Why We Need To Listen Up About The Topless Protest

We all remember Free The Nipple. And now, a new flesh-promoting movement has hit the streets of New York. Here’s what you need to know..

Just in time for the eighth annual Go Topless day earlier this week, a whole hoard of protestors piled into Times Square to make a point about gender equality, carrying signs reading: Women’s Breasts Are Family Friendly’, and ‘Free Your Breasts, Free Your Mind!’ 

Since then, the mayor of New York has reacted. And he’s not happy.  

Read: The Free The Nipple Campaign Is Taking Over Instagram…

> The protesters were making a valid point about gender inequality

‘It’s wrong,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a recent press conference. ‘I don’t like the situation in Times Square, and we’re going to address it in a very aggressive manner.’

The problem with that is, he can’t. Because actually, female toplessness is totally legal in New York City, and has been for the past 23 years. 

NY-based civil rights attorney Ron Kuby explains. ‘There’s no clear legal path to address this issue’, he said. ‘It’s hard to take two things that are legal – being bare-breasted and begging for money – and turn them into something illegal.’ 

> The Mayor of New York has called the protesters ‘wrong’


So what is the point that these women (and men, who have also joined in on the topless protest), making?

Well, in a nutshell, it’s the fact that men can walk around freely without a t-shirt on, but the minute a woman does it, it’s treated as hyper-sexualised and obscene. Fair point. The annual protest has always been about re-opening the conversation surrounding the objectification of women.

‘We have boyfriends that always take their shirts off, and we were like, “This isn’t fair,”‘ one topless activist told The New York Times.   

See: Rick Owens Speaks Out About *That* Catwalk Protest…

> Female toplessness has been legal in NY for the past 23 years


Unfortunaterly, a whole host of topless women parading through the streets of the Big Apple always runs the risk of attracting attention of a seedy kind. And that’s exactly what happened earlier this week. 

‘The scene at Bryant Park was frankly a bit of creepshow,’ wrote NY blogger Scott Lynch of Gothamist. ‘And though the speakers kept their remarks brief and most marchers split off into smaller groups, some women quickly grew weary of and irritated by the swarms of men with cameras.’

It seems we’ve still got a very long way to go…