Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It Too

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Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It Too

Postby King Author » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:07 pm UTC

Recently, in meatspace, I overheard an argument about the topfree movement. For those unfamiliar, the topfree movement asserts that a woman's bare breasts should not be considered indecent nudity, and thus there should be no crime when she exposes them in public.

As a full-fledged (if not often practicing) nudist, I naturally fully support the movement. Unfortunately, the conversation I overheard was dominated not by discussion of body politics or the morality of nudity, but of the far more obvious and practical if less philosophical topic of shameless men gawking and staring, not to mention that since everything has a camera in it these days, taking photos for lewd purposes.

To my sensibilities, when it comes to social progress, humanity is like a spoiled child; if you try to feed a fussy child something it finds unpleasant but which is healthy, like brocolli, it'll whine and cry and scream and kick and throw a big tantrum, but once the meal is over, the child quickly forgets about it and moves on. Likewise, when it comes to social change, during the propositional phase there's a lot of whining and crying and screaming and kicking, but once the change actually comes, it's gotten over pretty quickly. For example, when Civil Rights legislation was being proposed in the sixties, there was much vociferous and violent opposition, but once the legislation passed, within a decade, everything was essentially back to normal.

Seeing women topless in public would be a big social change, as big as Integration, as big as Abolition, as big as Sufferage; utterly bizarre and new, especially to those who opposed it. For maybe a decade, maybe a generation after topfree legislation is passed, there will be gawking, there will be shameless staring, and women who go topless in public will be photographed on cell phones, PDAs and even portable videogame systems, and those photos will be posted on the internet for lewd purposes. After that decade or so, however, we'll settle down, it won't be a big deal, and everything will be back to normal.

Thus, in my opinion, the pioneering women who first choose to go topless in public after topfree legislation is passed cannot complain about such behaviors; men are going to stare and there's nothing you can do about it. Nor are they wrong to stare -- a woman being topless in public would be unusual, and we stare at unusual things (because of sexual reasons, this'll go doubly for men); if I walked down the street in a giant red clown wig, hell, let's make it fair and say if I walked down the street buck naked after the complete decrimination of nudity, I certainly would never feel I had the right to complain about people staring.

In my opinion, you can't have your cake and eat it too with topfree legislation -- if a woman wants to go topless in public, then for at least a little while after legislation is passed, she's going to have to endure the male gaze and has no right to complain about it.

Agree? Disagree? Give us your thoughts.

Disclaimer: I'm not claiming that all, most, or even many women who support topfreedom complain about potential staring, not at all. However, some do, and this topic was inspired directly by a conversation among women who did. This topic is about that attitude and whether it's justified or not; this topic is not about the fundamental merits of topfreedom, nor about whether the majority of supporters of the movement feel this way or that -- it's specifically about women who wish for topfreedom, but express outrage at potentially drawing stares.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Yakk » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:11 pm UTC

Sexual harassment being predictable does not make it right.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Glass Fractal » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:17 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Sexual harassment being predictable does not make it right.


Looking at people is sexual harassment? I thought it had long been decided that there was no expectation of privacy in public places.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:34 pm UTC

It is legal for a woman to be topless in much of Canada. I've never seen it happen, personally, and six-to-eight months of the year nobody is going around without a shirt on, but there may be places where it is more common than here--my town is pretty conservative as far as these sorts of things go.

I think it would be interesting to see if it would result in a change in sexual harassment laws--toplessness for women became legal because it was deemed to be a discriminatory policy, that is, it is legal for men to walk around without their shirts, it ought to be legal for women to do so as well. It seems to me that it would follow that if it is legal to, say, touch a man's bare chest without facing sexual harassment charges, then the same may also follow for women.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby folkhero » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:04 pm UTC

I don't know, If someone at work touched my (male) chest in a gropey or vaguely sexual way, you'd better believe they'd get a sexual harassment claim filed against them.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:24 pm UTC

Changing the laws does not equal changing the society.
Personally, I'm all for legalization of all forms of nudity wherever it is currently prohibited, however I don't believe that most people only wear clothes because it is the law, there are also socio-cultural and, most importantly, practical considerations involved in the choice to wear clothing that are completely separate from the legal considerations.

As legalization will not make toplessness appreciably more common, I suspect that it will not do much to make topless women a less 'interesting' sight in most public places.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby King Author » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:55 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Sexual harassment being predictable does not make it right.

If a woman willingly walks around with her breasts exposed and a man gawks at her, do you consider that sexual harassment? Remember, I only said gawk, look and take pictures; I never said engage, speak to or certainly physically touch the woman.

EdgarJPublius wrote:Changing the laws does not equal changing the society.
Personally, I'm all for legalization of all forms of nudity wherever it is currently prohibited, however I don't believe that most people only wear clothes because it is the law, there are also socio-cultural and, most importantly, practical considerations involved in the choice to wear clothing that are completely separate from the legal considerations.

As legalization will not make toplessness appreciably more common, I suspect that it will not do much to make topless women a less 'interesting' sight in most public places.

I'm curious; what's your basis for believing that topfree legislation wouldn't make toplessness appreciably more common?

Edit: I really messed up the first sentence. It said "If a woman willingly walks around without her breasts exposed man gawks at her..." Yowza. And I wasn't even drunk.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:00 pm UTC

King Author wrote:If a woman willingly walks around without her breasts exposed man gawks at her, do you consider that sexual harassment? Remember, I only said gawk, look and take pictures; I never said engage, speak to or certainly physically touch the woman.
Wouldn't you consider it sexual harassment if someone gawked at a clothed woman's breasts in public--took pictures of them--etc?

Edit: That is to say, does sexual harassment suddenly stop being sexual harassment because someone is wearing clothes that "invite" it?

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:16 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:Changing the laws does not equal changing the society.
Personally, I'm all for legalization of all forms of nudity wherever it is currently prohibited, however I don't believe that most people only wear clothes because it is the law, there are also socio-cultural and, most importantly, practical considerations involved in the choice to wear clothing that are completely separate from the legal considerations.

As legalization will not make toplessness appreciably more common, I suspect that it will not do much to make topless women a less 'interesting' sight in most public places.

I'm curious; what's your basis for believing that topfree legislation wouldn't make toplessness appreciably more common?



EdgarJPublius wrote:Changing the laws does not equal changing the society...

...I don't believe that most people only wear clothes because it is the law, there are also socio-cultural and, most importantly, practical considerations involved in the choice to wear clothing that are completely separate from the legal considerations.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Zarq » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:43 pm UTC

Imagine walking through a poor neighbourhood with rolls of 100$ bills in both of your hands. And then you get robbed. Yes, it is still a crime, but what the hell did you expect?

Same thing.

I'm not talking about the taking photos part btw. If I'm not mistaken, taking pictures of people without their consent is a crime regardless of the clothing of those people. And them being sexually themed (cleavage, ...) is an aggravating factor.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:50 pm UTC

Zarq wrote:Imagine walking through a poor neighbourhood with rolls of 500$ bills in both of your hands. And then you get robbed. Yes, it is still a crime, but what the hell did you expect?


Victim-blaming is never the answer.

Zarq wrote:If I'm not mistaken, taking pictures of people without their consent is a crime regardless of the clothing of those people. And them being sexually themed (cleavage, ...) is an aggravating factor.


You are mistaken.
No U.S. court that I am aware of has ever upheld any expectation of privacy in a public place. Wherever such laws have been introduced, they are struck down in court, either at the local/state level or upon appeal to federal courts
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:53 pm UTC

Zarq wrote:Imagine walking through a poor neighbourhood with rolls of 500$ bills in both of your hands. And then you get robbed. Yes, it is still a crime, but what the hell did you expect?
The question being asked isn't: "If I walk down a street with a $500 dollar bill in my hand, am I wrong to not expect to get robbed?". The question being asked is: "If I walk down a street with a $500 bill in my hand, do I lose the right to report any robbery that may happen?"

While topless women would be wrong not to expect gawking and general harassment, they are not wrong to find such harassment inappropriate and upsetting. They do not 'give up' their right to harassment when they decide to take their shirt off. There are no actions that they can take to remove their right to not be harassed (except, perhaps, demanding that their right not to be harassed be ignored).
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:53 pm UTC

Zarq wrote:I'm not talking about the taking photos part btw. If I'm not mistaken, taking pictures of people without their consent is a crime regardless of the clothing of those people. And them being sexually themed (cleavage, ...) is an aggravating factor.


Then every celebrity photographer/stalker is a criminal and every celebrity magazine is an accomplice in the crimes.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Zarq » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:01 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:You are mistaken.
No U.S. court that I am aware of has ever upheld any expectation of privacy in a public place. Wherever such laws have been introduced, they are struck down in court, either at the local/state level or upon appeal to federal courts


I think it is in Belgium. Publishing them (on the internet for instance) certainly is. Or I'm remembering something completely wrong.

CorruptUser wrote:Then every celebrity photographer/stalker is a criminal and every celebrity magazine is an accomplice in the crimes.


I had thought about that recently, thinking how it was weird how those were exempt from that law. Apparentely there is no such law.

@Hippo, that is true.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:08 pm UTC

Zarq wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:You are mistaken.
No U.S. court that I am aware of has ever upheld any expectation of privacy in a public place. Wherever such laws have been introduced, they are struck down in court, either at the local/state level or upon appeal to federal courts


I think it is in Belgium. Publishing them (on the internet for instance) certainly is. Or I'm remembering something completely wrong.



Not familiar with Belgian law, however, in the U.S. it can sometimes be illegal to publish pictures of someone without their consent (generally if the images can be construed as defamatory or as constituting an attack on the person's character or reputation, probably in some narrow cases of the image being used for profit) However, the tests for these situations are all very strict (usually there must be provable damages, and often some form of intent), and 'public figures' (mostly celebrities and politicians) are in fact expressly exempted.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby thicknavyrain » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:13 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Zarq wrote:I'm not talking about the taking photos part btw. If I'm not mistaken, taking pictures of people without their consent is a crime regardless of the clothing of those people. And them being sexually themed (cleavage, ...) is an aggravating factor.


