A Colorado judge has blocked a law against women going topless in public places, saying that such a law is likely unconstitutional.
Fort Collins’ “indecency code” makes it a crime for women to show their nipples in public, but not men. To be specific, the code said that it is a crime in the Fort Collins area for a woman over the age of 10 to display her breast “below the top of the nipple.” The plaintiff’s lawyer in the case said that his clients believe that any statute with the words “women are prohibited from” is unconstitutional, and that he’s glad a federal judge agrees with him.
So, while Colorado seems to have the right idea about nice kinds of legalisation in general, other spaces have a long way to go. In December 2016, we reported on Genderless Nipples, a project created as a response to Instagram’s sexist ban on pictures showing female nipples. Other projects on the theme include those where stock pictures of close up male nipples are available freely in order to be superimposed over pictures of female breasts to basically dare Instagram to tell the difference. Many American celebrities have also taken up the cause of reducing the stigma around showing female nipples in public by using the hashtag #FreeTheNipple, and many of them have been immediately sexually harassed on the Internet.
The general brouhaha over breasts and women being topless in spaces where men frequently and uncontroversially take their shirts off is far from new, of course.
In 1999, World Cup champion Brandi Chastain made global headlines when she whipped her shirt over her head, like surely hundreds of men had done before her, and was told that she was trying to detract attention from the game. Some people speculate that international football authorities ban male players from taking their shirts off after goals in fear that female players will do the same. As the judge in the Colorado case Justice Brooke Jackson just said, “The naked female breast is seen as disorderly or dangerous because society, from Renaissance paintings to Victoria’s Secret commercials, has conflated female breasts with genitalia and stereotyped them as such.”
While it’s of course an individual choice whether to cover your breasts or not, you really should be allowed to show your “disorderly nipples” if you want to.