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Go topless... and let me tell you about some UFOs
August 21, 2009 5:21 PM   Subscribe

The second annual National Go Topless Protest Day will be held this Sunday, August 23, in various American cities. It happens to be run by Raelians, members of a UFO religion founded by Rael, a former French sports-car journalist and test driver born Claude Vorilhon. (Coverage of last year's protest in New York City, which is, as one might suspect, NSFW.) Though the current "Go Topless!" site talks more about women's rights than Raelism, in 2004, Raelian women were marching topless not for the legalization of bare breastedness, but against "the repressive Myth of God." Don't remember the Raelians? This is just the most recent stunt by the publicity-hungry group that capitalizes on media-friendly controversy: in 2002, during the slow news week between Christmas and New Year's Day, they announced the creation of the first human clone, gaining what Rael estimated at over $500 million of free media coverage. In an interview, Rael unabashedly discusses his passion for publicity.

From a press release:
The organization has decided to hold its protest events annually on the Sunday before Women's Equality Day, which is celebrated Aug. 26. On that date in 1920, after a 72-year struggle, women earned the right to vote. In 1970, Congress declared Aug. 26 Women's Equality Day "to remind people of women's continuing efforts for equality."

GoTopless.org includes not only Raelians, who believe all life on Earth was created by advanced extraterrestrial scientists called the Elohim, but women and men representing many other beliefs. GoTopless's primary goals: nationwide legal recognition of women's right to go bare-chested and its acceptance by the public.

"Breasts are noble parts of the anatomy," said Raelian Priestess Nadine Gary, president of GoTopless.org. "They shouldn't have to be hidden any more than arms or legs. 'Free your breasts, free your mind!' is our message to women. Men can practice respecting a freedom they take for granted and help end the puritanical idea that children shouldn't see breasts unless a woman is nursing."

"Concern for children can be used as an excuse to violate human rights," said psychologist Daniel Chabot, a Raelian bishop. "But a child who sees breasts experiences no adverse effects. European children have been proving that for 40 years."

Protest events will include marches, art displays; musical performances and speeches about top-less freedom.

"The art works won't be censured for including nipples," Gary said. "In fact, we're encouraging the artists to celebrate the entire breast in all its magnificence and beauty!"
posted by ocherdraco (63 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't think that "coverage" of last year's protest in New York City was the best word choice.
posted by Frank Grimes at 5:27 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am intentional in my word choice.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:28 PM on August 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


In honor of the Raelians, la esposa and I will be hosting the "Topless Tacos" eatery at Burning Man this year. Look for us on the playa!
posted by telstar at 5:41 PM on August 21, 2009


Um, your religon is whacky, but your delivery is divine.

By any rate they beat Scientology in the 'Alien Creation Church' catagory.
posted by The Power Nap at 5:43 PM on August 21, 2009


These boobies, they jiggle?
posted by Balisong at 5:43 PM on August 21, 2009


Of course, in New York it is legal--in 1992 the NY State Appeals Court ruled that women have the right to go topless, just like men.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:45 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is not illegal for women to be topless in my fair city. Although they appear to choose not to except on occasions like Mardi Gras.

When women were planning a topless event a few years ago it sounded like they could be arrested for that bullshit catch-all disturbing the peace charge if their bare boobies incited a riot or something.
posted by birdherder at 5:49 PM on August 21, 2009


if their bare boobies incited a riot or something.

So that's how they're talking about Helen of Troy these days?
posted by qvantamon at 5:54 PM on August 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I would think that even in jurisdictions where toplessness is illegal, it would not be so if done as a political protest. The supreme court tends to consider political speech as the "most protected" form of speech, even the very conservative Renquist court.

Any constitutional lawyers know if such a case has come up?
posted by Teppy at 5:54 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Last time I checked (though I am not a lawyer) "obscenity" was not protected speech. It's a catch-22: criminalize bare breasts for being indecent, and it's indecent to show them in protest of the law.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:04 PM on August 21, 2009


These boobies, they jiggle?

Judging by how "augmented" many of them appear to be I'd say no.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:09 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the dear departed 1960s, 'topless' (what an odd word for it!) was created by Rudi Gernreich.

