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STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLES

The Topfree Equal Rights Association (TERA) helps women who encounter difficulty going without tops in public places in Canada and the USA, and informs the public on this issue.

This website is intended as an information resource. It should interest women (and men) who understand---or want to understand---that women's breasts are just fine, and in no way indecent, obscene, dangerous, or some other version of bad, any more than men's are.

In most jurisdictions in North America, explicit sexual activity in public view is illegal. That is not involved here! If men may decide to have exposed breasts without it, so may women.

If women act on this understanding by innocuously having uncovered breasts in public, they are usually criticized, ridiculed, and hassled, and may be fined or jailed. Their experiences tell quite the story, which is gradually unfolding on this site and similar ones.

Our basic claim is that women deserve equal rights. We do not suggest that women or men should go about with bare breasts. That is every individual's decision. We do believe that since men may choose to do so in many situations, women must also be able to at least in the same situations. Without penalty of any kind.

Women pay severely for North America's leering punishment of their breasts. Many find themselves the object of unwanted and unwarranted attention from men in positions of power over them. Many have debilitating body image problems, hating the breasts on their own, unique bodies. Many undergo hazardous cosmetic surgery to conform to some non-existent standard. To please others, many wear bras that confine and hurt and may be harmful. Many are afraid to breastfeed, especially with others present.

Why do many women want to let their breasts out of the prison our society has put them in? They want to be comfortable. They want the convenience. They want to further their well-being. They want ownership and control of their own breasts.

They deserve equal treatment under the law.

If you think that the issue of exposed breasts is trivial, or you disagree with the above, have a look around this site. You may change your mind.


If you are aware of current femninist theory, read on; otherwise you may wish to skip this bit.

TERA is aware of the conundrums posed by proposing equal rights. Many difficult questions arise. Why should women want to do things the way men do them? Even if so, they should be equal to which men, where, and how? Moreover, all women don't experience the same suppression, including in this issue.

Why should men be considered primary and women try to rise to their position? Why don't we start tabula rasa so that women may do things in ways that may ignore how men do them? Shouldn't sex or gender differences allow women to set their own rules?

These are basic objections to classical liberal feminism. While acknowledging their importance, TERA finds many of them have reduced effect on the issue of topfreedom, because the basic solution to women's exposed breasts is so simple: let individual women choose as they wish. That would suit almost any type of relevant feminist theory.


 

NEW ON THIS SITE

  • VP Julia Goforth describes her experiences in York, Maine. Do the authorities know whereof they speak? Read on . . .
  • More new photos: topfree activitsts describe their activities.
  • TERA's VP calmly turns potential trouble into potential education---for the police. Read about it.
  • Judicial opinions that have changed topfreedom history. We start with the Topfree Seven case and the Arlene Vogt case.
  • A chronology of topfreedom events is begun. It's small just now, but wait . . .
  • Outline and summary of the presentations given by TERA near Seattle on June 1, 2001, with photos.

 

COMING SOON (we hope!):

  • court case decisions (we have a few already)
  • topfreedom history (some is already available)
  • getting comfortable with topfreedom

 

TOPFREEDOM NEWS (April 2001 through December 2006)

More recent news is here.

 

2006 December 29. We end the year with more good news. Linda Meyer has just visited her 25th recreational facility in British Columbia topfree. Yesterday she was at the Percy Norman Aquatic Centre in Vancouver for over an hour, with nary a peep out of anyone. She went into the sauna, pool, and hot tub, with the most memorable comment being how the last was not hot enough.

This is the first of the 25 facilities Linda has visited where "everything went perfectly." She gives the lifeguards and other staff "an A+." She also notes with some irony the information posted on the sauna wall that the centre is to be "free from harassment and discrimination." It's about time, isn't it?

Congratulations, Linda!

 

2006 December 24. Elisabeth Squires is also known as the "bOOb Lady." She's writing a book called bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls, "a humorous and informative owner's manual" to be published in Fall 2007. Her request:

"I'm looking for women's (and men's) short 'mammoirs' about breasts. Your stories may uncover all the different ways breasts impact your lives: from irritating or beloved bras, to sweet or rude lovers, to pregnancy and nursing, to mammograms and other challenges posed by breasts. The purpose of my book is make women feel good about their own unique breasts, through others' personal stories and advice from experts on how to put our best breast forward at every stage of our lives. I'm especially interested in women who have faced negative stereotypes or physical challenges, or those with a humorous yarn to tell."

Go to Elisabeth's site for her questionnaire and other ways to submit information.

 

2006 December 14. FIRST-RATE NEWS FROM FLORIDA. Today Elizabeth Book was acquitted of disorderly conduct for posing topfree with topfree statues in Daytona Beach in July 2005. She writes in part:

"When I started this crusade against Daytona, it was to decriminalize women's breasts. I have not achieved that goal. I have succeeded in forcing them to recognize our (women's) rights to constitutional protection during a political protest. [But] I say, if we are equal in war and taxation, we should be equal in all things. We will not be denigrated for our breasts!

"Thank you for your support and interest in this cause. I know that we are legion in number. We just have to gather our troops and make our voices heard loudly enough for Washington to hear them."

Liz Book's lawyer, Lawrence Walters, noted in October that the authorities were "trying to wear her down" through their repeated prosecutions. "Wait till they see what I have planned for them next," writes Liz.

Congratulations to the most prominent topfree activist in the USA!

 

2006 December 09. The tenth anniversary today of Gwen Jacob's acquittal in Ontario on an indecency charge for her topfree walk in 1991 seems to have gone entirely unnoticed in the Canadian press. Unfortunate.

 

2006 December 07. A high school in Kiruna, Sweden, surreptitiously pulled a photo of topfree girls from the school's yearbook. Some girls from Hjalmar Lundbohmsskolan had wanted to parody a previous year's photo which showed topfree boys in hockey gear. So they posed in the same pads, skates, and nothing else, covering their breasts with their hands. Sounds like a good joke to us!

The school called the photo sexist. But student Elina Wannberg said the school was behaving in a sexist manner to treat girls differently, to sexualize their breasts and not the boys'. She is also quoted as saying, "We wanted to show that you may be undressed without being sexual. This photo is a protest against women's breasts always being considered sexual. We really must have rights to our own bodies."

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naket2.jpg

The red lettering on the photos means respectively "Pass" (left) and "Fail" (right)---as in school grades. The photo on the left (by Kenneth Paulsson) shows the picture of the boys from two years ago. In the photo on the right---that's the one pulled from the yearbook---the breast-covering of the girls draws attention to the problem, to the "forbidden" nature of women's breasts. Here they are more sexualized covered than not.

People can get used to photos of uncovered breasts of either sex (especially in a humorous context like this) in only a short time. Girls' breasts are not indecent; they do not need to be covered any more than women's---or men's.

Although we in North America often look to Europe for better sense about women's bodies, especially countries like Sweden with its enlightened attitude towards bodies, nudity, and sexuality, this is one instance where that does not seem to apply.

Thanks to Artie Bigley of Columbus OH for finding the photos and the article referenced above. The brief article (by Karin Moberger) provides a good treatment of the controversy (in Swedish).

 

2006 November 22. Another breastfeeding mother was harassed, this incident taking place in Seguin TX on November 9. Kimberly Bartholomew was breastfeeding her daughter in the lobby of a movie theatre. A staff member demanded she stop. She refused. The whole staff then made her very uncomfortable --- so she left on her own. The manager had also accosted her and demanded she breastfeed "decently." That is a code for nipplephobia and men unconscionably telling women what to do when it is none of anyone's business but the mother's and child's.

2006 November 22. Airlines are sometimes noted for being rather unfriendly to breastfeeding. On November 14, the story broke of a woman on an October 13 Delta Airlines flight from Burlington VT. She was removed for breastfeeding her daughter. Ironically, the flight was run for Delta by Freedom Airlines. Some freedom!

A flight attendant had demanded that the woman, Emily Gillette, cover herself with a blanket. She refused. Then she and her husband and daughter were ordered off the plane. They were given accommodation and another flight. But Gillette filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission. Rightly so.

The flight attendant reported that she had been offended. The airline eventually announced that she had been "disciplined." It also said that the captain of the flight in question offered to re-board the family on the plane it had been removed from. That appears to be a misunderstanding or a fabrication on the part of the airline.

In protest, about 30 parents and their children staged a nurse-in at the Burlington airport on November 15, and further such protests were held at about a dozen Delta Airlines ticket counters around the country on November 21.

TERA recommends this article on the whole subject. And this site for a wealth of detail, including an interview with the very bright and articulate Emily Gillette.

 

2006 November 03. Yesterday on Sproul Plaza at the University of California in Berkeley, a group of women and men demonstrated topfree in the rain for breast cancer research. Here's a photo from Indybay of San Francisco:

indybay.jpg

Great that there were both women and men! But what does the participants' covering of their nipples tell us? What does the paper's covering of their eyes tell us? Much the same thing: being topfree is wrong. Sorry, acting like topfreedom is the problem is what's really wrong.

 

2006 October 27. Three famous Chinese actors have posed "nude" to promote breast health awareness. They are women, of course, which is fine. The problem is the very contrived poses and props employed to ensure that no nipples are visible. While such a manoeuvre is understandable in many countries, this inherent censorship tends to distract from the message and of course fuel the fire that roars "Women's nipples are indecent!" The use only of young women in certain poses also suggests a mixed message.

TERA has not been able to determine whether the magazine in question comes from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or mainland China. The three actors pictured for October 2006 are from all three areas.

 

2006 October 24. For a fine illustration of the false arguments thrown at topfree equality, see this interview of Elizabeth Book and Lawrence Walters by the infamous Bill O'Reilly. Neither he nor Fox News understands the issues, and he claims that someone being offended trumps a woman's rights---the same line used to uphold racial segregation and discrimination.

The interview video includes an irrelevant segment of a (censored) nudist "colony."

 

2006 October 21. As expected, the Daytona Beach City Commission wants to appeal Liz Book's upheld acquittal on charges against her 2004 topfree protest. In our opinion, residents of the Daytona Beach or immediately surrounding areas should write to the City Commission to object to this waste of tax dollars. Others who should write are those who work in the area or visit it often. Write firm but polite letters to any or all of the following. The postal address is PO Box 2451, Daytona Beach FL 32115.

Before writing, familiarize yourself with the case, especially in the two articles linked to above. You don't need to write a lot to be effective. Faxes and postal letters are better than e-mail. If you use e-mail, we suggest sending the same message to all the people listed below, unless you live in one of the zones. Phone calls from Daytona Beach residents may also be effective: there's nothing like a calm but knowledgeable voice.

MAYOR
Yvonne Scarlett-Golden
Fax: 386 671-8015
Phone Mail: 386 671-8007
e-mail: scarlettgoldeny@codb.us

COMMISSIONER ZONE 1
Richard W. Shiver
Fax: 386 238-4662
Phone Mail: 386 671-8001
e-mail: shiverr@codb.us

COMMISSIONER ZONE 2
Yvonne Newcomb-Doty
Fax: 386 671-8015
Phone mail: 386 671-8002
email: newcombdotyy@codb.us

COMMISSIONER ZONE 3
Shiela K. McKay
Fax: 386 671-8015
Phone Mail: 386 671-8003
e-mail: mckays@codb.us

COMMISSIONER ZONE 4
Robert A. Gilliland
Fax: 386 671-8015
Phone mail: 386 671-8004
e-mail: gillilandr@codb.us

COMMISSIONER ZONE 5
Dwayne L. Taylor
Fax: 386 671-8015
Phone Mail: 386 671-8005
e-mail: taylord@codb.us

COMMISSIONER ZONE 6
Cassandra G. Reynolds
Fax: 386 671-8015
Phone Mail: 386 671-8006
e-mail: reynoldsc@codb.us

CITY MANAGER
Jim Chisholm
Daytona Beach City Hall
PO Box 2451
Daytona Beach FL 32115
Fax: 386 671-8015
Phone mail: 386 671-8010
e-mail: chisholmj@codb.us

 

2006 October 16. A month ago we mentioned the video Boobalogues, by Kathy Kiefer. TERA's Co-ordinator has now seen the DVD and recommends it. Although it is not about topfreedom, it deals with issues of concern to supporters of this site. Different from Meema Spadola's pioneering video Breasts, it touches on similar subjects. If you have Meema Spadola's, you should have this one too! Here is the table of contents to Boobalogues:

Breastfeeding
Who decides?
Adolescence
Girls will be girls
Large breasts / small breasts: blessing or burden?
Brassieres
Breast cancer
Breast augmentation
As we age

Neither of these videos is heavy on analysis. They focus on what the women interviewed convey.

(We will look for additional relevant material from time to time and report on it.)

 

2006 October 16. A little while ago, the famous Canadian topfree activist Linda Meyer sent us a lot of material on one of her recent episodes. It occurred on August 7, when Linda went topfree in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. She weas accosted by two Vancouver police officers, who (of course) immediately called for reinforcements. To the assembled group of police, Linda tried to explain her rights under the Constitution of Canada. One of the officers claimed Canada did not have a constitution. None of them understood what Linda was explaining.

They detained her on the street for quite some time. Only after speaking with the RCMP (Canada's national police force) in Linda's town of residence, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, did they release her.

Throughout, she did not put her top on.

Linda has filed a complaint with the Vancouver Police Department that the police in this instance violated her constitutional rights and the police's own Code of Professional Conduct.

Linda3.jpg

Linda Meyer with Mark Emery in Vancouver, August 7, 2006

 

2006 October 13. TOPFREE VICTORY FOR LIZ BOOK. Late last week, the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals in Florida upheld an earlier ruling that Elizabeth Book (and other women) could protest an ordinance against topfreedom while topfree. What most news reports did not say was that the legitimacy of Liz's action is specified right in the wording of the ordinance that the city of Daytona Beach has been trying to use against her. To which we can only say: "Duh!"

The recent ruling has no clear bearing on the right of women to be topfree in Florida outside the context of certain protests. Regardless, it is a notable gain. Our hearty congratulations to Liz Book and to her attorney, the famous First-Amendment expert Larry Walters.

The city attorney's office has lost this one twice. It is now considering whether to waste still more taxpayer money on an appeal. Even objectively, it would be foolish to do so.

 

2006 October 09. From time to time, we have mentioned the enterprising work of one Hathor the Cowgoddess (aka Heather Cushman-Dowdee), who creates "amusing cartoons and insightful/incite-ful commentary about homebirthing, breastfeeding on demand, maintaining constant contact, sharing space, unschooling, and saving the world."

On this site in August, Hathor posted photos of herself. This is one:

Hathor.jpg

About the photos, Hathor wrote: "Please note that this divinely bovine body has housed three children and supported their subsequent nutritional needs for almost nine years consecutively, or totally, or you know, for a really really long time." All we can add is: "Bravo, Hathor!"

We recommend both The Shape of a Mother and Hathor. The former started with this: "It is my dream to create this website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret. So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery."

 

2006 September 19. The sixth annual Breast of Canada calendar is now out and available, and it's another great publication. Here are the succinct words from today's media release:

"By including editorial content on subjects ranging from how negative body image can impact breast health, hormone replacement therapy, breastfeeding, and the safety of beauty care products, the calendar reads like a proactive breast owner's manual. Sepia toned, fine art images of topfree, volunteer models grace the pages. Breast-related trivia, original haikus, quotes, breast self-examination instructions, and a plethora of dates round out the effort."

Note the use of the word topfree! And as usual, the calendar also exhibits the inspiring wit of the founder and publisher, Sue Richards. Deservedly, she calls herself the calendar's Empress of Concept and Direction.

The calendar benefits the Canadian Breast Cancer Network; yet it's not about disease but breast health (as indicated above). The launch will take place September 29 (8 PM) at the Guelph Youth Music Centre, 75 Cardigan Street, Guelph, Ontario (admission CA$5). This year it's an art show and auction!

TERA enthusiastically supports this calendar and asks all its supporters to buy one . . . preferably several! And hang them in prominent places. There is nothing like this anywhere else. Click on the banner for more information about Breast of Canada and the calendar:

Note too Sue's excellent blogs:

Calendar Girl Blog (a boob job for the mind)
The Breast Views Blog (daily news and alternative views of the wonderful world of breasts)
My Menopause Blog (how to punctuate life without a period)
Blog Guelph (about goings on in Guelph, Ontario)

 

2006 September 14. TERA recommends the site Boobalogues. The work of Kathy Kiefer in Washington State, it includes her award-winning 2004 film of the same name, with the subtitle "Our Breasts, Our Lives." Check out the film here! You may see part of it, also purchase a copy. Here's a bit of its description:

"Boobalogues: Our Breasts, Our Lives is a journey through stories that explore women's relationships with their breasts. From breast feeding, breast reduction, breast augmentation, and breast cancer, women discuss life defining events that have shaped their self image. Boobalogues embraces perspectives of young women and esteemed elders, as well as women of color, including stories expressed by African American, Native American, Mexican American, and Maori women."

kkiefer.jpg

Kathy Kiefer

 

2006 September 13. Recently, Starbucks reinstated its original logo, below, in Washington State and Oregon. A school principal in a suburb of Seattle has apparently banned coffee mugs with the logo unless it is covered up.

starbucks.jpg

How did this guy get to be a teacher, never mind a principal?! This story couldn't be a marketing invention, of course . . .

 

2006 August 31. It's not all the time that we can post a success story, and even more rarely one that was resolved in a day! A woman in Columbus OH was told by a manager at Lifestyle Family Fitness to stop breastfeeding her son in a common area of a leisure centre or she would lose her privileges. She wrote to a variety of sources, preparing to launch serious action.

The day after, however, the President of LFF phoned her and apologized profusely. He also thaked the woman for informing him on the Ohio law. The operations manager had claimed that the law didn't apply.

"They have really, really picked the wrong woman to mess with," wrote the woman. Right --- what would you expect from Anna Swank? Congratulations to her on winning this one for all women!

By the way, soon after the problem was resolved, Anna visited the centre again with her children. The chair she had sat on previously to breastfeed her son was missing, so she sat on the floor with him. Then someone came over to her to offer to get her a chair. Who was it? The same operations manager who had been so obstinate and wrong a few days before.

(Note the rather revealing exchange of words here. You will see immediately a set of ways to handle such incidents anywhere.)

 

2006 August 26. Last week, the Austin high school art teacher Tamara Hoover resigned, accepting a payout from the school board of nearly US$15,000, on the advice of her lawyer. She had been criticized for having topfree photos of herself on a website. The photos may have included complete nudity, but does it matter? Should teachers forgo constitutional rights merely because they are teachers, when no other groups must? We don't think so. Besides, this whole fracas was started by another teacher at the school who had an argument with Hoover over use of a kiln.

The assumptions being made are that a minor who sees a photo of a person in authority without some clothes will be damaged and that the relationship (here between student and teacher) will fail. That thinking, we find, is without merit. Moreoever, what kind of respect is engendered by taking away a person's rights? And why are legal photos being targeted but nothing else? Why doesn't the school board try to remove atheists, people with different political views, etc.?

Tamara Hoover: "im planning my next move / they havent seen the last of me / this experience has created an activist." See the earlier notice here.

 

2006 August 03. TERA announces a first: the sale of a limited edition print! The work is by the renowned west-coast artist Henry Yuen and is called Topfree Ice Cream:

 

IceCream.jpg

 

The following explanation is by Claudia Kellersch, longtime topfree activist and supporter of TERA.

 

The caboose is located in the small upstate New York village of Groton. For several years, activists have been eating ice cream there topfree after skinny-dipping at Potters Falls during the Northeast Naturist Festival. The only untoward result occurred in 2003, when Claudia Kellersch and the late Ann Bucci stopped there. There was a brief discussion with a village police officer, who backed off after finding that the topfree women would be leaving town as soon as they finished their ice cream!

In 2005, the congenial reception of another group of topfree women at the ice cream caboose led them to attempt a similar ice cream spree the next day in the nearby village of Moravia. They were arrested, contrary to the law (topfreedom for women is legal throughout New York State), and detained for about seven hours. It took over three months to get the charges dropped. TERA made a generous donation towards the defence lawyer's fees.

The well-known naturist artist Henry Yuen has donated a limited edition of 15 prints to Claudia Kellersch, to help cover some of the past and future legal fees incurred by topfree women. The numbered prints are offered at various naturist gatherings and festivals all over North America during 2006, and are also offered through this website.

The cost is a minimum donation to TERA of US$75. Shipping and handling are donated by Claudia Kellersch from California.

