Women's right to go topless

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Unionist
Women's right to go topless

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Unionist

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2013/08/05/quebec-topless-w... woman told to cover up on Montreal beach[/url]

I naively thought this issue had been settled once and for all by the Gwen Jacob case - there's a lot of good info about that and more in the Wikipedia entry on [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topfreedom_in_Canada]Topfreedom in Canada[/url].

She has filed a complaint with the Québec Human Rights Commission.

Anyone know what the story is in other provinces?

 

Unionist

Some background... from two years ago:

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/07/19/gwen-jacobs.html]Women's topless court victory 20 years later[/url]

Quote:

When university student Gwen Jacob removed her top to cool off on a sweltering summer day in July 1991, she unwittingly spearheaded a movement to give all women in Ontario the legal right to expose their breasts — though most still choose not to.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Jacob being charged with committing an indecent act in Guelph, Ont., after walking home with her top off in 33 C weather.

 

jas

Interestingly, I did the exact same thing when I was her age. Right on the front lawn of McGill University. It was a hot day in summer - the regular session was over, and I was pretty much alone on the lawn - and I decided to remove my shirt to tan my back. So I was laying front down on the lawn, resting my head on my arms, and security came up and told me I couldn't do that, I had to put my top back on. That would have been '86 or '87. I didn't spearhead a movement. I just put my top back on and probably went home. But I had certainly felt the injustice of that before. It wasn't any new revelation for me.

The restriction against women is utterly unconscionable and should not be tolerated.

 

 

MegB

Circa 1980 I was walking home from a New Wave club with a male friend when the heat and humidity finally got to me and I stripped off my shirt. It was really late, no one was around, and my top was already see through because it was soaked in sweat. My friend got all weird about it and wouldn't stop complaing that I was crazy and we would get into trouble. I put my top back on just to shut him up. Isn't it enough that we're bombarded with images that attack our self-esteem that we're made to feel ashamed about exposing our bodies, like they're something that's either a moral offense or something ugly, to be hidden?

Sineed

My only experience with toplessness was in Greece, where all the women, of many nationalities, ages and body types, went topless. I recall a group of Greek teenage boys standing near the beach, arguing, completely ignoring all the topless women mere feet away. (Contrasted with the table of German men drinking at a nearby bar, who I noticed when I went to shower off the salt water, and I realized I was giving them a show.)

But yes; the teenage boys regarded bare-breasted women with the same bland indifference as if they were fully clothed. I mean, if your teenage boys are behaving properly, your culture is doing something right. 

Aristotleded24

Sineed wrote:
My only experience with toplessness was in Greece, where all the women, of many nationalities, ages and body types, went topless. I recall a group of Greek teenage boys standing near the beach, arguing, completely ignoring all the topless women mere feet away. (Contrasted with the table of German men drinking at a nearby bar, who I noticed when I went to shower off the salt water, and I realized I was giving them a show.)

But yes; the teenage boys regarded bare-breasted women with the same bland indifference as if they were fully clothed. I mean, if your teenage boys are behaving properly, your culture is doing something right.

Exactly. Body parts are just body parts, it's the cultural messages that dictate what it means to show them off. The teenaged boys in this case would react that way because they grew up with it, so to them it's no big deal. You go to parts of the Middle East where women cover their whole bodies, and men there report being aroused by seeing something as small as an elbow.

lagatta

However, toplessness is in sharp decline among younger women in France. Paris Plage doesn't allow topless sunbathing on the improvised "beaches" along the banks of the Seine. Evidently many young women see toplessness no longer so much as exercising the right to do what they want with their bodies, and more as a mandatory display of perfection (i.e. the endless articles in women's magazines about getting one's body in shape for te beach).

One article out of many: http://digitaljournal.com/article/295355

Sineed

That's a shame lagatta. What struck me about the toplessness of women on Greek beaches was their lack of self-consciousness. What I saw on the beach was not a parade of perfect bodies, but a cross-section of (mostly) European women, young and old, of all body types. 

Unionist

Thanks for the link, lagatta. Most of the young women's responses reinforce one point for me: It is still far more important for women to have marketable body images than for men. And that includes the sex/beauty show connotations of breasts.

Notwithstanding any of the gains in the movement for women's equality, patriarchy is alive and well and fighting back.

jas

I wonder if a reverse campaign could be waged to prohibit men from going topless, under the same concern for "decency".

It would of course be just to prove a point.

lagatta

But what is happening in France is NOT a campaign, just young women being fed up with being oversexualised at the beach. I don't think most of them would put up with a "decency" campaign.