Then every celebrity photographer/stalker is a criminal and every celebrity magazine is an accomplice in the crimes.


I agree, and not even on the grounds of privacy.

Anyway, I agree with Hippo, if the gawking and taking pictures is not on now, how does being topless make it any better?

I appreciate that it's likely to provoke that but that doesn't in any way make it right, and I disagree with statements that say "You can say what you like, the world will react in x inappropriate way, deal with it" because that's precisely the attitude that inhibits social change. Fighting for the right response from people whether it's eliminating prejudice or respecting privacy through legal enforcement and social activism is what lets us move on, not just blatant shock tactics.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Jessica » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:19 pm UTC

Spoiler:
KA, I really have no idea how you get from point a to point b in your arguments sometimes. It's like you're talking about something, and seem to get it, and then BAM you've completely missed the point, and seem to be taking it in the exact opposite way.

Personal attack.

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Just because someone knows they are being stared at, doesn't mean they can't complain. That's just absurdity. I get stared at for being trans all the fucking time, and there are people like you out there who would say that it's what I get for transgressing. I can still fucking complain about the fact that people are ogling me, staring at me, whispering about me or generally being othering douche fucks to me.

I know, every day that there are people who kill people like me for doing what I do and being who I am. I shouldn't be expected to just take it like it's my fault or something. I shouldn't be talked down to for being pissed off that people are being dicks to me.

Fucking hell, no one can tell you that you don't have the right to complain about things bothering you. What the fuck?

Sorry, but really...
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby PAstrychef » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:59 pm UTC

You can complain, and you can be upset, but you can't require people to not observe you to what ever degree takes their fancy when you are out in public.
Every day there are people getting killed for being who they are, where they are. Belonging to a particular sub-set of targets doesn't make you extra special. There isn't a hierarchy of horribleness in murders. It can make any member of a targeted group more cautious about how they appear to others, which is an individual choice.
Exposing any sort of social difference will make people notice you-it's what people do. It's how people are wired to respond to their environments and communities. It's conditioning that says that it's incorrect to make that observation too overt, or to do anything obvious about it-catcalls, staring, etc. Good manners, as defined by our society at the moment.
If women were to start going topless in places where men now go topless, there would be (I predict) a period where it was rare and some people were obnoxious. As more women did it, it would become less of a noticeable event and the noise would die down. Think about public breastfeeding-for a long time everyone did it, then it became low-class, then no-one did it, now it's become more accepted again. And there are still people who think it's gross and something they don't want to see. (as a corollary, you don't get to chose who gets to appear in your view if you're out in public)
It is disingenuous to expect that you can go out in public and be ignored. Left alone, yes, but not ignored. Given that men already feel free to be obnoxious towards women in public, the bare boobs wouldn't necessarily make things worse.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:41 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:It is disingenuous to expect that you can go out in public and be ignored. Left alone, yes, but not ignored. Given that men already feel free to be obnoxious towards women in public, the bare boobs wouldn't necessarily make things worse.
I'm not exactly sure what you're saying, but I agree with the sentiment that expecting to be ignored is silly and runs counter to reality; expecting to be treated with the rights afforded to you as a human being is not (i.e., harassment is not allowed).

The only relevant question to me here is this: Would the same behavior aimed toward a woman with a shirt on constitute harassment? If not, then it's not harassment. If it would be, then it is. Wearing or not wearing a shirt shouldn't be a grounds for changing our definition of harassment.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:44 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote: There isn't a hierarchy of horribleness in murders.


manslaughter -> second degree -> first degee

and similarly, bullying a handicapped person is considered more horrible than bullying a normal person; raping a child is more horrible than raping a grown adult, etc etc

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:48 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:
PAstrychef wrote: There isn't a hierarchy of horribleness in murders.


manslaughter -> second degree -> first degee

and similarly, bullying a handicapped person is considered more horrible than bullying a normal person; raping a child is more horrible than raping a grown adult, etc etc
I doubt PAstrychef was talking about the legal distinctions we make for the purpose of determining how long we need to imprison you for a given murder. Also, I strongly disagree with the examples you then list. The violation of someone's rights is equally as horrible regardless of who that person is.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:59 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I doubt PAstrychef was talking about the legal distinctions we make for the purpose of determining how long we need to imprison you for a given murder. Also, I strongly disagree with the examples you then list. The violation of someone's rights is equally as horrible regardless of who that person is.


Do remember that behind every legal descision is a moral judgment, and so the murder example represent a majority view on the issue, which is why I listed it. I am not here to offer my opinion, but merely present what society at large thinks

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:02 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:I doubt PAstrychef was talking about the legal distinctions we make for the purpose of determining how long we need to imprison you for a given murder. Also, I strongly disagree with the examples you then list. The violation of someone's rights is equally as horrible regardless of who that person is.


