their right to the same topfreedom as men have had for decades.
There are more photos in the articles area.
Got a photo you'd like to share? Contact us at the Topfree Equal Rights Association.
The Community Festival known as ComFest takes place every June in Columbus, Ohio, where topfreedom for women has long been legal. At ComFest it's common, sometimes with body paint, sometimes without. This year there were a few twists. Gotopless.org had a booth there.
In addition, two women, one from Columbus, one from Louisville, in neighbouring Kentucky, organized a breastfeeding event in Goodale Park. One of them, Lauren Damon, was kind enough to send us many pictures from it. The other, Tiffany Deering, also wrote about the experience.
She's also in the top left photo in the background.
by Lauren Damon
A nurse-in was held at ComFest in Columbus, Ohio on June 26 and 27, 2009. There was a grand total of five breastfeeding mothers, one of whom went topfree (Tiffany Deering); five breastfeeding babies; and three other supporters of breastfeeding.
While numbers of participants were small, the group Hooray for Boobies exposed thousands of people to the issues of topfreedom and breastfeeding in public. There were conversations regarding the benefits of breastfeeding and our attempt to normalize it; and all persons approaching the Hooray for Boobies nurse-in had only positive things to say. Hooray for Boobies even got to enjoy visiting the gotopless.org booth, where many women and men were being educated about the discrimination against women regarding topfree rights in America.
The following is based on an interview with me by the Dayton Parenting Examiner after the nurse-in.
What was the motivation behind Hooray for Boobies?
The discrimination against breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding is not the norm in our culture. It is my goal to normalize breastfeeding; to give facts about breastfeeding benefits versus the risks of choosing to formula feed; to get breastfeeding mothers out of the toilet stalls, back rooms, or chemical closets that are deemed acceptable places to pump or feed while out in public; and to let other people know that breastfeeding is not obscene, that a woman need not run and hide or be ashamed of breastfeeding as if she is doing something wrong.
Do I think that it is discriminatory for a breastfeeding mother to not be given pumping breaks at work? Yes! Smokers are given breaks; why not give a break for something that is medically beneficial, not harmful?
ComFest is held every year. Many female participants take the opportunity to revel in the fact that topfreedom is enjoyed by both sexes in Columbus, Ohio. I thought that choosing ComFest as our place to hold the nurse-in, Hooray for Boobies, would enable us to show the beauty of the breastfeeding relationship between mother and child: breastfeeding seemed like the natural extension of women enjoying their topfreedom.
Was your event successful?
I would say it was, not based in number of participants, but in the exposure that we brought to breastfeeding. Conversations were started by passersby along the walkway, people were exposed to the beauty of breastfeeding, we spoke to an expectant mother about the benefits of breastfeeding. We literally exposed thousands of people to our issue.
We were on the news last Wednesday night (more geared towards topfreedom than breastfeeding in public) and we were on the cover of The Other Paper.
I interviewed Dayton area mothers on this topic. Many felt that breastfeeding should be done discreetly. How do you respond to this?
Here is the 'indiscreet' breastfeeding manifesto! [from Sundae Horn, in 2001]
I will nurse my child anytime, anywhere, no matter who is
present or what I am wearing.
There are as many definitions of discreet as there are people. I think nursing exposed is discreet, another thinks that discreet is being covered, someone else says it's going to the restroom stall, and yet another thinks that it's staying home.
I am not going to conform to someone else's definition. Often the use of the word discreet is just a way for others to control and infringe upon another individual's rights. I say a mother and her baby should decide what is best for them.
Overcoming great odds (financially) and with Lauren's generosity, I was able to rent a car and drive up to Columbus. I drove up on Friday, but was too late to participate that day. Saturday we headed out together, got to the playground, and realized that we should have been much more specific with our location. If there had been any other nursing mother participants, it would have been a slim chance that they would find us. The playground was so large and crowded, and with our restrictions on advertising our presence . . . Lauren and I were the only ones there, other than her boss, who stopped by and nursed that afternoon.
Lauren and I decided to walk around. I had my sling, which is great to nurse in; and my son eats constantly. I opted to go topfree while we strolled around, about noon. With the sling, that wasn't so obvious.