I recall, at the time, seeing a few women in NY wearing transparent blouses and pissed-looking faces. But then you could get a good amount of abuse just being an interracial couple, walking together.

Within a couple of months, the 'topless' look became kind of a uniform for midtown prostitutes, so no non-prostitute could dress that way. After a while, it became 'illegal' and disappeared (though prostitutes at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel were topless in the 1980s. Flopping over the hood of my car. In 20-degree (F) weather. Echhh!).
posted by hexatron at 6:11 PM on August 21, 2009


hexatron, that link just goes to this page. Redo?
posted by ocherdraco at 6:13 PM on August 21, 2009


I would think that even in jurisdictions where toplessness is illegal, it would not be so if done as a political protest. The supreme court tends to consider political speech as the "most protected" form of speech

This is a very weird idea. I dunno what gives you this idea but doing something as a protest doesn't make an illegal action legal. Do you think it would be legal to, say, spraypaint CONGRESS SUCKS on the Capitol building? It's clearly protest, and clearly illegal.
posted by Justinian at 6:14 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love how boobs are "obscenity."

God bless America.
posted by rokusan at 6:24 PM on August 21, 2009


Within a couple of months, the 'topless' look became kind of a uniform for midtown prostitutes, so no non-prostitute could dress that way. After a while, it became 'illegal' and disappeared (though prostitutes at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel were topless in the 1980s. Flopping over the hood of my car. In 20-degree (F) weather. Echhh!).

Man "Old" NY seemed a lot more fun. The changes to NY's "Image" in the past 20 or so years is pretty crazy.

here's something that came up googling for "Rudi Gernreich topless". SFW because they're on mannequins.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 PM on August 21, 2009


So is this thing related to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or what?

'Cause I won't be interested if it isn't, toplessness or no.
posted by kenko at 6:31 PM on August 21, 2009


No "batshitinsane" tag?
posted by ixohoxi at 6:33 PM on August 21, 2009


Of course, in New York it is legal--in 1992 the NY State Appeals Court ruled that women have the right to go topless...
posted by DU at 6:35 PM on August 21, 2009


Look for us on the playa!

Are you at least going to give an address that I can forget and fail to make it to?
posted by flaterik at 6:37 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]



No "batshitinsane" tag?
(ixohoxi)

Oh, good point!
posted by ocherdraco at 6:47 PM on August 21, 2009


From the Portland, OR announcement:
IT'S AN INALIENABLE RIGHT, handed down through the generations, that if the mood should strike for reasons political or not, Portland women have a free pass to occasionally take off their tops.
I see what you did there.
posted by scalefree at 6:48 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


If LRH can start his own religion, why not Rael?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:10 PM on August 21, 2009


Think the gents with the assualt rifles at the townhalls will show up for this?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:32 PM on August 21, 2009


I would think that even in jurisdictions where toplessness is illegal, it would not be so if done as a political protest. The supreme court tends to consider political speech as the "most protected" form of speech, even the very conservative Renquist court.

Any constitutional lawyers know if such a case has come up?

[. . .]

Last time I checked (though I am not a lawyer) "obscenity" was not protected speech. It's a catch-22: criminalize bare breasts for being indecent, and it's indecent to show them in protest of the law.


Bare breasts are not "obscenity" in the legal sense. Most pornography is probably not obscenity, or at least it is so hard to frame an obscenity law banning mainstream pornography as to be impossible. Wikipedia will tell you how messy the obscenity standard is, but in the practical development of the obscenity doctrine almost nothing is obscene.

Expressive acts ("political" or otherwise) outside of what's normally considered speech may be protected by the First Amendment. The main case seems to be O'Brien, which says that you can burn your draft card to protest the Vietnam War. This is a hard area, though, and the Supreme Court has revisited it many times (see the flag-burning cases; god bless America).

