Topfree Equal Rights Association (TERA)
(Association du droit égal aux seins nus)
postal address on request
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.
Directors of TERA:
Dr. Paul Rapoport
e-mail: info @ tera.ca
voice: 646 597 9169
Mr. David Basford
e-mail: dbasford @ fcn.ca
voice: 905 627 9935
Ms. Judy Williams
e-mail: judyw @ direct.ca
voice: 604 856 9598
Some e-mail addresses are listed on this site. To use one, remove the spaces and retype the address in an e-mail program.
TERA requests news stories like those below: please send complete information or reports about topfree events, problems, or issues---or references to them.
TERA will also add you to its mailing list for special announcements and news items (sent infrequently). Just send us an e-mail message with your address and a request to be added to our mailing list.
RECENT TOPFREEDOM NEWS
2015 February 14. Recently a legislator in Montana proposed a law that would ban yoga pants in public, also speedos, also women's and men's nipples, also anything that looked like them. The news media gobbled this up and regurgitated it with gusto, which is exactly what the legislator wanted: attention.
Periodically, pompous, self-righteous, know-nothing politicians engage in this sort of activity to play to constituents of like mind---or lack of mind, more accurately.
This particular bill is not going anywhere (which is little comfort to those living under equally absurd and unjust existing laws, in Montana or elsewhere).
2015 February 02. Something we've not seen much of: an animation short about women's breasts. From Spring 2014, a cheery little piece! (It's by Caity Hall, a student then at Concordia University in Montréal.)
2015 January 31. Miley Cyrus is definitely one to "free the nipple." Here she is on a recent vacation in Hawai'i:
Notably, that has someone else topfree in it (Patrick Schwarzenegger). Equality!
There are many discussions on the Internet about the new movie Free the Nipple, as well as many women posting topfree selfies in support of its principles. Happily, there's too much material for us to summarize it.
2015 January 24. Sonoko Tagami has filed suit against the city of Chicago over the actions of police against her last August in the annual Go Topless day in that city. Specifically, her suit claims that "Municipal Code 8-8-80 is facially unconstitutional." The entire complaint filed is here. The city's response is here. We find the latter substantially without merit.
We note also that Sonoko's filing cites the 14th Amendment. In the unlikely event that her liability for "indecent exposure" is overturned, probably the 14th Amendment will be ignored, as it has been before, even though it should not be.
2015 January 18. In South Carolina Jeannie Jonas has begun serving a 90-day jail sentence for being topfree. Although the case has more to it than that, we find this unjust in the extreme. Her public defender told her to plead guilty: also extremely unjust.
2015 January 07. The intrepid topfree activist Heather Crawford has sent us a link to her topfreedom log. It lists every public occasion when she was topfree in 2014: 65 times in all. She writes:
I decided to keep a log of my topfree pursuits this year, both to embolden myself and to inspire others as to what might be possible if we push the cultural envelope . . . It bears mentioning that in only one of these incidents did I witness any negative reaction, and in every case I felt better than if I had not allowed myself to be daring."
Not from 2014, not even in the USA, but definitely in the same spirit
Her whole intro is worth reading. (All the places are in California unless noted otherwise. Heather makes no claim about legality; that's not what she was testing.)
2014 December 30. There are many amateur Internet posts on our subject, including YouTube videos often ranging from unhelpful to bad. This one is different: a well-argued brief presentation that works (except for the implied censorship).
2014 December 29. The latest from Miley Cyrus is this photo, posted on and immediately taken down by Instagram:
Although she used the hashtag #freethenipple (among others) with the photo, we don't know much about her identification with the movement, or Lina Esco's movie, which she has nonetheless supported before. A better topfree photo, less show-biz glamorous, is easily imaginable.
Many media outlets censored and superficially reported on the photo, unjustly and condescendingly denying its purpose.
At about the same time, Instagram took down this one from Chelsea Handler:
Does Instagram/Facebook not realize how immature and irresponsible it looks? A similar photo was posted on Twitter, no problem.
