From Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason.com
The “Free the Nipple” movement seeks to repeal laws against women going topless in public. A recent “Free the Nipple” rally in Springfield, Missouri, elicited swift action from the city—but not in the direction activists were hoping for. Rather, the Springfield City Council voted that women should actually cover up more of their breasts in public than was previously required.
The new indecent exposure law prohibits women from showing too much of the sides and bottom of the breasts—aka “underboob”—and everyone from from showing any part of their tush. (For a highly informative video on the parameters of the new breast ban, see the Springfield News-Leader.)
The issue was contentious among city officials, passing the city council by just 5-4. Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens voted against it, condemning proponents’ claim that keeping women’s breasts hidden is necessary so as not to encourage sexual assault. “If we believe what we’ve heard, the sight of a female breast, either inadvertent or deliberate, immediately transforms men into raving sexual predators who rush to the nearest restroom and kidnap children,” Stephens said.
Some took issue with the bill not doing what it set out to: ban Free the Nipple protesters from parading about with only their areolas covered, following the old indecent-exposure law to the letter but not in spirit. City Attorney Dan Wichmer said Free the Nipple rallies are still safe because they’re protected political speech. Councilman Craig Hostner, who voted against the new law, said it “doesn’t do anything other than make us feel like we’ve addressed the problem, when we really haven’t done that.”
I’ve just published a new blog on how #freethenipple should spark a discussion on our society’s problem with nudity: