Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pushing the social envelope

So once a woman decides to exercise her topfreedom rights, there are a number of questions that come to mind.
  • When should it be done
  • Where is it legal and should it occur
  • With whom should it be done
For many, it seems like the beach is a natural place for this to occur. Women and men are already stripped down to almost nothing, so for a woman to remove one more little strip of clothing doesn't seem to be a big jump for some. Some women seem to prefer to do this alone when no one they know are around to witness the experiment. Others seem to prefer to participate as part of a group of women, not wanting to go it alone. While most women do not choose to exercise their right personally, it appears that most are not offended if others choose to do so in this setting.

While not as restricted in setting as going topless at beaches, another common situation involves breastfeeding. Breastfeeding seems to be much more prevalent the past few years, primarily due to recent medical research. While some people seem to be uncomfortable with breastfeeding for one reason or another, it seems much more justifiable in many people's minds to expose a breast in these circumstances than in any other. Sustaining life is a natural part of life, and is not sexual like some other situations are perceived to be.

Photo courtesy of cafemama

What about walking down Main Street, going for a bike ride, or taking the subway? While this is legal, most women don't want to try this unless they are sure that local authorities are not going to arrest them for indecent exposure. For most woman wanting to trying this, it tends to be a group activity. Some make this an event to advertise beforehand, hoping to have publicity so that local authorities and the public as a whole can be educated in what the law actually allows. It most areas of the state it is difficult to find a critical mass of women willing to test the waters. Incidents have a occurred in a few placed, like Ithaca and Buffalo, to try to spread word on the subject. Some women have also participated in the World Naked Bike Ride, with New York rides in New York City and Albany, with mixed results.

Photo courtesy of jennfarr

Now what about walking about on your front yard in just a pair of shorts? Out in the country where there is little car traffic and even less pedestrian traffic, this would seem like a good possibility to some. To do this in a densely populated area in most cities and suburbs, and this suddenly starts feeling a little awkward to some. To have your neighbors or co-working seeing you in such a level of undress feels weird to many. While it may feel a bit weird at first, it's amazing how many women want to join in, but never have said or done anything because they haven't wanted to be the only one. This is one situation that by participating, it is possible to build a critical mass of women to participate.

That's for today. For the next blog entry, the plan is to talk more about the New York State specific history of the topfreedom movement. Discussion will also include ways that individuals can help spread the work about the movement and groups through which people can participate.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Topfreedom - Just for hippies?

I don't know about you, but when I think about topfreedom rights in the United States, hippies come to mind. The free loving kind that go around mostly or completely naked at music festivals and on camping trips.  Skinny dipping is a part of daily life.  While this isn't the only group that participates in the topfreedom movement, they seem to get the most publicity.

Photo courtesy of nlipsane

When I think about topfreedom in Europe I normally think about something completely different - topless beaches.  Over there, because it is part of the norm, people don't seem to make any big deal about it. Even on the television you can see commercials during the day in which women have their breasts uncovered. It's just a part of life, not something to hide your children from.

Photo courtesy of johnrohan

One issue that has brought topfreedom rights to the forefront in recent years in the USA is the subject of breastfeeding. Scientific research has found that children who were breastfeed early in life tended to be healthier.  Unfortunately due to stigma in many regions about bare breasts in public places, even during breastfeeding, many women chose not to start breastfeeding or stopped after a short time due to the hassle of dealing with onlookers.

Photo courtesy of sergiomaistrello

In many states there are exceptions to exposure laws for breastfeeding, but they are not equally enforced.  The current legal interpretation in New York State which allows women to bare their breasts anywhere men can is based partially on the breastfeeding issue.  More of a history of this will be discussed in another blog entry.

So in everyday American life, what should women be allowed to do?  Should women be allowed to walk down Main Street in just shorts or a skirt?  Walk around in their own yard on a hot day while gardening?  Back in the day men had to wear shirts while in public just like women, but at some point the social norms changed.  It seems like nowadays many women are willing to take off their tops at the beach to work on their tan when they are on vacation.  As long as they are far from home, there little worry about co-workers or friends seeing them in such a "shocking" state of undress.

That's all for now.  I'm hoping that conversation will begin about this subject.  There will be another post in a couple of weeks.  If anyone has any suggestions for subjects, post a comment or send an e-mail to topfreedomnewyork@nycap.rr.com.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Welcome to Topfreedom New York

Welcome everyone to the Topfreedom New York blog. Topfreedom New York is a non-profit group formed to help women exercise their equal topfreedom rights in New York.

This space is designed to accomplish a number of goals, including:

  • Provide a history of the development of equal topfreedom rights within New York State
  • Educate the public about the reality that women really do have topfreedom rights that are the same as men.
  • Share stories of people’s experiences involving topfreedom, either in New York or elsewhere
  • Provide help to women in finding resources available to exercise their rights within the state
  • Help women find others who are willing to help bring about change in their local community if they are reluctant to go it along
  • Share information about communities that are friendly to topfreedom rights

Photo courtesy of Rasmin

After this initial welcome message, the next post will be made within the next day or two.  It is anticipated that there will be posts once every couple of weeks. If you are interested in sharing questions or stories as main entries on the blog, messages can be sent to topfreedomnewyork@nycap.rr.com.