International Go Topless Day is coming up on Sunday, August 25th. I’m not kidding; it’s a real holiday aimed at bringing awareness to gender inequality when it comes to how much of your torso you have to have covered when you walk out of the house.
In every state in the U.S., men can walk around in public without wearing a shirt. The same is generally not true for women. Every state has a law against showing at least part of the female breast in public. In Arizona, women must keep their areolas covered so women can go shirtless in public as long as their wearing at least a pair of pasties, band-aids, or pieces of electrical tape. Other states, like California, are weird and require women to cover not only their areolas but also the bottom half of their breasts at all times. (Who would have thought that California would be more closed-minded than Arizona on this issue?)
There are a handful of cities that have passed local laws that allow men and women to be topless in public – like New York, Washington D.C., and Austin. (I wish I knew that when I was at SXSW.) These laws are technically unconstitutional but the states have bigger fish to fry than to go after a handful of topless women.
To bring awareness to the inequality between men and women under these indecent exposure laws, Go Topless protests have been organized in a handful of cities. At these events, if it’s illegal for women to be topless in public in that city, men and women are encouraged to dress within the limits of the law for women by wearing pasties, body paint, bikini tops, or the like. If the city law allows both genders to be topless in public, it’s more of a celebration and everyone’s encouraged to bare their chest. (If you want to wear pasties, I strongly recommend Nippies – they’re high quality and have an excellent adhesive.)
Please check out this map to see if there is a Go Topless event being organized in your community on August 25th. If you go, please make sure you act within in the limits of your state and city’s laws and wear sunblock! For my Phoenix people, there will be a Go Topless protest in Tempe starting at 10 a.m. where people will be walking down Mill Ave. sans shirts but with their areolas covered.
If you want more information about decency laws and these types of events, I talk about indecent exposure in relationship to the annual No Pants Ride in my new book Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans or contact a First Amendment attorney in your community.
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