A male friend was ticketed a few decades back in Outremont for cycling without a shirt... Old bylaw. There are many of those on the books.

jas

I was actually thinking of here in North America, where women's toplessness is apparently still an issue.

Mórríghain

Unionist wrote:
...It is still far more important for women to have marketable body images than for men. And that includes the sex/beauty show connotations of breasts. Notwithstanding any of the gains in the movement for women's equality, patriarchy is alive and well and fighting back.

Did you ever doubt that? But at least the fashion and beauty industries are working hard toward levelling the playing field by instilling in men the same myriad of doubts about their bodies and appearance that women have suffered under for years. Welcome to the brave new world where it just won't be enough for you to be rich and fit, you'll have to encapsulate a certain sort of male beauty as well. You guys have so much to look forward to. Money mouth

mark_alfred

I think with the internet and with everyone having cameras and the influence of American media, that it has become very rare to see Ontario women exercising their right to be topfree, and I think too that it will begin to be a less often occurrence even in Europe.  It's too bad, but I suspect this is the way things are going.

To digress for a second, it does seem too that men have very little freedom in choice of attire.  In the 70s and 80s, bathing suits could be Speedos or shorts, and either was acceptable.  Shorts could be quite short, or longer.  Shirts could be colourful, or plain.  Now, however, there's very little colour, never Speedos, and shorts typically only reveal shins (IE, rarely even above the knee).

Unionist

Be sure to let me know when some man gets ticketed or arrested for wearing a speedo or a Hawaiian shirt or showing his knees on the beach.

Much struggle remains to elevate women and their bodies above the level of sex fantasies for men.

 

 

lagatta

Sex fantasies, or conversely, objects of disgust.

Men have the "right" to go barechested even if they have huge beer bellies. I certainly wouldn't go topless; simply too old at middle-aged.

But I'm not opposed to people having some aesthetic sense. People of a certain age of either sex in overly scanty attire aren't usually a pretty sight.

 

Mórríghain

mark_alfred wrote:
... To digress for a second, it does seem too that men have very little freedom in choice of attire.  In the 70s and 80s, bathing suits could be Speedos or shorts, and either was acceptable.  Shorts could be quite short, or longer.  Shirts could be colourful, or plain.  Now, however, there's very little colour, never Speedos, and shorts typically only reveal shins (IE, rarely even above the knee).

Men have plenty of freedom when it comes to their choice of attire, tis just that few choose to exercise that freedom. Their loss. Bland uniformity has become the norm where I live but tis not enforced. I think guys like it because tis easy ... hmm, what shade of (insert fave colour) should I wear today? If you're from Toronto you know that colour is black, and in the fourth largest city in North America black is always the new black.

lagatta

Well, obviously that is the case in Montréal as well, though we all picked up a fair bit of red for the student protests, and could wear it again for Idle no More. Yep, I'm all in black this morning. We'll get the red out again for Pride this weekend. At least no bloody pastels.

Mórríghain

lagatta wrote:

Well, obviously that is the case in Montréal as well, though we all picked up a fair bit of red for the student protests, and could wear it again for Idle no More. Yep, I'm all in black this morning. We'll get the red out again for Pride this weekend. At least no bloody pastels.

 

Black and red together, I approve—the colours of my Goddess.

Aristotleded24

mark_alfred wrote:
I think with the internet and with everyone having cameras and the influence of American media, that it has become very rare to see Ontario women exercising their right to be topfree, and I think too that it will begin to be a less often occurrence even in Europe.  It's too bad, but I suspect this is the way things are going.

Many naturist resorts are actually quite strict about allowing cameras or digital devices for that reason.

Of corse, the irony is that it's the covering up certain parts of the body that drives the demand for such photography in the first place. As people get used to seeing all kinds of body parts, seeing said parts becomes less and less of a big deal.

Krago

Mórríghain wrote:

lagatta wrote:

Well, obviously that is the case in Montréal as well, though we all picked up a fair bit of red for the student protests, and could wear it again for Idle no More. Yep, I'm all in black this morning. We'll get the red out again for Pride this weekend. At least no bloody pastels.

 

Black and red together, I approve—the colours of my Goddess.

Red - the blood of angry men!
Black - the dark of ages past!
Red - a world about to dawn!
Black - the night that ends at last!

Mórríghain

Krago wrote:

Red - the blood of angry men!
Black - the dark of ages past!
Red - a world about to dawn!
Black - the night that ends at last!

