I walk bare-chested because it makes me feel free, happy and empowered.
I want people to see this in my demeanor so they associate bare breasts with health and contentment.
I’ve been having a fascinating, on-going conversation with a multiracial social group about race and language. It has me thinking a lot about race and breasts. Equality, after all, means equality. All forms. All fronts.
Thinking back, I have had a far stronger positive response from people of color than from white people. A Pakistani couple in D.C. once stopped me to take pictures and ask questions. They were very nice and highly intelligent. They voiced strong support and we had a fascinating conversation about freedom.
African-American men have universally been polite, respectful and supportive. They have also expressed a lot of curiosity about how I have been treated both by the public and the police.
African-American women have seemed to either really love or really hate what I am doing, and haven’t been afraid to say so.
I once had an African-American woman follow me, heckle me, tell me I should be ashamed of myself and call the police. Same walk, another African-American woman crossed a busy street with her teenage daughters to congratulate me and to ask if I would pose for a picture with her. The younger daughter took the photo. All three were positive, kind and supportive.
I’ve also had a lot of supportive honks and shouts from cars from African-American women, and one woman even circled the block when she saw me talking to George Washington Law School Police, park her car (stopping traffic), step out and tell them it was legal for me to be bare-chested! She gave me a hug, got in her car and drove away.
The support is great, of course, but diversity of thought is more important. I want to hear support and dissent. I mean, of course I’m hoping the world normalizes to the sight of female breasts, but if every single one of us has a voice and feels free to use it, we will get somewhere. (Civility always makes me listen more closely. Incivility allows me to show observers how to respectfully deescalate people.)
So, with this said, I’ve been thinking about how white the topfreedom movement looks right now, judging by the pictures on the Internet.
What is most troubling to me about this is that I know there are women of all races who believe in topfreedom as an expression of gender equality and as an act of freedom and self-love, because they stop me on the street and tell me so repeatedly.
So where are they?
I don’t pretend to understand all the nuanced social factors impinging on women in our society, but I would love to learn, specifically as it relates to appearing bare-chested in public.
So, anyone out there willing to share her thoughts with me on this topic, either through the comment section here or privately by email at firstname.lastname@example.org? Please be civil. This is a charged topic in several directions.
Also I would like to invite women of diverse race, ethnicity and age to join me on a quiet walk in D.C. this Friday, November 27. The weather is forecast to be in the high 60’s. No chants, no signs, no bull horns, no photos if you don’t want them. Just you and me going for a walk. See what happens…
If anyone is interested, or is interested in doing this at a different place and time, email me. Thank you!