 

Claudia's generous acquisition and offer are now available! If you are interested in a tangible reminder of the struggle for topfree equality and in helping build TERA's reserves, just send funds to TERA, and we will get your print to you as soon as we can. Please allow six weeks for delivery, as Claudia is busy with her own very special delivery. By the way, that's Claudia at the left in the print!

You may purchase one of these fine 11.25" x 14" limited edition screen and stencil prints (a few are already gone):

• by sending a check/cheque or draft in any currency for a minimum of US$75 (CA$85) payable to TERA, to:

TERA
Box 81128 FGPO
Ancaster ON L9G 4X1
Canada

• by transferring money directly to TERA's account no. 636 at branch 2624 of TD Canada Trust.

• by pressing the button below to donate via PayPal.

Please note that 100% of all donations goes towards legal expenses for women who have exercised their right to go topfree. (TERA's office and website expenses are not included.) TERA's account is controlled by the lawyer John Abrams of Hamilton Ontario.

 

2006 July 30 A few days ago in many locations, this Associated Press story appeared about the cover below on the August issue of Babytalk magazine. Whether real or not, it rates high on the cuteness scale.

scandal.jpg

Babies in popular culture are cute, like stuffed animals. That they eat at their mother's breast is something many refuse to acknowledge. It's not surprising that a cover like the above elicits negative reactions (whereas inside the magazine, maybe less). Still, one headline was misleading: "Many Outraged by Breast-Feeding Magazine Cover." Why misleading? Because initially, only people who are upset write in. There are probably many more who couldn't care less and are not going to be heard from.

The Associated Press story itself is heavily biased towards those who believe that breastfeeding is "gross." That seems the author's favourite word, since she uses it three times. She also goes into irrelevant detail about celebrities and gives inordinate space to a woman who calls breastfeeding flashing.

The story went all over the country for several reasons to do with journalism and politics. It may reflect the way national media often put too much faith in the position of the federal government. As is known to most readers of this site, that position is anti-female and extremely body-phobic. (If it could, we imagine Congress would delight in having the FCC police all magazines available in the USA, hunting down nefarious nipples hiding under every bed.)

The magazine's main cover line is self-referentially prophetic: "Why women don't nurse longer."

If you can make people fear or hate their own bodies, you can get them to believe nearly anything. That is an idea we have yet to see presented in national media.

 

2006 July 30. CBS has officially appealed the US$550,000 fine levied against its stations two years ago for the Janet Jackson incident February 1, 2004. Although apologizing for what happened, it states that the FCC's action is "unconstitutional, contrary to the Communications Act and FCC rules, and generally arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law."

 

2006 July 22. The furor over Dr. Diana York Blaine continues. The original story is here. On July 15, Dr. Blaine posted a brilliant analysis of why a lot of people are trashing her over her posted topfree photos on her flickr site. The title is "Who owns the female body?" We recommend her article and quote the essence of it here:

There's a difference between defining your own eroticism and having it defined for you. There's a difference between being forced to expose yourself for commercial reasons and doing so as a form of expression. There's a difference between being reduced to a thing and having sexuality integrated into your full identity. These differences are not at all hard to understand, and so I believe firmly that those who pretend to not be able to tell the difference do so because it promotes their ideological agenda, which is nothing short of control of women.

It's not just men who work to control us, of course. Women too work very hard to promulgate a sexist culture. We do so because we are promised a degree of safety and dignity and protection if we do. So it makes sense to be sexist, in a sense, even if you are female and that means you need to be working constantly against your own freedom and sanity and health.

 

2006 July 21. An original, finely written article on the breast exposure issue was written on July 1 by Lauri Githens Hatch of the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. It arose out of the demonstrations the day before marking the anniversary of the arrest of the Rochester Topfree 7.

 

2006 July 19. Today is the 15th anniversary of the arrest of Gwen Jacob in Guelph, Ontario. On a hot day in 1991, she took off her top and went for a walk. (She had done something similar the day before as well.) It took her more than five years to be acquitted of indecency, in a landmark decision equal in importance to the similar acquittal of the Rochester (NY) Topfree 7 in 1992. They had been arrested in 1986, 20 years ago now.

Last time we posted a notice like this, some news outlet said we were calling for women everywhere to go topfree in celebration. Although more topfree women would help the situation, we never tell women what to do. We point out what is and should be their choice. The rest is up to them, and to their respectful and supportive relatives and friends, women and men, who believe in their equality.

Meanwhile, we have the following photo, which Sherry Glaser sent us in connection with her latest Breasts not Bombs demonstration July 14th in San Francisco.

bnb.jpg

 

2006 July 17. On the subject of breastfeeding in public, you can't get it any better than from a woman who has been gawked at, intimidated, and harassed. For a fine article, go here.

 

2006 July 11. In Jacksonville NC a few days ago, Timmi Toler wrote a finely wrought column for the Jacksonville Daily News on why women should never breastfeed in public. TERA's co-ordinator responded with a letter printed today.

 

2006 June 30. Today the Topfree 7 commemoration in Rochester NY went off with no major problem. Police were on hand to direct traffic, not arrest anyone. Photographer Jordan Matter from New York City was there, as was one of the original Topfree 7, Ramona Santorelli, who is also credited with inventing the term topfree.

WROC8-TV Rochester has this report. If you watch the video, you will note two things: it proceeds as if nipples are poisonous in NY State; and one reporter claims that it is still illegal for women there to be topfree. Turns out he got information from wrong sources and won't admit he's misled viewers.

 

2006 June 29. Tomorrow, June 30 at noon, Sherry Glaser will hold a Breasts not Bombs topfree demonstration with her "bosom buddies" at Bechtel, 50 Beal Street, San Francisco.

 

2006 June 27. TERA draws your attention to a photographic event in Rochester NY. It is planned for June 30 and will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the topfree picnic in Rochester that eventually made New York a topfreedom-friendly state. The information is contained at:

wcmf.com/Detail.aspx?dct=51&AnnID=596&mid=289

TERA makes no representation whatever about this event but notes the planned participation of the photographer Jordan Matter, well known for his fine photos of topfree women in New York City.

 

2006 June 14. A woman robbed a convenience store in Kansas City KS recently but in a tussle with the clerk lost her shirt, literally. She ran out of the store topfree, returned later, and got her shirt back in exchange for the few dollars she'd stolen.

An odd story, perhaps. What makes it more immoral is the nattering of KCTV5's news anchor Karen Fuller. She referred to the store's "surveillance video that is so shocking, our editors had to blur out a few things before we could even think about showing it to you."

The real story here is Fuller's poorly disguised mock shock, in reality a sanctimonious pandering to indefensible ideas about women's breasts.

 

2006 June 13. A school teacher in Austin, Texas is in the process of being fired for topfree photos of her posted on an unrelated website. It seems Tamara Hoover is being punished for "base, vile, or depraved acts that are intended to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor."

America's war on bodies and on sex continues, even and especially against innocent people. Artistic shots which are completely legal are enough to bring out the school board's own base, vile, or depraved acts against Ms. Hoover. If its clause against "moral turpitude" is being used here, it's to bully and manipulate in a paternalistic and unconstitutional manner.

The school board apparently believes that children are harmed by the sight of a human body or part thereof. And these people are involved in education? Meanwhile, Ms. Hoover's attorney seems most interested in the fact that she did not place the photos on the website herself, not in the lunacy of hiding breasts from children or the assumption of the school board that a woman who has bare breasts someplace is a bigger danger to children than a bad teacher --- or a school board trampling on someone's rights.

It's disheartening to watch news reports that seriously have people saying, unchallenged, that a topfree woman is nude and nudity is pornography.

By the way, Ms. Hoover is an art teacher, apparently a good one. And ironically if irrelevantly, in Austin women are permitted to be topfree.

 

2006 June 12. Right across from topfree South Beach in Miami, about 15 women and their children held a nurse-in yesterday outside a closed Starbucks. Starbucks had insisted a woman leave the store last month, apparently because she was breastfeeding in it. The woman, Nicole Coombs, and her son Brahm were among the participants yesterday.

"You would think people were more open-minded; we're 15 yards away from where people are in little thongs," said Sasha Viers. "But the breast is a strong, strong symbol. And that's threatening to some people."

 

2006 June 11. Here's a switch. A male nurse in England won a sex discrimination case last week. He had been considered untrustworthy to carry out procedures on women where their breasts would be exposed (such as attaching materials for an electrocardiogram). Andrew Moyhing won £750 but turned it down. He left the nursing profession because every time he had to provide service to a woman, his bosses insisted he be accompanied by a chaperone.

Neither female nurses nor---here's the kicker---male doctors were subject to such a rule (nor female doctors, of course). The National Health Service in the area (London) had presumed that no male nurse would react neutrally to seeing a woman's exposed breast.

The medical profession can promulgate prejudice as much as any other segment of society.

 

2006 June 10. An Arkansas detention centre sheriff's deputy, Dawn Rene Roberson, has been fired for going topfree. Not on the job, but off duty at a campground by Lake Ouachita. She is also charged with the usual nonsense: indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. Another article may be found here.

One complaint against her was that she could be seen by children. Should those children now be forced into psychological counselling for the rest of their lives? After all, they may have caught a glimpse of weapons of mamm disgustion.

 

2006 June 06. In an Associated Press article today, Lisa Fields describes the task of learning how to breastfeed. She puts it well:

"If we'd all grown up in a culture where breastfeeding was practised in plain sight---instead of behind closed doors or beneath baby blankets---we'd know all this stuff as plainly as we know that we'll see more exposed breasts at Mardi Gras than at a Gymboree."

 

2006 May 24.  LiveJournal.com has banned a photo of a baby breastfeeding as a default icon on grounds that it constitutes an indecent sexual display. You may read here the well thought out letter from the person with the banned image and the response from the "LiveJournal Abuse Team." The response says essentially that although breastfeeding is not a sexual activity, breastfeeding is a sexual activity.

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Much of America seems equally obtuse, as we know too well. Meanwhile, bunches of apparently banned breastfeeding icons appear here.

 

2006 May 19. The Austin Chronicle today printed a very fine article by Melanie Haupt on public breastfeeding and the problems one mother had at a baseball game. Title: "(Don't) Take Them out at the Ball Game"! It concludes:

"The next time you see a woman nursing in public, remember that your mama taught you that it is impolite to stare. Or, consider eating your nachos in the bathroom (or the First Aid station) while reminding yourself that Jesus was breast-fed. Or just mind your own damn business and watch the game."

 

2006 May 17. On May 4 in Manila, 3738 women simultaneously breastfed children for at least a minute. That broke the record of 1135 set in 2002 in Berkeley, California. Whatever the value of the Manila event as a record, it certainly drew attention to the Philippines' seriously low rate of breastfeeding.

 

2006 May 08. An NBC station in Los Angeles reported a controversy at the University of Southern California: a woman who is a professor there has topfree photos of herself on a website. (Oh the horror of it all.) She is Dr. Diana York Blaine, a Professor of Women's Studies at USC. Probably this brouhaha comes from an enemy of her outspoken feminism---or someone jealous of her notable writing successes.

The site with the photos has no connection to the unversity, and at least one photo has an interesting connection to art. The university has said that the professor has done nothing wrong but (to placate the mob) will look into it . . .

NBC does the usual in presenting the photos. First it labels them with "Warning: Graphic Images." Then it puts bars across the person's breasts. That insults both her and viewers.

TERA recommends a look at Dr. Blaine's own site, esepcially this item about breasts. Good for her! Bad for NBC!

 

2006 April 28. Hardfire is a libertarian cable TV political discussion program, produced in Brooklyn, New York, by Gary Popkin. He "wants to push the envelope of what can be shown on TV," and "public access is the place to do it," he says. He continues:

"You might like to know that public-access cable TV is not limited by the restrictions found on broadcast TV or even commercial cable. I would like to do a show in which one man and one woman from your group appear and talk with the host about the aims of the group and what you have accomplished so far. After a minute or two, the man takes off his shirt and the discussion continues as if very little has happened. After a couple more minutes, the woman bares her chest, too, in the interest of equality. After the two of you have been sitting and talking this way for half an hour, the woman's bare breasts will probably not even be noticed, and your point will have been made."

Having no connection to Hardfire, TERA makes no representation about it. We suggest that enthusiastic and articulate individuals in the NYC area who are interested contact Mr. Popkin directly. Taping is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday evening, June 13, 2006.

 

2006 April 28. A teacher in England has been fired because she appeared topfree in a women's magazine in a feature on health. Kristina Howells was informed she was no longer required at Harvey Grammar School in Folkstone, Kent.

 

2006 April 20. Continuing with the theme of breast flashing---which you know we do only if it's relevant to topfree equal rights---we recommend an excellent article by Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal. It takes skill to turn silly comments about flashing into serious comments about women's breasts---and she does it.

 

2006 April 17. The (Toronto) Globe and Mail carried an article today about breast flashing during sports celebrations, one in particular in Calgary, Alberta. Professors Mary Valentich of the University of Calgary and Ed Herold of the University of Guelph have studied this phenomenon and female breast exposure more generally.

In their most recent work, neither was concerned with the widest possible application of women being bare-breasted: topfreedom, which is far from flashing---a phenomenon in which TERA takes little interest. So TERA's Co-ordinator wrote a letter to the Globe and Mail pointing out a few things about topfreedom. It will be published on April 18.

 

2006 April 13. On April 9 in Toronto, a group called Wild at Heart protested in the city's fur retail district against animal suffering and misuse. Several women, led by Kamila Monroe, were topfree.

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There were no arrests, or even the threat of any. (Most people are aware that in Ontario topfreedom for women is legal.)

 

2006 April 05. The actor Cameron Diaz (Any Given Sunday, In her Shoes) has been awarded an undisclosed amount by a court in a civil lawsuit for damages from a photographer who took topfree photos of her when she was 19. She is now 35. The photographer apparently tried to get US$3.5 million from Diaz for the photos and is in jail for forgery, perjury, and attempted grand larceny. He is forbidden to sell, license, or use the photos.

Would all this be possible in another culture? Was it mostly about breasts, or about money?

 

2006 March 27. Ten days ago, Jordan Matter was on the Today show, with followup articles such as this (mostly accurate) and a video picked up by MSNBC (transcript here). He is completing his project Uncovered (photos of topfree women in New York City) and plans to turn it into a book. In late January, the BBC sent a crew to tape him taking pictures of some women topfree in New York.

Congratulations to this magnificent photographer!

 

2006 March 16. Kentucky joins the bandwagon. The state has now declared public breastfeeding legal. But what does the bill's wording imply if it says "breastfeeding may not be considered an act of public indecency, indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching or obscenity"? It implies that exposure of women's breasts is "an act of public indecency, indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching or obscenity."

Moreover, there was no Kentucky law in the first place that made breastfeeding illegal. So what this does is confirm Kentucky's hatred of women's breasts.

No, wait, there's more: "It honors motherhood," said Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville. Can the flag and apple pie be far behind?

How about honoring women, Rep. Burch?

 

2006 March 06. Today the Governor of Kansas signed into law HB2284, authorizing public breastfeeding. While this signing still implies that women's breasts are ordinarily indecent or obscene, we commend the Kansas legislature for not stating so by putting in some exemption from other statutes dealing with that. The one line in the new bill states simply, "A mother may breastfeed in any place she has a right to be." That, in our view, is almost model language. Nothing about being "discreet," which is a code for continued seditious unwanted sexualization and control of women's bodies.

Clause 1a of the bill succinctly describes the benefits of breastfeeding. Good for Kansas.

 

2006 February 18. The injustice at Daytona continues. Yesterday, five topfree women, who were with Elizabeth Book at her protest in Daytona Beach last March, had their fate announced. Three were convicted of disorderly conduct. Two were not. Those convicted are the well-known activists Kayla Sosnow, Norma Mitchell, and Shirley Mason. The two let go are almost unknown.

Last month, Daytona Beach's anti-nudity laws were struck down (see next item below). The convictions announced today look very suspicious. And that's being very polite.

 

2006 January 21. Although we don't normally comment on such cases, this one is important. A federal court judge in Florida has struck down Daytona Beach's anti-nudity laws because they violate the 1st and 14th amendments to the US constitution. The immediate winners in this case are nightclubs, i.e. places where women may strip completely naked, including those with a licence to serve alcohol.

Although the city will almost certainly launch an appeal, as long as its anti-nudity laws have been struck down, the case for topfree activist Elizabeth Book should be . . . a walk in the park.

 

2005 December 31. It was announced on the last day of 2005 that the Moravia 4 have filed a claim to be repaid all legal costs, including travel, plus the small amount of $1500 each. In their August ordeal, they were fingerprinted, handcuffed, and tossed in jail for up to six hours---for what was a violation about as serious as a speeding ticket.

The case was tossed out because it was not in any way winnable. It is also possible that the District Attorney's office created a legally nonsensical excuse to continue the case solely to satisfy conservative voters.

 

2005 December 08. The BBC in London, England is making a video documentary called "My Breasts and I." Part of their work will include taping the excellent New York artist Jordan Matter in action. To quote from the BBC team's immediate aim: "We are keen to meet women who campaign or are active in the field of topfreedom, as we feel that this will make a valuable point in terms of the social stigma attached to women's breasts . . . We are keen to get a number of women who are actively involved in the topfree movement on board for Jordan's shoot."

Would any pro-topfreedom women who are available on or around January 27, 2006 in the New York City area to be part of this documentary, please get in touch with TERA as soon as possible. This appears an excellent opportunity to make important points about topfree equality and associated issues!

Although some police are not aware of it, topfreedom for women is legal throughout New York State. (TERA assumes no legal responsibility, of course, for whatever happens anywhere. But Jordan's photo events do not run into problems.)

 

2005 November 26. SECOND MAJOR VICTORY THIS MONTH. The California case against the women from Breasts not Bombs has been dismissed without prosecution. The two women, Sherry Glaser and Renée Love, were arrested for violating three statutes. The Sacramento District Attorney has outlined why none of them applies in this case.

Given that statement, which we think rather obvious, why were the women charged in the first place? If "ignorance of the law is no excuse," what was the excuse?

We conclude that the arrests were political, since they had no legal basis. If the arresting officers knew that, then did they not violate the law? If they didn't know, why were they allowed to do what they did?

The DA's reasoning outlines in part why we did not encourage TERA supporters to write to Senator Gloria Romero (D--Los Ángeles) to push for a law legalizing exposure of women's breasts. While we do not offer legal opinions, it appears that under many circumstances in California, that exposure is already legal.

Further attempts to clarify that in law may be unnecessary or may negatively affect a situation that already exists.

 

2005 November 09. And now for the joke of the month, except that it isn't funny. Regarding the arrests detailed in the November 7 item below, one report states that "at the state Capitol, police say such a display [of women's nipples, remember] could corrupt children, prompt drivers to veer off the road, and cause sex offenders to run amok."

As they say, what were they smoking?

The more complete story from the protesters' point of view with many photos may be found here. Note that the women with pasties covering only their nipples and areolas were not arrested, nor were men. Linda Meyer's term nipplemania was never more appropriate.

At the event on Monday, Senator Gloria Romero (D--Los Ángeles) suggested in principle a new law to permit women topfreedom in California. We ask TERA supporters not to contact the Senator about that, although thanking her for her support of the arrested women may be in order. The reason for this will become clear in a short while.

 

2005 November 07. Shortly after noon on the steps of the California state capitol, two women were arrested.

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Sherry Glaser is handcuffed and arrested as a shirt is forced on her
photo by Robert Durell, Los Angeles Times

The organization Breasts not Bombs was protesting against the Governor's ballot measures in the "special election" and other things it labels "indecent."

Barebreasted and even nude protests have been shown to constitute protected speech under the 1st Amendment. But three days before the protest, a judge denied an injunction to prevent arrests. One of his arguments: "Do you think the founding fathers had this in mind when they drafted the First Amendment?" That's an old political tactic to pretend we are still living in the 18th century and to disallow anything politically difficult.

The women arrested were the organizer, Sherry Glaser, and Renee Love. As usual, they may be charged with multiple offences so that they are intimidated into admitting guilt to one. If convicted, they may be declared sex offenders for life.

But California law enforcers don't know whom they are dealing with. Watch this space.

 

2005 November 01. CASE DISMISSED. The topfree Moravia 4 appeared in court tonight to hear that the case against them was dismissed. A few weeks ago, a letter from the District Attorney's office admitted it had no case and would not continue. Nonetheless, it tried to intimidate the women by suggesting they might be arrested if they did the same thing again.

We must ask: did the DA's office not know it had no case from the beginning? This is a victory for four courageous women---in a battle that should never have gone on this long, nor even been fought at all.