2014 December 19. BRAVO, LINA ESCO!
One week after the movie Free the Nipple was released, it's clear that it's an important (not to mention unqiue) event in the struggle for topfreedom. No other movie has taken on this theme, never mind with such spirit.
The New York Times put out a short review that basically doesn't get it but inadvertently hints at one of the problems in the movie: the conflation of women's topfree equality with nudity and sexual expression. Although one may well argue that women's breasts represent any of that or all of it together and more, it does lead to occasional uncertainty as to what the movie is about.
The scenes sometimes come across as interrelated vignettes. Even if a few are puzzling, many are compelling. Even if some think the movie a bit shallow, it isn't to us: it's a serious beginning, and incidentally Lina Esco's directorial debut. It's notable for its impressive acting, direction, and camera work.
Let's hope she goes on from here. Her statements in various media leave no doubt about how difficult this movie was to make, but also about her position (e.g. here, here, and here), which is larger than what the movie suggests. Meanwhile, Free the Nipple has enough ideas, lines, and scenes to start several connected revolutions led by women. We recommend watching or buying it online, the easiest source probably being iTunes.
2014 December 07. It's only a few days to the release of Lina Esco's movie Free the Nipple, which we've been mentioning for quite a while. The new trailer isn't as good as the old one (which was technically a teaser), partly because it's censored.
The online universe is commenting heavily about the movie and its possibilities, too often making superficial or irrelevant statements. (Some are simply wrong. Example: "Facebook lifted its ban on breastfeeding photos.") Lina's own comments are better, of course.
One of the fun FTN places to hang out is Twitter, where many supporters have been active for some time.
In some ways, America is still a breast-panicked, body-phobic, censorious, misogynist country. Not thoroughly, and in some respects it's better than it used to be. But when the biggest legal breakthrough in the battle to free the nipple is over 20 years old and women's breasts are still controlled by men to everyone's detriment, we can only hope that Lina Esco's movie will make a big difference. Like it says, a "nipplelution."
2014 December 06. Taking inspiration from both Free the Nipple and Bare Reality, the Leeds University Union has asked people to send in anonymous photos of their chest. That they are asking both men and women ought to help it "normalise the nipple" during Human Rights Week, December 8 to 12.
2014 November 12. Sonoko Tagami has filed suit in a US District Court, claiming that Chicago's anti-topfree ordinance is "unconstitutionally vague and a violation of free speech," also that it unjustly discriminates against women, violating the principle of equal protection under the law. She was cited in August for being topfree when her chest was covered in paint.
Most other courts in the country haven't bought any of those arguments. We'll see what happens this time. It's important that women not be granted permission to be topfree solely under the First Amendment, because then they have to be expressing something, as in a protest, instead of being granted a right that men have had for decades.
I've had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons, whether it's paparazzi photographers or for film posters. That [shoot] was one of the ones where I said: "OK, I'm fine doing the topless shot so long as you don't make them any bigger or retouch." Because it does feel important to say it really doesn't matter what shape you are.
2014 October 31. "If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it's ok, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?" So wrote comedian Chelsea Handler as Facebook's Instagram deleted this photo of her repeatedly---after which she left Instagram and posted it on Twitter.
It's a parody of a photo of Valdimir Putin doing the same thing, of course clothed the same way.
2014 October 30. It has been announced that Free the Nipple will appear in theatres and by Video on Demand on December 12, 2014.
2014 October 29. We've heard from Éloïse Bouton, a former Femen member who was charged with "sexual exhibition" in Paris for being topfree at a protest in a Catholic church there last December. Her own account of that and its aftermath is here.
Éloïse Bouton in the Madeleine Church on 2013 December 20.
The writing on her torso refers to the 343 women who famously protested
against anti-choice in France in 1971.
(photo by Thomas Samson)
She faces a suspended sentence, a fine, and registry on a sex offender list, the sentencing to take place in December. In that connection, she asks important questions:
Obviously, my trial raises a deeper question about what sexual exhibition really is. Are women’s breasts considered sex organs? Can an act be linked to sexual exhibition when its intent was political? Are women’s breasts obscene? Why reduce a political act to a mental illness?
