Skip

I had more under-boob sweat than usual.
July 2, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Sunday in the Park With Boobs The Gloss writer Jamie Peck, inspired by an anonymous woman exercising her legal right in to walk around topless in New York, goes boobs to the breeze on a summer day. (NSFW). Sort of previously, previously.
posted by emjaybee (153 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I "love" the cops. "But there are kids around" By this logic, breast feeding would be child abuse.
posted by MrLint at 9:41 AM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


"But there are kids around"

There are kids everywhere in the city, if it's a problem change the law.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:44 AM on July 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Outlaw kids?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:45 AM on July 2, 2011 [36 favorites]


At least herd them all together into big, well secured holding areas during daytime hours.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:49 AM on July 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


Fuck Show boobs to the police.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:50 AM on July 2, 2011


The "kids drink from those" line was notably charming.
posted by darth_tedious at 9:50 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


So because I'm a guy and my nipples are cosmetic, then people don't mind me exposing them, but woe betide those with functional nipples. What a world.
posted by dazed_one at 9:50 AM on July 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


But there are kids around

She should have pretended she thought the cops meant she was in danger of being attacked by feral packs of hungry babies.
posted by elizardbits at 9:52 AM on July 2, 2011 [57 favorites]


I love those lectures from the police. "What you are doing is perfectly legal, and I'm going to yell at you anyway. Because I can."
posted by 1adam12 at 9:52 AM on July 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


I'm sure after five or six hundred years of brave women enduring the inevitable catcall/authority hassling of engaging in this sort of experiment American society will settle down and stop losing its shit every time it gets a brief glimpse of a naked titty. Side benefits will be women - even those who shockingly failed to remember to bring a blanket with - being able to feed babies in the manner babies have got fed for countless millennia without someone having a fucking conniption instead of acting like a normal, mature human being and minding their own goddamned business.

For reference you can go to countless beaches around the world and watch various European ladies get topless in environs surrounded by happy, untraumatized children of all ages while all around everyone basically fails to give a fuck. Jeeze we can be a tedious species.
posted by nanojath at 9:53 AM on July 2, 2011 [48 favorites]


When I was eleven, I was told by a neighbor that I was too old to walk around topless. Guess what neighbor from ago-- I still am not too old, nor will I ever be.
posted by psylosyren at 9:54 AM on July 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I wonder if, at some point in the future, seeing a boob will be like seeing an ankle is today? And the Simpsons, 2050, will be making jokes about the puritanical clothing known as a "bra".
posted by codacorolla at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Tattooed girl wearing a copy of Inifinite Jest as a shirt?

Umm... I need more of this. You know, for research.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:57 AM on July 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


boobs are good to look at, but it's bad if they're visible.
posted by facetious at 9:58 AM on July 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are worse things than going without clothing on a Sunday...
posted by Bromius at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tattooed girl wearing a copy of Inifinite Jest as a shirt?

Umm... I need more of this. You know, for research.


Another reason not to read Infinite Jest on a Kindle.
posted by sweetkid at 10:00 AM on July 2, 2011


Fuck Show boobs to the police.

Somehow I think the effect will be different. I've seen nudity on the streets of New York, but generally from less attractive humans.
posted by jonmc at 10:01 AM on July 2, 2011


A few weeks ago there was something called "nude bike day". I live about a block from the legislature, and we went out for a family walk and encountered nude bicyclists gathered on the Leg lawn. Mostly guys. Fat guys. That was shocking.

But nobody paid any attention, and I suppose that's because it's all situational - it was Nude Bike Day, after all.

If a naked fat man road a bike through downtown traffic, I'm pretty sure he would be carted off in a police van.

Hopefully in 10 years baring breasts in public will become normal enough so that it won't be a strange weird experience resulting in a police lecture.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:04 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, really, I just read TheGloss for the articles.
posted by The Gooch at 10:12 AM on July 2, 2011


Oh please, everyone regardless of gender should remain dressed within the city limits unless they are at a swimming pool. No shirt no shoes no service. Feel free to have a little decorum.

At the beach? Knock yourself out.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:14 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is some very bad JavaScript in that first link to thegloss.com that'll crash Safari lickety-split.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:15 AM on July 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


This story is rewritten every summer. Oh, but it's original this time because it's my boobs. Clickthrough clickthrough clickthrough, impression impression impression.

Anyway. Nice photos. Good tones.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:16 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


So because I'm a guy and my nipples are cosmetic, then people don't mind me exposing them, but woe betide those with functional nipples. What a world.

Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Straight women generally don't go all major woo-woo whenever they see a guy's nipples.
posted by Melismata at 10:19 AM on July 2, 2011


I think a couple of people may be missing the point. The human body need not be considered an inherently sexual object, nor need it be an inherently aesthetic object. A human body is simply what humans look like. You are not your clothes. You are that pinkish or brownish monkey thing that lives inside of them. That we consider viewing another person's body to be shocking and/or feel that the "appropriateness" of showing one's body in public varies based on its mainstream aesthetic appeal, is one of the most deep-seated and yet utterly bizarre constructs of our culture.

That said, it's true that there's nothing particularly original about this particular article (nor is this article a particularly great example of the form). Still, it's a message that bears repeating, since it's not one that's really sunk in much yet.
posted by Scientist at 10:19 AM on July 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


Keith Talent: Oh please, everyone regardless of gender should remain dressed within the city limits unless they are at a swimming pool.

Have you ever been to New York City? The parks here function differently than they do in larger, more spread-out urban and suburban areas. Hardly anyone has a yard here. NYC's parks—especially the big ones, like Central Park and Prospect Park—are the city's communal yards and playgrounds. If in those parks it's okay for some dudes to go jogging or play frisbee or whatever sans shirt, then it's likewise okay for a lady to walk around the same way.

I agree that when you're out in the city, you should wear clothes. Everybody should. But the park is like your backyard, with the only difference being that it's also everybody else's backyard. And you shouldn't have to wear a top in your own backyard if you don't want to.
posted by pts at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2011 [26 favorites]


Also, I find it amusing that we are talking about this on the Internet on a Saturday, given that a fair percentage of us are probably naked right now.

What, just me?
posted by Scientist at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, I'm a pinkish naked monkey thing under these clothes.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:24 AM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't really get why anyone in NYC, regardless of gender, would want to walk around shirtless in the first place, tbh. It's a hot, crowded, dirty city where people walk around waving their lit cigarettes when they talk, insalubrious fluids drip from eaves and hvac units, and metal things everywhere are broiling in the sun, just waiting to singe the unsuspecting.