My understanding is that public female toplessness is probably not protected under the US Constitution. Oof, this stuff is rusty. Sorry =P
posted by grobstein at 7:34 PM on August 21, 2009


In lieu of anything else, I'm just going to take off my shirt and listen to Rael 1 & 2 by The Who.
posted by koeselitz at 8:02 PM on August 21, 2009


I wonder if they'll bother performing in Canada. It's legal to go topless in this country. Can't say as I've noticed that it's legal, though.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2009


Hot mama!
posted by elder18 at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2009


Also, I support boobies. The Raelians are batshitinsane, but on this issue they are correct.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 PM on August 21, 2009


FFF is a bra?
posted by qvantamon at 8:07 PM on August 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


About a year ago, I saw some topless ladies at the Union Square greenmarket. The multi-stage reaction seemed to be the same from pretty much every man who walked by:

1. "Holy shit, BOOBS!" Eyebrows raised, eyes wide, neck swiveling.

2. "Yep... boobs. Nice. Boobs." Pause, staring.

3. "Yep. ... Yep. All right." And remembering that there are places to go, things to be done.

4. "Okay, then." Walking off.

That was what I found really interesting about it, watching the men in the vicinity of the unclothed chests; after the initial "Hoo-ha, loogit-dat", every dude I saw adapted to the New Normal remarkably quickly -- far more quickly than the speed with which men usually try to refrain from gawking at a woman in, say, a tiny miniskirt or midriff-baring tubetop. The simple directness of no-shirt-whatsoever has a plain and straightforward honesty that seems to cause way less titillation than most of the skimpy-but-still-"decent" clothes out there.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:22 PM on August 21, 2009 [13 favorites]


The thing about mid-riffs and mini-skirts is the titillation. Once you actually see the goods, it tends to get old pretty quickly. Unless it's my wife, of course.
posted by elder18 at 8:35 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


qvantamon: You bet! (NSFA)
posted by five fresh fish at 8:54 PM on August 21, 2009


It is said that if you look hard enough there are more than one link to this post.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:59 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well I for one will subscribe to this newsletter.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:05 PM on August 21, 2009


Rael book says topless, the shirt you don't wear.
posted by kcds at 9:10 PM on August 21, 2009


That was what I found really interesting about it, watching the men in the vicinity of the unclothed chests; after the initial "Hoo-ha, loogit-dat", every dude I saw adapted to the New Normal remarkably quickly -- far more quickly than the speed with which men usually try to refrain from gawking at a woman in, say, a tiny miniskirt or midriff-baring tubetop. The simple directness of no-shirt-whatsoever has a plain and straightforward honesty that seems to cause way less titillation than most of the skimpy-but-still-"decent" clothes out there.


This makes me think about the use of nudity in 15th Century paintings

No Wait! I have a point!

Totally nude figures could be shown in church and in respectable homes, provided they had the right clearance "Adam and Eve, Virtue and Law, etc" cause being Nude, Totally Nude, made them forms, studies, allegories, nothing really sexual about it.

But if you did a painting of Venus for a private chamber, she wore little slippers and a necklace and earrings and was not totally nude. The finery put the nudity into question, calling attention to it, created the frisson between dressed/undressed/sexysexstuff. That was obscene, it made the picture sexualized.

So it is in my experience. Someone naked...odd, but then you get used to it. Someone naked except for a few pieces of tantalizing, boundary-pushing clothing? Much, much more intoxicating. I think cause it suggests they're trying to signal "hey! look at me! I'm all sexy" by doing the bare minimum to appear "clothed", while someone just naked clearly isn't and after the first blush of OMG NAKED, there's nothing else to think about cause, I've got stuff to do and then I saw a naked person.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 PM on August 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


Aren't nipples, y'know, sensitive? Hence, covering them?

Smed *running for the first time for 20 miles with the wrong kind of shirt on*: Hey, ow...man!"
Smed's GF: Sore?
Smed: No, ow. Look, blood on my chest. Ah! My nipples are bleeding! Ahhhhh! *runs around like a dog on fire*
Smed's GF: You'd never survive a period.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:30 PM on August 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Smedleyman, that sounds like a good reason to not wear a shirt...
posted by Dysk at 1:34 AM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


The dyke march in NYC regularly has a lot of topless participants, and to the disappointment of some observers, these are real, normal, variously built women, not all superhot 20 year old chicks trying to look sexy. As said above, it's legal in NY, and it is considered a political statement by some women - gender equality, sexual freedom, and a rejection of objectification / titillating costumes...
posted by mdn at 5:13 AM on August 22, 2009


Top free in Ontario.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:01 AM on August 22, 2009


Bare breasts are not "obscenity" in the legal sense. Most pornography is probably not obscenity, or at least it is so hard to frame an obscenity law banning mainstream pornography as to be impossible.