Do remember that behind every legal descision is a moral judgment, and so the murder example represent a majority view on the issue, which is why I listed it.
What I am saying is that you didn't pay attention to the statement PAstrychef made in its totality; here is the quote in context:
PAstrychef wrote:Belonging to a particular sub-set of targets doesn't make you extra special. There isn't a hierarchy of horribleness in murders.
Specifically, we don't have a hierarchy of horribleness for murders targeting specific groups. Murdering someone who is homosexual is not more or less horrible than murdering someone who is heterosexual. Both are equally as horrible.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:06 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Specifically, we don't have a hierarchy of horribleness for murders targeting specific groups. Murdering someone who is homosexual is not more or less horrible than murdering someone who is heterosexual. Both are equally as horrible.


I can quote a lot of cases where the judge deemed the murder of a child "especially heinous" and give the accused maximum sentence. If we are to make distinctions about the circumstances of the act, what's wrong about making disctincions about the targets?

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:08 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:I can quote a lot of cases where the judge deemed the murder of a child "especially heinous" and give the accused maximum sentence. If we are to make distinctions about the circumstances of the act, what's wrong about making disctincions about the targets?
Because that means some people's rights are more important than others.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:15 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Because that means some people's rights are more important than others.


But that is indeed the case in the real world, the rights of murderers are obviously less important than innocent people

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Azrael » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:19 am UTC

Except that's not the distinction you made. You made a distinction of rights between two innocent individuals -- both victims, actually.

Furthermore, plenty of rights are inalienable even to convicted criminals.

King Author wrote:In my opinion, you can't have your cake and eat it too with topfree legislation -- if a woman wants to go topless in public, then for at least a little while after legislation is passed, she's going to have to endure the male gaze and has no right to complain about it.

No right? Bullshit. I have the right to complain about virtually anything -- even actions that are not illegal. Doing something perfectly legal does not magically abridge my rights ever. I also maintain the right to take legal action against someone even if popular opinion suggests that I "should have expected" the outcome.

Would gawking at topless women be illegal? No. Legally actionable? Not until it moved beyond looking. Would a topless person retain their rights to complain that the voyeurs are being jerks? Certainly.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:28 am UTC

Also, I'd argue that the rights of the convicted are actually just as important as the rights of the unconvicted; we violate rights only as a means to protect more rights. Your right to freedom is violated only as a means to protect other people's rights. At no point does a criminal (or anyone else) lose those rights; they are being violated under heavily conditioned circumstances--where the goal is, ideally, to minimize as many rights violations as possible.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Thesh » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:33 am UTC

Isn't there laws in the US (at least at state level) against hate crimes? i.e. if you commit a crime against someone because they are part of a group, you get more time than for any other reason?
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:37 am UTC

Thesh wrote:Isn't there laws in the US (at least at state level) against hate crimes? i.e. if you murder someone because they are part of a group, you get more time than for murdering someone for any other reason?
Those crimes exist for explicit reasons; not because members of a particular group are of greater value, but because the crimes carry with them greater impact (creating fear and inspiring like-minded crimes) and therefore it's arguably in our best interest to oppose them with greater force.

Kind of wandering off topic though (obviously), and I'd quickly add that what I'm describing (a situation where rights apply universally regardless of who you are) is what I see as a superior system of morality rather than the system of law as it exists in the states; the real point here is that there's nothing you can do--no group you can belong to, no action you can take--to reduce or otherwise lose your rights. Removing your shirt and going bare-chested should leave you just as protected as going around with your chest fully covered.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby PAstrychef » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:11 am UTC

If I'm raped and killed because I'm a woman walking down a street, does that make my murder more or less horrible than the murder of a young man who was selling drugs? The gradations in degrees of murder, by the way, have to do with the intent of the killer, not the nature of the victim.
(not to drag the topic even further out to sea.)
Look at public beaches in Europe-Especially Eastern Europe, on the Black Sea. The appropriate amount of coverage in that community is much less than on an American beach-and the bodies are not especially pretty. And the basic reaction to the naked boobs is "so what?" It's a local norm that naked boobs are no big deal (at least on the beach). While local norms are changing there will be crass behavior because there are crass people.
I could chose to be one of the early adopters, and put up with the bullshit because I thought it was important to help change social norms. (for example, the group breastfeedings in malls) I could refuse to change because I thought the change was immoral. I could refuse to change because I thought that going bra-less is uncomfortable. Or because I thought that I would place myself in danger if I did so. And after a while I might find myself going out without a top and not feeling odd because there were so many other women without tops that it was no longer strange.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Yakk » Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:26 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:You can complain, and you can be upset, but you can't require people to not observe you to what ever degree takes their fancy when you are out in public.

Yes, I can require it. I can require that someone not follow me around. I can require that they don't harrass me via cat-calls or other methods. I can require that they do not take pictures of me in public. I can require that they don't put mirrors on their shoes and use them to look up skirts. I can require that they don't invade my personal space.

Maybe not in your country. But I can.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby lutzj » Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:45 am UTC

Yakk wrote:
PAstrychef wrote:You can complain, and you can be upset, but you can't require people to not observe you to what ever degree takes their fancy when you are out in public.

Yes, I can require it. I can require that someone not follow me around. I can require that they don't harrass me via cat-calls or other methods. I can require that they do not take pictures of me in public. I can require that they don't put mirrors on their shoes and use them to look up skirts.


If all of these activities occur in public, without any implicit threat of violence, they are totally legal. Creepy, and pathetic, but perfectly legal in public.