Femen held a protest in Paris last Sunday on behalf of Éloïse Bouton and Yana Zhdanova, who faces a bigger sentence for stabbing a wax figure of Russian president Vladimir Putin while topfree.
Demonstration in Paris 2014 October 26 for Éloïse Bouton and Yana Zhdanova
2014 October 18. At the Go Topless Day rally in Chicago last August, Sonoko Tagami was cited for not having an opaque covering on her nipples, which were covered in paint. She was found guilty recently, but reportedly with a twist: because the judge wants this case to be decided on constitutional grounds in a higher court, she found the woman guilty in order for her to appeal her verdict.
Sonoko Tagami being cited by police for violating a Chicago ordinance
2014 August 24
Opaque coverings as a tactic don't usually interest us --- they're unlikely to change bad law. But with a good attorney, this appeal could strike down the whole anti-topfree oppression of women in the area. If it argues merely that paint is opaque, then no advance in topfree rights will be achieved.
2014 October 14. Catharine Pierce, known as the topfree gardener of Boulder, Colorado, was in an incident in July over her sitting topfree on a Boulder Transit Center bench. Her husband Robert, who was with her, has been charged with assaulting a security guard there.
2014 October 06. Last week it was announced that Lina Esco's movie Free the Nipple, which we have referred to much, would be released by Sundance Selects. We don't know when. Stay tuned (or focused).
2014 September 28. Recently in some European centres, fashion shows have featured women in see-through tops. Commentators are calling this a result of the Free the Nipple Campaign, and making other connections for which there's no evidence. That doesn't mean they're false, nor does it mean this is journalism at its best.
The most pictures from London are probably found in this article from the tabloid the Daily Mail. Fashion isn't one of our main topics, although we notice when it does something connected to our interests.
2014 September 11. Here's a fine article by a journalist who decided to walk topfree on the main street of Montréal one day this summer. (Translation here.) Aside from the positive results, Lili Boisvert notes that she wasn't insulted, threatened, or attacked, and no one regarded her with anything worse than indifference. (Note that the author was accompanied by a photographer who was a barebreasted man.)
Importantly, she asks the question about equality. If heterosexual women and homosexual men like men's chests, why are those chests permitted exposure while women's aren't? « Est-ce que le désir des gais et des femmes "vaut moins" que le désir des hommes hétéro? » "Is gays' and women's (sexual) desire 'worth less' than hetero men's?"
Of course, desire isn't even involved in an overt way any more than it is when a person walking on the street is fully clothed.
2014 September 08. A major new project has just been announced in England, Bare Reality: 100 women and their breasts, a book by Laura Dodsworth. A hundred women are photographed barebreasted. They also tell their stories, "about intimate aspects of their lives as women, such as growing up, sexuality, motherhood, breastfeeding, relationships, body image, health, cancer, and aging."
That's important, because work like this makes its biggest impact when there are both images and words. As the book's motto puts it, "This is how we look. This is how we feel." To see an excellent video introduction to the project and read one of the stories, go here.
With a foreword by Soraya Chemaly, the book will have £1 donated from the sale of each copy to Breast Cancer UK. Meanwhile, a Kickstarter campaign opened a few days ago to fund the rest of the project. Happily, it was more than fully funded very quickly, but you may still go there to support it and receive benefits, including a copy of the book (e-book or paper).
Copyright 2014 by Laura Dodsworth. Do not reproduce without permission.
2014 September 07. Our colleagues of the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society recently tried three New York hotels in succession to let them use their pools topfree. The answers were No, No, and No, even when the prospect was a lot of business (= $$$). The group's spokesperson related the following from one of the hotels:
"You're more than welcome to join us as hotel guests and access the pool, however being that this is a family friendly hotel, going topless would not be an option." Oh, don’t we know it! We have tried and tried to train our breasts not to be so unfriendly to families, but they’re just incorrigible.
Meanwhile, Central Park in New York City is still no problem, and the favourite hangout for the group (in good weather, of course).
2014 September 06. In Montréal a little over a week ago, a 3-year-old girl was injured when a pool lifeguard insisted she wear a swimming top. The girl's mother knows, as we do, that that absurd rule was a fabrication, and she isn't putting up with it.