Yeah, you're right: I was conflating 'obscenity' and 'indecency,' though not without reason: SCOTUS sometimes talks about them together as well. As I understand it, obscenity standards in publication and film are much looser than indecency standards. So, for instance, "mere nudity" and heterosexual-vaginal-intercourse-without-ejaculation are not obscene, but that doesn't mean you can engage in nudity or heterosexual intercourse in public, even as a political act, because it's still indecent. You'd run into the same problem if you were projecting pornographic movies in public (where they were clearly visible to all) rather than in a private theater, where adults pay for a ticket and choose to view the obscenity. "Porn in the Park" is not constitutionally protected speech.

I agree that flag-desecration (not all of them were burned) is likely the closest we have to a precedent here. Also, I suspect protesters would have a stronger case if they were breast-feeding rather than topless sunbathing... but aren't they only doing it in places it's already been legalized?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:37 AM on August 22, 2009


I wonder if they'll bother performing in Canada. It's legal to go topless in this country. Can't say as I've noticed that it's legal, though.

Only in three provinces, so far as I know. Shortly after it became legal in Ontario, there was a brief spate of summer toplessness in Toronto, but that disappeared when women discovered what men had known for years: sunburned nipples are no fun for anybody.

The dyke march in NYC regularly has a lot of topless participants, and to the disappointment of some observers, these are real, normal, variously built women, not all superhot 20 year old chicks trying to look sexy. As said above, it's legal in NY, and it is considered a political statement by some women - gender equality, sexual freedom, and a rejection of objectification / titillating costumes...

Seems to me the Ontario ruling came in May or June, and at the end of June that year I was biking into work in Toronto one day when I saw huge crowds at Yonge Street blocking my path. Wen I got closer I saw the source of the hubbub -- it was the day before the Gay Pride parade, and the day of the Dyke Hike: there were thousands of topless women/womyn/double-X-chromosome types marching down Yonge, and some considerable crowd turnout. I had to divert my path by many, many blocks to get past the parade, and ended up arriving at work ten minutes late.

A coworker asked what had delayed me. I explained. She asked, "Oh? Was your consciousness raised?"

I shrugged, "Not really. I have seen lesbians before and I have seen breasts before. But neither in such numbers, now that I think of it."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:00 AM on August 22, 2009


Metafilter: My nipples are bleeding! Ahhhhh!
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:01 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's going to be 69 degrees in Chicago tomorrow.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:03 AM on August 22, 2009


I wonder if they'll bother performing in Canada.

Well, seeing as how the whole point seems to be getting publicity for Raelism, so long as it's illegal in parts of Canada, I'm sure it would generate enough publicity to be helpful to their cause.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:21 AM on August 22, 2009


dude I saw adapted to the New Normal remarkably quickly

Well, that's probably because a lot of breasts aren't terribly sexy. (Dons fireproof suit). Which is to say, no more sexy than any other part of the body that hasn't been over-sexualized, like fingers or nostrils. It's all just flesh. But some people have great nostrils, or great noses, or, yes, great breasts. And I'll bet you those dudes you saw that went from caveman to New Normal would revert straight back into caveman if it were a truly wonderful pair.

With "a tiny miniskirt or midriff-baring tubetop" you have mystery. Maybe those are the greatest breasts the planet has ever seen. Maybe not. You can get some idea, sure, but so many questions are left unanswered. Sexy clothing is an equalizer of sorts. Because not everyone is a "superhot 20 year old chick".

As much as I applaud the topless movement, I fear without the clothing equalizer this will invariably lead to insecurity that results in greater numbers of women feeling the desire to have their breasts augmented.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:24 AM on August 22, 2009


So it is in my experience. Someone naked...odd, but then you get used to it. Someone naked except for a few pieces of tantalizing, boundary-pushing clothing? Much, much more intoxicating. I think cause it suggests they're trying to signal "hey! look at me! I'm all sexy" by doing the bare minimum to appear "clothed", while someone just naked clearly isn't and after the first blush of OMG NAKED, there's nothing else to think about cause, I've got stuff to do and then I saw a naked person.