 

2005 October 30. Sherry Glaser and Breasts Not Bombs are planning another demonstration. This one will be in Sacramento, California from noon to 15:00 on Monday, November 7, on the west steps of the state capitol. "We have a message for Mr. Schwarzenegger," says Glaser, "and will carry signs that state what really is the difference between what is decent and what is not."

Police have granted a permit but threatened to arrest any topfree women. That constitutes unwarranted intimidation, being in direct conflict with the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Numerous court cases have upheld topfreedom and even nudity in conjunction with freedom of speech.

 

2005 October 29. Another issue behind the next story has emerged. The 16-year-old girl who was photographed topfree (but with no breasts showing) for her school magazine and is now claiming US$1.5 million in damages is under contract to Pulse Management. That's a modelling agency which has been grooming the girl for four years to be an international photographic star. Pulse Management controls the girl's image and negotiates lucrative contracts over it for her---as well as modelling sessions worldwide.

 

2005 October 27. Last week, a US$1.5 million claim was made against a San Diego high school district for photos of a 16-year-old girl published by one of its schools last June. The photos are being called "semi-nude." The girl in question was topfree in some; but reports note that the photos "do not show genitals or breasts, and do not depict sex acts."

Apparently, the girl's parents were not consulted first, although the photographer believed they had been. The girl herself, Monterey Salka, clearly consented to the photos. Now she and her family plan to sue for "defamation, invasion of privacy, sexual harassment, negligence, and inadequate supervision, as well as suggesting the district is guilty of libel and distribution of obscenity. " The girl is also a professional model.

See Marsha Sutton's excellent analysis of the issues here.

 

2005 October 19.  The case against the Topfree 4 in Moravia, New York will almost certainly be dismissed. We will have more information in November. (It ain't over till it's over.) Meanwhile, the campaign mentioned immediately below continues. The legal bills for the women are substantial and still rising. Please donate what you can.

 
TERA thanks its donors very much. Individual letters of thanks will be going out shortly.


TERA GOES INTO ACTION. As can be seen below, the case against the topfree women in Moravia, New York is to go to trial. The women were wrongly charged---for violating a New York State law that allows women to be topfree! (Read more below.) The four women now need help with legal expenses.

TERA is launching its first campaign in some time. Please help TERA to help the Moravia 4. Here's how:

• by sending a check/cheque or draft in any currency payable to TERA, to:

TERA
Box 81128 FGPO
Ancaster ON L9G 4X1
Canada

• by transferring money directly to TERA's account no. 636 at branch 2624 of TD Canada Trust.

• by pressing the button below to donate via PayPal.

Please note that 100% of donations goes towards legal expenses for women who have exercised their right to go topfree. (TERA's office and website expenses are not included.) TERA's account is controlled by the lawyer John Abrams of Hamilton Ontario.

Please donate what you can, so that the unfair case against the four women may be defeated! A victory will be significant for topfree and breastfeeding rights in North America at least.


2005 October 16. Diagnosed with breast cancer at 21, then again at 31, Tania Katan has undergone two mastectomies. She is a writer and performer, currently doing a tour for her new book, My One-Night Stand with Cancer (cover below, left). And last year she ran a 10k race---topfree.

In connection with that event, she wrote: "I learned that if you don't see an image that represents you, you need to embody that image. I would like to encourage all of you to expose yourselves, to engage in an activity where you will experience fear and potential public humiliation, while heading toward a deeper understanding of yourself and how your actions can resonate with a community."

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Tania.jpg

photo by Angela Ellsworth

We've put two new series of pictures of others on the site too. Have a look.

 

2005 October 16. A few days ago came this report from New Brunswick detailing the firing of a newspaper editor for printing a photo of a breastfeeding mother. The photo appeared on the front page on October 6 in connection with World Breastfeeding Week.

The weekly paper, called Here, is owned by the Irving group, which owns many media outlets in the province. Ironically, Here supposedly targets urban youth.

The photo in question (below, left) was replaced on the cover by a drawing (below, right). Nice move, eh? Many didn't think so, including Editor Miriam Christensen.

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2005 October 15. The city of Daytona Beach, Florida appealed Liz Book's acquittal for being topfree at a protest/demonstration in March 2004. That appeal has been upheld.

It is an open question whether Liz can get a fair hearing in the Daytona area. (More information will be printed when we have it.)

 

2005 October 01. For an account of the Breasts not Bombs protest which took place earlier this week in Washington, go to Sherry Glaser's report. Her group was not arrested. Topfreedom is legal in DC, although the police might have found other reasons to arrest if they'd wanted to.

From her blog: "We say that there is something terribly wrong in a culture that easily allows the media to show thousands of violent images daily to our children but says women's breasts are offensive."

 

2005 September 23.  Sherry Glaser of Breasts not Bombs is co-ordinating a topfree protest in Washington D.C. with several organizations. It is to take place near the White House at noon on Monday, September 26 at noon. She calls the event A Worldwide Weep:

"Let us use this immense opportunity to make a big beautiful, sorrowful creative response in the world. Our bodies and other signs represent decency. The issue is soft tissue! Protect Women and Children! We're all vulnerable! Decency is: truth, integrity, kindness, humility, humanity."

Further info from Sherry.

 

2005 September 21. Last night in Moravia, New York, the lawyer for the four women who were topfree in August filed a motion in court for dismissal of the charge of "exposure of a person." He based that on the obvious and binding precedent from the New York State Court of Appeal.

Incredibly, the judge denied the motion. She may feel more responsible to the local people who put her in her position than to the law. If that seems harsh, consider this statement from the Assistant District Attorney, filed as official legal material in August:

"The District Attorney has heard from many constituents that want these defendants prosecuted . . . [he] does not want to turn his back on the many outspoken constituents that come from the local towns and villages."

There was no supporting document from the DA to prove this. His whole statement proves only that the charge against the women is purely political. It has no legal foundation.

In the Auburn Citizen. Amaris Elliott-Engel quoted the judge as saying: "I feel that the people presented their case, and they should have their opportunity to present their case." How's that for legal logic?

A trial date will be set probably for the end of November. TERA will have more to say in a few days, here and in an e-mail newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, write to info@tera.ca.

Video report here.

 

2005 September 11. There's a nudist party in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It's not an evening gathering but a political group. It aims to give women topfree equality, among other things, and get elected in NSW in 2007. The founder, Sylvia Else, notes: "On a hot day in the park, men are able to take their shirts off. But women are essentially discriminated against, even though the offensive behaviour laws are very unclear and vague."

 

2005 September 09. A woman was arrested recently in New Hampshire for lewdness and indecent exposure. She was standing topfree on a beach being photographed. The arresting officer claims he was told "There's a naked girl over there."

Apparently he thinks topfreedom is nudity, and women are girls. We're surprised he didn't find a few more charges to throw at her.

 

2005 August 17. The well-known broadcaster Garrison Keillor had his program cancelled in Kentucky earlier this month, partly because a poem he read in one episode contained the word "breast." The WUKY station manager said there were no complaints but that he feared an FCC fine for obscene language.

The cancellation was rescinded only after many complaints.

An observer wrote: "I'm waiting for my local grocery store to start advertising Boneless Chicken Chests or maybe Ch*sts. But then, that's why the term white meat was invented."

 

2005 August 15. The case of the four women arrested August 11 in Moravia, New York has been postponed to September 20, so that their lawyer may ask for dismissal. Meanwhile, the county's District Attorney is asking the police whether they can find other ways to charge the women besides under the Exposure of a Person law.

In TERA's view, this is outrageous and a travesty of justice. The women were arrested under a law that does not apply to their case---more on that below. So to save face, the "wheels of justice" are trying to find a way to trample the women's rights. The only fair option for the DA is to drop the case immediately.

The Exposure of a Person law had the part about women's breast exposure removed in 1992 by the state's highest court. But the legislature in Albany, in an impetuous huff, refused to rewrite the law to agree with the court ruling. So if they do not receive proper training, police throughout the state learn a law whose wording about women's breasts is outdated and invalid. Then they illegally harass and arrest women for being topfree.

On August 4, another woman was arrested for being topfree, in Manhattan. She is planning a civil suit for her arrest and unlawful detention. Yesterday, a protest on her behalf was held in New York City.

Some police and DAs, the Attorney General, and the New York state legislature need to be taught a lesson.

 

2005 August 12. ARREST IN NEW YORK. Four women were arrested yesterday in Moravia, New York, south of Syracuse. They were topfree on a public street. In this instance, TERA will add almost nothing for the next few days. It has spoken with all the women and others.

The women are Madeleine McPherson, Carol Clarke, Barb Crumb, and Claudia Kellersch. Kellersch is from California, the others from New York.

 

2005 August 01. If you read the item below for July 23, it may seem that we are critical of the artist who created a sculpture of a mermaid without nipples. We aren't, although the report may be read that way.

Norman Gitzen was kind enough to tell us that the village of Wellington demanded that his sculpture not be indecent by its definition---which, it turns out, arbitrarily demanded no nipples. Meanwhile, the nippleless sculpture remains in front of the community center, where most people are having good fun with it, including getting their picture taken next to it.

The village seems to want to hold a vote on whether the sculpture should stay or go. Anyone in the area who is interested should attend that meeting to support the artist. It's on August 9th at 19:00 (7 PM) at the community center.

Meanwhile, those in Palm Beach County should let the village council know that art with breasts (even large ones and even with nipples) is just fine and not indecent. Please, write only if you live in or near Wellington. If you write, be polite and to the point. Being mean or long-winded will not help. Below are relevant addresses from the Wellington Council. Feel free to phone as well.

Thomas Wenham (Mayor): twenham@ci.wellington.fl.us
Lizbeth Benacquisto (Vice-Mayor): lbenacquisto@ci.wellington.fl.us
Laurie S. Cohen: lcohen@ci.wellington.fl.us
Robert S, Margolis: rmargolis@ci.wellington.fl.us
Dr. Carmine A. Priore: cpriore@ci.wellington.fl.us

A copy of your e-mail could also go to the sculptor at norman@normangitzen.com.

 

2005 July 28. A short news report says that an Italian bathing group wants women on Italian beaches not to be without tops unless they are in a horizontal position. Is this not the "silly season" for news?

Regardless, we hope that Italian women will not take this lying down. They need to take a stand. To walk the walk.

 

2005 July 23. In Wellington, Florida, a few people have complained about a new statue called The Siren, by sculptor Norman J. Gitzen of Lake Worth.

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photo by Bill Ingram, Palm Beach Post

Apparently, women must have breasts of only a certain size, and not like those of the sculpture. Equally troubling is that Gitzen stated, "I purposely didn't put nipples on her because of the decency clause." What decency clause? And are women's nipples but not men's indecent?

 

2005 July 22. On June 12, Lorien Bourne was charged with three infractions for being topfree in a park in Bowling Green, Ohio. Because of lack of resources, she decided to plead no contest and pay a fine and costs---which she did today.

Bourne herself did much research and became quite upset with what was being done. She had a public defender who said if she took the case to trial, Bourne would probably lose and end up in jail, have large expenses, or both. The ranger who charged her threw everything possible at her, including charges that he may have known would be withdrawn. He appears to have been condescending as well, and told her she was immodest and would attract "perverts."

The public defender said that she was not going to be the one to make it possible for women to go topfree and "scare children."

 

2005 July 12. During a concert in Karlsruhe, Germany last night, singer Mariah Carey's dress top fell away, exposing her breasts for a split second. The concert staff quickly plunged the stage into darkness while Carey ran off, holding her dress up.

They did better than for Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. There, CBS just changed the TV broadcast camera.

 

2005 July 06. The 2006 Breast of Canada calendar is now available. Another winner in a magnificent series!

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2005 July 06. In Cincinnati, Ohio, there is another charge of indecent exposure over visible breasts. The catch: it's a man. Even better: this is in a county where a court decision has ruled that even women may be barebreasted.

We couldn't make this one up. Read here.

 

2005 July 06. Attorneys in Daytona Beach have filed an appeal against Liz Book's acquittal for being topfree in 2004. In that case, the judge said she was entirely within her rights. Her lawyer, First-Amendment expert Lawrence Walters, calls the city's appeal "frivolous" and "abuse of government power and a city bringing all of its power to silence a person who disagrees with its policies."

 

2005 July 04. Lactivists latch on to Jonna Spilbor: A nurse-in is set to take place at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 outside the offices of the Poughkeepsie Journal, at 85 Civic Center Plaza in Poughkeepsie, New York. On June 19, Ms. Spilbor, a lawyer, wrote that women must not breastfeed in public because that constitutes public nudity, and misinformed readers completely about New York State law on topfreedom.

 

2005 July 02. Topfree activist, recently acquitted, is rearrested. Daytona Beach police again arrested Liz Book for her topfree protest for women's equality, only a few days after she was acquitted for almost the same action from 2004. The charge is "disorderly conduct," which police sometimes use against persons who are anything but disorderly.

In this case, some traffic may have slowed to observe the event. If past experience is a guide, that will have happened mostly after the police arrived (in three vehicles!). Also, people stopped on a sidewalk to watch. How disorderly can you get!

So Liz Book is the cause of people and cars stopping? That means pedestrians and drivers are no longer responsible for themselves. Or maybe Liz can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

The police also state that she "corrupted the public morals and outraged the sense of public decency . . . in a tourist area." TERA will refrain from further comment; readers will undoubtedly have their own.

 

2005 July 01. The June 30 protest in Union Square, San Francisco, took place with about a dozen participants. One article is here, with irrelevant comments about women's breast size.

Note that two girls, 9 and 10, took part. Bravo to them and their parents! Contrary to popular belief, some police statements around the country, and the wish of many somatophobes, topfree girls of any age are not illegal, either in public or in photographs.

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from the cover of the music video The Right to Bare Breasts 
(photo by Laurie York)

2005 June 30. Recently, the Attorney General of the USA had the drapes removed that his predecessor had installed to cover a female statue's bare breast. If the current AG wants to show what a fine fellow he is, he could return the US$8300 or so (plus interest) that it cost John Ashcroft to install the curtains a few years ago.

Regardless, Justice Department news conferences will no longer be held in the room with the statue. Too many photo ops?

 

2005 June 28. On June 30 (in two days), in Union Square, San Francisco (directly across from Macy's), Sherry Glaser, of Breasts not Bombs, will lead a barebreasted political demonstration "to show the difference between what is decent and what is not." TERA encourages those in agreement who live in the Bay area to consider supporting this event.

 

2005 June 28. On March 7, 2004, Liz Book was arrested for being topfree at her protest in Daytona Beach, Florida. The case has been dismissed by a Volusia County court because the topfree action took place as constitutionally protected free speech. Although that is a narrow reason, it may have wide implications. (But Liz's lawyer and the judge agree the decision does not apply to flashers and the like.)

Congratulations are in order to this topfree pioneer. She plans to be out there again, topfree, on July 2 (four days from now) at the Peabody Auditorium at noon. Anyone in the area who can support her there and then, please consider doing so!

 

2005 June 25 marked the 10th anniversary of the arrest of five women for being topfree in a Pride Parade in Columbus, Ohio. The charges were dropped in August 1995, making topfreedom for women legal in Columbus and Franklin County---and possibly all of Ohio. The women launched a lawsuit a year later and settled out of court.

More than one court in Ohio has ruled that breasts are not "private parts" and therefore are not included in indecency sanctions.

The day after the anniversary, The Columbus Dispatch ran a rare article on the topic.

 

2005 June 19. Jonna M. Spilbor, a lawyer, arrogantly claims in the Poughkeepsie Journal that it is illegal for women to be barebreasted in New York State.

She is dead wrong.

 

2005 June 10. Controversial British MP George Galloway has a company, "Friction Books," which has just published its first item---with a cover photo of a woman's breast with nipple. It is now said that Muslim support in his East London riding will fade away.

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2005 June 06. On Memorial Day (May 30), actor and author Sherry Glaser led a protest called Breasts Not Bombs in Santa Rosa, California. Surprisingly, there was no interference, and the response was polite and enthusiastic! The immediate object of the protest, the paper The Press Democrat, did not report the event. Ms. Glaser wrote:

"It's an extraordinary experience to stand out in public exposed in this manner. At first it is a feeling of fear, but that is quickly replaced by liberation and power. A couple of us felt a presence, a strong presence of decency. A feeling that somehow that street at that moment was safe. It became ordinary for us to be standing with our breasts out in the world and claiming the streets like that. We hope for a day when all women in every country will be safe to walk freely through her life safe, proud, and strong in her body."

To writing like that, we can add nothing but our congratulations.

 

2005 June 05. Sorry for the long absence. We will shortly be updating the site more fully. Meanwhile, an event tomorrow in New York of considerable importance. Please go to The Cowgoddess and the item dated June 3. A protest is to be held June 6 at 11 AM at ABC (67th St. and Columbus Ave.) for its program The View and its opinion that breastfeeding is "gross and disgusting." All lactating mothers and their supporters are welcome!

The cartoon by Hathor the Cowgoddess from May 24 (below) is therefore very timely. It's called "Buttinsky." Note all the details!

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2005 June 01. The nipple ripple is sweeping through some segments of North America. Now women on TV must often either cover their nipples (e.g. with tape) or have them digitally airbrushed out in broadcast. And that's when they're wearing clothes. One TERA correspondent calls this "sexist, stupid, prudish, and puritanical." And those are her mild terms.

 

2005 May 11. A discovery that women's topfreedom is allowed at Topsail Beach, North Carolina is causing a media frenzy, and reporting all over the world. The issue is being analyzed in detail; other NC beaches are being discussed for minute legalities; and hardly any topfree women are seen anywhere.

No one has paid attention to the report that on encountering a topfree woman on Topsail, police "ask" them to move to the far end of the beach. In our book that constitutes intimidation, harassment, and unjustified discrimination.

 

2005 March 26. A photographer is seeking mature women for a topfree project in New York City. Jordan Matter is looking for women above 40 (especially 60 and over) to participate in an ongoing photography project titled Uncovered: Celebrating Women in New York City. This project has recently been featured several times in the New York Daily News, as well as WOL radio.

It involves photographs of women casually going about their daily routine in public while topfree. The project is a reaction to the public madness that followed Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction."

Public topfreedom for women and men in New York State is completely legal. If you're interested, please contact Jordan Matter.

 

2005 March 26. The Kansas Senate has rejected a pro-breastfeeding bill. The House had passed it (HB 2284) with the requirement that women be "discreet" (thanks, Missouri), but the Senate removed that. That justified removal caused a few to refuse to pass it and effectively kill it for this session.

Senator Kay O'Connor (R-Olathe) said that private businesses should be allowed to prohibit breastfeeding, and that "if we didn't have people who were being indiscreet, we wouldn't need to pass this law. I couldn't support indiscreet breastfeeding. It's called exposure in some circles."

Senator O'Connor thinks that women's exposed breasts are a menace to American morals, and that she has the right to tell women where and how to breastfeed. If you wish to clue her in, please drop her a line. Be polite and to the point. Name-calling and vituperative stuff get nowhere.

Senator Kay O'Connor
1101 North Curtis
Olathe KS 66061 USA

Phone: 913 764 7935
Fax: 913 764 4492
Email: o'connor@senate.state.ks.us
Web site: www.kslegislature.org/koconnor

Some Kansas senators need a thank-you for supporting the bill. Here's one:

Senator Dr. Jim Barnett (R-Emporia)
1400 Lincoln
Emporia KS 66801

Phone: 620 342 5387
Fax: 620 342 6520
Email: barnett@senate.state.ks.us
Web site: www.kslegislature.org/jbarnett

 

2005 March 22. The Topfree Florida Five, arrested at Daytona Beach on March 13, are now considering their options for legal representation and challenges. Ironically, on the same day we heard of their arrest, a news item brought us to a site with many photos of women topfree out and about---in New York City.

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The photographer artist is Jordan Matter. On our Articles page, he has written trenchantly about what he's doing. There, we also have a few of his black and white photos from the same series, Uncovered: Celebrating Women in New York City.

We suggest you visit his site to see some remarkable work.

 

2005 March 22. Vera, of the Diablo Sun Devils, near San Francisco, has a site that promotes topfreedom with some fine words and many photos, such as the one below.

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2005 March 14. Liz book's topfree protest yesterday in Daytona Beach had some success. She was not arrested. But five other women were, because they were topfree outside Liz's "tent."

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Elizabeth Book looking at Morley Schloss, with the American flag and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the so-called Equal Protection Clause, on the day of her protest, March 13, 2005

The city agreed that Liz would not be arrested if she stayed in her designated area -- which mitigated the notion of equality and made the event a "show." There was no indication in the agreement that other women had to stay there as well. In addition, they carried signs for topfree equality. (It is legal in Daytona Beach to protest topfree, as it should be everywhere else, too.) One woman is one of the most famous American topfree activists: Kayla Sosnow. Another, from South Florida Free Beaches, is longtime advocate Shirley Mason. A third is another of the original Florida Topfree Ten, Norma Mitchell.