2014 August 29. In the September issue of Interview magazine, several models are featured. Two are Naomi Campbell and Keira Knightley. Fuss has been made over the latter's topfree photograph, because she doesn't pose that way normally. She doesn't really state a reason for the photo, which in itself is a good thing. It's pretty much "Topfree, so what?" (Still a fashion shoot, however.)
2014 August 28. Last Sunday was the annual Go Topless Day, sponsored by the Raelian organization Go Topless, in the USA. A large number of cities (50+) was promised for demonstrations; how many materialized and how many people participated, we don't know. The organization's website doesn't tell us. This year, as usual, there are news reports of strong showings in several American cities. Also as usual, in many cities the women wore pasties or tape, and traditional news media (paper and television) censored at least those who didn't.
There was a large gathering in New York City, where women are allowed to be topfree. Even though many commenters say this is so in NYC only, it's valid for all of New York State.
In New York
Here's one comment ("They're topless, get over it") from the annually-in-turmoil Asheville, North Carolina, where there was reportedly a large crowd but not many topfree women. We assume that, as usual, the erstwhile local politician and holier-than-thou anti-topfreedom crusader Carl Mumpower sent his agents to the rally to get lots of pictures to add to his already large collection.
For one of the best commentaries on Go Topless Day, go here (article by Jillian Page in Montréal).
2014 August 22. Lina Esco is interviewed here about her movie Free the Nipple. The relevant material is between 3:53 and 15:25, with comments occasionally later in the hour-long program.
Lina hopes that the movie will be in theatres by November. Note what she says about being topfree in Times Square in New York.
Lina Esco in Times Square an instant before this better-known photo
And maybe she'll still take action against the police for unjustly trying to prevent her from making her movie. Meanwhile, another article explains cogently and imaginatively (if with a few errors) why women's nipples are deemed a problem in the USA.
2014 August 21. Raven Williams is suing members of the Los Angeles Police Department for arresting her in March and other mistreatment of her for being topfree. There are other parts of California where she'd be more likely to succeed, although she's morally right in her position. She explains in this news report, which is unfocused.
2014 August 10. Here's a fine article by Lara Freidenfelds. She isn't going topfree herself yet, but gets it. An eloquent presentation.
By contrast, there's a slew of articles proclaiming that French women don't go topfree on beaches any more. There are many copycat articles. The original comes from Elle in France (the issue of July 18, 2014), a magazine not known for its research. Its basis includes anecdote, a questionable survey, and nonsense. One main reason offered: skin cancer --- as if covering a few more square inches of skin makes a difference.
Maybe the proclaimed result is true, maybe not. If it is, we think that one resaon not offered is worth investigating: the export of American attitudes towards women, including rampant body shame and phobia.
2014 August 06. An Australian model. Abby Valdes, has taken advantage of New York's topfreedom. Even better, she's said a few trenchant things about it, such as: "Women have been objectified and banned, shamed, or made to feel like it's taboo to show themselves because we are an item to be sexually desired and nothing more."
Abby Valdes in New York City recently
The headline for another relevant article managed to be both irrelevant and wrong. Nothing new in that.
2014 August 01. TERA notes with much sadness the death (as yet unreported publicly) of Sue Richards, creator and publisher of the Breast of Canada calendars, very creative publications devoted to breast health and lore. Sue produced them from 2002 to 2007, before she stopped because of Parkinson's disease. She was a major artistic and social force in Guelph, Ontario and an inspiring influence on many people.
The cover of the 2008 calendar, which was never produced
TERA is honoured to have been associated with her and to have helped her with her calendars, which remain unique.
2014 July 24. One month from today is the annual national Go Topless day organized by the Raelians in southern California. It's the only event of its kind and an important undertaking. (TERA makes no recommendation about it and suggests caution regarding the information and advice on the Go Topless site that's about laws.)
