I Can Feel Bare-Chestedness Normalizing

Blog Georgetown landscape
Georgetown University, Washington D.C. December 2015. Who says global climate change isn’t real? 70 degrees on December 13? But it made for a nice normal walk… no negative interactions in three hours.

 

I walk bare-chested primarily because I enjoy feeling free.  My strong secondary reason for walking bare-chested is to normalize female bare-chestedness, so that other women may feel the same way.

The only way to normalize anything is to do it with so much regularity and normality that people stop being afraid of it and start seeing it as conventional behavior. This is my motivation for posting photos and videos of my walks.  I want people to see and hear for themselves the reactions (and more importantly the non-reactions) of the public as I walk by.

There exists this misconception that going bare-chested is some disruptive act of revolution and that traffic will stop and babies will cry. Perhaps it was at one time, and in some places may still be, but in many places that’s just not true any more.  People look, yes.  People will occasionally comment negatively.  But the vast, vast majority of people react neutrally (ignore me completely) or positively (smile, nod, thumbs up.)

This is why I don’t yell at people, shout slogans or argue.  Those are scary behaviors in any setting, and people being yelled at will hear only volume, not words.  They will also associate female bare-chestedness with anger and threat.  I want them to associate it with health and normality.

It takes a lot of processing for a person to change a strongly held opinion.  When I walk bare-chested, I let people do that processing without judgment.  I don’t give them dirty looks.  I don’t stare them down.  I don’t even watch their reactions.  It is ultimately a private conversation they must have with themselves, and it will probably happen hours, days or weeks after seeing me on the street.  It may never happen.  I can’t control that.  All I can do is present the thing.

So here is a video of me walking M Street in Georgetown, Washington D.C. yesterday.  My fiance held the camera discreetly in his hand and walked a bit in front of me.  We wanted to record people’s real reactions.

Two highlights.

Somewhere in the first few minutes a man tells me to put something on.  I look at him.  Physical threat?  No.  He repeats his request. “Put something on.”  I smile and say a gentle word.  He watches me walk by then says to my back, “I love you.  You look nice!”  Just like that.  Much more importantly, everyone who witnessed that saw me stay confident, calm, strong and non-confrontational.

The second highlight is just incredible, though very hard to pick up on the audio.  I am walking in front of a ten year-old boy and he looks at his mom (I assume his mom) and goes, “Whoa!”  Later, barely, you can hear her behind the camera explaining to him that bodies are just bodies.  They walked along with us awhile, following their original path without adjusting to mine, and later yet we heard her discussing body image and gender equality with him.  She was calm and positive and let him process.  I wanted so badly to hug her or acknowledge the awesome job in some way, but I didn’t want her to feel observed.  At any rate, that was their moment, not mine.  I’m just so happy I was able to observe it.

Here’s the video.  I have to say, it felt pretty darn normal.

 

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232 thoughts on “I Can Feel Bare-Chestedness Normalizing

      1. after reading your blog then watching your video, I was happy to see the other people going about their business as though it was perfectly normal to see a half nude woman walking around. Having been a nudist for over 30 years now I am happy to see the little changes in people attitudes regarding nudity or even just Toplessness although there is still many changes to various laws and by-laws to be made . people and especially the government and law enforcement agencies need to relax and realize that simple nudity will never cause blindness or heart attacks or cause kids to grow up all demented.

        I have shared your blog on my Facebook page here in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

        Thank you for your efforts in making topless a normal part of life.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s nothing wrong with the human body. However, one thing females don’t get is that if you are showing parts which the opposite sex sees as sexual, you could find yourself in trouble. It only takes that one person with a screw loose and you could find yourself raped or killed. Happens every day so you are risking yourself and perhaps making other girls risk themselves. Of course girls have the right to show themselves but the reality is that it comes at a high risk and that will never change. People with screws loose will always be around. Be very careful with your logic.