There were pagans in Les Miserables, who knew? Wink

lagatta

I wasn't familiar with Les Misérables (recognize the Parisian neighbourhood and historical references though). Nothing to do with paganism, more along the lines of the socialist and anarchist strains of revolutionary movements... Québec spring full of these colours.

Mórríghain

lagatta wrote:

I wasn't familiar with Les Misérables (recognize the Parisian neighbourhood and historical references though). Nothing to do with paganism, more along the lines of the socialist and anarchist strains of revolutionary movements... Québec spring full of these colours.

When I think of the use of red and black by political movements two extremes come to mind; communism and the Nazi style of fascism.

Mórríghain

Mórríghain wrote:

lagatta wrote:

I wasn't familiar with Les Misérables (recognize the Parisian neighbourhood and historical references though). Nothing to do with paganism, more along the lines of the socialist and anarchist strains of revolutionary movements... Québec spring full of these colours.

When I think of the use of red and black by political movements two extremes come to mind; communism and the Nazi style of fascism. Odd, sworn enemies sharing a vibrant colour.

lagatta

Actually, the colours of the Nazi flag stem from the flag of the German Empire, and are anti-republican in nature: Quoting Wikipedia: "Nazi flag  The Nazis' principal symbol was the swastika flag. The black-white-red colour scheme is based upon the colours of the flag of the German Empire, the black-white-red colours were commonly associated with anti-Weimar Republic German nationalists after the fall of the German Empire.[9] The Nazis denounced the black-red-yellow/gold flag of the Weimar Republic - which now is the flag of Germany.[9]

Many "official" Communist parties and countries ruled by these used a red and gold colour scheme. Red and black tend to be colours of the far-left or the "alternative" left

terrytowel

Roxanne James, the Conservative MP for Scarborough Center and member of the Status of Women committee, was an activist member of Ontario’s Keep Tops On (KTO).

She says 'If we don’t take a stand right now, you’re not going to believe the things you will see in five years from now on our streets'. Special interest groups and activists have taken our constitutional rights to a level where we have made a mockery of our constitution. They all scream for their rights, but nobody is willing to discuss responsibility. A society can only enjoy true freedom when rights are with balancing responsibilities.

"Where are the laws protecting your family? In all this chaos, what's happening to my constitutional rights? I won't take my family to a public park until something is done. I want my children protected.''

"With this, we may as well bring the adult magazines down from the top shelves and mix them in with the comic books."

Unionist

terrytowel wrote:

"Where are the laws protecting your family? In all this chaos, what's happening to my constitutional rights? I won't take my family to a public park until something is done. I want my children protected.''

Perfect! They won't be missed.

 

Weltschmerz

Unionist wrote:

terrytowel wrote:

"Where are the laws protecting your family? In all this chaos, what's happening to my constitutional rights? I won't take my family to a public park until something is done. I want my children protected.''

Perfect! They won't be missed.

But we'll be sure to keep them abreast of any changes.

lagatta

Ha! Imagine all those poor nursing babies, exposed to their mum's breasts. And sometimes, in those comfy lounges and quiet areas friendly businesses have been providing to nursing mums, they might even be exposed to OTHER breasts. The horror!

Actually, society usually takes care of itself about such things - toplessness had been common in beaches in several European countries, but women - or men - didn't tend to parade around central city districts barechested. And only recently have shorts in city centres become anything other than the insignia of the most vulgar Merkin tourists...

Mórríghain

lagatta wrote:
Red and black tend to be colours of the far-left or the "alternative" left

Tis a strong colour combination but when I wear it the colours have nothing to do with politics. I won't even wear a cause-specific ribbon.

terrytowel

Topless women march in Vancouver for gender equality

More than 50 women marched through downtown Vancouver on Sunday, baring their breasts in the name of gender equality.

The march was part of a national campaign organized by GoTopless, a women's organization fighting for equal topless rights.

Organizers said similar marches were happening in 45 cities around the world.

"Being topless in B.C. is legal. We have the right to be topless and this is wonderful," GoTopless spokeswoman Denise Belisle said to a photo-snapping crowd that followed the marchers to Vancouver's Robson Square.

"What we need is respect. We need respect from society, we need respect from all of you."

About 30 men joined the march on Sunday, wearing bras to show their support.

"Equal rights. No double standard, right?" said Bruce Wildorn, who took off his shirt but taped his nipples as he marched alongside the topless women.

"For the women who do want to go topless, they should have that option. They do here in Vancouver, that's great, but not everywhere."

A few dozen men also followed the march as spectators, many of them crowding around to photograph the topless women.

"It's an education for men. Men are learning and they're learning to be more respectful," Belisle said.