At the beach, at the pool, sunbathing in the park, running (altho I assume no large-breasted woman would run without a sports bra unless pursued by large toothy creatures), sure, rock on with your bad self. But shirtless and out on a Sunday afternoon stroll? I will give you the people's eyebrow, no matter what your free-form text box input.

Plus, boob sunburn is like the itchiest thing ever.
posted by elizardbits at 10:26 AM on July 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


I fully support women going topless in NYC. That is, I used to. Until the restraining orders.
posted by Splunge at 10:31 AM on July 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


No, not just you.
posted by Canageek at 10:32 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"As I neared the end of my topless journey, someone yelled “happy pride!” at me. I’m not sure what’s inherently gay-prideful about having your tits out, but I gave a “yay!” anyway, because I support the concept."

Pride is about being proud of your body, and who you are. Being human. "Gay" is just a subset of that.

"Tattooed girl wearing a copy of Infinite Jest as a shirt?"

The perfect bait for a hipster trap. Do I hear sirens?
posted by Eideteker at 10:35 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't really get why anyone in NYC, regardless of gender, would want to walk around shirtless in the first place, tbh. It's a hot, crowded, dirty city where people walk around waving their lit cigarettes when they talk, insalubrious fluids drip from eaves and hvac units, and metal things everywhere are broiling in the sun, just waiting to singe the unsuspecting.

Yeah, but people already wear flipflops on their feet in the city, which is no better than being barefoot in terms of accumulating nasty foot grime.
posted by emjaybee at 10:37 AM on July 2, 2011


Looks like I'll be buying some new sunglasses.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I am similarly baffled by the flip flop thing. Crusty black toenails are no one's friends.
posted by elizardbits at 10:39 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


"But there are kids around"


They may start thinking about lunch.
posted by jonmc at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2011


It's too soon! America hasn't healed from the pain of Janet Jackson's death boobie bringing down the WTC.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:48 AM on July 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


So because I'm a guy and my nipples are cosmetic

You're using them wrong.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:56 AM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Filth!
posted by republican at 10:59 AM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


“Just use your brain. This isn’t appropriate. I don’t know what you think you’re doing–”

“Hanging out in the park?”


I see what she did there.
posted by jquinby at 11:04 AM on July 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Straight women generally don't go all major woo-woo whenever they see a guy's nipples.

That's on the same slippery slope as the argument that women are "asking for it" if they wear short skirts. Don't place blame on the anatomy, place it on those that cannot control themselves and with whom the responsibility lies.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:05 AM on July 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


I walked around with my breasts out one day about ten years ago. It was excruciatingly hot out, and I had a terrible hangover, and just couldn't take it anymore.

People stared a little, but just long enough to confirm that they weren't hallucinating, and that they were, in fact, seeing boobs. Nobody made a big deal of it.

Then again, I was in Santa Cruz.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:14 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder about the whole use of the word "boob". Do women find that acceptable? Its seems childishly denigrating.
posted by hwestiii at 11:18 AM on July 2, 2011


I do not speak for all women hwestiii, but for me, no. Men call their testicles "nuts" or what have you without being consumed by self-hatred. Silly names for body parts are not necessarily a sinister tool of the patriarchy.
posted by emjaybee at 11:20 AM on July 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


It's funny how we have all these (unwritten) rules about nude boob. NB in a movie or on cable TV, OK. NB on the streets, not OK. NB on a statue or an oil painting in a museum, OK. NB feeding a baby at the table in a restaurant, not OK. NB barely concealed by clingy tank top or teeny bikini top, OK. NB visible under see-through clothing, possibly OK or not depending on venue. OK on vacation, possibly not OK in your own backyard.

YMMV depending on your age, your location, your culture, and your self-confidence.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:21 AM on July 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Errr should have previewed. I'm not crazy about boob but I prefer it to tits. Tits seems somehow nasty.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:23 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


'Boob' is very nearly the only word I ever hear a woman use if she needs a way to directly refer to her breasts in ordinary conversation or mixed company.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:24 AM on July 2, 2011


"Breast" seems quite adequate to me. It's simple, not very exotic, and has precisely the same number of syllables as "boob", so it's not really any harder to say.
posted by hwestiii at 11:40 AM on July 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not crazy about boob but I prefer it to tits. Tits seems somehow nasty.

And tinny!

Father: You know, it's a funny thing, dear...all the naughty words sound woody.

Mother: Really, dear?...how about tit?

Father: Oh dear, I hadn't thought about that. Tit. Tit. Oh, that's very tinny, isn't it? {Daughter returns} Ugh! Tinny, tinny... {Daughter runs out crying} Oh dear...
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:44 AM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


...all the naughty words sound woody.

Including that one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:46 AM on July 2, 2011


“I know you’re doing your thing or whatever, but there are kids around and I don’t think this is appropriate,” she said.

“Why not?” I asked, curious.

“It should be their decision whether or not they see…that.”




I do not think you said what you think you said.
posted by Spatch at 11:53 AM on July 2, 2011


I think the world needs more nudity.
posted by freakazoid at 11:59 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Breast" seems quite adequate to me.

"Breast" is fine, but it's somewhat formal. For me, saying "boob" instead of "breast" is more or less like saying "pee" or "crap" instead of "urinate" or "deficate." I do it so that I don't come off as overly clinical.

Also, a lot of the slang terms for body parts are hilarious nonsense words. I don't say "bajango" because I am ashamed of my vagina. I say bajango because it is really fun to say "bajango."

Bajango.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:05 PM on July 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


Sweet! I have a new term to call my vagina! Bajango! Bajango. Ba-jan-go.

As others say this story isn't terribly original but clearly needs repeating. It's a sickness of our culture that while every other animal on this earth can walk around naked, we consider it some kind of evil or at least very suspect thing to do. Riding a bike with just panties lately has been liberating. Why do I need to wear shorts underneath my skirt exactly?
posted by R343L at 12:15 PM on July 2, 2011


What terrible things happen to children if they see nip?
posted by Brocktoon at 12:19 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plus, boob sunburn is the itchiest thing ever. So, not been to a nude beach, then?
posted by misha at 12:23 PM on July 2, 2011


I don't really get why anyone in NYC, regardless of gender, would want to walk around shirtless in the first place, tbh. It's a hot, crowded, dirty city where people walk around waving their lit cigarettes when they talk, insalubrious fluids drip from eaves and hvac units, and metal things everywhere are broiling in the sun, just waiting to singe the unsuspecting.

At the beach, at the pool, sunbathing in the park, running (altho I assume no large-breasted woman would run without a sports bra unless pursued by large toothy creatures), sure, rock on with your bad self. But shirtless and out on a Sunday afternoon stroll? I will give you the people's eyebrow, no matter what your free-form text box input.