Because there were no other topfree women around at that time, I felt very awkward. It was great when two women, about my mom's age, spoke with us and treated me as if I were fully clothed, talking to my son and complimenting me on his health, size, and alertness (he's 9 kg at 6 months). After I admitted how awkward I felt, they encouraged me and gave us kudos for our cause. I tried very hard to look at people's faces and smile; I definitely felt more at ease when my son was actually nursing, and could stand taller and prouder.
It would have been much easier if there had been more topfree women around; it wasn't until later in the evening, just as we were ready to leave, that that happened. Hardly anyone else acknowledged us, but they probably wouldn't have regardless in that crowd; our focus was on finding the gotopless.org booth.
I didn't engage much in conversation as I now wish I had. We went back to our nursing camp at the playground, nursed, and ate.
When I decided to let my son get some air time sans diaper (and hopefully go potty, as we're doing his infant potty training), an expecting woman approached me with her dog and we got to talking. It was great! We talked about everything---natural birth, home birth, nursing, vaccinations, etc. Then the babies slept while Lauren's boss and her husband came. She sat with us and nursed her toddler.
After that, we went to look for the Gotopless booth again, since we couldn't find it earlier. It was during that walk that I overheard a woman on her cell phone say something like "they're wanting to normalize nursing." I don't think she even saw us; we weren't topfree or nursing at the time!
We finally found the Gotopless booth and got comfortable there. They had a poster of a nursing baby that said "Boobies are family friendly." Lauren sat down in the middle of the booth and nursed her daughter, surrounded by topfree women getting their breasts painted. I decided to go topfree again and nursed my son right beside the poster.
There were photographers taking pictures of all the topfree chicks. IÄôm not sure what their intents were. One joked about the breastfeeding: "Eww, look, she's breastfeeding in public." At first I thought he was serious. Then I saw that he was a supporter mocking the prudes.
When Lauren's baby was done nursing, we went back to base for a last hour. I nursed topfree one last time there, and we left the park with me topfree wearing the sling. (If my baby wasn't so big and heavy, I probably would not have used the sling . . . but then again, it made me feel much more comfortable.)
I believe we did a very good job of portraying the nursing as normal, whether it was topfree or not. For those who noticed, I hope the image sticks in their minds as something beautiful. For those who didn't notice, I'm not sure how we would go about doing something different to get attention, as that may defeat the purpose of normalizing it, kind of like tattoos.
Twenty years ago, they were pretty taboo and limited to the naughty crowd, but today everyone and their mother has one. When you see a tattoo, you don't have a reaction like you used to. But that didn't happen because people shoved their tats in others' faces, demanding that they look long and hard at their body art. Rather, they slowly and quietly infiltrated our society more and more.
There were definitely more topfree women than ever, most of them young, late teens, early twenties, and most had some body paint. I personally observed about a dozen scattered women on Saturday afternoon, but there had to have been a hundred or more women enjoying their freedom over the three days of the event. Everyone I spoke to agreed that the number of topfree women was up dramatically.
I did not detect any reactions from the crowd. There were tons of kids everywhere, and when barebreasted women passed by they were oblivious to them. One little boy that I observed was much more interested in banging a stick against a tree than with looking at topfree women. I did not see any parent try to shield a child's eyes, or move children away.
ComFest is many things to the community, but I think that most people go down to enjoy the park, the weather, the food, and do some old-fashioned people watching. Topfree women did not elicit any more stares than the shirtless men, people with provocative t-shirts, and cute kids with popsicles.
While the festival is founded in "leftist" principles, the makeup of the crowd resembles what you would find on a typical day at the Ohio State Fair. Estimates were that 60,000 people would attend this year, and since the weather was great, the number could turn out to be greater.
At one point I observed a group of about six young women, apparently just as one of them had decided to remove her top. One of the other women appeared to be taken aback a bit, but after a moment or two she began to remove her top, too. This was on a path right in the heart of the park with hundreds of people all around. When the second top was removed, the other women in the group began to applaud.
Gotopless.org had a nice setup with a couple of topfree women inside the booth. I didn't get a chance to stop and chat, because they were busy talking to some people. I doubt that their efforts played a large part in encouraging women to go topfree, but perhaps they inspired some. My feeling is that the women were inspired by each other, the weather, and a shifting culture.
All in all I'd say it was a triumph for topfreedom this weekend in Columbus.
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