This is going to get interesting.

 

2005 March 10. The Arizona House is preparing a budget that deliberately omits funding for student newspapers because some do not like their content. Rep. Russell Pearce (R-Mesa) seems to think that the state should censor whatever newspapers it wishes. Attempt at such control goes against principles of press freedom and possibly against the US First Amendment. Fostering ignorance about sex appears to be his main goal.

What has this to do with TERA? Go here.

Complete coincidence, right?

 

2005 March 09. It was officially revealed today that Elizabeth Book's topfree protest scheduled for March 13 has gained an agreement from Daytona Beach that she will not be charged with an offence merely for being topfree. If you read the agreement carefully, no other woman will either.

That should be enough to get a whole lot of women---and men---to join her this Sunday at noon. It is a major concession from Daytona Beach, and a tactical victory in women's topfree rights. It is also a tribute to First Amendment lawyer Larry Walters of Orlando, who worked it out with the city.

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Liz Book being arrested a year ago (2004): Daytona Beach has indicated that is unlikely this year.

 

2005 March 09. Prince Charles of Great Britain has found himself confronting several uses of women's breasts within a few days. On March 2, he was greeted in Alice Springs NT, Australia, by topfree indigenous women performing a traditional dance. Yesterday he was greeted in Wellington, New Zealand by two protesters. One was feeding her baby and the other had an anti-colonial message written on her chest. Both were led away and charged with disorderly conduct.

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The woman with the written message is HanaPlant. The woman with the child is Holly Goldman.

Women's exposed breasts in protest have a long history. Although we don't often mention such protests, perhaps we should. This one relates directly to the use and control of women's breasts and bodies, whatever the announced reasons for the action.

The Prince appears to have been unfazed by his Australian experience:

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The rumour of his displeasure at the bare breasts appears unfounded.

 

2005 March 03. The campaign to allow women topfreedom at California beaches and parks has failed. No legislator was willing to introduce such a bill by the deadline for this session. Topfree women may therefore still end up in the state's sex offender registry along with those convicted of sex crimes.

A few extreme right-wing Christian groups claimed Lianna Johnsson's campaign was to encourage or tell women to "drop their top," and would harm "family values."

 

2005 February 28. Earlier this month, the following photo was published, of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez talking to people in a crowd. What's wrong with this picture?

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Nothing. What do Venezuelans know that Americans don't?!

 

2005 February 22. Liz Book has a new website. Go here. Her second annual topfree protest in Daytona Beach, Florida, is scheduled for Sunday March 13 "at high noon." She needs all the help that's willing to be there. The chances are good that this year's event will be more successful than 2004's.

From her site: "I have heard many people remark that we are in this dispute concerning topfreedom so that we can show our breasts. We are not. This is about personal freedom for women. This is about our Constitutional rights to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression."

 

2005 February 22. An artist in Michigan, who owns the Gonzo Airbrush gallery, was facing jail time for a mural he painted. Ed Stross, who has multiple sclerosis, was convicted of violating a sign ordinance in Roseville for his outdoor painting. It includes Eve with bare breasts and the word "love." The ordinance bans "obscene, indecent, or immoral matter" and applies to signs and advertising.

Whether Stross had a separate, more restrictive agreement with Roseville is unclear. Yesterday, his time in jail was postponed. An appeal may be launched on (US) First Amendment grounds.

The city's temporary mayor said, "This country is at war, our economy is down the tubes, and the newspaper headlines are all about Gonzo. I don't get it."

How convenient to claim the USA is at war. In every way, he doesn't get it.

 

2005 February 21. On February 19, the Globe and Mail (Toronto) caught up with another harassment of a woman breastfeeding, from January. Three letters on the matter appeared on February 21.

The mother and daughter were at a skating rink at Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto. A volunteer named Jutta Mason told the mother to stop breastfeeding or move.

The matter escalated, not because of anything the mother did, but because of Mason's attempt to control the situation. She was good enough to publicize the mother's complaint and comments of others, but she always wrote a reply defending herself.

She also wrote policy on the matter for Dufferin Grove. Although she is an effective and well-known volunteer, she overstepped her authority. Her opinion goes against the policy of the city of Toronto and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Unfortunately, she refuses to apologize and insists that women breastfeed only in a manner or location that she specifies.

When it seemed likely there would be a feed-in protest at a Friday night supper, Mason cancelled the suppers for the rest of the season.

 

2005 February 16. A topfreedom discussion board has been restarted here. It looks quite useful already and will be even more so as it grows.

An e-mail discussion list is available at the Yahoo! group "usa_topfreedom." It doesn't see much activity generally but easily could.

TERA is thinking of starting a discussion facility of some kind to make it easier for topfreedom advocates (and questioners) to interact. Meanwhile, do check out the others.

 

2005 February 10. Game maker Tecmo has filed a lawsuit against people who published a hack for its Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball computer game. The hack enables users to see women playing without bikini tops.

If the game had had them playing topfree and the hack had covered them up, we wonder what the result would have been.

 

2005 February 03. We recommend this article by Jessica Ellis of UCLA on the subject of Liana Johnsson's move to decriminalize women's breasts in California.

 

2005 January 29. Earlier this month in Pilot Point, Texas, an art gallery owner launched civil action against the city and police. In 2003, Dwight Miller had commissioned local artist Justine Wollaston to paint a mural on his gallery's large outside wall---"Creation of Eve."

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Because Eve is nude (duh) and has bare breasts visible, the police demanded that Miller cover the breasts or face charges of displaying material harmful to minors. He then covered them with a banner that read "Crime scene."

Miller's suit demands removal of the threat of arrest when he again displays the original work. By the way, the mural is partly a commentary on a famous Michelangelo painting, "Creation of Adam."

In 2004, the Pilot Point Police Department was given a Jefferson Muzzle award by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, for blatant violation of the US Constitution's First Amendment (about freedom of expression).

 

2005 January 28. A typical fear-mongering organization of the American extreme right is out to "save California." It has pronounced on the move to allow California women topfree sunbathing at beaches and parks (see Jan. 23 story below). Among its sanctimonious claims: "There are good reasons for modesty laws---to protect the innocence of women and girls and to promote a decent society supportive of children and families."

Yes, there are bad reasons for topfreedom laws: they protect discrimination against women and girls and promote the indecency obsession over female breasts. This has nothing to do with families. It keeps children ignorant, misled, and even traumatized, and a lot of advertisers and strip clubs in business.

 

2005 January 26. And now: an article titled "US children still traumatized one year after seeing partially exposed breast on TV." Here's a sample: "A great number of children who witnessed the tragedy are still plagued by nightmares of sun-shapes that recall Jackson's nipple ring. Of the infants who saw the breast, 76 percent are unwilling to breast feed or use a bottle, forcing their parents to nourish them intravenously."

I guess we should advise, "Read it and weep." It is, after all, in The Onion.

(It's satire, you may have figured.)

 

2005 January 23. We don't usually hear news like this. Liana Johnsson, a public defender in a California county, has managed to get a group of lawyers to ask the legislature to make topfree sunbathing for women legal throughout the state. One reason: current California law may put topfree women on a sex offenders' list. But Johnsson is quick to point out that the real issue is "equal protection under the law."

Sunbathing only? We'll have to wait for further details.

 

2005 January 17.  In the articles section of this site, we now have a 2003 essay by Robin Jensen of the University of Illinois. She examines topfreedom's arguments---both sides---from a study of a recent analysis of rhetoric.

 

2005 January 09.  Today Linda Meyer went topfree in the Matsqui Recreation Centre Pool in Abbotsford, a conservative area in British Columbia. The staff objected and called police. The police dispatcher told the staff to tell Linda to put a top on. Shortly afterwards, the police arrived at the pool.

Then, after a brief discussion . . . they left.

Linda was enraged at the attitude of pool staff. But in the end, she received an apology and free pass from them. One reason for this outcome may be that Linda knows law, having studied it for some years. Also, she carries with her the decision that struck down the Maple Ridge BC bylaw discriminating against women's breasts. As they say (or used to): Don't leave home without it.

By the way, Linda didn't even have a swimming top at the pool. That's gutsy, don't you think?

 

2004 December 31. We exit the year with notice about this inspiring recent site. Mama's Milk Tees sells products that are pro-breastfeeding, from "subtle to in-your-face." They have not only T-shirts but sweatshirts, buttons, magnets, bags, mousepads, clocks, and more. The theme may be summed up by their motto, "Wear your passion for breastfeeding!" and this logo:

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Other images available among many:

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Another slogan you may get printed on shirts: "You're staring at my baby's lunch."

The products are sold by a third party, Café Press.

 

2004 December 22. The FCC is investigating NBC's broadcast of the summer Olympics for "indecency." There was a total of 9 complaints about the opening ceremonies in an estimated viewership of 56 million. One complainant wrote that "my children saw an exposed breast during the opening ceremonies."

Really? How about that. Only one, you say?

Read Lisa de Moraes' wry commentary here.

 

2004 December 19. In Manchester NH, several mothers held a breastfeed-in near a J C Penney store in support of Jennifer Fox. On December 12, Ms. Fox had been approached by a manager who repeatedly and strongly "hinted" that she should feed her daughter in the bathroom.

New Hampshire law states, "Breastfeeding a child does not constitute an act of indecent exposure; and to restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child is discriminatory."

Another store manager apologized profusely and then added that "there was never an issue that the person could not breastfeed in the store." Yeah, right.

But we're glad they seem to get it now.

 

2004 December 04. In Battle Creek MI, 14 women of St. Thomas Episcopal Church went topfree in pews for a calendar to raise money for breast cancer research. They called themselves the Belles of St. Mary's. As far as we know, no nipples appear in the calendar---the usual situation, except for the Breast of Canada calendar. The Belles' calendar's cover:

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One churchgoing mother of four was not amused: "It [runs] counter to the morals I am attempting to instill into my children."

 

2004 December 01. A man was fined AU$500 today for taking pictures of topfree women on an Australian beach without their knowledge. He used the camera in a portable phone.

 

2004 November 19. The faculty of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University passed a resolution in strong support of the school's student newspaper, the State Press. Why? On October 7, the Press carried an article on its front page about body piercing, with two pictures of breasts. One was this (click here or on the photo to link to the original State Press article):

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photo by Andrew Benson, State Press

Through a lower official, the university's President, Michael Crow, then threatened to withdraw the funding the university provides to the paper and to force its premises off campus -- unless it adhered to a policy he approved of. But the paper is editorially independent of the university administration and decried its attempt at censorship.

One reason the administration acted is that one of the university's biggest donors, Ira Fulton, had called the President to complain about the photos.

 

2004 November 07. The New York City Marathon, sponsored by ING, had over 36,000 entrants today. The person who drew the most commentary is pictured below. (That's her camera strap in front of her face.) A typical celebration well known in the sports world---for men. Why not for women too?

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2004 November 05. The decision in the trial of Elizabeth Book at Daytona Beach has been delayed, pending another case which is to be decided in a federal district court in January. On March 7, 2004, Book was the only topfree protester, demonstrating in part against the inequality of women's and men's breasts, also against Daytona Beach's anti-nudity ordinance.

Yesterday, her lawyer, First Amendment expert Lawrence Walters, stated, "Ms. Book was engaging in core political speech and she was silenced." He pointed out that the ordinance in question says that nudity can't be prohibited if it is "part of a bona fide live communication, demonstration, or performance."

Meanwhile, the Daytona police force is claiming that she is responsible for the $7000 to 8000 it cost for police duty that day. We might call that downloading with a vengeance.

She is interested in continuing her protest next March, with more women. Among other things, she writes:

"I have even seen people staring fixatedly at my breasts in the grocery store. Some of these people are the very ones who would act outraged in front of their peers (that my nipples are apparent through my shirt). Yet they stare unabashedly when they think no one is looking. Hypocrisy is the word for it."

 

2004 November 01. TERA has been informed that the Topfree 10 case in Florida, to recognize women's topfree rights in accord with the US constitution, has been dismissed on a technicality. [Sorry, no URL.] Although that is unfortunate, it lessens not one bit the validity of topfree equality as we see it, in Florida and elsewhere in North America.

 

2004 October 15. A swimming coach has been suspended at a Minnesota high school. Some of her girls swam topfree in a practice a few days ago for 15 minutes or less. That's all the report indicates! Excuse us while we wonder what the problem was.

 

2004 October 05. Yesterday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer printed an enlightened article by Connie Schultz. It all started one hot day when her 9-year-old daughter wanted to take her shirt off . . .

(Unrelated to that, also check out the new material below under September 23.)

 

2004 September 25. It's official. The FCC Commissioners voted a few days ago to fine 20 CBS TV stations US$27,500 each for "wilfully" (direct quote) exposing Janet Jackson's right breast in the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show.

CBS claims the exposure could not have been known in advance. The FCC did not investigate that claim. It also ignored Justin Timberlake's role. More significantly, FCC Chairman Michael Powell stated that the rest of the half-time show, with all its sexual references, was not indecent.

Obviously the FCC believes that Janet Jackson's breast is indecent all by itself.

 

2004 September 23. In two events over the summer, women in Mendocino, California stood bare breasted to protest the war in Iraq. One resident, Janie Rezner, stated simply that it's not breasts that are indecent, it's war.

"We are baring our breasts to expose the truth of humanity, what's at stake, what's important . . . using it as a reflection against the madness, murder, and deceit of the [Bush] administration . . . I have a vision of women all over the world standing bare-breasted in silence with the Women in Black, holding signs, joined together in outrage by what the greed-filled and insane men of this world dare to do."

Rezner carried a sign that read, "Breasts nourish life, war feeds on death."

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Read one of her essays here.

 

2004 September 15. With a date of September 16, this article is an update of sorts on the Topfree 10 lawsuit in Florida. Nine women and a girl seek to overturn Florida's laws used against topfree women, basing their arguments on the US constitution.

The reporter had to stretch it to get "arguments" from the other side. Judge for yourself.

 

2004 September 08. The American Federal Communications Commission plans to hand down fines of US$550,000 for Nipplegate. That's $27,500 to each of 20 CBS stations that broadcast Janet Jackson's bejewelled right nipple on February 1 distantly for about a second and a half.

CBS affiliate stations escaped the same penalty by a technicality. They are not owned by Viacom, which owns CBS.

Whether or not the Super Bowl halftime show was appropriate, we hesitate to calculate the value of Janet Jackson's body at $550,000 for about one square inch.

Never has one nipple done so little for so much.

 

2004 August 23. The 2005 edition of the Breast of Canada calendar is available! Another winner in this magnificent and important series of annual calendars from Guelph, Ontario. TERA is glad to be a sponsor and encourages all its supporters to purchase calendars, hang them everywhere, and give them to as many people as possible.

For a lot more information, click on the photo below.

 

2004 August 16. Today the Governor of Illinois signed into law a bill allowing mothers to breastfeed in public. This may make life somewhat easier for women.

This flag-and-apple-pie law constitutes an exception, however, meaning women's breasts are still indecent. May we be excused for not cheering a whole lot?

 

2004 August 11. Police were called in to search a Florida government building washroom for---you guessed it---a topfree woman. "She may have been just washing up," noted one sheriff's deputy sombrely. "She wasn't running around." Did the police think she'd be attempting the 500-metre? They searched the whole building, just in case.

Heaven forfend a woman should do something illegal like wash in a washroom. We look forward to massive numbers of police storming a washroom stall and charging the person therein with indecent exposure.

 

2004 August 10. A nurse-in at a Starbucks store in Maryland emphasized the push to get the chain to allow breastfeeding in all its stores in every state. Starbucks merely recognized Maryland law and told its employees there to allow breastfeeding.

In a Starbucks in Silver Spring, Lorig Charkoudian had been told on July 8 to use a blanket or take her child to the bathroom. In response, an enterprising website was set up to pressure Starbucks into sense on this issue.

 

2004 August 02. A couple was removed from an American Airlines flight on July 31 because the man was wearing a T-shirt with a bare breast depicted on it. Apparently American believes it has the right to eject anyone "clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers." We presume the breast wasn't doing much of anything. If that's all there is to this story, then American is wrong.

A person could be a problem for wearing shorts. What about a shirt that read "Women have equal rights"? The concept is offensive to many.

Seven law enforcers were called to get the couple off the plane in Miami after one flight attendant apparently had yelled at the man, "You have to take off that shirt right now!"

Maybe he should have taken it off. Then his companion could have taken hers off too.

 

2004 August 01. Around the USA, there are more reports of women being removed from premises for breastfeeding but not putting up with such ill treatment. Arguments continue about "discreet" feeding, which are either irrelevant or keep women's breasts under the control of men.

One (male) commissioner in Lawrence, Kansas had this to say: ". . . it's unfortunate that people are disturbed by seeing a nursing mother. I think we're raising an entire generation who think the purpose of the breast is to sell beer, instead of providing the best possible nutrition for the baby."

 

2004 July 19. More from Iowa (see July 08, below). A nurse-in was held July 17 by about 50 mothers and children, across from the Hoover House restaurant in West Branch. A few state legislators weighed in that breastfeeding mothers should be discreet, and that if there is a complaint, a restaurant staffer should approach the mother.

Nope. He/she should advise the complainer. Breastfeeding is healthy and legal; and women's breasts are not owned by others. If you don't like breastfeeding, don't look. The phrase MYOB comes to mind.

Meanwhile, a 15-year-old wait person at Hoover said she would refuse to serve a breastfeeding mother.

Another story here.

 

2004 July 15. In Missouri's McDonald County, a man with some topfree women in a canoeing party on the Elk River may have assaulted two other women onshore. Admittedly, rowdy behaviour seems common on certain parts of the river. There are laws in place to deal with it.

So what is the county's reaction? Ban "nudity" on county waterways. This has to be read to be disbelieved. Along the way, we learn that women's exposed breasts endanger children.

 

2004 July 14. Prof. Sherry Colb, from Rutgers Law School in New Jersey, is sympathetic to breastfeeding in public, She points out why it is still hard for women to do it. However, she implies that women's breasts may be exposed for either feeding or sex. What about having them out just for comfort, or for no obvious reason?

 

2004 July 08. In West Branch, Iowa, an Iowa City mother named Amy Schoon was accosted in Hoover House restaurant July 3 and told to breastfeed her child in the bathroom. As sometimes happens, La Leche League stepped in to make helpful comments. However, LLL suggests only "discreet" breastfeeding, which reinforces the notion that women's nipples are indecent---and belong to men first and foremost.

To its credit in the Iowa case, LLL's spokeswoman pointed out that Iowa law doesn't require women to "cover up." To its discredit, the same person excused the restaurant owner for harassing Amy Schoon.

In this story, the restaurant's co-owner said "he realizes breast feeding is 'natural' but doesn't feel it's appropriate to do it in a way that children see it and the parents of those children have to explain it."

So: is a woman to be penalized for doing the right thing for her child and herself just because a person may not be able to "explain" it and children are---excuse us while we choke---harmed by seeing breastfeeding?

Oh, we almost forgot: this restaurant also holds wet T-shirt contests.

 

2004 July 02. In Grandview Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, there was a topfree demonstration to demand that women not be hassled for going topfree anywhere in Canada. Linda Meyer was in the centre of this one. A photo will be posted when it's available.

 

2004 June 10. A substitute teacher in Delaware has been charged with endangering the welfare of children because he allowed second-grade pupils to see "pornography" in the classroom. Apparently, he often went over to his desk and viewed images which the pupils saw if they came up to him.

The fellow needs to be doing some other line of work. But if you look at this story, you will find that the only images described are of "topless" women. The report goes on to call them "naked" and "sexually explicit."

While we don't know what was on the computer, the escalation in language may be part of the general overreaction to topfree women that is far worse than children of any age actually seeing one.

 

2004 June 08. While we don't usually have any reason to print photos of flashers---TERA is decidedly not about that---we could not resist the following, supplied to us by a TERA supporter and fan of the Calgary Flames hockey team. As the team advanced in the NHL playoffs, thousands of people celebrated on Calgary's 17th Avenue after, during, and before games.

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2004 June 05. Although we come to this late, it is worth mentioning. In February, there was great objection to the painting below, part of a massive canvas tapestry by Latino, Chicano, and African American artists installed in late January in the Los Angeles airport. After February 1 and Janet Jackson, demands poured in to take the painting down. It was removed. Then it was reinstated.