"Too many cities it is illegal to be topless and we are here to say that equality is for all. Men and women."

Earlier this week, a Vancouver columnist and radio show host took off her top during an interview with Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray. Lori Welbourne was asking the mayor if it was legal for women in that B.C. city to go topless.

Women in Canada won the right to bare their breasts in public in 1996 when the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the 1991 conviction of Gwen Jacobs, saying "there was nothing degrading or dehumanizing" about her decision to take off her shirt in public.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/topless-women-march-vancouver-gender-equality-0...

lagatta

Of course it should be legal. Whether it (and male barechestedness) is always appropriate or in good taste is another matter all together.

Bacchus

Women in Canada won the right to bare their breasts in public in 1996 when the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the 1991 conviction of Gwen Jacobs, saying "there was nothing degrading or dehumanizing" about her decision to take off her shirt in public.

 

Correct me if Im wrong but doesnt a Ontario Court of Appeal decision only apply to Ontario? Or did it go to the Supreme Court after that?

Unionist

You are correct, Bacchus.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Um. Ontario-is-the-province-of-the-city-that's-the-centre-of-the-Universe. Or did you all forget that?

 

While it's unlikely that bagkitty will open this thread I will wave wildly anyways.

And, what lagatta said at #33.

mark_alfred

Bacchus wrote:

Correct me if Im wrong but doesnt a Ontario Court of Appeal decision only apply to Ontario? Or did it go to the Supreme Court after that?

Good old Wikipedia says:

Quote:
The Ontario Government decided not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, and thus it has remained the prevailing interpretation of the Criminal Code in Ontario. Since then, the court ruling has been tested and upheld several times. R. v. Jacob has been cited in similar decisions in other provinces and by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Labaye, and is taught in Criminal Law courses.

So, it seems that it applies to all of Canada.

mark_alfred

Protest in BC

The article linked above has a series of five photos.  Photo number 5 in this series of photos shows why this is an important issue. Being male, I know that if I took my shirt off on a hot summer day that I would not have a crowd of onlookers gawking at me and snapping photos as if I were some sort of freak. It would simply be accepted as a normal option on a hot summer day. This is the way it should be, regardless of one's sex.

Unionist

mark_alfred wrote:

Good old Wikipedia says:

Quote:
The Ontario Government decided not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, and thus it has remained the prevailing interpretation of the Criminal Code in Ontario. Since then, the court ruling has been tested and upheld several times. R. v. Jacob has been cited in similar decisions in other provinces and by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Labaye, and is taught in Criminal Law courses.

So, it seems that it applies to all of Canada.

In R. v. Labaye, I only see R. v. Jacob cited by the [url=http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/2263/index.... judges[/url], and it is in a very incidental context at that.

So... the Wikipedia entry is incorrect when it says R. v. Jacob was "cited ... by the Supreme Court of Canada".

It's probably not very reliable when it talks about "similar decisions in other provinces" either. Which other decisions??

An Ontario decision can't "apply" to all of Canada. Courts in other provinces are free to follow it or not. It will be interesting to see what the Québec courts have to say in the case which triggered the opening of this thread.

ETA: Just to make my point (my view) clearer - Jacob isn't binding in the rest of Canada. It may have persuasive force - and I surely hope it does - but the battle isn't over.

 

mark_alfred

Hey Unionist, thanks for pointing this stuff out.  I didn't really research it beyond checking the Wikipedia page. 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

This week in Idiotic Things People Do In The Name Of Feminism: Boob parade!

First things first. In Canada, women won the right to bare their breasts in public in 1996, so the claims that this march is about gaining rights is a little misleading. Spokesperson Denise Belisle said the women participating in the event in Vancouver were fighting for women in other places where going topless isn't legal:  "For the women who do want to go topless, they should have that option. They do here in Vancouver, that's great, but not everywhere." How, exactly, women parading topless down Robson Street, in Vancouver, where it is already legal, impacts the law in other places is unclear.

Second, it seems relevant to mention that Go Topless Day is, as The National Postreported, "organized and promoted by the Raelians, a UFO cult founded by former French journalist Claude Vorlihan (i.e. a dude), author of 'Extraterrestrials Took Me to Their Planet.'" The National Post seems to stand out as an exception, calling the event "a publicity stunt," unlike the many other media outlets who placed it under the banner of "gender rights." Though this information should be cause for skepticism, in terms of the credibility or relevance to feminism, the media seems to be taking it quite seriously. It's no strange coincidence that news outlets seem most interested in covering "gender rights" when we're dealing with either Slutwalk or female nudity.