I can require that they don't invade my personal space.


Depending on one's definition of "personal space," this is a legitimate request.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:52 am UTC

lutzj wrote:
Yakk wrote:Yes, I can require it. I can require that someone not follow me around. I can require that they don't harrass me via cat-calls or other methods. I can require that they do not take pictures of me in public. I can require that they don't put mirrors on their shoes and use them to look up skirts.
If all of these activities occur in public, without any implicit threat of violence, they are totally legal. Creepy, and pathetic, but perfectly legal in public.
Yakk wrote:Maybe not in your country. But I can.
I'm also going to take this opportunity to point out that just because something isn't illegal doesn't mean it shouldn't be.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby omgryebread » Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:16 am UTC

lutzj wrote:
Yakk wrote:Yes, I can require it. I can require that someone not follow me around. I can require that they don't harrass me via cat-calls or other methods. I can require that they do not take pictures of me in public. I can require that they don't put mirrors on their shoes and use them to look up skirts.


If all of these activities occur in public, without any implicit threat of violence, they are totally legal. Creepy, and pathetic, but perfectly legal in public.
It may be a different jurisdiction? In the U.S., all of those are legal, though upskirt pictures are against federal law. (Haven't posted enough for links, but S. 1301, 108th Congress Video Voyuerism Act of 2004 prohibits any sort of recording or broadcasting an image of a person's private area when that person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy." As far as I know, if you're just using a mirror for yourself, it's still just creepy and legal.


I'll play the devil's advocate. I don't really care either way, I'm not intending to walk around topless, legal or not, (not that it'd be all that exciting, I'm pretty flat) and I wouldn't be offended by others doing so. But, obviously, people would be offended. We don't allow people to expose sexual characteristics in public, because we've identified a social need to do so (presumably to preserve the innocence of children or something). Breasts count as a sexual characteristic (far more so than a man's chest or abdomen), therefore, it's required that they be covered. I can't see why you can argue that women should be allowed to go topless without also arguing that everyone should be allowed to go completely naked. (I don't particularly see that nudity should be illegal except that then we'd have to see naked ugly people, which isn't much of an argument.)

Anyway, women of course have every right to complain, even if they went topless. I complain when guys stare excessively when I'm wearing a skirt that ends above the knees. Yes, obviously, pants or a longer skirt would attract less stares, but they could also not leer. No one I know (and it doesn't sound like the women you overheard either) are saying staring should be illegal. Just that we don't like it.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby King Author » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:28 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
King Author wrote:If a woman willingly walks around without her breasts exposed man gawks at her, do you consider that sexual harassment? Remember, I only said gawk, look and take pictures; I never said engage, speak to or certainly physically touch the woman.
Wouldn't you consider it sexual harassment if someone gawked at a clothed woman's breasts in public--took pictures of them--etc?

Edit: That is to say, does sexual harassment suddenly stop being sexual harassment because someone is wearing clothes that "invite" it?

I'm asking Yakk what he thinks.

To answer your question to me, though, no, I wouldn't consider staring or even snapping a photo sexual harassment. Good god are Westerners deathly afraid of the human gaze. Did you know in many countries it's the cultural norm not to steal glances, but to outright stare at people, especially anyone who looks at all unusual, such as foreigners?

Sexual harassment requires social engagement or otherwise interpersonal contact -- saying something, emailing something, certainly making physical contact. To consider simply staring sexual harassment is absurd; if I were behind a one-way mirror and so happened to glance at a woman's cleavage, that'd be sexual harassment? Preposterous.

EdgarJPublius wrote:
King Author wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:Changing the laws does not equal changing the society.
Personally, I'm all for legalization of all forms of nudity wherever it is currently prohibited, however I don't believe that most people only wear clothes because it is the law, there are also socio-cultural and, most importantly, practical considerations involved in the choice to wear clothing that are completely separate from the legal considerations.

As legalization will not make toplessness appreciably more common, I suspect that it will not do much to make topless women a less 'interesting' sight in most public places.

I'm curious; what's your basis for believing that topfree legislation wouldn't make toplessness appreciably more common?


EdgarJPublius wrote:Changing the laws does not equal changing the society...

...I don't believe that most people only wear clothes because it is the law, there are also socio-cultural and, most importantly, practical considerations involved in the choice to wear clothing that are completely separate from the legal considerations.

Well that's quite simply not true. The topfree movement itself is proof of that -- there are women who want the same freedom to go topless in public that men have. If we take them at their word, which I think is both acceptable and wise, then certainly, there will be a significant amount of women choosing to go topless in public, especially considering that many areas of the United States become very hot during the summer months. I know I can't keep my shirt on when the temperature goes beyond ninety, and I know I wouldn't feel any different if I were a woman. Women aren't some alien species, the same rules apply to them as men, and tons and tons of men go topless when the weather calls for it.

However, this is all moot. We're specifically talking about the position that women should be able to go topless in public but not expect to draw stares.

Zarq wrote:Imagine walking through a poor neighbourhood with rolls of 100$ bills in both of your hands. And then you get robbed. Yes, it is still a crime, but what the hell did you expect?