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It was painted by Victoria Delgadillo as a reaction to 9/11. The whole tapestry was created in the fall of 2001. Whether air passengers want to be reminded of that time is one question; but it was lost in the screaming about the bare breasts.

One official said, "We need art that does not offend anyone."

 

2004 May 27. Breast of Canada Calendar has the following announcement.
------
Guelph long distance runner Julia Phillips has graciously offered to run a half marathon (21 km) as a fund raising initiative for Breast of Canada Calendar in the First Annual Run, Walk, Roll for Cancer Prevention happening in Ottawa during the National Capital Race on Sunday May 30.

BoC is a half beneficiary (with Stop Cancer Now) of pledges for Julia Phillips. If interested, click here. Then scroll down to Donate Now and click. When filling out the form, in the Notes field, put "Julia Phillips (18)."
------
Although TERA is not a beneficiary of this event, it enthusiastically supports
BoC.

 

2004 May 22. A 45-second film made in Europe encouraging people to vote has been censored in England because of a nipple. The sequence in question shows a baby trying to determine which breast to feed from, choosing (so it is suggested) as a voter might choose between candidates in an election. Mild humour, we suppose.

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A spokesman at the (British) Cinema Advertising Association defended the censorship: "The infant was contemplating the breasts in rather an adult way."

 

2004 May 20. We have often made the point that topfreedom is for everyone who wishes it: men, women, girls, boys. Photos of topfree women and girls are not indecent, illegal, or any other problem. Now a girl (age 15) has found this site and kindly sent us an article and photos.

 

2004 May 18. Ordinarily, we don't post photos of people wearing clothes over their breasts. This is an exception. Sunday, Alexandra Kerry (John Kerry's daughter) wore this dress at the Cannes Film Festival. No big deal there. The big deal is that almost no American newspapers published such a photo. The Washington Post did---with a black bar across her nipples.

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2004 May 13. The Oklahoma House today approved a bill that gives women the right to breastfeed in public. The bill then went to the Senate (which passed it a few weeks later).

A female member of the House was one of two to vote against the bill (with 96 in favour). She stated that women should be modest and discreet, and feed their child in a restroom or car.

On this issue, just when Oklahoma tries to get into the 20th century (and we mean 20th), someone tries to keep it in the 19th. In any case, as we've often said, allowing women to breastfeed in public is good, but far from enough. It reinforces the opinion that their breasts are inherently indecent.

 

2004 May 12. A report from England states that an Armani ad has been banned there. It showed a topfree long-haired boy. The Advertising Standards Agency claims it is offensive, sexualizes children, and encourages pedophiles.

We haven't seen the ad, which sounds like it shows a child doing what children may often do. There is, however, no evidence that photos of topfree children encourage anything (except perhaps clothing purchases).

 

2004 May 02. At the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre (B.C.), Linda Meyer encountered two difficult individuals who objected to her state of dress. One man told her repeatedly to put a top on "because there were children present," whereupon Linda asked the staff to tell the man to stop harassing her. That worked; and he left before she did.

In the women's change room, a woman objected to Linda being topfree because the woman's son was there! After an unpleasant exchange, Linda said that she could be totally naked in that room and proceeded to remove the rest of her clothes and walk around. The woman dressed hurriedly without even drying herself and left with her son.

Linda noted in conclusion, "the more people harass and humiliate me, the more determined I become."

 

2004 April-May. Comfest ("Community Festival") has been held in Columbus, Ohio for over 30 years. (This year it's June 25 to 27.) As part of the festivities, many girls and women go topfree and are painted. There are several photos here, here, here, and here.

 

2004 April 16. In Brazoria County, Texas, it is now illegal for women to be topfree. Nearby Galveston County has no such law, and the state of Texas itself doesn't either.

 

2004 April 14. Check out this article by Richard Goldstein on the significance of breast baring for women. Although his final conclusion is questionable, he has many worthy points.

 

2004 April 10. On Saturday Night Live, Janet Jackson herself spoofed the FCC's attack against the US First Amendment by flashing her breast again. This time, she was wearing more than at the Super Bowl, and the flash was therefore unnecessarily pixellated by NBC. Part of the joke?

The skit in which this happened had Jackson pretending to be Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor.

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Tom Shales of the Washington Post noted, "On the matter of children who have been scarred for life by having seen a woman's nipple on television, no accurate count is yet available."

 

2004 April 09. On April 4, singer Alanis Morissette hosted the Juno awards on Canadian television. At one point, she took off a bathrobe to reveal a "nude suit" with uproariously funny add-on nipples and pubic hair. When a voice told her she couldn't show those on TV, she ripped them off.

Of course, the main reference was to Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl in February. She suggested Jackson be given "cultural refugee" status in Canada. Her whole routine demolished the FCC's war on "indecency."

CNN reported the story but refused to show a photo of Morissette in her suit. One story in Canada reported that "she believes that repressing acceptance of the human body causes eating disorders -- something she has struggled with -- rape, and sexual molestation."

An editorial April 6 in the main Canadian newspaper, mildly in favour of what she did, called the above statement contentious and also said women's actual breasts should not be seen on a show like the Junos. An objecting letter was printed April 8.

Parting shot from the singer: "At least we live in a land where we can still think about the human body as being beautiful, and we're not afraid of the female breast."

True? Regardless: Go, Alanis!

 

2004 April 01. No joke, it's as simple as ABC. The Alcoholic Beverage Commission in Nashville ordered pictures removed from walls, and images on a restaurant's menus censored, because women's nipples were visible on both. The offending items were reproductions of photos from the 19th century. They had been on view at the restaurant for nearly 30 years.

Then the Commission backtracked, saying most of the items could stay. By that time, the restaurant had defaced all its menus by blacking out all the nipples with a magic marker.

 

2004 March 26. In 2002, Rebekah Revels was removed from the Miss America contest in North Carolina because her former boyfriend said he had two photos of her topfree. We found it hard to cheer for any of the three sides in this sorry saga, even though it's unfortunate that the mere existence of topfree photos could do anything negative.

The boyfriend, Tosh Welch, has been found guilty of interfering with Revels' contract and chances with the Miss America pageant. A jury awarded her US$11,000.

Revels is now working on her singing/recording career. Maybe she can find a good tune for "Topfree as I Wanna Be."

 

2004 March 22 & 24. A fine article by Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 22 details the travail of Lisa Tabb breastfeeding her daughter in a public place in San Rafael, north of the city. She was told by a community centre manager to cover up.

The centre's marketing director (!) then backtracked, saying Tabb didn't have to cover herself. But really, she should know better, was the implication.

So just harass women and then say you didn't mean it but should have meant it.

The manager and the centre are not acting in accord with California law. Letters, including one from TERA, appeared on the 24th.

 

2004 March 23. Protest march announcement. The second annual Boobies against Ashcroft March will be held on Thursday, March 25 at 16:00 (4 PM PST) at Chevy's Restaurant, corner of Golden Gate and Van Ness in San Francisco. There are four points the protesters wish to make. They invite participants to march topfree to the nearby Federal Building on Golden Gate.

TERA is most interested in this march, although we haven't enough information to make a recommendation.

 

2004 March 23. A few years ago, Renée Sachs offered free nipple piercings to anyone willing to have the procedure done in her store window in Albuquerque. She was charged with public indecency because women were topfree in the window. Men were also, but occasioned no complaint.

Today the New Mexico Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, stating that the city's ban on public nudity was constitutional.

We disagree completely.

 

2004 March 21. The news media have reported lately on topfreedom mostly as it pertains to flashing. Many media types don't know there is any other possibility (except perhaps breastfeeding).

A grade school (elementary school) teacher in Florida may have lost her job because she engaged in a bit of flashing at a private party unconnected to her school teaching.

Courtney Love flashed six times on a recent David Letterman Late Show.

And so on. The worst news about the latter (whatever one thinks of Love or her escapades) is that CBS altered the tape so that not even a side view of one of Love's breasts was broadcast. So CBS continues to fetishize breasts by hiding them; same old same old.

Love should just walk out for an interview topfree, and that's that. (Yeah, right . . . )

 

2004 March 16. Last summer, John Aaron and Linda Marszalkowski encountered problems with her exercising of her topfree rights in and around Buffalo. John recently filed this report about official area reactions. Photo included.

Nearly twelve years after the law changed in New York State, many who work in police departments still don't have a clue. Read John's report for details.

 

2004 March 15. After much ink in the press, there's little to add about the topfree protest at the end of Bike Week in Daytona Beach. The letters in the local paper were the usual mix of sense and indignation. One reporter said this:

"At various times, the protest march organizer, Liz Book, said she was supporting the troops in Iraq, the right to breastfeed in public, equal rights for women, the homeless, Bike Week, or free speech. Or maybe it was about the right to flash bare breasts on Main Street . . . Even if the protest were only about being allowed to flash bare breasts in Daytona Beach during Bike Week, that was protected speech under the law . . . [but] exposing naked breasts to the hoots and whistles of eager-eyed men doesn't advance equal rights for women."

 

2004 March 07. Liz Book's protest took place today as planned in Daytona Beach, Florida. A few dozen people marched with her, before a large and somewhat confused crowd. Police threatened to arrest any woman who removed a top. For whatever reason, none did.

Until the end. Liz reached a bridge, removed her top, and was arrested. TERA finds it hard to believe that was appropriate, for two reasons: she had given a speech beforehand which marked the march as political protest, constitutionally protected; and the 14th amendment to the US constitution means there should be no special negative treatment for women's breasts in the first place.

Would this arrest have resulted had this not been the end of Bike Week? Had there been more women? Had there been a different kind of protest? We'll never know.

Over the next few days, TERA may summarize news coverage and provide updates. Meanwhile, tomorrow is International Women's Day . . . Raelian women are supposed to march all over the world with "partly exposed" breasts to protest the same thing Liz Book was getting at.

Regardless of whether that will happen, the point still needs making, and IWD is a good time for it.

 

2004 March 06. Here is an update on the march in Daytona Beach tomorrow. A federal district judge has declined to order police not to arrest topfree protesters. He refused to rule in any direction, largely because there wasn't time to hear from both sides of the issue.

What happens tomorrow, then, is unknown in most ways. We will post something here when we have more news. TERA makes no recommendation on participation in this event.

 

2004 March 06. Another article in the Orlando Sentinel by Jeff Libby, and articles in other Florida papers, report that Eilzabeth Book and Shirley Mason have filed a suit to stop police from arresting any topfree protesters in Daytona Beach on Sunday.

Such pre-emptive tactics have been successful before. This one was filed by noted first-amendment lawyer Larry Walters. It shows that the planned march is serious (and makes TERA feel a little better about it). Even Daytona Beach's city attorney seems to recognize that the march is legitimate and constitutionally protected.

 

2004 March 02. An article in the Orlando Sentinel by Jeff Libby profiles Elizabeth Book and her planned topfree event this Sunday in Daytona Beach. A march is planned for the end of "Bike Week." Will it involve flashing bikers (in either sense)? Women's equal rights? Approbation? Condemnation? A big yawn? We don't know. Reliable eyewitness reports are sought. (Please write to TERA.)

Meanwhile, the Orlando article has been reprinted in whole or part around the world. More "fallout," so to speak, from Janet Jackson. As we said on February 6 (below), "now is the perfect time for topfree demonstrations." We hope this one works.

 

2004 February 27. Police in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia banned a group of Aboriginal women from dancing topfree in a public park. It doesn't matter, of course, that they have been dancing like that for thousands of years and have been seen doing so many times on Australian television.

Protests and demands for an apology ensued.

Which is worse, allowing Natives to dance topfree as an exotic spectacle (but not allowing such for the white descendants of Europeans), or forcing the Anglo-Saxon breast phobia on Natives? Hard to choose, isn't it?

 

2004 February 25. From the fuss over the Super Bowl, we are unaware of any news commentary that really got the point---TERA's point, of course. Except this from the Kansas City Star. Maureen Waters wrote a spelndid article, which includes the following:

"This is about equal rights, the ones women didn't get in the 20th century and still don't have in the 21st. I'm surprised some feminists didn't howl about this. Since I didn't hear them, I'm howling. Let women expose their breasts. If men can do it legally, then women should be able to do so as well."

Do read the article in full!

 

2004 February 10. The Tennessee woman suing everyone in sight over the distant, partly obscured, 1.5 second sight of Janet Jackson's right nipple has dropped her legal action. If it had gone ahead, it would have been fun to follow the testimony.

 

2004 February 06. Nipplemania continues (with thanks to Linda Meyer for the term). After the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake event (below), the American news media seem to have gone wild. Despite some good articles, many miss the point. In an interview a few days ago, TERA's President said that American officials seemed to be treating this as the new 9/11---and it turns out he's not far off.

Jackson's appearance at the Grammy Awards on February 8 has been cancelled. An episode of ER on NBC was hastily edited to remove a glimpse of an older woman patient's breast. Best of all, a woman in Tennessee is reported to have dreamed up a class action lawsuit for having "suffered outrage, anger, embarrassment, and serious injury" over Jackson's exposure and other "sexually explicit conduct" of the Super Bowl half-time show.

Two questions about that: 1. How is it that no one complained until Jackson's breast was exposed? 2. May we sue politicians and public officials for abridgement of freedoms based on ignorance and ideology? That harms everyone (including children) more than Jackson's or anyone's breast/nipple/nipple shield ever could.

Regardless, one of the better articles on the subject that really has to do with breasts is here.

As one correspondent with TERA has said, now is the perfect time for topfree demonstrations.

 

2004 February 04. Elizabeth Book, alias Wild Rose, is going ahead with plans for a major topfree event in Daytona Beach on March 7 (in Bike Week): at the pier, "high noon." Although TERA is not involved in this, it will try to keep readers informed. Elizabeth told us:

"I will not be a quiet voice in this revolution. Sitting down and quietly protesting has been shown to be totally ineffective. My personal belief is that the louder the voice, the greater chance we have of being heard."

Her e-mail address: wildrosestands@yahoo.com.

 

2004 February 01. Keeping abreast of the boob tube. 100 million people saw it in the Super Bowl half-time show. And now it seems most are complaining (even though a small fraction is). We refer to the Janet Jackson Jumping Jewel. Normally we don't comment on such things. But there are some topfreedom issues in this.

At the end of a musical number with Jackson and Justin Timberlake, he pulled away part of her dress to reveal for a second or so a bare breast. (Almost. Her nipple seemed covered with a pasty, although it was actually a nipple brooch or shield---which only an enlarged photo proved.)

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The apologies from everyone were more stunning than the event itself. CBS, MTV, the NFL, Timberlake, and Jackson were unsuitably contrite. Timberlake blamed a "wardrobe malfunction." Like, wow---no one got the joke. What city was this in, after all!

Houston, we have a real problem. Almost no one comments on the sexualized song and dance Timberlake and Jackson did, with its suggestion of coercion, but the instant a breast shows up, with a nipple brooch, the world is going to collapse.

Focus on the Family said the event contained "nudity" and a "striptease," also misusing the word family, as it always does. The FCC Chairman promised to launch an investigation into this "classless, crass, deplorable" act. He can almost smell the fines for indecency. We suppose he's found his weapon of mass distraction.

Although we have no love for the attitude towards women that the musical number indicated, the hyper-reactions to the bare breast further reveal a culture of not just body phobia but body dementia. Still, if women and their bodies tend to be treated the way they often have been in America, some people are going to subvert the rules, and eventually remake them.

 

2004 January 14. Although we haven't much interest in "topless bars," there's a curious news item from West Des Moines, Iowa. Seems what is illegal there is "exposure of female nipples by any entertainer in a liquor-selling establishment."

We could argue that the whole thing isn't entertaining. Or perhaps the law means that audience members may be topfree. Regardless, police arrested some women entertainers who seemed topless but actually had flesh-coloured latex covering their nipples.

They were acquitted. So a covering which looks realer than real is okay but the really real thing isn't. Cultural simulacra aside, we suggest a trade name for this particular latex. We may then ask, "Is it live, or is it Mammarex?"

(If you don't get it, go here.)

 

2003 December 31. We close the year on a pleasant note. In Santa Cruz, California, Metroactive reporter Gary Singh writes about a current art exhibition (to January 17) called "Got Breast Milk." No question mark about it.

One of the artists, Kerri Lawnsby, has a forthright attitude: "If my boy is hungry, I'm going to whip out my boob and feed him. I don't care where we are."

To that we say Happy New Year.

 

2003 December 18. A correspondent kindly sent us a copy of the seal of the Commonwealth (State) of Virginia.

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That left breast is uncovered. We don't necessarily recommend standing on people; nonetheless, the Latin reads, more or less, "This is what always happens to tyrants."

We know these aren't the official colours, but the design is right.

 

2003 December 05. Elizabeth Book, alias Wild Rose, is planning a major protest against laws banning women's exposed breasts. Tentative date: March 7, 2004. Place: Daytona Beach, Florida. Wanted: lots of women.

This would be during a bikers' gathering. Would it work? More on this possibility when and if we know more.

 

2003 December 01. Writing in the Arizona Republic on the Utah story about breastfeeding at a Burger King, columnist Linda Váldez discussed the need for women to reclaim their bodies. She objected to the current situation: "Breasts are still defined in terms of sex and salesmanship. Cleavage is big business. But mother's milk is icky." She went on to say, "Moms who practice the womanly art of breast-feeding in public are beginning to demand a change in America's adolescent view of women's bodies."

Good stuff. Unfortunately, Váldez also wrote that "The Burger King customer who protested the sight of an exposed breast had the right idea, but the wrong context."

She didn't have the right idea at all. Until people reject the notion that breasts are indecent, breastfeeding will also seem indecent.

In response to the Burger King incident, Heather Cushman-Dowdee created another fine cartoon. Go here!

 

2003 November 24. We draw your attention to www.007b.com, a site that has grown very much lately. It is devoted to the topic of breasts as feeders and nurturers, and presents many ideas, photos, discussions, and links.

 

2003 November 23. Continuing the story about the breastfeeding woman in Utah (see November 13, below):

To its credit, The Daily Herald in Provo wrote an editorial (Nov. 17) strongly in favour of Geary. But it stated that "nursing mothers should make every effort to maintain modesty and stay covered up." That just upholds the indecency of women's breasts, among other sorry notions.

TERA's President wrote a reply (printed Nov. 20) pointing that out. It brought forth much invective from readers. One of the quieter responses (!) claimed that Utah law criminalizes breastfeeding women who expose breasts, which it does not.

The original editorial and readers' comments on it are here. Dr. Rapoport's letter and readers' comments on it are here.

Burger King initially issued Geary a vague, unhelpful form letter. It eventually went to news media with something more favourable, in an attempt to welcome breastfeeding mothers and possibly forestall national protests. Catherine Geary emerged from all this an unlikely hero, and a quite reasonable person, even if without interest in the larger issue.

 

2003 November 14. We were recently informed of a line of clothes called Wholesomewear, created because of "the need for modesty in swimwear." The outfits seem a slight revision of what women wore in 1903. Perhaps the manufacturer thinks that modesty is a property of clothes rather than of people.

There must be nothing so comfortable as wearing two layers of clothes to get wet.

 

2003 November 13. A woman is dissatisfied with the way she was treated by a Burger King restaurant in Sandy, Utah. On November 8, Catherine Geary of Orem was shouted at by an employee that if she wanted to continue breastfeeding her daughter, she would have to go into the bathroom or leave the store. This was occasioned, as could be expected, by a complaint from a customer.

Utah law apparently allows breastfeeding, irrespective of whether a woman "covers herself." The restaurant has made insufficient apology, according to Geary and her family. They ask that the store enact a policy on how to treat such situations properly.

No one has mentioned what that is: educating the complainer, or doing nothing at all. No woman breastfeeding should ever be approached for any reason except to give a compliment or offer of help, if warranted.

According to another report, Geary is "a strong promoter of modesty" and would never bare her breast(s) in feeding. Apart from the use of modesty, that would be an acceptable choice, even though it sometimes requires extra work. Unfortunately, the society Geary lives in is reluctant to give her or other women a choice, despite a few laws.

 

2003 November 09. Jerry Large of the Seattle Times wrote an article about the Topfree 10's new lawsuit in Florida for topfree equal rights there. He started off in favour but ended up against women's topfree rights, with such statements as "There are too many Arnold Schwarzeneggers around for most women to feel comfortable baring their breasts" and "Those Florida women might want to keep their shirts on until we have a more mature view of gender differences."

That is like saying there are too many white people around for most blacks to feel comfortable showing their skin, and we should not grant equal rights to any group until we are more mature.

 

2003 October 19. Over the next little while, we will post more photos. We draw your attention to the first batch, from Eric Koszyk of Oregon and from Whitney McCleskey of Alabama.