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        1. Hi: Thanks for the time and comment. With all due respect, first of all, every woman on the planet understands the risks of being a female imposed on her because some men do not choose to control themselves, and more importantly, because a portion of our society still feels that women carry blame for being raped or sexually assaulted. This is frontal lobe in nearly every single female in the whole world. With that said, I think just as much danger lies in creating paranoia in women, or in general for that matter, that the world is this lurking, scary, rabid place waiting to gobble us up, especially girls and women. If that’s really true, why don’t we do something about it? I’ve been groped, harassed and touched inappropriately many times in my life, and all of them happened when I was fully clothed. I have never been touched inappropriately in all the bare-chested outings I have had. Never once. Sexual assault is not about attire. It is about power. While we are talking about logic, let’s remember that there are drunk drivers on the road all the time. Does this keep us from driving? Demented souls shoot up movie theaters and cafes. Does this keep us from going to those places? Do you question the logic of the people who go to the movies for giving gunmen something to shoot at? The topfreedom movement is about this exact conversation, deep down. It is about decoupling a woman’s attire from her implied consent. You say bare-chestedness has a high risk. Being female can be high-risk, because our legal system does not honor equality and because our society blames victims. You say it will never change. I disagree. Slavery has ended. Segregation has ended. Women vote. Gay marriage exists. Bare-chestedness is empowering. Body pride is empowering. Powerful women are forces. Also, may I ask, is Girth Harris a real name or a username?

          Liked by 6 people

          1. I completely agree with you that women have the right etc and should be able to feel confident, empowered etc. I also understand that you are trying to change a psyche. In order to change all men for instance you would need to put a stop to irrational conditioned responses. This would take tens if not hundreds of years because you would need to teach humans to play out their lives consciously rather than unconsciously. Teaching people to do this and to be totally present and living in the now will take an extremely long time. You also have people who are not able to observe irrational conditioning, which means they will always be unconscious. Lots of people will always have conditioned responses making them see what they see as sexual and who knows what those irrational responses could be. Also you would be less likely to be groped when naked because you are not an easy target, you would seem confident and so people would leave you alone and in lots of instances not know where to look, so they would look elsewhere. The male penis is a a sexual object, how would you feel if men walked around showing their penis in public. Would you want to be faced with that. You must remember, breasts are a sexual part to most men and watchout for those irrational responses. You seem to understand in a basic way how to change all this, but you don’t seem to have a more informed way and understanding of what you’re dealing with and the psychology of it all. You are not looking at it wholistically enough. You have given lots of examples that don’t compare correctly and I don’t have the energy to respond to them alk individually. Good luck with your pursuit, I do agree that women should have things equally, but you won’t be able to stop men looking at breasts sexually and there will always be that person with incorrect brain wiring that can’t be fixed through education.

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            1. Again thank you. I’m not trying to change every man, nor every woman. I’m trying to change the way enough people see the female body that women can feel relatively comfortable socially going bare chested. I know there are people who won’t change ever for anything. I’m not wasting any energy on them at all. I’m focused on the people with enough open-mindedness to at least have the calm conversation. It’s a difficult topic to be sure. There are a lot of uncomfortable truths tied up in the topfreedom movement. Regarding my understanding of psychology I have never claimed to be expert in human psychology but I have also had significant success trying to understand fear and navigating it peacefully. I am a careful listener and I share what I hear so other people can make use of my experiences according to their own judgment. I of course have my opinions but I also listen to other viewpoints. So I ask you to remember that just because I don’t agree with a point doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. It probably means I thought about it and disagree. With that said it sounds like you and I agree on the way the world should be to a large degree but differ on our feelings about how much change is possible, how long it will take, and whether the effort is worthwhile. Is that fair? I don’t begrudge you your position. You’re certainly not alone. But it’s not going to discourage me from putting my effort into this decades long movement. I’d rather fail trying. ..

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              1. I’d like to add a couple of observations.
                Risking repetition: Breasts = sex is a culturally conditioned feeling.
                There are, and have been, cultures where breasts = pretty much just another body part. Historically that was so for at least some tribes on the Tuomotu islands. Currently that is so for the Zo’é people. Just to give two examples out of many.
                The same goes for the penis and the vulva, and any other body part. Enough anthropological documentaries and research papers attest to that.
                Conditioned feelings can be changed in the individual, in a surprisingly short time. For example, people in the American culture, continually become social naturists/nudists, who would have sworn that they would “die” being seen naked. Really strong negative reactions to even the mere thought of it. The same goes for seing other people naked.
                I have no source for the following, but have seen it expressed in different contexts: If one wants to change a cultural aspect in a population, one needs only change 10%-15% of the population. The rest will then follow. I imagine this mechanism would be quite visible within any changing trend.

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                1. I love your comments. Thank you. Without having a number, I have been operating under the principle that we are closer than we think to normalizing, because if we shift a critical mass, the rest will follow from gravity alone. It’s a strange feeling I think for people to be lose a fear of something. Appropriate fears protect us. But so many fears just keep us from living fully.