This. Also, one overlooked fact here is that the dudes who take advantage of our supposed ability to walk around sans shirt are generally d-bags. I mean, seriously, I see some guy walking down the street topless, I think "put on a goddamn shirt, we're not impressed by your fucking abs."

If the author wishes to be like these people, that's her prerogative.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:24 PM on July 2, 2011 [6 favorites]




It's funny, the original Topfree Seven are from around here, yet you almost never see anyone taking advantage of the law except in NYC. I guess we're still too conservative.
posted by tommasz at 12:31 PM on July 2, 2011


So, not been to a nude beach, then?

I lived in Ibiza for 8 years. Bathing suits are alien and strange to me.
posted by elizardbits at 12:50 PM on July 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's funny how we have all these (unwritten) rules about nude boob. NB in a movie or on cable TV, OK. NB on the streets, not OK. NB on a statue or an oil painting in a museum, OK. NB feeding a baby at the table in a restaurant, not OK. NB barely concealed by clingy tank top or teeny bikini top, OK. NB visible under see-through clothing, possibly OK or not depending on venue. OK on vacation, possibly not OK in your own backyard.

Wait a minute, you mean that there's a time and place for everything? Whatta concept!
posted by jonmc at 12:51 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that when you're out in the city, you should wear clothes. Everybody should.

No! I take a hard-line pro-nudity stance, and I will not be happy until everyone can walk around completely naked all the time if they so desire.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:51 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wear clothes merely as a courtesy to those who have to disinfect the seats on the subway.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:59 PM on July 2, 2011 [3 favorites]




Also, one overlooked fact here is that the dudes who take advantage of our supposed ability to walk around sans shirt are generally d-bags. I mean, seriously, I see some guy walking down the street topless, I think "put on a goddamn shirt, we're not impressed by your fucking abs."

I wonder how the author might have reacted if one of those guys had followed her down the street, staring.

I mean, one thing to embarrass people who'd really like to look at your boobs but feel like they ought to look away. She didn't get the "unwanted attention," but I suspect if she did this often enough, she might.
posted by kgasmart at 1:25 PM on July 2, 2011


"I wear clothes merely as a courtesy to those who have to disinfect the seats on the subway."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:59 PM on July 2

Like that ever happens.
posted by paulsc at 1:32 PM on July 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Also, is this whole thread just an incredibly boring version of Girls Gone Wild or something?
posted by jonmc at 1:34 PM on July 2, 2011


Violating cultural norms in the name of freedom. Okay, got it.

If we lived in a society where breast were only for feeding babies, and were unremarkable past that, fine. We don't We live in an incredibly sexualized culture where many men would see topless women as simply and only something to leer at.

I am all for public breastfeeding. But just going topless this way seems really silly.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:40 PM on July 2, 2011


We live in an incredibly sexualized culture where many men would see topless women as simply and only something to leer at.

Actually, that's one of the things I found interesting about an otherwise fluffy article: there isn't much leering. People either seem prudish, or don't seem to care. Although, I guess the crowd in one of the richest cities in America is going to be different from other places.
posted by codacorolla at 1:45 PM on July 2, 2011


I love me some boob, no doubt. But honestly, I think hidden boob is far more titillating.

And this drives me up a wall:
All in all, it was a pretty positive, if somewhat anticlimactic, experience. I tried to act as normal as possible, but it’s hard not to smile when you’re doing something so obviously goofy. I don’t think it’s yet possible for a woman to walk around topless without having people assume she’s pulling some sort of stunt, which is a shame. Granted, I was doing a social experiment of sorts, but it would be nice to be able to do it just because it feels good.
Will you please get some internal consistency with your message? LOOK AT ME STOP LOOKING AT ME!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:47 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]



Riding a bike with just panties lately has been liberating. Why do I need to wear shorts underneath my skirt exactly?
posted by R343L at 3:15 PM on July 2 [+] [!]


Wow. You sound like my granddaughter who is 22.

My wife: Honey I wish you would wear panties under your skirt when you bicycle in the neighborhood.

My GD: Grams, no one will notice unless thay are looking.

There is something about the logic of today's youth.
posted by notreally at 1:48 PM on July 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Although, I guess the crowd in one of the richest cities in America is going to be different from other places.

What, rich people aren't as into sex as poor people?
posted by madcaptenor at 2:00 PM on July 2, 2011


We live in an incredibly sexualized culture where many men would see topless women as simply and only something to leer at.

Sure, but let's be honest. If everyone all of a sudden went topless in America, women's breasts would cease to be a highly sexualized thing to look at. It would almost evaporate in short order, just as the glimpse of an ankle has gone since the Victorian era.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:06 PM on July 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the article:

I don’t think it’s yet possible for a woman to walk around topless without having people assume she’s pulling some sort of stunt, which is a shame.


Er, this wasn't a stunt?
posted by kgasmart at 2:11 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


We don't We live in an incredibly sexualized culture where many men would see topless women as simply and only something to leer at.

But men's potential reaction is not the fault of women's anatomy, and it should not impede equal treatment. It's up to those men to behave in a civilized manner. As P.o.B. said, it's only this way because of the taboos. If everyone did it, it would cease to be "silly".
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:12 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, is this whole thread just an incredibly boring version of Girls Gone Wild or something?

That's kind of what the desexualization of breasts is like. When you live in a world full of bare titties, the mere glimpse of a tit becomes a whole lot less, uh, titillating. The Girls Gone Wild franchise would probably go out of business if the idea of a woman revealing her chest wasn't so utterly mind-blowing to so many people.

You mean, you could, like, see the boobs? No. Way.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:17 PM on July 2, 2011


But men's potential reaction is not the fault of women's anatomy

Gotta disagree here.

Men's potential reaction is or may be a result of sexual interest. We can say that this is totally a result of the taboo, but is it? Or is it possible that a strong reaction to/desire for a woman's body is hardwired into men's brains.

Moreover, this "taboo" is a long-standing cultural tradition not just here but in the vast majority of the world. I'm all about equality, and I agree that if everyone went topless it might make the whole thing less noteworthy, but I strongly suspect that men would still be staring at women's breasts.
posted by kgasmart at 2:22 PM on July 2, 2011


NB feeding a baby at the table in a restaurant, not categorically OK.