Eric sent us photos from the 2003 Oregon Country Fair, which we have posted here. Whitney is one of the most emphatic women's topfree rights proponents in the southern USA. Her photos are here.

 

2003 October 02. Stunning triumph in Guelph! The play referred to on September 15 (below) was premiered tonight in Guelph, Ontario, to a standing ovation. And so deserved it was! The Strong Breast Revolution, directed by Vicki Hambley and co-written by her and the actors, is the kind of artistic creation TERA has been looking for throughout its existence.

The play consists of several linked skits that shout out (sometimes literally) respect for women, their breasts, and topfreedom. They deal with body image, breastfeeding, breast disease, and much more, including reactions to breasts and to topfreedom from family, friends, and strangers. Some of the lines and actions are uproariously funny, some are piercingly poignant.

All four actors are current or recent students at the University of Guelph. The play includes stories that come from their lives. So not only do they expose their breasts (the entire play is done topfree), but their problems and insecurities too. It is brilliant theatre, and very moving.

Speaking of moving in a different sense, the women do a fair bit of jumping and dancing on stage. Their energy infected the audience, as did their complete understanding, devotion, and communication. After the performance, they came back on stage, still topfree, for half an hour's discussion with the audience.

Beaming throughout was Sue Richards, creator of the Breast of Canada calendar, whose 2004 launch occurs with the week of performances of the play. Sue herself, with natural stage presence, chatted with the audience before the play began.

The four women acting are Laurel Atkinson, Melannie Gayle, Christine Lafazanos, and Meagan Timms; and Jessica Strothard is the stage manager.

TERA urges everyone who can to see this play and calendar launch. This is potentially a world-changing event -- and it would be just that if only the troupe could go to hundreds of towns around North America. It can't, so you go to them!

For further information on both calendar and play: Breast of Canada (also see below).

 

2003 September 30. TERA draws your attention to the fine cartoons called Hathor the Cowgoddess. With cutting humour, they often deal with women's breasts in an original way. The artist, Heather Cushman-Dowdee, has kindly given us permission to repost two of her creations. They are here.

 

2003 September 27. The TERA server has been moved. No addresses have changed. In a short while, we will update with lots of new material.

 

2003 September 15. TERA is pleased to report that the 2004 Breast of Canada calendar is another winner. Not only are the photos great and the information pertinent, but there's more of the latter about topfreedom than ever before. This is a ground-breaking and very worthwhile venture which we urge readers to support. Calendars may be purchased now at the BoC site. A portion of sales goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Network.

To top it off (so to speak), the calendar's official launch in October will take place in conjunction with performances of a one-act play, The Strong Breast Revolution, directed by Vicki Hambley, a recent University of Guelph graduate in drama. This promises to be another unique event: topfreedom on stage as the liberating norm! For the cast, "it was due time to reclaim breasts from the distorted images of the media and the convoluted ideas that breasts are dirty, shameful, or only belong in strip clubs."

If you live anywhere near Guelph, Ontario, check the schedule and mark your calendar. Go often! Performances are October 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9. For times, go to the BoC site. For tickets, phone 519 763 3000.

 

2003 September 08. Mandalay Bay is one of the megahotels on "The Strip," Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas. A beach is opening at the hotel where women may bathe "topless" if they are are at least 21. Women may use the beach free weekdays, but men must pay every day.

It's good to know that The Strip understands topfree equality. We're so impressed.

 

2003 September 05. Major news from Florida. A new lawsuit has been launched against Brevard County, Florida. Jan Frandsen of Melbourne, her daughter, and eight other women are seeking to overturn the County anti-nudity ordinance and two state laws that forbid public exposure of women's but not men's breasts. For further reports: Orlando Sentinel, CBS Jacksonville, Florida Today.

The suit seeks to establish women's topfree rights under the 14th Amendment to the US constitution. A similar suit in 1999 sought the same with respect to Florida's constitution and its then new equal rights amendment. That suit lost, suggesting that in Florida, equal rights are anything but.

 

2003 August 12. A woman has had her membership in a nudist park terminated because she is a topfree activist. Dorene Schumacher, a member at Buckridge Nudist Park near Ithaca, New York, was told today by the park owners, Cap and Carol Preston, that both she and her husband Bill could not remain members if she held a topfree picnic in Candor, the town near the park.

When she announced a topfree picnic for Candor, the park owners cancelled both their memberships. The picnic has not yet been held, although Schumacher has held them in other NY towns. It is legal for women to be topfree in New York State.

It is most odd for a nudist park to criticize someone for holding a legal gathering to promote non-sexualized acceptance of women's breasts. 

 

2003 August 08. A little more than a week after the event, we have little to report. We refer to the biggest one-day concert in North America, featuring The Rolling Stones and many other groups, in Toronto on July 30. The estimated attendance was a mere 490,000.

We have several reports of topfree women, of whom a few were shown on Canadian TV broadcasts. However, we have no photos. Anyone with one that can be authenticated and posted here is invited to contact us.

We're not interested in "flashing," however. Just photos of women enjoying topfreedom as a natural and normal thing on a hot day. Temperatures were pushing 30°C (in the mid 80s °F); and it was sunny all day, with almost no shade on the site.

 

2003 August 06. Today five women slowly rode topfree on motorcycles on a main street in Auckland, New Zealand. Their specific point: to protest against laws that say men's breasts are okay in public but women's are not. Police took no action except to keep order amongst all the gawkers.

A curious irony: the five women were all described as "porn stars." So are women in the sex industry demonstrating for non-sexualized topfreedom? Or were these women also plugging Erotica Expo? And if women's breasts become acceptable in public in non-sexualized conditions, how significant will they be at an Erotica Expo?

In any case, we wouldn't deny women the right to be simply topfree just because they're porn stars, even though we think that link unfortunate. Topfreedom is about something else.

One photo caption said the women were "half nude." We think half dressed is better.

 

2003 August 03. The indefatigable and undefeated Linda Meyer has conquered pool no. 23: the public swimming pool (indoors) in Harrison Hot Springs, about 130 km east of Vancouver. Date: July 17.

Two lifeguards asked her to wear a top. Linda's response was that she changed the law in B.C. three years ago and she was going to "go topfree like human males in every indoor and outdoor public swimming pool and every beach and park in British Columbia." She stayed for about 45 minutes without further incident.

On July 28 in a restaurant in Maple Ridge, Linda spotted a topfree man. When staff didn't ask him to put his shirt on, Linda took hers off. A heated discussion ensued in which Linda was verbally abused by others. Finally, when the man put his shirt back on, Linda put hers on. The man and his friend left the restuarant without finishing their lunch.

We owe a great deal to the courageous Linda Meyer.

 

2003 August 03. Angelina Jolie has apparently expressed displeasure at one widely placed ad for her movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider because . . . (wait for it) . . . her nipples aren't visible. Although she is fully clothed in the ad, someone airbrushed her slightly protruding nipples out of it.

Maybe Angelina Jolie would like to campaign against a certain product.

 

2003 August 03. In Detroit on July 30, a female went swimming without a top in a Wayne County pool (Chandler Park Family Aquatic Center). The pool guards were very annoyed and called the police.

The female is three years old. The guards told her mother that her daughter was sparking lust in adults. The three-year-old boys were not, of course.

The mother told the guards off and got an apology from the pool manager, Lorenzo Douglas, only after the police told him the girl was doing nothing wrong. Not enough redress, we say.

 

2003 August 03. It appears that a month ago (July 4), there was a demonstration in Boston in which people were prevented by police from handing out copies of the Bill of Rights. A woman was arrested for "lewd and lascivious conduct" and "inciting to riot" when she exposed/flashed her breasts. We'll post more when we can.

 

2003 July 27. TERA is now listed on the Breast of Canada site as an affiliate sponsor for the 2004 calendar. Check it out!

 

2003 July 26. A TERA representative visited the Oregon Country Fair near Eugene earlier this month and sent some photos, which we have here. Women may be topfree in Eugene and at the fair. Not good enough, of course, but it's better than nothing!

We have evidence of topfreedom in Eugene itself, as Shirley Gauthier of nearby Springfield sat at a bus stop in Eugene for a photo, included here.

 

2003 July 26. The latest fashion accessory: Nippits. Go here to read about the wonderfully easy way you can hide your nipples. Think your nipples are obscene? Use Nippits. Agree that your breasts cause problems? Use Nippits. Want to go against what TERA stands for? Nip those nipples right out.

Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Jennifer López use them. We're so impressed.

Maybe Angelina Jolie doesn't.

 

2003 July 25. In a park in Buffalo, New York, Linda Marszalkowski was told that she would be arrested if she appeared topfree there. This despite her boyfriend, John Aaron, pointing out (with printed copy) the court decision in New York that allows women to be topfree in that state.

At the park, an officer had said that no woman would be allowed to be topfree in his park. Watch this space to see whether the police will knowingly and wilfully break the law in Buffalo.

[Update August 05: thanks to Mr. Aaron, the police were eventually convinced that he was right. But there's more to the story than this. We will post when we have more details.]

 

2003 July 24. Now, a weekly published in Toronto, has an excellent article by Kyla Dixon-Muir on the dilemma of going topfree even where it's recognized as legal. Go here to read it. It's titled "Breast Test: In prudish T-O, walking topless arouses stares and snickers."

  

2003 July 22. The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon, reported that on July 18, two women appeared barebreasted when Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared in Portland. Ashcroft, we will recall, draped a barebreasted statue in the Justice Department at a cost of US$8000+ because he thought it wrong to have it on view, especially when he was in front of it.

No arrests, apparently because no one complained.

 

2003 June 12. Thanks to a specific generous donation, TERA once again is a sponsor of the Breast of Canada Calendar, this time for the 2004 edition. Read all about this excellent calendar at the BoC site!

 

2003 June 03. An Australian report today indicated that 88.6% of those voting in a poll favoured "topless sunbaking" on The Strand, Townsville, in Queensland. The report suggested that bare breasts were acceptable for "women laying on the beach."

To which we say: we thought lying on a beach was okay, but laying was not. And are the women allowed to get up and walk a few steps? We also say: the poll is meaningless, since it was online and unrestricted (i.e. unscientific).

A mayor in another part of Queensland said that women would be told to cover up if they entered a "family area."

To which we say: he doesn't get it.

 

2003 May 31. A group of women held a well publicized topfree picnic today at Indian Pines Park in Penn Yan, New York. The purpose was to reinforce the fact that topfreedom is legal for women in New York State. The main report is here.

The women, aided by the Rochester Naturist Society, encountered no legal problems. More problematic were the tired comments some villagers made about setting a bad example for children. What they really meant is that they don't know how to handle a very reasonable occurrence: women and men topfree at a picnic.

Congratulations to all for braving poor weather and unwitting comments!

 

2003 May 21. An event to note on May 31 at 13:15 at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, Alberta. TERA's President will give an hour-long talk on issues surrounding breastfeeding in public. The title of the talk: "There's news from the front, and it sucks!" It will be illustrated with slides and video.

This is part of a two-day conference on breastfeeding co-sponsored by the Edmonton Breastfeeding Interest Group. Go here for further details about the conference.

 

2003 May 17. Sometimes the news carries stories of girls or women being forced to remove their tops by a public authority. This is hardly topfreedom.

So we don't report such events usually. But this week there are two worth mentioning, partly because of the extreme results. In one case from Florida, a police officer was accused of forcing a 16-year-old girl to do jumping jacks barebreasted. He resigned and faces a maximum of ten years in prison. Can a lawsuit from the girl be far behind?

We wonder, because in another case from Michigan, two women were stopped in traffic by a police officer, who then pressured them to pose barebreasted for a photo. (The officer may have done this to other women also.) A court has awarded the two US$7.5 million.

Pushing women to remove clothes in such situations is completely unacceptable. But if there weren't such an obsession over sexualized breasts, would these events have taken place? Do such extreme penalties reinforce a major cultural problem?

 

2003 May 05. Here's a followup column to the one about the woman accused of terrorism for breastfeeding (!).

Quote of the day, from an anonymous man: "I think breast-feeding in public should be considered a misdemeanour indecent exposure ticket." But there's this, from the columnist herself, Lisa Fitterman:

"So this Mother's Day, think about other cultures that have not mythologized and sexualized the breast, and how mothers there feed their children without a second thought. And think about how we can change people's attitudes, one breast at a time."

 

2003 May 01. Consider the following headline: "Woman saved after misjudging swim." A woman who had misjudged the distance between two islands in Hawaii and had swum about a mile was rescued by a fishing boat, after which a fire rescue team helped her ashore.

Now consider the actual headline: "Topless woman saved after misjudging swim" and the fire captain's remark about the fishing boat: "I guess that was a catch for them."

 

2003 April 23. Amy Gunderson went topfree in a June, 2001 parade at Coney Island, New York City. She was arrested and detained for her attire. Later, she sued the city for violation of her rights.

Today it was reported that she settled for US$10,000 for that violation. The city, of course, admits no wrongdoing. We wonder whether it has learned yet that the State of New York's highest court ruled that women may be topfree there.

Date of ruling: July 7, 1992.

 

2003 April 21. Today brought a report of a woman breastfeeding and changing a diaper on an airplane. Common enough occurrences? A man not even seated next to the woman complained to the flight crew. After she asked him if he had a problem with her feeding her son, the man claimed she assaulted him -- and the woman was threatened with charges of terrorism against an American in time of war. The plane was American, on the way to Canada.

We suppose that breasts are weapons of mass destruction, and breastfeeding mothers are terrorists.

Seriously: although the behaviour of anyone in this story is not clear, the harassment of this woman is unacceptable.

Followup article here.

 

2003 April 18. Photos of topfree women continue to be in the news. This story concerns the production of such photos: a university professor of photography took some of one or more of his women students. One launched a complaint of sexual harassment, but her case was dismissed.

Later, she launched a suit for US$3 million. That prompted removal of the professor as director of his unit. The university then quickly instituted policies on who may use whom as models and under what conditions.

 

2003 April 17. The Dallas Observer today detailed in a long and important article by Thomas Korosec the case of Jacqueline Mercado and Johnny Fernández, immigrants from Perú living in Richardson. Both she and Fernández were indicted by a grand jury in January for "sexual performance of a child" and threatened with 20 years in jail. In November, Child Protective Services had removed Mercado's two sons, aged 1 and 4.

The big problem is a photo of Mercado breastfeeding her 1-year-old son, Rodrigo. (A few other apparently harmless nude photos were found.) According to the charges, by breastfeeding, Rodrigo was induced to engage in "sexual conduct" and a "sexual performance."

In late March, after months of agony, the charges were dropped, only under pressure from the Observer. The two boys are still separated from their mother. To get them back, the state insists that Mercado and Fernández undergo counselling "for sexual issues" and take lie-detector tests. (Update April 18: the requirement for lie-detector tests has been withdrawn. April 24: Rodrigo is being returned to his parents.)

The defense lawyer, Andrew Chatham, put it this way: "I think the police department and the DA's office select people to prosecute who have the least ability to defend themselves."

Read the whole story here. In TERA's opinion, this represents a typical result of ignorance, body phobia, deplorable attitudes towards women (and other groups), and probable abuse of authority.

The May 1 issue of the Dallas Observer printed this comment from Karen Broyles of New Orleans: "Here is a clear-cut case of child abuse---but not on the part of the hapless parents." John Barr, from somewhere in Queensland, Australia wrote:

"Breastfeeding in public is very common everywhere, even in crowded shopping centres in Australia. Most women don't bother to cover up, and I suppose it depends on the size of the areola just how much of it is seen. Some are tiny, some are quite large. So what? It's only skin that is a little redder or browner than the rest. It's not pornographic."

 

2003 April 03. The Daytona Beach (FL) News-Journal carried a helpful article today that starts off being about Spring Break flashers but ends up detailing the reasons why women in Florida should be able to be topfree just about anywhere for any reason. Along the way, we learn that the state Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal (last September) in favour of women's topfreedom, after the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled negatively on it.

The 5th DCA covers ten counties, by no means all of Florida.

 

2003 March 28. We draw attention to a significant effort for topfreedom now being organized in Alabama, by the enterprising and tireless W. R. McCleskey. We recommend that all topfreedom supporters in that state visit her site, Topfree Alabama.

 

2003 March 14. Several people protested in San Francisco today against the policies of US Attorney General John Ashcroft. They included topfree women and men. Participants criticized, among other things, Ashcroft's famous covering last year of a barebreasted Lady Justice statue in Washington.

protest.jpg

Photo by Will Doherty, sf.indymedia.org.

 

2003 February 26. The former Miss North Carolina is seeking US$3 million in damages for being removed from that position last summer. Recall that the reason for all this is the threat by a former boyfriend to reveal photos of her. In the media, those photos are invariably called topless or nude. We wonder if there would have been any fuss had they been called topfree.

 

2003 February 25. This one qualifies for Story of the Year. A few days ago, a woman in Kent, Ohio was told by a policeman that the snow figure she had just built was indecent. Acting on a complaint, he told her to cut off its breasts.

The woman refused but covered the figure's breasts with a tablecloth. After the policeman left, she removed it. For a time, she was sure she would have been arrested for disorderly conduct---for a topfree snowwoman.

Topfreedom is basically legal for Ohio women, the warm-blooded kind. Would TERA have let this person be convicted of having an indecent snowwoman? You can put that idea on ice.

 

2003 February 23. A large mainstream newspaper today printed a funny but telling article about women's breasts. Although mostly about breastfeeding, it makes a more general point well: "So the message is, it's fine to milk the female breast for commercial gain, but to make children healthy? Hold it right there, missy."

It goes on to say: "Maybe it's time that we took it all a step further and decriminalized and decommercialized the female breast." Bravo, Ross Werland and the Chicago Tribune!

(A letter from TERA's President in response to this article appeared in the Tribune on February 28.)

 

2003 February 18. Earlier this month, a legislator in Indiana introduced a bill that would make something legal in that state: breastfeeding in public. Until the bill becomes law, women who attempt that may spend 18 months in jail and be fined up to US$10,000.

Unfortunately, infants don't know about Indiana's breast obsession and repression. They may lift blouses and shirts without warning, or cry loudly and refuse to latch when covered with a blanket or forced to feed in a public toilet facility.

One breastfeeding bill passed the Indiana House yesterday and another passed the Senate today. To Indiana's credit, these similar bills do not tell women they have to be "discreet."

The Indiana House and Senate now consider each other's wording. Let's hope that legislators don't insist that women cover themselves or cease breastfeeding children older than a certain age. Such limitations would ruin what is a positive, if imperfect, solution to breastfeeding women's plight.

Any exemption from state indecency laws for breastfeeding will likely still trouble women who don't keep areolas and nipples invisible. The solution is to be breast friendly and have no laws at all that negatively affect women's breasts.

 

2003 February 06. The suit launched by Tamie Dragone, who lives near Lincoln, Kansas, has now reduced its claim to just over US$250,000, due to state limits on such claims. The suit now also names specific Wal-Mart employees. The trial begins June 3.

 

2003 January 26. In a case similar to the one from San Antonio below, two men in Tacoma, Washington were given prison sentences of two and three years for photographing a few teenage girls topfree. The girls apparently participated willingly. Still, the men were declared guilty of sexual exploitation of minors and "dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct."

In addition to their long prison sentences, both men were declared sex offenders, required to undergo sexual deviancy counselling, barred from contact with the girls photographed, and forbidden to work as photographers.

While dealing such pictures for sexual purposes could certainly be wrong, this typical news story gave no indication of such a result. Without further reports, we are suspicious that mere topfreedom has been declared to be sexually explicit conduct. Has anyone further details?

The judge said, "You caused real harm to those girls, even if they didn't realize it." He may not understand teenage girls. There is no available statement, freely given or not, from the ones in this case.

 

2003 January. January sale at Breast of Canada. The 2003 wall calendar, which TERA helped sponsor, is now half price: CA$9.95 (US$6.50). Go to the site!

 

2003 January 19. Two men have been arrested in San Antonio, Texas for taking photos last November of two girls about 13 topfree. Although forcing anyone to be photographed topfree is dead wrong, we question this being called "promotion of child pornography and . . . promoting sexual performance by a child" and requiring US$40,000 bail each. Surely there is another Texas law that could be applied.

This is the third story we have posted today on the same topic (see below): photos of topfree girls that are treated more toughly than much more serious matters. If this case is as simple as it seems (as one report implies), is it really about a major sex crime?

TERA's President recommends reading Judith Levine's book Harmful to Minors, published in 2002.

 

2003 January 19. Tom Ogden, the police chief in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, is pleased to have closed down a website run by teenagers showing them at a party drinking, passing out, "and in various stages of undress."