Same thing.

I want to state that I don't endorse this analogy. Getting robbed is clearly not the same as being stared at. Being stared at, you don't lose anything. Being stared at, you aren't physically touched or violated. Staring isn't a criminal offense.

Zarq wrote:I'm not talking about the taking photos part btw. If I'm not mistaken, taking pictures of people without their consent is a crime regardless of the clothing of those people. And them being sexually themed (cleavage, ...) is an aggravating factor.

I think it's only illegal to publish pictures of people without their consent; you can take any photo you want. How do you think tabloids work? Or Girls Gone Wild?

The Great Hippo wrote:The question being asked isn't: "If I walk down a street with a $500 dollar bill in my hand, am I wrong to not expect to get robbed?". The question being asked is: "If I walk down a street with a $500 bill in my hand, do I lose the right to report any robbery that may happen?"

Uh, no, the question is, "If I'm a woman and I walk down the street topless, do I have a right to be outraged when men stare at me?"

The Great Hippo wrote:While topless women would be wrong not to expect gawking and general harassment, they are not wrong to find such harassment inappropriate and upsetting. They do not 'give up' their right to harassment when they decide to take their shirt off. There are no actions that they can take to remove their right to not be harassed (except, perhaps, demanding that their right not to be harassed be ignored).

I feel I've made a grave, grave mistake in my wording. This isn't what I intended at all.

thicknavyrain wrote:I appreciate that it's likely to provoke that but that doesn't in any way make it right, and I disagree with statements that say "You can say what you like, the world will react in x inappropriate way, deal with it" because that's precisely the attitude that inhibits social change. Fighting for the right response from people whether it's eliminating prejudice or respecting privacy through legal enforcement and social activism is what lets us move on, not just blatant shock tactics.

Uh, again, I think I've grossly miscommunicated. I didn't say that it's right of a man to gawk at a willfully topless woman. I myself find it reprehensible. The question is to whether one can, as the topic says, have ones cake and eat it, too -- can a woman go topless in public if it's legal and expect not to draw any lascivious gazes from men.

Spoiler:
Jessica wrote:KA, I really have no idea how you get from point a to point b in your arguments sometimes. It's like you're talking about something, and seem to get it, and then BAM you've completely missed the point, and seem to be taking it in the exact opposite way.

Hmm. So you start off your post by commenting on my personality, ignoring the content of the topic. Do I even need to point out that this is a logical fallacy?
*sigh*
I can already tell you're going to make some wonderful contributions to this thread.

Oh, and when I don't understand someone, I ask them for clarification, rather than dismiss them.
(Hintidy hint hint.)


... and the return volley.

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Jessica wrote:Just because someone knows they are being stared at, doesn't mean they can't complain. That's just absurdity. I get stared at for being trans all the fucking time, and there are people like you out there who would say that it's what I get for transgressing.

Ah, actually, no, I did not say that. I didn't say anything remotely like that. I haven't said a single thing about transgendered individuals, not in this topic or in any, as far as I recall.

Jessica wrote:I can still fucking complain about the fact that people are ogling me, staring at me, whispering about me or generally being othering douche fucks to me.

That's not what this topic is about. It would be greatly appreciated if you didn't derail the topic into a personal and unrelated tirade.

Jessica wrote:I know, every day that there are people who kill people like me for doing what I do and being who I am. I shouldn't be expected to just take it like it's my fault or something. I shouldn't be talked down to for being pissed off that people are being dicks to me.

Again, I never said anything remotely like this. I would tell you that I fully support the LGBT community but I know you won't believe me, so I'll just be understanding - you're speaking from a very emotional, irrational place right now and aren't thinking clearly or speaking calmly - and reiterate that I've said nothing of the sort in this topic or any topic.

PAstrychef wrote:You can complain, and you can be upset, but you can't require people to not observe you to what ever degree takes their fancy when you are out in public.

That's my feeling. If you happen to look unusual, compared to the great majority of people, you can't expect people not to stare.

PAstrychef wrote:If women were to start going topless in places where men now go topless, there would be (I predict) a period where it was rare and some people were obnoxious. As more women did it, it would become less of a noticeable event and the noise would die down. Think about public breastfeeding-for a long time everyone did it, then it became low-class, then no-one did it, now it's become more accepted again. And there are still people who think it's gross and something they don't want to see. (as a corollary, you don't get to chose who gets to appear in your view if you're out in public)

Spoiler:
This, Jessica, is what I was saying. Never once did I say "kill all transpeople." Settle down.

Nor did she accuse you of such. Grand hyperbole followed by a missive for someone else to settle down is incredibly patronizing and inappropriate here.


PAstrychef wrote:It is disingenuous to expect that you can go out in public and be ignored. Left alone, yes, but not ignored.

This this this this. This is what I was saying. You can certainly expect not to be assaulted or verbally or physically harassed, but you can't expect not to be looked at, especially in this specific instance of being one of the first women, after topfree legislation is passed, to go topless in public.

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm not exactly sure what you're saying, but I agree with the sentiment that expecting to be ignored is silly and runs counter to reality; expecting to be treated with the rights afforded to you as a human being is not (i.e., harassment is not allowed).

