7. Sneaking a photo. Again, I’m not offended. But having your buddy pretend to pose for a photo while you take a picture of me over his shoulder is kind of the equivalent of shouting, “Titties!” Just be mature about it. If you’re curious about what I’m doing, say so. If you want to share the image with friends, say so. (With that said, here’s some tips for sneaking a photo. Turn off your flash. Turn off your shutter sound. It makes for an awkward moment for you when your flash goes off unexpectedly under your coat.)
8. Approach me with questions. This is the best, even if the question is less than supportive. I love talking to people about gender equality and bare-chestedness. Not everyone is nice, but most people are. And if I’m only ever talking to people who agree with me, we will never get anywhere.
9. Give a compliment about my body or physical appearance. This is a close call and depends on your motivation and delivery. Some people want to show support, but don’t quite know what to say, so they say something like, “You have nice breasts” or even more comically, “Those are really nice.” I always say thank you because as I’ve said, I don’t go on walks to lecture people, I go on walks to make seeing breasts normal. Still, if you see a bare-chested woman on the beach, say, who appears to be minding her business, ear-buds, book, leave her be. If you say anything, keep it polite and respectful. “I support what you’re doing,” is better than, “You’re really hot.” I mean, I could be wrong, women are all different and some will like directness, some won’t. If you’re respectful and she’s not, that’s on her. Don’t use one woman’s rudeness as an excuse to be rude to the next woman. Break the chain and be polite. If a bare-chested woman is walking around or talking, generally being social, that would say to me that she is open at least to a greeting or gesture of support or simple introduction. Read her cues. A greeting may be all she wants. Or she might enjoy a whole conversation. Remember, just because a woman has her breasts exposed does not mean she is inviting commentary about her breasts. If the only thing you appreciate about her is her breasts, save it. She has more going for her than that. It’s tough, I know. We are all learning together. Be patient.
10. Call 911. I like it when people call 911 because it gives me a chance to interact with the police in front of a crowd of observers. I have had many conversations with police in public (another post), almost always with people gathered around, and they have all ended with me continuing my walk bare-chested. I can’t ask for better behavior modeling than that! On the other hand, the police have more important things to do. Let it go.
11. Insult me. The vast majority of my reactions and interactions are positive or neutral. Of course, they have not all been polite, and occasionally people will say rude things. One man called me garbage and a harlot. Another told me I was unreasonable and stupid. I’m a redhead. Bullies embolden me. They also give me a chance to model for observers how to stand with dignity in the face of violence and hostility, and prove why it is important for me to be walking bare-chested in the first place.
12. Touch me. I’ve never been touched inappropriately. Never even close, actually, as I think back on it. Hand shake, high five, arm around the shoulder with permission for a photo, all cool. Grope a breast, you’re losing a ball. Just saying. That goes whether I’m wearing a shirt or not.