Fixed that for you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:25 PM on July 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Looks good to me! (pun, intended). And, until we're all totally desensitized to the sight of bare breasts in public, I'm happy to enjoy efforts like this in the interim - both from the perspective of admiring the natural beauty of the feminine form, as well as (ahem!) from a more - shall we say (ahem!) "erotic" perspective? You. Go. Girl!
posted by Vibrissae at 2:25 PM on July 2, 2011


Huh. I wonder what the editors of this site would have said if this article came to them from a writer who wasn't a great-looking woman in her twenties with large breasts? Not that I'm casting aspersions on the intent of this article or anything, which I'm sure everyone who chances upon it totally reads the, like, the words of.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:28 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if bare breasts were summer costume de rigueur in NYC, I'll bet 99.995% of NYC women would be covered up entirely in winter snows, spring showers, and most crisp fall days. Men, even very hairy, hardy men, generally are. Well, except for those idiot Coney Island Polar Bears.

So we're talking about, at most, 2 or 3 months a year when some women would be topless, for comfort or simplicity. Add in the "I had more under-boob sweat than usual." factor for most well endowed girls, the myriad fashion possibilities of cleavage and partly exposed bosoms in conventional summer clothes, and the complications of keeping free ranging boobs out of bag straps, taxi doors, and elevator doors, and I think that we're not talking about a major new cultural norm emerging any time soon.
posted by paulsc at 2:28 PM on July 2, 2011


taxi doors, and elevator doors

what.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:34 PM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've seen topless sunbathers in central park a couple times. The people from The Gloss should probably just stick to trying to shock people in Witchita or wherever they are from. Nobody here is going to give a shit.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:35 PM on July 2, 2011


Women topless everywhere would significantly threaten the economy: contemporary marketing requires barely-concealed beasts.
posted by fredludd at 2:40 PM on July 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


tommasz writes "yet you almost never see anyone taking advantage of the law except in NYC."

You don't see it in Canada either where toplessness for women has been legal wherever it is for men since '96. Or at least I've never seen it except for clothing optional areas.
posted by Mitheral at 2:44 PM on July 2, 2011


Bajango

Ahem. The term is "bajingo" (not "bajango"), and it originates on the TV show "Scrubs". (Dr Elliott Reid has a hard time with "dirty words".)
posted by grubi at 2:51 PM on July 2, 2011


contemporary marketing requires barely-concealed beasts

Look out! LOOK OUT!
posted by DaDaDaDave at 3:09 PM on July 2, 2011


Did anyone else get "Udderless Brooklyn" as a Related Post at the bottom of this page? WFT MetaFilter?!
posted by exogenous at 3:35 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's kind of what the desexualization of breasts is like. When you live in a world full of bare titties, the mere glimpse of a tit becomes a whole lot less, uh, titillating.

There's already enough internet pornography that it is already kind of like that virtually. And any woman's photo can be photoshopped to simulate that too, but this really hasn't diminished the sexualized nature of breasts.

And even if men could look, they still can't touch, so they're still sexualized in that way.
posted by FJT at 3:50 PM on July 2, 2011


Men can lactate and breast feed, if you can't/won't do it, or find it too difficult you are a lousy father..
posted by humanfont at 3:55 PM on July 2, 2011


Even if people look, no, they still can't touch without consent. However, that's not the point. The point is that equal rights are enjoyed by everyone in the matter. That's why this law is in place for those who wish to avail themselves of their rights. There are many laws on the books in this vein that we don't always use or have to use, but which are there for good reason anyhow.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:56 PM on July 2, 2011


Men's potential reaction is or may be a result of sexual interest. We can say that this is totally a result of the taboo, but is it? Or is it possible that a strong reaction to/desire for a woman's body is hardwired into men's brains.

Moreover, this "taboo" is a long-standing cultural tradition not just here but in the vast majority of the world. I'm all about equality, and I agree that if everyone went topless it might make the whole thing less noteworthy, but I strongly suspect that men would still be staring at women's breasts.


I agree with you that men would still be attracted to women's breasts, taboo or no. But, you know, "attracted to" is not the same thing as "giving unwanted sexual attention to." If I walked past this woman in Central Park, I surely would have glanced in her direction and thought "huh, attractive woman walking around topless in the park. That's weird, and kinda hot." I would not have oogled her or said anything, though.

We can't control hard-wired biological reactions, but we should be able to control our behavior.
posted by breakin' the law at 4:01 PM on July 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Even if people look, no, they still can't touch without consent. However, that's not the point. The point is that equal rights are enjoyed by everyone in the matter

I was addressing something different, not the law itself though.

But since we're on the subject, I do wonder if the law applies to minors.
posted by FJT at 4:14 PM on July 2, 2011


We can't control hard-wired biological reactions, but we should be able to control our behavior.

You know, it's fine to say that - that's the ideal - but here on planet earth there are some people who simply find it difficult to control their behavior. Read the police log sometime.

Define "giving unanted sexual attention to." A pretty lady walks around with her tits out - who gets to define when someone looks too long? Do we now need laws to regulate this as well?
posted by kgasmart at 4:14 PM on July 2, 2011


Women topless everywhere would significantly threaten the economy: contemporary marketing requires barely-concealed beasts.

The advertising industry in France seems to be managing ok, so I don't predict the end of the world from naked people in ads and in some public places.

I've spent time on nude beaches and in countries where many women went topless as part of local custom. So I don't buy the "but dude, we are hardwired to react!" argument; I think we have a lot of hardwiring that we can access or not access depending on our social environment. Equally, a pretty good general rule of thumb is that hinting is far more sexual than showing; straight up naked is fun, but for genuine titillation clothes are the way to go.
posted by Forktine at 4:32 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fully support topless women going out in public. It makes sense, it isn't obscene and it's only fair because men already can.

Plus I'm too old to get desensitized to sight of bare boobies :)
posted by codswallop at 4:34 PM on July 2, 2011


Metafilter: Silly names for body parts are not necessarily a sinister tool of the patriarchy.
posted by Bovine Love at 4:34 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Men call their testicles "nuts" or what have you without being consumed by self-hatred.

Whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his "dick" or his "rod" or his "Johnson."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:49 PM on July 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Some people here are reading a bit of their own outlook into a simple thing. It is the legal right of a woman, or indeed anyone, to go topless in NYC. The rest is bullshit. I know that women are sexually harassed all the time. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't make it the fault of the woman. That doesn't allow anyone to to get all "but you still shouldn't do it, for safety".

As well, I certainly understand that it could problems in certain cases. But it's not the fault of the topless person. If you want to point fingers point them at the morons that never matured. Why should someone following the law be singled out?