Among his comments: "I think 14-year-old girls pictured in a website is close to obscene." There was one picture with three topfree 14-year-olds covering their breasts with their arms. Mr. Ogden ruefully said he may not be able to do anything about that one.

We won't comment on the party behaviour or teens generally. But Mr. Ogden needs to explain why photos of areolas and nipples on girls are obscene. A similar website in Florida (involving Citrus High School) was investigated with no criminal charges laid.

 

2003 January 19. A Cleveland, Ohio area 16-year-old boy took photos of his girlfriend topfree, and gave them to someone else when they broke up. Now he faces a multitude of charges.

Because she was 13, police are threatening him with pandering obscenity and creating child pornography. Investigators called the photos softcore porn. Police want to know whether the digital images were sent by computer out of Ohio so that they can charge the boy with even more.

 

2003 January 19. The TERA logo is available in two sizes, including a small monochrome version. This is quite readable on most computer screens and is for upload to friendly sites with limited space.

 

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TERAlogo2.jpg

2003 January 10. Announcing the TERA LOGO!

Our first news of 2003 brings you the TERA logo, newly designed by Sandy Walsh of Guelph, Ontario. It was created over many months and after consultation with many people.

We have the logo also with both our URLs (tera.ca and topfree.ca; also see the small version above, posted January 19), and in some other varieties.

 

2002 December 28. The Wal-Mart fiasco below has brought a letter from TERA's Vice-President, Julia Goforth.

 

2002 December 21. The woman who was interrogated by police for a couple of photos of her 3-year-old daughter is now suing Wal-Mart for US$5 million. She may also sue the police and individual Wal-Mart employees. (But see the followup in January.)

 

2002 December 14. Sudan-born American author Kola Boof (Naima Alu Kolbookek) has caused a stir by insisting on being photographed topfree for the back cover of her books. Discussing the photo on her Long Train to the Redeeming Sin, commentators have referred to her as vain, seeking publicity, and "a little bitch."

KBoof.jpg

Boof's own words suggest something else:

"She claims that it has everything to do with her belief in women starting their own religion, going back to the early African goddess principles of females being considered clean, their bodies holy temples which bring life into the world, their 'monthlies' celebrated and their breasts regarded as religious ornaments representing the 'circle of life.'

"Says Kola Boof, 'I am topless to honor my mothers and grandmothers, my own African womenfolk, who were always barebreasted in the sun and who gave birth to this whole world.'"

 

2002 December 14. From time to time we get inquiries from Québec. Our name in French is, most literally, Association du droit égal aux seins nus. But one woman near Montréal has come up with different French indications for TERA, more like slogans: Bien dans sa peau, tout SEINSplement. (Pour que) SEINStalle la liberté. (Quand) la poitrine SEINSbolise la vie. We'll return to those some time soon.

Meanwhile, this woman, Isabelle, has written about topfreedom from her point of view, in French. Nous invitons toutes et tous les francophones à lire ce qu'elle a écrit.

 

2002 December 13. Wal-Mart is being sued for US$75,000 for causing invasion of privacy, false imprisonment and conversion/deprivation of property. (But see the followup above!)

Tamie Dragone, who lives with her husband and three-year-old daughter near Lincoln, Kansas, had her photos withheld by Wal-Mart and turned over by it to police on grounds that they revealed child abuse. One photo showed the daughter without a top in a swimming pool and another showed her naked lying on a living-room floor.

In the view of TERA's President, Wal-Mart sets itself up as the moral judge of the country's photos (in the USA and Canada both) with its absurd anti-nudity photo policy. It has no expertise in the subject of morality, let alone nudity and topfreedom or even photography. It arbitrarily and wilfully retains or destroys people's legal photos; subjects them unnecessarily to harassment, and police or legal action; and may ruin their reputations because of the ignorance and fear of those responsible for its photo policy.

Dr. Rapoport has examined this issue in some detail. "Wal-Mart's policy on nudity constitutes unjust censorship," he says. "It is also paternalistic, infantilizing, repressive, and---as many incidents show---destructive."

The notion that photos of naked kids---including of a topfree three-year-old girl---reveal or cause crime is wholly without foundation.

 

2002 December 13. A few days ago, viewers of a morning news program unexpectedly got something else: HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David. That program, on for about 25 minutes, showed barebreasted women.

The station affected was KSL TV, in Salt Lake City, Utah---an ABC affiliate owned by the Mormon Church.

 

2002 December 12. Linda Meyer did it again. Today she visited pool no. 22 in her quest to go topfree in every pool, park, and beach in British Columbia. This time it was the Karen Magnussen pool in North Vancouver.

After about one minute there, the aquatic supervisor asked her to put a top on, because someone had complained. Linda's simple answer: "No." She rightly expects pool staff to advise complainants that there is nothing wrong with her chosen attire.

"Whenever they ask me to put a top on," Linda explains, "I stay longer." She was at the North Van centre about two hours. Two days earlier (December 10), she was back at her Maple Ridge aquatic centre, whose bylaw forbidding women's exposed breasts was struck down by the B. C. Supreme Court in 2000.

"It was a non-event," reported Linda. "A few people congratulated me."

 

2002 December 10. The Citrus County Chronicle (Inverness/Crystal River, Florida) reported today that four local high school girls were being investigated by police for---wait for it---appearing on a website topfree. TERA has not seen the site, as the photos were taken down.

The next day (December 11), the news media changed the story to seven girls, three of whom were topfree, and all of whom claim not to have known about the site.

Detective Michael Baute weighed in as the expert: "There's a big difference between child pornography and child erotica," he explained. Child erotica, he stated, could be a photo of a nude child with no sexual poses or acts.

We appear to have a law enforcer who believes that plain nudity must be erotic; or is it just nude children that are erotic? And are topfree teenage girls nude?

 

2002 November 22. [See the earlier story first.] An Illinois judge granted the state legal guardianship over Lynn Stuckey's son because of the TV appearance which promoted her opinion that he should wean himself gradually. The boy no longer breastfeeds.

The judge claimed that Stuckey created "almost prurient interest." So a woman breastfeeding is responsible for someone else's presumed almost-prurience? Sounds like a fabrication, doesn't it?

 

2002 November 02. Associated Press reports that Éliane Aguillaume pleaded guilty to public indecency and resisting law enforcement, over the incident at the Evansville, Indiana airport. She had become angry at repeated security scans of her breasts and removed all her top clothing.

She was fined US$2, and the felony charge of disorderly conduct was dropped. However, she has to pay court costs of about US$130.

A later news report suggested that Aguillaume had reason to believe the security wand waver was indicating that she should remove her top clothing. Considering that and the fact that she does not speak English and her breasts are not indecent, we think that all the charges and fines were wrong.

 

2002 October 30. An Illinois judge has said that breastfeeding an 8-year-old boy amounts to neglect, and his mother talking about it publicly amounts to harm. Lynn Stuckey of Champaign-Urbana testified in a hearing on October 29 to determine whether her son will be taken away from her. Another hearing is scheduled for November 22. (See the update, above.)

None of the news reports we've seen gives any further details, despite obvious questions. We'd also like to see research on breastfeeding an older child, not just hear assumptions about it from a body-phobic and sex-crazed society.

In November, regarding a news video on TV that showed Stuckey recently breastfeeding her son, someone was reported to have said, "People have no morals, I swear to God . . . The world is collapsing. Why is there a tape of it? It's terrible. That child will never recover."

The "someone" was Madonna.

 

2002 October 30. Bruce and Judy Frendahl went to Key West's Fantasy Fest in October. Bruce wrote:

"Reflecting on what we had witnessed, I thought about the argument made previously that Fantasy Fest happenings may not necessarily help the Florida topfree movement. However, just to see all kinds of breasts---large and small, young and middle-aged---publicly free without police hassle for the first time in their existence, had to represent a little bit of progress, eh? I mean, at least some of those women were not naturists or exhibitionists---but just wanted to express something held for so long inside."

For a more detailed reflection by Bruce Frendahl, go here.

 

2002 October 28. In Evansville, Indiana, it was reported today that a woman at the airport became annoyed with the screening of her body and removed her sweater, shirt, and bra. Éliane Aguillaume, from France, was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and indecent exposure. If convicted, she faces up to three years in jail. (See update.)

 

2002 October 26. A significant message from a well-placed lifeguard in Vancouver, B. C.

"I was just at a workshop for Vancouver lifeguards. The topic of topfree rights was brought up. The answer was loud and clear: topfree is allowed at all Vancouver parks, beaches and swimming pools, outdoor and indoor."

There isn't any doubt whom we have most to thank: Linda Meyer, for overturning the bylaw in Maple Ridge in 2000, and her subsequent topfree activities all over B. C. And we also salute TERA's Judy Williams, also in B. C., for her indefatigable promotion of women's topfreedom.

However, in the event of a complaint about a topfree woman, the Vancouver policy has for some time counselled staff to confront her and ask her to put a top on (even though she doesn't have to). We consider this to be inconsistent and seriously incorrect procedure.

 

2002 October 22. Last night, Muscovites for Equal Rights presented its case to its city council for rescinding, rewriting, or putting to a vote Moscow, Idaho's ordinance against topfree women. The arguments (possibly here) look pretty good to us. However, pressure must be kept up; otherwise Moscow politicians may behave like others and just hope that their inertia is greater than someone else's objection to injustice.

 

2002 October 18. The Mayor of Ithaca, New York today has directed the City Attorney to look into the possibility of requiring men and women to wear tops in certain areas of the city. His memo on the subject to the (Ithaca) Commons Advisory Board brought this headline: "Ithaca He-Man News: Mayor Cohen seeks to strip men of right to remove shirts, in order to reduce the liberty of women to do same."

It's no coincidence, we think, that the Commons is a slightly upscale shopping area with a pedestrian mall in downtown Ithaca. But when you think Ithaca, remember Cornell University and the various natural gorges in town where people refresh themselves wearing a good deal less than no top. Many in Ithaca, as in Berkeley, California, value their freedoms.

Mayor Cohen needs to have a chat with Lauren Signer. (In November he claimed that barebreasted people are nude and implied that breasts are bad for children to see.)

 

2002 October 18. Exactly one year ago at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, at a demonstration against the American war of the time, Brooke Lefler, a third-year student, took off her shirt to bare her breasts. A student named Jonathan Titsworth called the police, who charged Lefler with indecent exposure. She allegedly violated a Norman statute forbidding any person to appear "in a state of nudity, or make a public display of his sexual organs."

We recommend the excellent analysis of this event and case here by Marcy Fleming.

In December 2001, Lefler pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of disturbing the peace. So ended another case where a woman was criminalized for being female, and her breasts were considered indecent sexual organs (presumably male).

 

2002 October 08. Last week (on September 30), Renée Sachs lost in a new trial of the charge against her in connection with her nipple piercing operation in March. The original story is here. She is planning to take her case to the New Mexico Court of Appeal.

 

2002 October 06. Today The Toronto Star printed a photo on page 2 of its front section (not online) showing a young infant about to latch in a "breastfeed-in." Mother's nipple and much of one breast were visible.

On October 3, however, a photo in the same paper (also not online) from Sue Richards' 2003 Breast of Canada calendar was cropped to exclude a clearer image of a mother's nipple, also in a breastfeeding picture. In that case, the purpose, composition, and symmetry of the photo were unfortunately defeated.

 

2002 October 02 and 04. Although this story is slightly beyond TERA's usual interest, we mention it for obvious reasons.

Peoria (Illinois) Journal Star columnist Phil Luicano writes of a woman's complaint about a J. C. Penney store. Karen Moser didn't like two clothing ad posters with topfree women models, even though one covered her breasts with her arms and another was seen from the back. So she returned US$350 worth of goods she had bought there. That and the newspaper stories pushed Penney's in Peoria to pull the posters.

We haven't seen the items in question, which may be mildly sexy. Meanwhile, we wait in vain for an outpouring of ads with ordinary women of every shape, size, age, and condition, with breasts---possibly uncovered, as men's might be---that aren't used to sell things.

Meanwhile, Moser declared the Penney ads "pornographic." She also asked, "How am I supposed to get my sons past these posters?"

That presumes her sons (18, 14, and 8) have a debilitating problem with them. We mean a problem other than their mother or people like her telling them they should have one.

The posters are still up in other Penney stores around the country.

 

2002 October 02. Politicians in Santa Cruz, California want to clean up their downtown area. Some think their plans go too far. One of the proposals is to ban topfree women. Although this is not currently on the official agenda, some informal opposition groups have sprung up: BBB (Bare Breasted Bandits) and ARF (Areola Rebel Forces).

 

2002 September 25. Muscovites for Equal Rights did not get enough signatures by today on a petition to overturn Moscow, Idaho's new discriminatory law against women's breasts. They are contemplating what to do next.

 

2002 September 24. The Miss America saga continues (see below for earlier instalments). Today a North Carolina judge ordered Rebekah Revels' former boyfriend, Tosh Welch, to turn over any photos he has of her topfree to Revels' lawyer. Revels is reportedly suing Welch and the Miss America pageant and organization. But in July, Welch denied having contacted the pageant with any damaging information about Revels. Other stories say he claimed he would sell the topfree photos.

Court cases loom for Revels' various lawsuits. But without Welch (he didn't appear in court today as required) or any photos, the whole thing remains a farce worthy of, say, Luigi Pirandello.

Revels now talks about her religion a lot, and some question her faith, presumably over her having been topfree in the presence of a man she wasn't married to.

Meanwhile, we highly recommend this column on the subject from the September 16 Chicago Sun-Times. Note the phrase "sanctimonious wimps" applied to the pageant officials. Elsewhere, a reporter called the existence of two Miss North Carolinas "the sort of confusion perhaps not seen since the papal schism of 1378."

One day, perhaps a Miss America will appear topfree as a role model to those Americans who suffer from the repression of women's breasts and men's obsession with them: rather a lot of people.

 

2002 September 15. This poster for the German Green Party caused a fuss earlier this month, when it was banned in Königstein, a suburb of Frankfurt. However, it was soon allowed back up and became a collector's item all over Germany. Not many know the painting it is based on, Gabrielle d'Estrées and one of her Sisters, from the late 16th century.

The poster's pitch is for equality, indirectly for topfree women's equality. That will be obvious when you see it!

 

2002 September 14. Muscovites for Equal Rights are still gathering signatures on a petition in order to force Moscow, Idaho residents to vote on its ordinance 2002-13, which bans women's exposed breasts. Those who can help who live in western Idaho or eastern Washington, please write to this address asap.

 

2002 September 12.

BOC 2003

In Guelph, Ontario this evening was the launch for Breast of Canada 2003, the calendar by Sue Richards, with photos by Melanie Gillis and design by Gareth Lind. This year, TERA was a sponsor of the calendar. At the launch, it issued the following statement:

The Topfree Equal Rights Association works towards enabling women to go without a clothing top to benefit from that body freedom which men gained decades ago.

We are pleased to help sponsor Breast of Canada 2003, which promotes complete breast health, psychological as well as physical.

Both the 2002 and 2003 editions are beautiful and inspiring calendars about women's freedom from both breast disease and body shame. Finally: a calendar demonstrating respect and acceptance for breasts of any shape, size, age, or condition, on women's terms!

There is nothing like Breast of Canada. It is both a revelation and a revolution. It has the power to improve substantially women's health and the way we all consider their bodies.

We continue to wish Breast of Canada a glorious success.

 

2002 September 12. In Santa Cruz, California recently, topfree women were among those protesting proposed city rules to deal with various behaviours on some city sidewalks. Nudity, partial or otherwise, has, of course, a longstanding association with protests.

 

2002 September 12. For a while, there were two Miss North Carolinas in the always questionable Miss America contest. But today a judge ruled that the contest did not have to include Rebekah Revels, who earlier had been told to drop out on grounds that a former boyfriend had pictures of her topfree. She was then temporarily reinstated. (See earlier stories.)

After today's ruling, the Miss America Pageant promptly removed Revels from the competition.

For considering women's breasts unacceptable (in photos presumed to exist that no one has brought forth), the pageant claims to uphold "bravery, courage, and integrity." TERA considers this a dishonest misuse of language.

 

2002 September 10. "I've conquered Prince George!" exclaimed Linda Meyer, as she told TERA that she had finally swum there August 20 topfree with no serious incident. In April, police had hounded her at the Prince George (BC) Aquatic Centre until she left, even though the manager of the facility had previously told his staff not to do anything about her. So after the April action, he offered Linda a free day pass.

When she took him up on that in August, the only major reaction was from one woman, who insulted her. The staff then spoke to the problem woman, not Linda. Way to go, staff! Next, at the Prince George Four Seasons pool, a man who criticized Linda for her attire was similarly spoken to by staff.

Linda also went to White Rock, British Columbia on August 27. We have photos of her and the American topfree activist Claudia Kellersch, from 2001. That visit provoked complaints but this year's did not.

"Nobody dictates to me," Linda concluded.

 

2002 September 05. At a golf course in New Albany, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus) on August 30, topfree women caddies were part of a golf party that was trying to raise money for a charity. Police responded to complaints and implied they would like to make arrests but couldn't, because topfree women are lawful in Ohio.

The women were asked to put their tops back on. Some did, some didn't. One police sergeant explained that there was a problem "because it's in a residential area with children around."

That's an erroneous implication. Children are not affected negatively by women's breasts. Hiding them, however, leads children to grow up with the same obsession and intolerance over women's bodies that mistaken adults may have.

 

2002 September 02. The third Owego, New York topfree picnic was held, under the guidance of Dorene Schumacher, with the inspiring Kayla Sosnow present. Several dozen participants, and again no problems. (See the August 26 story, to which we have added a photo.)

For a group shot, Fox News (TV) asked the women to put their arms around their breasts so that their nipples would be hidden. Dorene politely replied, "No, we are here to be free." Fox reportedly broadcast a video recording that deliberately did not show the fronts of the women's breasts. In TERA's opinion that is disrespectful, and questionable journalism.

Later, Dorene and her husband Bill went into a gas bar store with their shirts unbuttoned. A sign said shirts had to be on, but it didn't say anything about being buttoned . . .

 

2002 September 02. Photos are posted from the Rochester topfreedom events marking the tenth anniversary of the explicit declaration of women's topfree equal rights in the state of New York. Go here.

 

2002 August 29. Miss North Carolina has temporarily regained her crown. A judge there reinstated her, pending a hearing in early September. She had lost her title because a former boyfriend had taken pictures of her when she was topfree. (See the original story.)

 

2002 August 26. An inquiry from Dorene Schumacher written to TERA has led her to establish her own topfree picnics in Owego, New York. Owego is not far from Ithaca but is a distinct, smaller, more conservative community. The picnics are in a park right next to a bridge construction site! Two picnics have taken place (August 19 and 26), with no negative incidents and lots of positive ones.

On the 19th, police drove by and waved, children came along, and a few people asked for information. On the 26th, participation was six times higher (about 50), and the news media were out in force (no stories still online). Dorene had her picture taken with a policeman who was invited to join the picnic. He said, "I would if I could, but I'm working. Have a great picnic!"

Dorene Schumacher is the most enterprising topfree activist TERA has encountered in some time. We wish her every success.

 

2002 August 22. A letter from TERA appeared in the Albany (NY) Times Union about the aghast reactions to a topfree woman in a park. (See the original story.) TERA's President wrote, in part, "If people react anxiously when children see women's breasts, they may be promoting intolerance and injustice towards women . . . Women have the right to be as comfortable as men, and not to be stigmatized because their breasts may be 'different.'"

 

2002 August 15. The Chicago Tribune reported on the activities of Ruthy Woodring and others on July 11. About 20 women and men rode topfree then on bicycles through northern Chicago to protest the usual local ordinance unjustly aimed at women's breasts. Police cars were in evidence, but there was no negative incident. Bravo, Ruthy!

 

2002 August 15. BREAST OF CANADA 2003 is here! The calendar which TERA is a proud sponsor of is now available from BoC. This year's calendar is even better than the excellent one for 2002.

The calendar was delivered August 12 to its "Empress of Concept and Direction," Sue Richards. Congratulations, Sue and all involved in this terrific venture! TERA will have more to say about the calendar in September. One thing will interest TERA supporters: there's more topfreedom news in the 2003 calendar.

Below is the Empress with her (very) recent creation.

  

2002 August 14. A ruckus today over a photo shoot with a topfree woman was big enough to get into the Albany, New York Times Union. The paper reported that the shoot with two people (photographer and subject) took place on a beach in Grafton State Park, and that others objected, because there were children present. It seems that some people are unaware of the law in New York, and that they are, perhaps inadvertently, planting the same anxiety and prejudice in their children that they themselves have.

