“As long as men are allowed to be topless in public, women should have the same constitutional right. Or else, men should have to wear something to hide their chests.”
— Claude Vorihlon, a.k.a. Rael
That is the philosophy of the GoTopless movement, and it is pretty self-explanatory. The movement holds annual events in cities around the world promoting gender equality, and it seems to have a fair bit of support from naturists — again, for obvious reasons.
Still, as we have seen in discussions here, there is little consensus among naturists on the parameters of social nudism, particularly how it is displayed in social media settings.
Yet, more and more these days, social media sites like Twitter are the places people go to express themselves — including the incoming president of the United States. And sites like Instagram are all about photos. A lot of naturists are posting images online, with little or no text except the words “naturism” or “nudism.” I suspect that they feel the images speak for themselves, whether they are taken in outdoor settings or indoors.
It is only natural in the modern world for a new, younger generation of naturists to use social media to raise awareness about body acceptance and to promote gender equality and equal rights for all naturists. Social media is an integral part of their lives.
So how strange it must be for them when older naturists try to set limits on what types of social nudism photos they can post, and to sexualize women’s breasts by suggesting that it is shameful to display them in certain ways that would be just fine for a male baring his chest.
In fact, this double standard is one of the issues the GoTopless movement is addressing. In short, a woman should not be penalized because some men see their breasts as sexual objects. Women should have the same rights men have to bare their chests in public — and men with sexual hangups should work on those issues rather than come across as patriarchs trying to keep women in their place.
The SlutWalk movement addresses similar issues. It started with a Toronto cop saying publicly that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized (i.e. raped).”
And so a movement was born. As Wikipeda explains: “SlutWalk is a transnational movement of protest marches calling for an end to rape culture. Specifically, participants protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance.”
Rosemary Gartner, a criminologist, had this to say about the whole issue: “Linking provocative clothing to sexual assault “is a huge myth” and all it does is “blame the survivor of a sexual assault while taking the onus away from the perpetrator.” ”
I also believe that saying a boob picture on social media has sexual connotations that somehow hurts naturism is also a huge myth that comes from the same wellspring.
We should also not forget that there are many naturists who lobby for the right to full 24/7 nudism (where climate allows) — i.e. in most public situations, including work. They see the denial of that right as discrimination. But how can naturists ever hope to reach that level of equality if they are bickering about when, where and how a woman can or can’t bare her breasts?
Several older naturists — seniors and middle-age folks — have told me that many naturism groups are having trouble attracting young people, and they are afraid their organizations will fade away. At the same time, though, I see groups of younger naturists forming — on social media, at least.
I suppose naturists old and young are not immune to the proverbial generation gap. And that could be the crux of this particular matter: the old folks’ definition of body liberation is not the same as that of the younger folks. But the younger folks will prevail, of course, because they are inheriting the world . . . for a time.
For the times they are ‘achanging . . .
Top photo: Why should the men in this picture be allowed to be topless in public but not the women? In fact, the women in this picture were allowed to be topless in public one Sunday in August 2014 during the demonstration at Mont-Royal in support of topless equal rights for women. Sylvie Chabot (centre, in white jeans) leads a march around the George-Etienne Monument on Mont-Royal as part of a Go Topless demonstration. (Photo by Jillian Page exclusively for jillianpage.com.)