If someone wishes to assert their legal right, then that's it. The police should be on their side. But yeah, I know, I'm just pissing up a rope here. A perfect world it ain't.

that being said, the article is stunty and does no service for the community at large. I'll shut up now.
posted by Splunge at 5:07 PM on July 2, 2011


At least herd them all together into big, well secured holding areas during daytime hours.
The kids or the boobs or both?
posted by plinth at 5:07 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not naive enough to believe that the world is simple enough that we should be uninterested in and unmoved by an article about a person walking through a city and breaking no laws, but, well, actually I am that naive.
posted by doublehappy at 5:09 PM on July 2, 2011


Oh for an edit function!
posted by Splunge at 5:15 PM on July 2, 2011


As well, I certainly understand that it could problems in certain cases. But it's not the fault of the topless person.

Really. Provoking an unwanted response by breaking a societal taboo isn't the fault of the person breaking that taboo, but those other declasse morons.

You know, I'd like to live in a perfect world too.

And if I read this right, I'm getting a suggestion that if a woman walks down the street topless and someone gapes at her, then the gaper is harassing her? Is that what we're saying?
posted by kgasmart at 5:19 PM on July 2, 2011


Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Straight women generally don't go all major woo-woo whenever they see a guy's nipples.

Melismata, how is this in any way the fault of the boob owner? If it's not, then it really isn't more complicated than women should be able to do what men do. Case closed.



Plus, boob sunburn is like the itchiest thing ever.

elizardbits. some people have the intelligence to come in out of the sun before completing burning their skin. If one doesn't, one shouldn't.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:57 PM on July 2, 2011


kgasmart: "As well, I certainly understand that it could problems in certain cases. But it's not the fault of the topless person.

Really. Provoking an unwanted response by breaking a societal taboo isn't the fault of the person breaking that taboo, but those other declasse morons.

You know, I'd like to live in a perfect world too.

And if I read this right, I'm getting a suggestion that if a woman walks down the street topless and someone gapes at her, then the gaper is harassing her? Is that what we're saying?
"

No. Gaping is gaping. Harassment is harassment. If you don't understand the difference I can't help you.
posted by Splunge at 6:38 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


[few comments removed - if you are not trolling you need to act like you are not trolling because that's all we know.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:13 PM on July 2, 2011


not really: thanks for thinking I'm 22! My interpretation of your comment is that you think I am not wearing even underwear. My point was to call out how uptight our society is that I worry that panties aren't enough and I have to wear shorts as well even though my skirt rarely flies up enough for anyone to see anything. God forbid someone see my purple cotton panties for a split second!
posted by R343L at 8:00 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Will you please get some internal consistency with your message? LOOK AT ME STOP LOOKING AT ME!

Perhaps the author is describing her actual internal inconsistency. Maybe she doesn't explore it well in this article, but conflicting feelings are, to me, understandable, especially when it comes to individuality and social norms and all that.

Also, regarding the point about breasts being for feeding babies: Not to deny that obvious truth, but haven't there been some perspectives offered as to the (usually) larger size of non-nursing human breasts and, similarly, female hips, which suggest they are in part there because they attract men? Aren't most/many mammals' mammaries non-protruding when not nursing?

But then, the wider hips, of course, have a functional purpose. Is it a chicken/egg thing, where functionality and attractiveness to men evolved gradually and simultaneously? I don't mean to offer a particular opinion on this, just to consider the question. Except to say that it appears to me that, both internally and physically, people have multiple layers.
posted by ottimo at 8:18 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "Violating cultural norms in the name of freedom. Okay, got it.

If we lived in a society where breast were only for feeding babies, and were unremarkable past that, fine. We don't We live in an incredibly sexualized culture where many men would see topless women as simply and only something to leer at.

I am all for public breastfeeding. But just going topless this way seems really silly.
"

Yes, you're absolutely right. Personal freedom is so silly. And if I'm not reading your comment correctly, please explain. What else are breasts for? I mean, are they for upsetting the beast within men? As well I guess that you mean your cultural norms, right? And they must be the norms all over the civilized world, right?
posted by Splunge at 8:26 PM on July 2, 2011


Really. Provoking an unwanted response by breaking a societal taboo isn't the fault of the person breaking that taboo, but those other declasse morons.

Yep.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:40 PM on July 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yep.

Way to be, brother. Good luck building that society.

people have multiple layers


How about, men and women are different in fundamental ways.

Rights? Sure, you've got the right. But that isn't the question - the question is, is it a good idea.
posted by kgasmart at 11:02 PM on July 2, 2011


You will never catch me topless in the sun.

You also, much to the disappointment of my husband, won't catch me wearing a bikini.

It's not a societal issue or a taboo for me. It's that I already spend a fortune on sunscreen every summer, and the less pale white skin I have exposed, the less of my body I have to bathe in sunscreen before venturing out during the day. And also the less I have to reapply every hour. And the less chance I have of sunburn in places I would never want to be sunburned.

But I will defend any woman who chooses to go topless in public. I'd seriously consider it if it weren't for the lobstering factor.
posted by zizzle at 11:05 PM on July 2, 2011


Back ages ago, when I was a teen, the norm here was bare breasts in the parks after school (in the summer). You had to take off your shirt, and if you were wearing a bra, that would be strange and commented on by both peers and family. Most of the time, I felt shy about it, and what else bothered me was all the tourists coming to see all the "liberated Danish girls". So to me, it was a relief when underwear became fashionable during the 80's.
Now it seems a lot of young people are influenced by all the American TV shows, and are adopting the norms they see there, which would be fine with me if it hadn't included the breast-feeding thing. I guess it's a slippery slope. Put on a bikini because it feels more comfortable, and the next thing, they'll be throwing mothers and babies out of cafés.
posted by mumimor at 3:57 AM on July 3, 2011


How about, men and women are different in fundamental ways.

How about, we're all the same, but society screws us all up in individual ways. Because, seriously, the old men and women are so different argument is completely unhelpful on so many levels. It creates a divide, which hampers real discussion about issues of equality.

Sure, I understand the physical differences. Men have pee-pees and women have vajayjays, but when it comes to an issue like shirtlessness, how come it's so hard for there to be equality across the board. Because men are somehow unable to control themselves? Because women's breasts are somehow more sacred and/or alluring and need to be kept hidden?

Rights? Sure, you've got the right. But that isn't the question - the question is, is it a good idea.

Why isn't it a good idea?
posted by crossoverman at 4:20 AM on July 3, 2011


This would be an interesting story if a less 'attractive' [wrt currently sexualised body types /valorised representations] woman walked around topless in NY and she monitored others' reactions.