I feel the need to reiterate that I did not endorse special harassment of topless women. Wow. What a sad, sad reflection on the horrific, inhuman assumptions that I had to say that out loud.

The Great Hippo wrote:The only relevant question to me here is this: Would the same behavior aimed toward a woman with a shirt on constitute harassment? If not, then it's not harassment. If it would be, then it is. Wearing or not wearing a shirt shouldn't be a grounds for changing our definition of harassment.

That's exactly my feeling; I'm not trying to redefine harassment. If staring at a fully clothed woman's cleavage isn't criminal harassment, neither should be staring at a topless woman's breasts. More to the point, if a woman goes topless, she can't expect not to draw stares.

PeterCai wrote:manslaughter -> second degree -> first degee

Descending, I'd say its Malicious > Self-Defense > Accidental > Commendable :p

The Great Hippo wrote:I doubt PAstrychef was talking about the legal distinctions we make for the purpose of determining how long we need to imprison you for a given murder. Also, I strongly disagree with the examples you then list. The violation of someone's rights is equally as horrible regardless of who that person is.

You "strongly disagree" that raping a child is worse than raping an adult? I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just asking to make sure I understand you.

PeterCai wrote:Do remember that behind every legal descision is a moral judgment, and so the murder example represent a majority view on the issue, which is why I listed it. I am not here to offer my opinion, but merely present what society at large thinks

I'd prefer your opinion -- we don't need you to tell us what society at large thinks.

Azrael wrote:No right? Bullshit. I have the right to complain about virtually anything -- even actions that are not illegal. Doing something perfectly legal does not magically abridge my rights ever. I also maintain the right to take legal action against someone even if popular opinion suggests that I "should have expected" the outcome.

Would gawking at topless women be illegal? No. Legally actionable? Not until it moved beyond looking. Would a topless person retain their rights to complain that the voyeurs are being jerks? Certainly.

I didn't mean "right" as in the legalistic definition. Obviously, free speech being what it is, you have the Right to say anything. I'm talking in a more general way. And FYI, I'm operating from the Golden Principle here, as I generally do; if I were a woman and topfree legislation were just passed and I went out in public topless, I would feel that I have no right to complain about any stares that I draw. Now, I wouldn't necessarily like it, but nor would I feel right to complain. My culture is very litigious and encourages complaining. In that respect, I don't fit with my culture. I can understand, then, your disagreements with my position.

And as it so happens, I myself do draw stares in public a lot, because my manner of dress and hairstyling makes me look rather like a Buddhist monk. I don't like the stares a lot of the time, but since I'm dressing in a peculiar way that a lot of people aren't used to seeing all the time, I feel that I have no right to be upset with them for staring.

The Great Hippo wrote:Also, I'd argue that the rights of the convicted are actually just as important as the rights of the unconvicted; we violate rights only as a means to protect more rights. Your right to freedom is violated only as a means to protect other people's rights. At no point does a criminal (or anyone else) lose those rights; they are being violated under heavily conditioned circumstances--where the goal is, ideally, to minimize as many rights violations as possible.

I agree, which is why I find your belief that staring at someone is criminal to be disturbing.

The Great Hippo wrote:Those crimes exist for explicit reasons; not because members of a particular group are of greater value, but because the crimes carry with them greater impact (creating fear and inspiring like-minded crimes) and therefore it's arguably in our best interest to oppose them with greater force.

Is that what you think? I always thought hate crime laws existed because of white guilt.

The Great Hippo wrote:Kind of wandering off topic though (obviously), and I'd quickly add that what I'm describing (a situation where rights apply universally regardless of who you are) is what I see as a superior system of morality rather than the system of law as it exists in the states; the real point here is that there's nothing you can do--no group you can belong to, no action you can take--to reduce or otherwise lose your rights. Removing your shirt and going bare-chested should leave you just as protected as going around with your chest fully covered.

I agree, and feel the need to reiterate again that I didn't say a topless woman does or should have less rights than a clothed woman. It's just that I don't consider staring at someone to be criminal, clothed or topless, so if a woman goes topless, she has no extra reason to complain about being stared at.

PAstrychef wrote:If I'm raped and killed because I'm a woman walking down a street, does that make my murder more or less horrible than the murder of a young man who was selling drugs?

You sure as hell don't want me to answer that.

PAstrychef wrote:The gradations in degrees of murder, by the way, have to do with the intent of the killer, not the nature of the victim.

Are you saying this is the way the legal system in the United States actually is, or are you saying that this is the way things should be?

PAstrychef wrote:Look at public beaches in Europe-Especially Eastern Europe, on the Black Sea. The appropriate amount of coverage in that community is much less than on an American beach-and the bodies are not especially pretty. And the basic reaction to the naked boobs is "so what?" It's a local norm that naked boobs are no big deal (at least on the beach). While local norms are changing there will be crass behavior because there are crass people.

This is exactly what I was saying -- it'll all blow over fairly quickly and won't be a big deal. And I'm kicking myself for not analogizing to Europe; I intended to, but completely forgot.

