December 17, 2013 by gregrabidoux2013
Nothing says Merry Christmas quite like the irrepressible and utterly uninhibited Miley Cyrus standing barechested (well with little hearts strategically placed over her nipples) in front of Frosty the Snowman, Reindeer and a Christmas Tree. Like I said, nothing.
But it does, claim Miley and her equally upfront supporters, say something about the larger issue of gender equality when it comes to being able to go topless when and where you want. Especially if you are a woman. And Miley is lending her increasingly well-exposed assets to the cause of a woman’s right to go topless. Or, more accurately, Free the Nipple, which is both a call to action and a soon-to-be in your theater film. If, the producers of the film can raise enough dough for it (the film) to see the light of day.
This docu-drama by LA based filmmaker Lina Esco, is based on the “brave” actions of a group of topless activist women who fought NY laws restricting their right to be “free” and won. In 1992, after several very public displays of support for reform, New York finally legalized the right of women to “go topless” in public so long as it is not for lewd or commercial purposes. Sorry, all you guys at “Hot-Cars” you’ll have to sell your “hot” cars without graphically showing anyone’s exposed chassis in New York.
So far, with the um, exposure, that director Esco’s film and cause-celebre is attracting from Miley and pals like Rumer Willis (you know Demi’s grown up girl) the campaign to fund distribution of this indie film has raised nearly $20,000, not bad but still well short of its goal of $250,000 (calling Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, are you there?).
Look, whether this particular cause/film ever reaches a broad (sorry) audience, the issue, really two issues (going topless for the sheer equality of it and breastfeeding in public) have been with us for what seems like forever.
Back in the really open and swinging Renaissance days of the 14th century, going topless and breastfeeding were widely accepted. Apparently, based on ordinances and laws of the time, it was the bare ankles and lascivious legs that were thought to send men (and of course some women) in a tizzy. So, regulations tended to clamp down on those troublesome ankles and legs not the yawn-inspiring upper-torso.
But times and ‘tudes change. Painter Paul Gaugin’s 1899 famous painting of “Two Tahitian Women” who were depicted as (gasp) topless caused more than just raised eyebrows in the artistic and cultural world. He had, some concluded, “Gone Tahitian.” Of course, when it came to going topless for more functional purposes we as a society over the years have generally been more accepting.
Thankfully, except for WVA and IN who do not protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in public the vast majority of states now do, though states like Tennessee restrict it to children 12 months or younger while WY, SD and RI do not affirmatively protect the right but do (wow, thanks folks) exempt it from other public indecency laws. As if.
Though not universally accepting as feminist groups like Go Topless, FTN, and the Topless Front continue to point out. Here in the still relatively prudish states, the good folks in Utah, Indiana and Tennessee bar going topless for the sake of going topless for women while states like Oklahoma, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and Minnesota all have local ordinances that if not bar the sans clothing impulse make it arguably an offense under the guise of “disorderly or lewd” conduct. And men, before you show off that Bally-inspired well chiseled chest you may want to pause for a moment and give thanks. It wasn’t until 1936 that most states overturned laws that made it illegal for men (that’s right, men) to bare that torso in public.
But it’s not just the states that continue to be hung-up about a publicly-condoned “nip-slip” or full upper-torso Monty. In Copenhagen (yep, you heard me correctly) it wasn’t until 2008 that after several topless protests by the well-named Topless Front, the good and apparently, less liberal folks than we assumed of Copenhagen made it legal for women to join their men counterparts in topless bathing. And in Sweden (stunned, I am stunned) a year later after similar displays by “Bara Brost” (really, no translation needed here) the city of Malmo also approved topless bathing for women and men. And as their approving committee chair noted, “Many men these days have larger breasts than women, so why not?”
Why not, indeed?
Look, despite the message coming from Miley that little wrecking ball of a feminist, she does have at least one good point. It does seem preposterous that as we close the books on the year 2013 this should even be an issue at all. I also wonder if the equally preposterous and often hazardous choice so many women make to augment their breast size with implants would cease to hold an attraction if well, the whole matter became less of a big deal. More young women becoming more comfortable with who they are naturally and choosing health over an increasingly societal obsession. Now, that would be a welcome change. Thanks Ms. Miley.
Of course, she just did a concert where she twerked a guy dressed as Santa and got her bottom spanked by a dude dressed as a Christmas Tree. Baby steps, Miley, baby steps.
Still, she did get me thinking. It really is the season of miracles.
PS: August 25th is International Topless Day and August 26th is Women’s Equality Day.
Want more about celebrities, causes and the Hollywood-White House Connection?
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