Apart from that, I agree with zizzle, and have a Australian context response to seeing anyone out in glaring sun without a shirt or coverings: please 'slip, slop, slap' [Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat] to do what you can to prevent skin cancer/melanomas.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:47 AM on July 3, 2011


R343L: Not really. I apologize. My comment was somewhat of a derail. The 'intent' was to point out that while you feel you have to wear shorts under your skirt to conform to some expected standard of propriety, my granddaughter feels no such duty. To the point of, on occasion, riding her Gram's bike without any underwear at all. And in truth I suspect Grams is the only one aware of what she is doing. She wears a pretty short dress but manages to tuck it between herself and the seat. Problem seemingly solved except for an occasional flash of butt. Yet she successfully tweaks her Grams once again.
posted by notreally at 4:57 AM on July 3, 2011


NB feeding a baby at the table in a restaurant, not categorically OK.

Fixed that for you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:25 PM


Hey, I'm all for breast feeding in public and in fact did so when my daughter was a baby. However if I didn't drape a blanket over her and myself I got condemning looks and my husband got apoplectic. It was summer and I would have liked to just pop my breast out and feed her but I had to pretend that nothing was actually happening down there....don't mind me, I enjoy wearing a blanket in the middle of summer.

Wait a minute, you mean that there's a time and place for everything? Whatta concept!
posted by jonmc at 3:51 PM


Not having lady breasts, Jon, you might not realize how nuanced the situation is. Sometimes it is a little maddening to be surrounded by naked breasts yet feel you must never allow your own breasts to be seen, not even when breast feeding. Which date does the disrobing come and is that an automatic "yes" to sexual intercourse? Is it better to let your husband see you naked all the time or should you only allow the occasional glimpse to keep him on fire? If you are swimming in your own pool without a top on and the 5 year old boy from next door comes over to swim do you have to put your top back on?

And then there is the whole cleavage situation. How much is sexy, how much is slutty, how much is enticing without it being a giant "Please stare at my breasts and not my eyes when I am talking to you."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:53 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rights? Sure, you've got the right. But that isn't the question - the question is, is it a good idea.

No, that is not the question and if you really want the obvious answer to that question then here's a little reframing. How about it's late into the roaring 20's and some women start wearing pants as a fashion item, is it a good idea? How about I drop you off in one of the many conservative Muslim countries and you can commiserate with some of the men there and ask if it is a good idea if the women take off their hijab or even their burqas? Not the same things? No, they really are quite alike. The issue isn't about women (or men, or gays, lesbians, black, yellow, brown, or red people) doing something like showing their breasts, the issue is that women can't show their breasts (or can't get married to one another, or can't etc.) Pointing out how there could be problems when those problems already exist reveals nothing except the incoherent and nebulous ideas attached to these things. And, continually hovering over the idea of "If they do that, then society will collapse!" is just not addressing the real issue.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:51 AM on July 3, 2011


If we lived in a society where breast were only for feeding babies, and were unremarkable past that, fine. We don't We live in an incredibly sexualized culture where many men would see topless women as simply and only something to leer at.

Kind of fun the way you can take any argument against walking around unclad, and use it to support the idea that women should all be required to wear a burqa in public, and it makes exactly as much sense for exactly the same reasons.
posted by flabdablet at 9:47 AM on July 3, 2011


not really: ah, that's kind of awesome then. There is hope everyone won't be crazy someday...
posted by R343L at 10:51 AM on July 3, 2011


kgasmart: Way to be, brother. Good luck building that society.

Sister.
posted by bakerina at 2:58 PM on July 3, 2011


Hey, I'm all for breast feeding in public and in fact did so when my daughter was a baby. However if I didn't drape a blanket over her and myself I got condemning looks and my husband got apoplectic.

Condemning looks & apoplepsy? That's a shame.

I can't think of a more appropriate place to breastfeed a baby than a restaurant. Babies are little people, and restaurants are where people eat. Babies may be for a while largely just eating-sleeping-pooping machines, but they do get socialised over time, and one part of that should be being socialised into eating when & where adults eat.

Sure, they will want to be fed much more often than adult eating patterns, but that doesn't change the fact that a restaurant is a perfect place for them to eat - so much better than being shunned & shamed into some kind of glorified bathroom that passes for a nursing room.

Besides, it can easily be done discreetly enough, for values of discretion that equal minimum possible nipple exposure; and then only if some perv is really trying hard to catch a glimpse.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:08 PM on July 3, 2011


"... Sure, I understand the physical differences. Men have pee-pees and women have vajayjays, but when it comes to an issue like shirtlessness, how come it's so hard for there to be equality across the board. Because men are somehow unable to control themselves? Because women's breasts are somehow more sacred and/or alluring and need to be kept hidden? ..."
posted by crossoverman at 7:20 AM on July 3

The answer to your questions was probably first provided to the popular culture by anthropologist Desmond Morris in his book The Naked Ape, which I recommend to your consideration. To paraphrase Morris grossly, he argues that the outsized (larger, on average, than any other primate by at least an order of magnitude), prominent, hairless development of the human female breast arose from several convergent evolutionary pressures.

1) In a species which was increasingly paying attention to face-to-face, upright communication, and less to four footed displays including rump presentation (as is common in other primates like baboons), females with large breasts could offer potential mates a powerful substitute sexual signal for their out-of-sight-when-upright-posteriors, by displaying outsized breasts and complex facial expressions (cues) at the same time.

2) For a species that was increasingly depending on a sociology of pair-bonding, involving in the female both a development of hidden estrus (which implies 365 day sexual availability), and long term exclusivity to males that they mate with, large breasts, and a significant waist to hip size ratio, gave females ways to visually signal health and fertility, in the same way size disparity, wider shoulders and development of facial hair as secondary sex characteristics did for males.

3) Human female breasts react sexually (sex flush, nipple erection) in ways that provide additional reliable visual sexual signaling to mates.

Morris offers other evolutionary and sociological explanations for the continuing human cultural fascination with female breasts, but whether you accept his observations and arguments as valid or not, you're standing in a deep valley of human perception, over-matched by thousands of years of human art and history across many cultures, and perhaps millions of years of humaniod evolution, if you try to ignore such continuing individual and cultural interest in boobs, on the thin, late grounds of a countervailing interest in sex equality.
posted by paulsc at 5:36 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


And if I read this right, I'm getting a suggestion that if a woman walks down the street topless and someone gapes at her, then the gaper is harassing her? Is that what we're saying

Oh for the love of...nobody's going to jail for gaping. Gaping in the classic sense is a momentary reaction, easily suppressed or minimized. And I might add, characteristically ascribed to rubes and children, not marginally sophisticated adults. At any rate, unless the gaping was also accompanied by an attempt to chase/follow/make ugly comments at a woman, chances are it would not even be noticed.

There is an easy distinction between staring/whispering and harassment. One slightly embarrasses, you the other makes you fear bodily harm.
posted by emjaybee at 5:39 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Public nudity laws exist for a reason.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:00 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, but is that reason sound?