It is true that there is a double-standard. Aside from the douche factor, people tend not to pay much attention to men who go shirtless in public places. Women, on the other hand, are likely to be gawked at, harassed, cat-called or treated as though they are doing something socially inappropriate.

 

The National Post reported that "at least one participant had to hold the crowds back shouting 'You're too close,'" because, of course, female nudity is an invitation to men to behave rapily. Men think they have the right to access women in public spaces regardless of how clothed we are, but they particularly believe that women's naked bodies exist for them. What else could they possibly be for?

Of course, the message that this double-standard is sexist (I actually don't think that was the message, or really that there was any message at all -- but let's pretend for argument's sake) failed because those behind the march don't quite get it. The chant, "free your breasts, free your mind," tells me that the GoTopless folks have avoided looking at the root of the issue. There is little that can be changed at the surface, particularly when we we don't understand why the inequality exists in the first place. There is also little that can be changed, with regard to the objectification of women, simply by "freeing one's mind."

Belisle, said: "It's an education for men. Men are learning and they're learning to be more respectful." Of course, as demonstrated by the behaviour of the men witnessing the event, the exact opposite was achieved. Men did not learn to be more respectful, nor did they learn anything about women's rights or "gender equality." The march merely reinforced their belief that women's naked bodies equate to pornography -- they are to be looked at for the purposes of male pleasure.

Thanks Meghan!

CanadaOrangeCat

I am all for requiring men to wear shirts. 

Unionist

CanadaOrangeCat wrote:

I am all for requiring men to wear shirts. 

Keep your cloth off my nipples!!

 

mark_alfred

Meghan Murphy wrote:
First things first. In Canada, women won the right to bare their breasts in public in 1996, so the claims that this march is about gaining rights is a little misleading.

Since LGBT rights are enshrined in law, one could argue that gay pride marches are unnecessary.  Still, there's value to a large public expression of rights that had previously been under threat.  Thus, I disagree with the belittling of the protest that Ms. Murphy seems (from my reading of her article) to be putting forward.

MegB

The sad fact remains that women's right to go topless has not changed a thing. Little girls continue to have rigid gender stereotypes imposed on them almost from day one, girls are sexualized from an increasingly young age, girls and women are constantly reminded that if they do not conform to an impossibly narrow definition of beauty that they have less value as people, women in public office are ridiculed for their style of dress, their hair, their weight as if these things were more important than the political ideals they represent and women, whether they cover themselves from head to toe or wear as little clothing as the law allows, are still subjected to unwanted predatory male attention.

if I had any reasonable expectation that going topless would change all of the above, I'd be out there marching with the rest of them. But it won't of course. Breasts are a functional part of a woman's body. They feed children, sop up tears and provide comfort to scraped knees and bruised feelings. Like most parts of our bodies, they can be a source of sexual arousal. OUR arousal. They aren't toys (unless WE want them to be) and they shouldn't be the objects of ridicule and infantile humor for anyone over the age of fifteen.

chamberred

A video from that most uptight of countries:

Topless Girls help Traffic Police with Speed Control in Denmark

Bare female breasts are simply not the same as bare male chests (example: 0:45 of the video).

It's different on a beach, especially if it's a nudist one, where it's all just human beauty.

lagatta

Well, also human lumpiness...

jas

After 44 years, The Sun drops Page Three

Damn feminists trampling on the right of pretty young women to bare their perky breasts... in the pages of a national newspaper. What's next?

Unionist

MegB wrote:

 

The sad fact remains that women's right to go topless has not changed a thing. Little girls continue to have rigid gender stereotypes imposed on them almost from day one, girls are sexualized from an increasingly young age, girls and women are constantly reminded that if they do not conform to an impossibly narrow definition of beauty that they have less value as people, women in public office are ridiculed for their style of dress, their hair, their weight as if these things were more important than the political ideals they represent and women, whether they cover themselves from head to toe or wear as little clothing as the law allows, are still subjected to unwanted predatory male attention.

 

if I had any reasonable expectation that going topless would change all of the above, I'd be out there marching with the rest of them. But it won't of course. Breasts are a functional part of a woman's body. They feed children, sop up tears and provide comfort to scraped knees and bruised feelings. Like most parts of our bodies, they can be a source of sexual arousal. OUR arousal. They aren't toys (unless WE want them to be) and they shouldn't be the objects of ridicule and infantile humor for anyone over the age of fifteen.

Bears repeating.

 

Bacchus

Plus the Page 3 will still exist (tho with bikinis and lingerie) in the paper and topless on the website