PAstrychef wrote:I could chose to be one of the early adopters, and put up with the bullshit because I thought it was important to help change social norms. (for example, the group breastfeedings in malls) I could refuse to change because I thought the change was immoral. I could refuse to change because I thought that going bra-less is uncomfortable. Or because I thought that I would place myself in danger if I did so. And after a while I might find myself going out without a top and not feeling odd because there were so many other women without tops that it was no longer strange.

Quite. And I ask, did the group breastfeeders say, "How dare you stare?!" No, they did not.

Yakk wrote:Yes, I can require it. I can require that someone not follow me around. I can require that they don't harrass me via cat-calls or other methods. I can require that they do not take pictures of me in public. I can require that they don't put mirrors on their shoes and use them to look up skirts. I can require that they don't invade my personal space.

Staring is the central act being discussed in this topic. Can you honestly say that you can go out in a public place and require that others not look at you whatsoever if you don't want to be looked at?

And I must say, all the slippery slope arguments are really not contributing to the topic at all. I'm talking about being stared at, not being raped. Come on, people.

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm also going to take this opportunity to point out that just because something isn't illegal doesn't mean it shouldn't be.

And you're the one to make that decision?

omgryebread wrote:It may be a different jurisdiction? In the U.S., all of those are legal, though upskirt pictures are against federal law. (Haven't posted enough for links, but S. 1301, 108th Congress Video Voyuerism Act of 2004 prohibits any sort of recording or broadcasting an image of a person's private area when that person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy." As far as I know, if you're just using a mirror for yourself, it's still just creepy and legal.

Interesting. That Act means that taking a photograph of a woman who's topless in public after the passing of topfree legislation would be legal; if it's legal for a woman to be topless in public and she chooses to go topless in public, she can't have an expectation of privacy as to the viewing and photographing of her breasts.

omgryebread wrote:I'll play the devil's advocate. I don't really care either way, I'm not intending to walk around topless, legal or not, (not that it'd be all that exciting, I'm pretty flat) and I wouldn't be offended by others doing so. But, obviously, people would be offended. We don't allow people to expose sexual characteristics in public, because we've identified a social need to do so (presumably to preserve the innocence of children or something). Breasts count as a sexual characteristic (far more so than a man's chest or abdomen), therefore, it's required that they be covered. I can't see why you can argue that women should be allowed to go topless without also arguing that everyone should be allowed to go completely naked. (I don't particularly see that nudity should be illegal except that then we'd have to see naked ugly people, which isn't much of an argument.)

FYI, psychological studies have demonstrated that seeing naked people is not, in fact, psychologically damaging to children. I mean, humans didn't have clothes originally; we were all naked, all the time, all ages, both sexes, for tens of thousands of years before we started wearing clothes, and many extant societies today have its members go naked, partially or completely, and their children aren't all fractured and crazy.

I'm curious as to why you consider a woman's breasts "sexual." In many, many cultures, this is not the case. Are those cultures wrong, in your opinion? If so or if not, why?

omgryebread wrote:Anyway, women of course have every right to complain, even if they went topless. I complain when guys stare excessively when I'm wearing a skirt that ends above the knees. Yes, obviously, pants or a longer skirt would attract less stares, but they could also not leer. No one I know (and it doesn't sound like the women you overheard either) are saying staring should be illegal. Just that we don't like it.

Indeed, they didn't say it should be illegal, they simply used the prospect of men staring at them as the whole basis of whether or not they support topfreedom. "Yeah, I want equal rights, but I don't want men to stare at me if I'm walking around topless."
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:32 am UTC

Is this the mother of all quote snipes? Respect.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Yakk » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:02 pm UTC

Yes, you can sexually harass a person without speaking to them or touching them. In my jurisdiction, you can do this to a degree that results in criminal prosecution, but you'd have to go pretty far.
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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Azrael » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:29 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Is this the mother of all quote snipes?
Yes

Respect.
No


Furthermore: Jessica and Author, both of you need to watch your tone and refrain from making personal attacks.

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Re: Topfree Movement: Wanting to Have Ones Cake and Eat It T

Postby Mavketl » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:26 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
omgryebread wrote:Anyway, women of course have every right to complain, even if they went topless. I complain when guys stare excessively when I'm wearing a skirt that ends above the knees. Yes, obviously, pants or a longer skirt would attract less stares, but they could also not leer. No one I know (and it doesn't sound like the women you overheard either) are saying staring should be illegal. Just that we don't like it.

Indeed, they didn't say it should be illegal, they simply used the prospect of men staring at them as the whole basis of whether or not they support topfreedom. "Yeah, I want equal rights, but I don't want men to stare at me if I'm walking around topless."
How on earth is that an unreasonable thing to want?

If you don't like the responses you are getting, then maybe you should not literally have said that women have no right to complain or that they cannot complain in those circumstances. Because they bloody well do have the right to complain.

And to be honest, I genuinely don't get what your point is. "Women who go topless can expect people to stare"? Nobody disagrees with that. "Women who go topless give up their right to complain about people being jerks"? Everybody disagrees with that - I'm kind of hoping that includes you. So what is it? What about the attitude of a group of people in the topfree movement do you consider problematic?
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