What is it, by the way?
posted by flabdablet at 6:06 PM on July 3, 2011


Yes, but is that reason sound?

I hadn't thought of that, but you may have a point: the sub-bass from a passing hoon's car may set things embarassingly a-jiggle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:26 PM on July 3, 2011


Not everybody is attractive, for one. That bit of obligatory sexism aside we should choose when we see sexual images. I'm fine with stuff like this on the Internet, but I'd prefer not to see it at, say, a public speaking contest or a secret Amanda Palmer gig.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:30 PM on July 3, 2011


You and I clearly have wildly different notions of what's attractive, what's sexual (and what "image" means, apparently) and what's reasonable, so achieving any degree of consensus on this issue is going to involve a fair bit of work.

Let's start with a hypothetical case. You're walking down the street to the shops, you look up from your iPad and see, among the various people walking toward you, a woman carrying a leather bag on a shoulder strap. Apart from the bag, she's naked and barefoot. Walking briskly, unselfconsciously, head held high, she appears to be about seventy years old. Her hair is grey, long and loose, and she wears no makeup; her face is lined with deep wrinkles, and her somewhat withered breasts hang almost to her waist. She pays you no attention.

Should any law prohibit her from doing this? If so, why?
posted by flabdablet at 7:28 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Once upon a time when ankles were still totally taboo breasts were A-OK! Gotta love décolletage.
posted by anateus at 8:06 PM on July 3, 2011


Should any law prohibit her from doing this? If so, why?

Yes, there should be a law. Public space means that everyone has to see what's in that space. I don't want to see naked bodies, photos of bloody fetuses, diseased lungs (thanks, cigarette packaging) or anything else that will upset me. I already have my iPod to block out other people's noise but some decent laws should keep my visual field clear.

Somebody is going to call my a hypocrite, since I'm always arguing against Internet and game censorship. However, I access the Internet in the privacy of my own home. My pornography and violent games shouldn't be projected on an outdoor screen.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:56 PM on July 3, 2011


"... Should any law prohibit her from doing this? If so, why?"
posted by flabdablet at 10:28 PM on July 3

Her deeply lined face, her drooping boobs, and her long grey hair all mark her as having passed her sell-by date in the great game of evolution, just as my sagging belly, my grey hair and beard, and my bald spot mark mine. From an evolutionary standpoint, we're soon to be stinking organic waste, your hypothetical woman walking down the street and I, and the both of us should have the simple decency to cover ourselves appropriately, so as not to confuse or demoralize the young folk, upon whose successful copulation the future of the race depends.
posted by paulsc at 9:06 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


some decent laws should keep my visual field clear

Why should your desire for a clear visual field trump her desire to walk naked in the street?

both of us should have the simple decency to cover ourselves appropriately, so as not to confuse or demoralize the young folk, upon whose successful copulation the future of the race depends

There are seven billion of us already. It seems to me that the future of the race has far more to do with preventing overbreeding than with discouraging young people from having sex which is, in any case, impossible.


So far, my hypothesis that arguments against public nakedness are indistinguishable from arguments in favour of the burqa being mandatory is holding up pretty well, don't you think?
posted by flabdablet at 12:10 AM on July 4, 2011


The butt-ugly tattoos kind of offset the exhibition aspect. If someone has a third eye, their hair color probably isn't gonna make much of an impression.
posted by RavinDave at 12:25 AM on July 4, 2011


Yes, there should be a law. Public space means that everyone has to see what's in that space. I don't want to see naked bodies, photos of bloody fetuses, diseased lungs (thanks, cigarette packaging) or anything else that will upset me. I already have my iPod to block out other people's noise but some decent laws should keep my visual field clear.

I feel the same way about cars.
posted by doublehappy at 1:36 AM on July 4, 2011


"... There are seven billion of us already. It seems to me that the future of the race has far more to do with preventing overbreeding than with discouraging young people from having sex which is, in any case, impossible. ..."

posted by flabdablet at 3:10 AM on July 4

And for much of our pre-history as a species, we teetered on the edge of eradication, with global populations under a million, while what elderly women there were generally went bare chested. Even as recently as the dawn of agriculture in about 8000 B.C., there were only about 5 million people in all the world. But as soon as fiber grew cheap enough that readily washable, comfortable 4 season clothing could become the social norm it is today, we've risen comparatively rapidly in number.

Abandoning clothing to return to the bare chested or fur skinned glory of pre-history for elderly folk, male and female, certainly seems a risky strategy, and one we've tried thoroughly before. But if you doubt me, ask the Shakers what tinkering with a few of society's evolved standards can do to population numbers in a couple of generations.

And remember, we're not only talking about potential Voluntary Human Extinction, but the death of irony, too.
posted by paulsc at 3:41 AM on July 4, 2011


The butt-ugly tattoos kind of offset the exhibition aspect

Not to sound too too sexist here, but the whole package looks pretty damn terrific to me. Which I think goes back to the point above about not all of us finding the same things appealing.

The question then becomes where "not appealing" crosses over into "an invasion of my space" -- when does something (or someone) become so unappealing that we can legitimately say that that thing, whatever it is, must be concealed from public view? It's a thornier question than it sounds. It's one thing to say that we don't want to see a naked person, but if we place qualifiers on that -- "I don't mind seeing a naked person, unless..." -- when does that become an issue? Is it okay to say that society doesn't want to see naked people of a certain age, because we agree generally that the body becomes too ugly to look upon at that point? Is it okay to say that society doesn't want to see naked people of certain height/weight proportions, because we agree that a certain size is too repulsive to see? What about the race of the person, or whether their skin is healthy, or whether they've been burned or maimed or...I mean, at what point do our personal preferences become prejudices? At what point should society say that what I do or don't want to see is less important than giving others the latitude to live as they are, not as I wish that they were?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:09 AM on July 4, 2011


How about instead we just make it illegal for men to walk around with no shirts on either? Because, ew Axe dood put on a goddamn shirt.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:45 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I went topless in Austin in 1995. It was August & I was a vendor at Lollapalooza. Then I heard that Jerry Garcia had died & I no longer felt all carefree & happy so I put my shirt back on.
posted by lurkElongtime at 9:08 AM on July 4, 2011


I've got so much chest and back hair, when I go topless, I'm often asked why I'm wearing a sweater on such a hot day. Scottland forever!
posted by humanfont at 9:29 AM on July 4, 2011


at what point do our personal preferences become prejudices? At what point should society say that what I do or don't want to see is less important than giving others the latitude to live as they are, not as I wish that they were?