2014 July 23. As everyone who reads this site knows, there's a lot on the Internet about topfreedom. Little of it is useful or correct, and much is poorly thought out, written, or produced; yet anyone may claim to be an expert or want you to know her or his opinion. That opinion may be uninformed or absurd, or badly expressed. Perhaps its publication is nonetheless useful to bring up the subject of topfreedom, as long as one reads or watches critically.
A recent article (to take but one) has errors in each of its first three sentences, and descends in quality from there. Although the author says she's been in the legal profession, her every utterance is cringeworthy. (Trying to correct such people is almost always a waste of time, for more than one reason.)
No, we won't give that person any further publicity. Really, we'd rather concentrate on the positive or the important stuff, the two not necessarily the same. The most positive recent general news is that "Free the Nipple" is becoming better known, also the word topfree. Progress!
Still, let it not be said that understanding comes easily. "Free the Nipple" has become a slogan that any unthinking commenter can slap onto a celebrity to claim she supports "the movement." The recent photo (below) of and by Lady Gaga on an airplane is an example. It has nothing to do with Lina Esco's movie or any useful derivation from it.
2014 July 01. It's become clear to TERA that Facebook's "new" breastfeeding-friendly policy on photos is pretty much a sham. Women are finding their breastfeeding photos removed as usual on Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns and operates in the same paternalistic, censorious manner. Facebook has often trotted out similar false policies just to try to get people to think it has changed.
Jeanna Hoch notes that she's in trouble again for the same photo that Facebook claims was removed "by mistake." Courtney Patten had this one removed from Instagram:
She observes that the photo, "according to the supposed change in policy about breastfeeding or skin-to-skin pictures, did not violate anything." Both she and Jeanna Hoch are eloquent promoters of what TERA stands for in connection with breastfeeding photos.
Thanks to a generous donor, TERA was a sponsor of an important calendar: Breast of Canada 2003 to 2007. The calendars dealt with total breast health, from prevention of disease to topfreedom!
NEW ON THIS SITE
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.
(More about TERA's purpose with reference to feminist theory is contained here.)
From time to time, people ask whether there is any place on this site to post messages and discuss issues. There isn't. However, we are willing to mention sites that enable that, without comment about them. You will find them on our links page. Those wanting to be linked in that way should notify us.
TERA does not often post to these sites because, quite honestly, we are busy! That does not preclude involvement; and as always, TERA welcomes items (positive, negative, or other) to post on this site on our articles, comments, and quotes pages, not to mention photos!
We are willing to establish a separate area about breastfeeding in public, if the material relates to topfreedom. (There are other sites for this topic which handle it very well.)
If you like what you find on this site, please go here.
CONTENTS OF THIS SITE
(a work in progress)
Items and areas you may visit on this site
Misunderstandings about women and bare breasts
Frequently asked questions
Articles, talks, and the like
not as boring as you think
A "topfree herstory"
the start of something ...
Judicial opinions (and more)
the decisions that have made history
from light to really lively
from all over the place
funny, ridiculous, sad, uplifting,
or some combination
to others promoting topfree equal rights
We acknowledge with thanks the continual assistance of Artie Bigley of Columbus, Ohio
in the preparation of some of the news stories on this page.
ALL MATERIAL ON THIS SITE IS COPYRIGHT 1997-2015 BY THE TOPFREE EQUAL RIGHTS ASSOCIATION. Material may not be printed or posted elsewhere except by explicit permission of TERA. However, links to this site and material on it are encouraged, if the aim is consistent with TERA's.
NOTE: TERA strives for the highest level of accuracy and credibility in its site, its other messages, and its actions. However, no comments, statements, opinions, suggestions, admonitions, or other communications on this site or in any messages from TERA are intended or are to be construed as legal advice. Neither TERA nor any of its board members, affiliates, or associates is in any way responsible for direct or indirect, immediate or delayed consequences of acceptance, srejection, interpretation, or indeed any use whatever of material found on this site or on any site linked from or to it, or of material in TERA's messages or any proper or improper transmission or retransmission of them.
TERA needs donations to support women. If you like what you find on this site, please go here.
Latest update: 2015 February 14, 23:15 EST (2015 February 15, 15:15 AEDT)