This made me think of a video a friend sent me a while ago (NSFW, even though the big black bars cover all the dirty, dirty parts) of what appears to be a French techno/pop band (three women) walking down a succession of city streets bare-ass naked -- and that's pretty cool and I'm in favor of it, but what's really interesting is the people they walk past, who generally stare for a few seconds and then go back to whatever they were doing.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:30 AM on August 22, 2009


As much as I applaud the topless movement, I fear without the clothing equalizer this will invariably lead to insecurity that results in greater numbers of women feeling the desire to have their breasts augmented.

The Diamond Age, a bad book with wonderful moments, has something on this. The new nanotec fabrics allow complete, micro-thin formfitting and tailored clothing, so as a result it's implied that everyone above a certain social level has to work out 3 hours a day to deal with the fact that they're all wearing skin-tight Lycra.
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh. I call The Diamond Age a wonderful book with bad moments…
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 AM on August 22, 2009


National Go Topless Protest Day

Not to be confused with National Wank Day.
posted by Skygazer at 12:09 PM on August 22, 2009


Gosh, I just love how neat it can be when 50s Sci-Fi and Religion becomes a great big ole tasty fruit-filled Pie of cuckoo-bananas. Add in topless women and it's more fun than should be legally allowed. I really want to be a raelite, for real.
posted by Skygazer at 12:42 PM on August 22, 2009


Rael is a pimp. Raelly.
posted by nicolin at 1:03 PM on August 22, 2009


He was also a racecar driver, which I always thought was pretty cool.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:13 PM on August 22, 2009


kittens for breakfast: "This made me think of a video a friend sent me a while ago (NSFW, even though the big black bars cover all the dirty, dirty parts)"

Curiously, yesterday I saw the viralized version of that video as a Guitar Hero 5 advertisement.
posted by Memo at 2:00 PM on August 22, 2009


Man. Ad people move fast.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:28 PM on August 22, 2009


... after the initial "Hoo-ha, loogit-dat", every dude I saw adapted to the New Normal remarkably quickly...

Yep. I posed topless at Coney Island for a book called "Uncovered" (NSFW), and I was actually a little insulted I didn't cause more of a stir. The only negative comment I heard was from the parent of a little kid who just muttered, "That's not right," when I was playing topless paintball.

Most of the other models had the same experience.

I hope it was okay to post this. I don't make any money off sales of the book, and my picture isn't actually on the website. Mods please delete if I'm mistaken.
posted by Evangeline at 4:12 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey, good on you, Evangeline -- I saw this book on the Today Show the other day (I tend to watch moronic morning news shows while waking up), so I figure any sales it gets as a result of your link will be vastly overshadowed by its appearance on national television. (Kind of a drag that you don't get paid, though...I hope you at least got a one-time payment, as I expect this book will sell pretty well.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:56 PM on August 22, 2009


Based on the preview on that site, you aren't the only mefite in the book, Evangeline.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:58 PM on August 22, 2009


Based on the preview on that site, you aren't the only mefite in the book, Evangeline.

Oh cool! Now who could it be? I'll have to get out my copy and do some serious perusin'.

I hope you at least got a one-time payment...

The photographer bought me a hot dog. Not only that, but I had just met Jordan the day before - he took my headshots - and he didn't even give me a discount on his rate!

It's okay. I knew upfront there was no money involved, and really, the experience was payment enough. I encourage all NYC women to spend a few hours topless at Coney Island (yes, it is legal). Just don't forget your sunscreen.
posted by Evangeline at 5:00 AM on August 23, 2009


playing topless paintball

Ouch.
posted by ymgve at 7:06 AM on August 23, 2009


it wasn't "traditional" paintball - It was "Shoot the Freak."
posted by Evangeline at 9:28 AM on August 23, 2009


What's really weird is to go to Cony Island with your topless wife and watch guys whip out their cellphones and cameras and snap pictures of her. At one point, she was surrounded by about 25 guys, all taking her picture. I felt like Joe DiMaggio.

It was a fascinating day -- both for pushing societal boundaries and for pushing boundaries within me. A cool memory to tell our grandchildren. If we had any grandchildren.
posted by grumblebee at 10:20 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


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