I find this sort of interesting as well. There's definitely the implication [not specifically here but definitely in common discourse, and a little bit here] that being naked in public is somehow something you're doing to/for other people. I think some of this is just how weird US people can be about nudity/sex generally, but also the corresponding fact that a lot of the nudity we are exposed to is sexualized stuff so there's not as much of a sort of baseline normal non-sexual nakedness that people have as a schema. So if 95% of the naked women you see are in porn/movies/your own bed, your frame of reference is mostly sexual, that the nudity is integrl to sending you a sexy message and is chosen deliberately for that. Not saying it's right, just saying it's hard to snap out of for a lot of people, I suspect. And then there are also people who "ruin it for everyone" by taking a place where nudity or being scantily clad is normal or at least okay [i.e. the beach] and either become inappropriately sexual about other people's lack of clothing or being a loud proclaimer about who they do and don't wish to see in that level of dress.

And oddly it's one of those things that, while I feel the scrutiny is stronger for women, you see it with men too. People have issues with other men's back hair, their Speedo-like bathing suits, their wobbly bellies. One of the things I really liked about going to Burning Man was that while there were a lot of sort of sexy-type young naked or nearly naked people there, there were also just a lot of people who took it as a decent opportunity to do something they liked--walking around without clothes on--in a place where that was appropriate and sort of a non-issue. So there were a lot of middle aged and older normal looking people wearing no clothes [or sandals and nothing else] not really out to get looked at, and you could feel like your decision to wear clothes or how much clothing to wear was totally at your own level of comfort and not norms that told you that you had to be one way or other other, or had to worry that other people were going to make weird comments about having to look at you.

I go to a gym where there is a seniors aerobics class at about the time I'm usually going and I have to say that I'm always sort of happy to be in the locker room around people of various shapes and sizes who are interested in staying in shape, whatever that shape is, and not being weird and squirrely about it because they think their nakedness doesn't line up with other people's views of who should and should not be naked. Freedom of expression is a tricky thing.
posted by jessamyn at 10:11 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why anyone would want to walk around without clothes, and I don't understand why its okay. If I find you unattractive than it's an ugly intrusion. If I find you attractive than it's potential embarrassment. best to just leave the question off. What good is served by allowing people to walk around topless or naked?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:46 PM on July 4, 2011


I don't understand why anybody would not want to walk around without clothes, and I don't understand why it's not okay.

I see both attractive and repulsive people in the street every day, and can see no reason why this would change merely because some of them were naked. Since everybody has different notions of what's attractive and what's repulsive, it seems to me unreasonable to require anybody to pay attention to any standard of appearance other than their own.

The good served by allowing people to walk about naked is that doing so would decrease the power of exposed skin to provoke antisocial responses. If you doubt that this is so, I respectfully suggest to you that you would benefit from attending a large social gathering where nakedness is allowed and isn't abnormal (e.g. Burning Man, ConFest, Rainbow Gathering). At all of these events you will of course find exactly the same kinds of dickishness and petty power games as in the wider communities their participants are drawn from, but at markedly lower rates and intensities.
posted by flabdablet at 7:15 PM on July 4, 2011


If you doubt that this is so, I respectfully suggest to you that you would benefit from attending a large social gathering where nakedness is allowed and isn't abnormal (e.g. Burning Man, ConFest, Rainbow Gathering). At all of these events you will of course find exactly the same kinds of dickishness and petty power games as in the wider communities their participants are drawn from, but at markedly lower rates and intensities.

I've met hippies. There is still dickishness and petty power games.

I'd prefer to wear a burqa made out of some sort of high-tech material that lets me project my online identify in the real world, but that's the other extreme. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, and I think the social convention of 'wearing clothes' works well for that. Though I wish people would wear shoes here, instead of flip-flops.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:23 PM on July 4, 2011


I don't understand why anyone would want to walk around without clothes, and I don't understand why its okay. If I find you unattractive than it's an ugly intrusion. If I find you attractive than it's potential embarrassment.
Why should your negative reaction to public nudity restrict the freedom of others?

What good is served by allowing people to walk around topless or naked?
Is this really how you think the law should work?
posted by doublehappy at 7:28 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd prefer to wear a burqa made out of some sort of high-tech material that lets me project my online identify in the real world

If there is anything I've learned since I started keeping data on which t-shirts get the most questions/comments you will probably just end up with a lot of people asking you what your username means in really silly ways.
posted by NoraReed at 7:29 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there is anything I've learned since I started keeping data on which t-shirts get the most questions/comments you will probably just end up with a lot of people asking you what your username means in really silly ways.

I was thinking more a constantly updated FB and Twitter feed, with maybe a customizable avatar.


What good is served by allowing people to walk around topless or naked?
Is this really how you think the law should work?


Sometimes. I don't understand the public nudity advocates positions. Samuel Daleny and some other 70s sci-fi writers believe the same thing but they've never convinced me why.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:32 PM on July 4, 2011


I believe that all behaviour should be legal by default and only criminalised where it causes harm. In my scenario, the "harm" of exposing you to unattractiveness does not meet the threshold for criminalisation.

You appear to believe that all behaviour should be criminalised by default, and only legalised where it provides some good to society. In your scenario, the "good" of freedom of expression apparently does not meet the threshold for legality.
posted by doublehappy at 7:45 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've met hippies. There is still dickishness and petty power games.

Hurrah! Consensus at last!

But you appear to have missed my point, which is that when you put these hippies in a clothes-optional environment, the incidence of dickishness and petty power games markedly decreases.

So until you've actually attended such an event and made your own first-hand observations, I respectfully put it to you that on this question you're not sufficiently well-informed to have your opinion taken seriously.
posted by flabdablet at 7:45 PM on July 4, 2011


And since it's now the middle of the day and I need to head out of the house, I supposed I'd better go and get dressed.
posted by flabdablet at 7:48 PM on July 4, 2011


I support this. That is all.
posted by Fister Roboto at 7:55 PM on July 4, 2011


There are worse things than staring at some boobies on a Sunday.

really has nobody made these jokes yet?

More red, more blue, more boobs!

It's hot in here. It's hot and it's zaftigulous.

Boobies, by the blue, purple yellow red homeless guy, in the park....

I'm stopping....
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:02 PM on July 7, 2011


If there's nothing more that you need now
Lawn cut by bare-breasted women
Beach bleached towels within reach for the women gotta make it that'll make it by swimmin'

Poets
~The Tragically Hip
posted by bwg at 6:36 PM on July 11, 2011


Metafilter: dickishness and petty power games.
posted by jquinby at 6:53 AM on July 12, 2011


« Older Trey Anastasio on Improvisation   |   Dude, Where's My Ads? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post