What a brilliantly playful way to advance equal rights and birth a body positive/sex positive culture. On August 23rd in a march on the Venice Boardwalk, we celebrated the 95th anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote with a parade to ##Free the Nip, 2 square inches of female human anatomy. It was the 8th annual Go Topless Day in Venice organized by Raelian Lara Terstenjak and her team.
Male shirtlessness is ‘officially’ referred to as ‘barechestedness.’ The female equivalent of barechestedness is toplessness. For some strange reason these two states of shirtlessness have two different legal meanings – female shirtlessness is considered erogenous and obscene.
Apparently men in New York won their nipple freedom in the 60s sometime–according to Wikipedia: “…rules relaxed only for men on beaches and swimming pools (in New York City, a man could be fined for removing his shirt in Central Park as late as 1960) but permissiveness gradually grew and crossed gender lines.”
In California, it is legal for anyone to be shirtless in public, however, Los Angeles city and county rules prohibit topless sunbathing for females only. In April 2014, after a 40-year ban, the Venice Beach Council voted 12-2 to “support women being afforded the same rights as men to sunbathe topless.” Still, the measure hasn’t become ‘official’ so everyone had to cover their nipples with something.
Hundreds of barechested, courageous men and women marched to end the suppression inherent in body negative culture. Many men wore bikini tops and bras to illustrate the silliness of nipple fear. The parade was led by a fanciful group of nipple adorned men and women, a mermaid, King Neptune, and a beauty queen towering above the crowd on stilts. Imagine playful, happy people comfortable in their own skin, delighting in a beautiful sunny day at the beach.
And imagine gawkers. Lots of them. The Body Positive/Sex Positive model respects the innate sanctity and unique beauty of every one of us. Our bodies are shame free!
So I ask you, is it erogenous to bare a nipple? I’ll confess, nipples are erogenous and interesting, of any gender. To me, a sexy nipple is a sexy nipple. So what. Let’s be honest–a shirtless man isn’t ‘promiscuous’ and obscene, and ‘asking for it.’ Men just like the feeling of being shirtless and are comfortable with their chests. I feel the same way.
Thank you Lara, Kat, and all the great women leading the parade. Thank you to King Neptune, and all the men who marched with me to create the Nipple Ripple!