The story is here. Letters to the paper may be written here. It's always good to keep them polite and to the point. Or read the paper in the next few days to see what happens. (A letter from TERA was printed on August 22.)

 

2002 August 06. On July 28, the Austin American Statesman carried an article (no longer online) critical of women's topfreedom, implying that children can't deal with it. The author urged citizens to get a law passed in Austin that would scuttle women's equality. Austin and Texas have no law against topfree women.

That spurred Hill Country Nudists to action. A few dozen women and men went to Barton Springs pool the following Friday. The women were topfree and the men wore the women's bikini tops, "making it obvious that the top is silly and a gender issue," wrote Steve Bosbach of Austin. The event caused no problem at the pool.

Such gatherings may become a regular Friday feature in Austin in the rest of the summer.

 

2002 August 05. There have been a couple of breastfeed-ins lately, in Australia and the USA. The one we publicized (see below, July 05) took place August 3 and had at least 1130 mothers breastfeeding in a Berkeley, California gym, a certifiable world record. Such things aside, one report stated that it was a great success, which is good news for women and breasts generally.

The article noted that "The Golden State has a law legalizing breast-feeding in public." But making breastfeeding an allowed exception still indicates that men's breasts are lawful while women's aren't.

 

2002 August 03. It's not every day or even every year that a play is put on which deals with topfree equal rights. This is the year! In the Atlantic Fringe Festival, which runs in Halifax, Nova Scotia from August 29 to September 8, will be "Police Complaint, Eh!" written by---wait for it---Evangeline Godron. Anyone who has looked through this site will know who she is: the pioneer who was acquitted in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1998 for being topfree, and arrested for the same thing one month later.

We have no dates for the play, but theatregoers in the Halifax area should keep their eyes---and schedules---open.

 

2002 July 29. It was announced today that Miss North Carolina has resigned from the Miss America Pageant. While ordinarily we would not comment on such an event, in this case we do, because the smoking gun appears to be a couple of photographs. Rebekah Revels' ex-boyfriend told the Miss America organization that he had two "nude" photos of her. These, according to Revels, were of her wearing no top when she was changing clothes.

The organization forbids contestants to engage in conduct that is "immoral or indecent" or is "inconsistent with the standards and dignity of the Miss America Program." It stated that if Revels hadn't resigned, it could have removed her from the pageant anyhow. Such a move has occurred before.

Technically, the organization may not have removed her from the contest. She resigned. Of course, of course. (But see the update.)

TERA's President had this to say: "I have not in a long time heard anything so hypocritical and incriminating." TERA's Vice-President said: "Are the exploiters worried about their ability to exploit?"

You heard it here first: the Miss America Pageant, that paragon of fairness to women, disparages and demeans women's breasts in the name of dignity and morality.

 

2002 July 26. A leader in the Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton (BACE) writes:

"I am in the process of gathering stories about the difficulties and/or discomfort women have had breastfeeding in public, which will be incorporated into a report I'm writing and posted if at all possible on the web. Anonymity will be respected where requested, obviously. Please submit stories to me, Barb Strange."

And don't miss Barb's three-part essay on breastfeeding, which includes its relation to topfreedom. So you think it's okay to banish women's breasts except when they're breastfeeding? Keep reading . . .

 

2002 July 26. A referendum drive is being organized in Moscow, Idaho to overturn the new anti-breast ordinance (see July 18, below). Organizers will have 60 days in which to gather nearly 2300 signatures, which would then force either the rescinding of the ordinance or a vote.

(On August 1, 2002. TERA had a letter about the general subject in the Idaho Statesman in Boise.)

 

2002 July 21. In an article in The Toronto Star, lawyer Alan Young implied that the Gwen Jacob decision does not mean that women may generally be topfree in Ontario or Canada. TERA believes that is incorrect. Across Canada, a number of lawyers, judges, and government officials have interpreted the Jacob case the way we see it.

Women may be topfree, with some exceptions; that's more accurate than thinking they may not be topfree, with some exceptions. Mr. Young didn't put it that way, but readers may conclude that.

TERA's President responded with a letter in the same paper three days later (July 24).

 

2002 July 19. The 11th anniversary of Gwen Jacob's arrest for indecency in Guelph, Ontario. And July 7 was the 10th anniversary of the precedent-setting acquittal of the Rochester Topfree 7 for "exposure of a person."

Although Gwen Jacob was acquitted in 1996, also in a precedent-setting high court ruling, TERA will not rest until all of Canada and the USA recognizes women's topfree rights!

 

2002 July 19. Yesterday in Ithaca, New York was a very successful topfree picnic in DeWitt Park. Lots of women and men topfree. One visitor was Lauren Signer, Acting Police Chief of Ithaca (wearing the white shirt, below). How many police, never mind chiefs, attend topfree events to learn something or show their understanding? Bravo, Chief Signer!

On the far left of this photo as you look at it is Julia Goforth, TERA's Vice-President. Kayla Sosnow is kneeling in the front.

Ithaca2.jpg

Photo by Arc, courtesy of the Independent Media Center of Ithaca

Simon Wheeler of The Ithaca Journal went to great lengths to take a truly lousy and disrespectful photo of Julia from the back, with Kayla's body almost completely obscured. The Journal obviously doesn't get it.

 

2002 July 18. On July 15, the city of Moscow, Idaho enacted an ordinance forbidding exposure of the female breast. Based on what a New York court called "prejudice and unexamined stereotypes," Moscow now enables prosecution of women for something the state of Idaho does not and, incidentally, outlaws many bathing suits.

In the preamble to the ordinance, Moscow cites prohibitions in Boston and New York. Well, in Boston recently, female breast exposure was upheld as legal, as it is in the entire state of New York. Moscow Council is either ignorant or devious---since it refers to sexual display in places of entertainment without saying so.

Once again, women exercising equal rights are deemed to be sexual exhibitionists or, as one Moscow councillor put it, prostitutes.

 

2002 July 17. Many have asked what TERA's relation is to breastfeeding groups. We have no official relation to them. Some such groups support us, while most simply don't connect with us. But breastfeeding and topfreedom are certainly related as both general topics and specific rights.

One group with which we are connected and which has done amazing work in women's right to breastfeed is BACE, the Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton (Alberta), headed by Barb Strange. Last summer the Committee put together a brief for Edmonton, part of which is here, and got the negative policy in Edmonton turned around. The commitment from Edmonton officials was hardly law, but it was in writing!

In 2001, Barb did a survey of breatsfeeding policies at Canadian swimming pools. Read about it here, including the remarkable Edmonton statement. Unfortunately, apart from that one, most of the Prairie respondents remain in the dark ages, while most of the pools in Ontario understand more. A few more pools are included here.

 

2002 July 15. SENSATIONAL TOPFREE EVENTS IN ROCHESTER, NEW YORK! This story with photos will soon be on this site. And yes, we're talking about 2002, not 1986 or 1989! Update: photos now posted, with some of the story, here.

 

2002 July 15. Earlier this year, Renée Sachs in Albuquerque, New Mexico advertised a special price for nipple piercing to anyone having it done in her store's front window on certain days. Many took advantage of the offer, including over 400 women. She was then charged with violating the city's public nudity statute, which bans exposure of women's but not men's nipples. And the state supposedly has a non-discrimination law via an equal protection clause.

Sounds like Florida, doesn't it?

Renée was convicted in May and is appealing that decision.

 

2002 July 11. In Ithaca, New York, two women were jailed briefly today for public nudity. Their crime: being topfree in a state that specifically allows it. They were detained in separate cells for well over an hour before the Acting Ithaca Police Chief let them go.

Ithaca1.jpg

Photo by Arc <arc@nyfss.org>, courtesy of the Independent Media Center of Ithaca


The Chief was apparently very nice and apologized. But something is seriously wrong when a New York State high court decision issued almost exactly ten years ago (July 7, 1992!) is not known or is not taken seriously by law enforcers in New York.

For this story, our warm thanks to that pioneer of women's topfreedom, Kayla Sosnow.

 

2002 July 05. Associated Press announced that there will be a mass breastfeeding in a Berkeley, California high school gym on August 3. Hundreds of mothers with infants are expected to participate, in an attempt to break the world record for simultaneous breastfeeding in one place.

It will be interesting to know whether the mothers fuss with blankets and other coverups. That's their choice, but we hope it's unnecessary---and that the whole event is joyous and empowering regardless.

 

2002 June 29. Some on the City Council in Moscow, Idaho want to rush through an anti-women's topfreedom ordinance because of a few recent events there. One was a topfree car wash. According to Councilman John Guyer, "This is harmful to the girls and this is harmful to the community. It devalues their persons dramatically. The spirit of prostitution is clearly here."

Councilwoman Peg Hamlett suggests leaving things up to the state of Idaho; or, if Moscow really wants to do something, it could create a law to apply equally to women and men.

In our view, Councilman Guyer is patronizing and oppressive. He has no business inventing harm where none exists, and seems to understand nothing about women.

 

2002 June 27. For the Kananaskis, Alberta G8 summit, a number of barebreasted women and men protested in nearby Calgary, some covering themselves in mud in a pro-Earth demonstration. There were no arrests, and few media comments.

 

2002 June 20. In New York, the annual summer Mermaid Parade in Coney Island often has topfree women. In 2001, one of them, Amy Gunderson, was arrested for that particular state of non-attire. The charge of "exposure of a person" was dismissed in March. Now Ms. Gunderson has filed a lawsuit against various offices and officials.

Has no one heard of the Rochester Topfree Seven's win in 1992? By law, no woman in New York State should ever be charged simply for having bare breasts. Of course that is known to Ms. Gunderson's lawyer, Ron Kuby. (He successfully defended photographer Spencer Tunick when the former mayor of New York City went after him, repeatedly and unsuccessfully, for his celebrated mass nude photo shoots.)

 

2002 June 14. TERA was formed five years ago today. Happy birthday to us! And five years' thanks to our many, many supporters, donors, friends, sister organizations, and especially all those women and men who believe in our principles.

 

2002 June 02. Close to the second anniversary of Linda Meyer's important win in British Columbia, we posted the decision of the Supreme Court of that province which struck down the anti-topfreedom bylaw of Maple Ridge.

 

2002 May 22. The following welcome report comes from Morley Schloss.

A Boston Municipal Court judge dismissed charges against three women, members of the Breast Liberation Organization, who were arrested a year ago for walking topfree from the Boston Public Garden to the Massachusetts State House. According to attorney Lois Martin, the judge found the Massachusetts indecent exposure statute vague, with no mention of women's breasts.

The decision did not deal with the Constitutional Equal Protection issue. The county district attorney does not plan to appeal.

Although a clear victory for topfreedom, the case has little value as a precedent, since it was decided in Municipal Court. The judge had previously refused Martin's request to send the case to a higher court for a ruling on whether the indecent exposure statute applied to women being topfree.

With successful topfree actions or positive court decisions in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont, topfreedom appears to be largely accepted, if not widely practised, in the northeastern USA.

TERA offers Morley Schloss, who worked on this case, a big thank you.

 

2002 May 10. In repsonse to a question from TERA, Bob Morton, Executive Director of the Naturist Action Committee of The Naturist Society, wrote the following about the Ohio bill that would criminalize topfree women (see below, 2002 April 20).

It's the assessment of the Naturist Action Committee that the entire oppressive Ohio House Bill 469, including its ill-advised attempt at criminalization of the female breast, will fail and will pass into obscurity, and not into law.

Ohio currently has no state law requiring females to cover their chests. House Bill 469 proposes to change all that. Rep. Bill Seitz, who is chairman of the subcommittee given the task of considering the bill, has asked privately if we would be satisfied to have a small remote area set aside in a single state park somewhere in Ohio where women could be topfree.

Each time, NAC's answer has been a firm and immediate "No!" Why would we endorse any scheme that diminishes the existing rights of Ohio women and forces them to seek some small, obscure place if they wish to enjoy the same rights their male counterparts would continue to enjoy publicly and statewide? In flatly rejecting that notion in our testimony before the subcommittee, NAC publicly used the word "ghetto" to describe any such plan. We meant it!

Although they claim to be targeting topfree public sidewalk enticements by adult entertainment establishments, one of the things that really incenses the driving forces behind the bill is the annual Lesbian Pride parade, in which hundreds of women, many of them topfree, march down a street in a central part of Columbus. Finding a way to curtail such topfree expression has become a focus of those behind HB 469.

Because of NAC's consistent pressure and the extraordinary participation and support of Ohio naturists, HB 469 ---including its draconian anti-topfree measures---now appears to be destined for failure.

Regardless of the outcome, TERA offers the Naturist Action Committee, Bob Morton in particular, a huge thank you.

 

2002 April 24. Linda Meyer, of Maple Ridge, BC, is probably the most determined topfree activist in North America. Recently she visited two more pools in British Columbia, bringing her total to 20: that's how many she has visited in the past few years. In every case she has been topfree, and in almost every case has encountered no problems.

In Williams Lake on April 17, a lifeguard told her to wear a top. The manager called in the police. But the police took no action and left. Linda gave the manager a copy of the BC Supreme Court decision striking down the Maple Ridge bylaw against women's breasts. After all this: no problem!

In Prince George on April 22, however, the police wouldn't listen to Linda, much less read the court decision. They followed her into the sauna, whereupon she went into the hot tub. They threatened to arrest her for trespassing, so she got dressed and left. But that is unlikely to be the end of that incident: Linda does not take such treatment lightly.

 

2002 February 23. Artist Shawn Dell Joyce removed a painting from display at Stewart International Airport in Orange County, New York. Called "She Nourishes," the painting depicts a mother breastfeeding. The airport management claimed there were many complaints. "It's a controversial issue all over the world," said an airport spokesperson.

It isn't. It's controversial only when body-negative and woman-hostile people show their ignorance.

In protest, the artist removed all her paintings at the airport; and on February 27 there was a nurse-in at the airport by a few dozen mothers.

The same spokesperson as is quoted above said the airport has "no rules against breastfeeding in public and has even provided 'family rest areas' in the bathrooms so that mothers can nurse . . ."

So there are no rules against breastfeeding in public, except "no breastfeeding in public." Did we forget to say the nursing mothers were not allowed inside the terminal building?

 

2001 November 20. It was announced in New Jersey that Arlene Vogt's petition to the state's Supreme Court to overturn her conviction for being topfree was denied. One of the earlier judgements in this case is here. She had been declared "nude in a public place."

 

2001 November 10. In Eureka, California in early November, a group of nine women went barebreasted to protest against logging an area about 400 km north of San Francisco. After tying up traffic and making their point, the women dispersed---after the police arrived. There were no arrests.

 

2001 October 26. We posted the names of some of our organizational supporters. Without them and our many, many individual donors, TERA would not exist. To become a supporter-donor, please go here.

 

2001 October 25. We posted the words to Kayla Sosnow's The Judge. It's an experience to hear her perform it!

 

2001 August 24. Shannon Wray has received CA$6,000 (US$3950) as settlement in a human rights action against the city of Hamilton (Ontario). In February 1999, Wray was ordered to leave a swimming pool for breastfeeding her daughter there. The city first apologized to Wray, then retracted the apology, agreeing with complainants that breastfeeding is offensive.

The official reason given for Wray 's ejection: "No food or drink allowed in the pool." TERA's reaction at the time is here.

Thanks to Wray and her lawyer Joan MacDonald, Hamilton has now instituted a policy of not asking breastfeeding mothers to move.

 

2001 August 22. An announcement from Berkeley, California. September 23 at noon will be the tenth annual nude and breast freedom parade in People's Park. More info. (While TERA has no official connection with nudity, the organizers of this event support TERA and what it stands for. That, of course, isn't nudity---topfree women aren't nude---but topfree equal rights.)

 

2001 August 13 & 14. Linda Meyer and Evangeline Godron travel about the lower mainland of British Columbia, much of the time topfree. August 13 they encounter no problems at swimming pools in two cities (Vancouver and Mission), but August 14 they encounter the police nearly everywhere they go, including on a bus and at a restaurant. Arguments ensue, but no one is charged with anything. Photos of some of this may be posted in a few weeks.

"Why can I go topfree in Maple Ridge but not White Rock?" asks Linda. Why indeed not!

 

2001 August 12. Julia Goforth (TERA's VP), Kayla Sosnow (formerly of Florida), and Claudia Kellersch (of Washington state) relate their topfree experiences to an attentive crowd at a festival near Ithaca NY. Photos.

 

2001. August 08. Two women are acquitted for the second time of public indecency in Ohio. They were charged in September 2000 for being barebreasted at a private event on a golf course, only after sheriff's deputies went out in a helicopter to view them with a telescopic lens. Unfortunately, other women involved did not fight their charges.

Indecency does not involve exposure of breasts, which are not private parts in Ohio (nor should they be anywhere else). The women's lawyer is considering suing the sheriff for false arrest and malicious prosecution, among other things.

 

2001 August 06. Shannon Gordon, of Port Charlotte, Florida, is removed from a K-Mart store for breastfeeding her 3-week-old daughter. "We didn't come here for a peep show," said one man. Customer service tells Gordon to leave because the man and his wife are regular customers.

 

2001 July 15. The Bay Area Naturists Newsletter announces a challenge to San Jose municipal ordinance 10.12.130, which bans women's bare breasts but not men's. Volunteers for a topfree picnic, as well as anyone with leads to funding or a pro bono lawyer, should contact Rich Pasco.

 

2001 July 06. A councillor in Ohio wants topfree women banned, to protect "families who don't want to watch girls topless." A park manager wants topfree women to move away when asked. Oh, we forgot: women's topfreedom is legal in Ohio.

 

2001 July 01. Linda Meyer goes to White Rock Beach in BC with Claudia Kellersch and Howard Williamson of Seattle WA. Linda is charged with mischief for being topfree, but the charges are dropped. An article about her, written by Sea Stachura, is to appear in the Windsor ON monthly Upfront in early August.

 

2001 June 25. Arlene Vogt's conviction for being topfree at Cape May (termed indecent or nude exposure in the charge) is upheld by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. We believe that there are still errors of law in this case, and certain approaches by the appellant might overturn this conviction if the case continues.

 

2001 June 08. Did you know that in part of its statutes, Massachusetts state law defines nudity to include the "uncovered or less than opaquely covered . . . female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola"? But even better, "for purposes of this definition, a female breast is considered uncovered if the nipple or areola only are covered." Great grammar, great law!

This may apply only to visual material such as books, or it may not. Regardless, the exposed breast is legal unless certain parts are uncovered, but when those parts are covered, the exposed breast is illegal.

 

2001 June 01. TERA learns that Linda Meyer has been acquitted of assault in a topfree swimming incident in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Details forthcoming! (At present, this woman is probably the most persistent and judicially successful topfreedom activist in North America.)

 

2001 May 18. In Boston, three women in the Breast Liberation Organization are arrested for being topfree in a demonstration for women's equality that involves over 40 people. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, they are Marti Fricker, 22, of Boston; Jillian Courtney, 20, of Boston; and Michelle Wilde, 32, of Williamsburg. The paper reports charges of disorderly conduct and indecent exposure.

 

2001 April 22. TERA is named political site of the day by www.aboutpolitics.com (Kessler-Freedman Inc.). April 22 is Earth Day!

 

2001 April 16. The Wisconsin Bar Association requires sculptor David Wanner to add clothes to a statue of a barebreasted woman symbolizing justice. The full story is here. We think Madison's somatophobes should consult Eugène Delacroix.

 

2001 April 05. The Supreme Court of Canada denies leave to appeal a conviction for mischief in a topfree case from 1998. Details here.


WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

We need (1) Money and (2) Support.

1. TERA needs money to defend women and thereby protect all so that they may exercise their equal rights under the country's constitution. Please send a donation in any amount and any currency. Our account is controlled by John Abrams, a well-known lawyer in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Cheques and drafts may be made payable to "Topfree" or to TERA. The address:

Topfree Equal Rights Association
7 Cradock Court
Ancaster ON L9G 3Z5
Canada

Anyone with access to any TD Canada Trust bank branch may deposit directly to TERA's account no. 636, branch no. 2624.

What will your welcome donation go towards? Supporting women who encounter legal difficulties going topfree at least where men are allowed to do so. That's all! We emphasize that we are not suggesting that women go topfree. We are working for their freedom of choice and their equal rights in Canada and elsewhere. Although these rights are established in law, unknowing and coercive people are preventing women from exercising those rights, either through harassment or through policies which we have to challenge.

2. Phone; write letters, faxes, e-mails . . . to show your support.

Click here for contact information including convenient e-mail links to newspapers & politicians.  

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