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              2. Hi Braveheart, I admire you for what you do. The law is an ass, especially regarding naturists in the UK. There is hope, always that things will change but only if we do something to bring about change. Scientologists are not campaigning for bare-chested freedom, but they do have the tools for changing peoples’ minds and removing the loopy bits that create insanity. The only attack against your person would come from someone’s insanity. It comes from the past and is re-stimulated by the present (which could be a female bare chest). it is easily treated through the simple process of Dianetics. Less insanity all round would answer your quest for normalcy.
                I push people toward Dianetics and Scientology in the knowledge that it makes a safer world for all of us. I’m on holiday in Spain right now, and the Spanish couldn’t care less whether you are bare chested or not. Perhaps you should visit here for a change!

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                1. I’m not sure how you make the link between the Spanish laws about gender equality regarding the bare chest and Scientology, something which is (as I understand it) largely confined to California and hasn’t any sort of following in Europe.

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                2. I’m not sure that that is a good summary of her intentions. As I understand it, rather than seeking out places where it’s easy to do or it’s already tolerated, in effect if not officially, she would rather get official sanction where such sanction does not currently exist. And in accomplishing that, increase the number of places where women can go topfree, if that’s what they want to do.

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          1. Thanks for visiting my blog. My point is basically (I think) what you are saying, which is that rape is about power, not attire. Rape is a bully’s tool because it instills fear. One need never be actually raped to be controlled by the fear of it. I think maybe what is hard to communicate to men sometimes is that every woman basically lives in the context of rape and rape culture all the time. That may sound hyperbolic but I don’t think it is. So when men repeatedly warn us, remind us, point out to us that we might get raped, it can eventually stop sounding like a well-intended warning and start sounding like a threat. Do we tell our boys all of the horrible things that could in theory happen to them when they leave the house? Do we tell them it will bring shame on them if they are victimized? When they are choosing their clothes in the morning, are we “reminding” them that all these terrifying possibilities exist if they choose wrongly? No man need remind women that men may rape them. We know. Quite well. What will be very refreshing is when we collectively start expending the same effort we give to teaching girls fear to teach boys character and responsibility.

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    1. I don’t see many men walking around in the city with their shirts off. “No shirt. NO shoes. No service.” was not a sign targeting women. I see what you are trying to do but, perhaps normalizing breasts in places where men don’t wear shirts either.

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      1. Hi Pamela, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I have never walked bare-chested anywhere a man would be required to wear a shirt. Never. I walk on public streets, in parks and on beaches, and see bare-chested men in those places often. I do not enter private establishments bare-chested, which is where the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” rule applies, and the important thing to me there is that neither men nor women can appear bare-chested in a restaurant, say, or a grocery store, if that’s the rule the owner of the store has set. Violate the rule, get asked to leave, either gender. But when the law differentiates between men and women, I do have a problem with that, as many women do. Men have been able to enjoy public bare-chestedness for nearly 100 years and as a result the sight of shirtless men is normalized and men can feel assured they will not be harassed or shamed for doing so. Women, even in places where it is legal, still feel social pressure because it is new and unusual. When I started walking bare-chested two years ago, I did it for myself. I didn’t have a blog and had no intention of creating a blog. I made that first walk in Washington D.C. after emailing the police to confirm it was legal. I received an e-mail telling me it was indeed legal. So I went for what I expected to be a quiet walk on a beautiful day. Within four minutes, three police officers had arrived. They got out of the car angry and told the man standing next to me that “it might be legal for her to be doing that” but if she doesn’t “cover those up she’s getting arrested.” It took them nearly ten minutes to address me directly. After holding me for nearly an hour on the street, they let me go without an arrest, told me I was unreasonable, had wasted their time and if I continued to waste their time by walking bare-chested, I would be arrested anyway because the next cop would just “find something” to arrest me for. I asked if I was free to go. They said yes. I walked on, right down M Street in Georgetown, Washington D.C. I was not arrested. I did however email the D.C. police chief that evening and long story short, after many emails, many walks around the city, and police training, we are walking peacefully bare-chested now. Walking bare-chested exposed a form of gender inequality I had not foreseen when I first sought to walk. I thought I might get some looks, I did not think I would be treated like a possession of the man standing next to me. Not in this day and age, in the nation’s capital. So, I went walking again, and again, and again until the police stopped treating me like an object to be owned and when I walk, I walk tall, and proud, and I know I have earned the right to be on that street and I have earned the right for other women to be on that street, as other pioneering women had earned the right for me to be there, through effort and patience and intelligence and strength. Going bare-chested is an empowering act. Now at the request of other women, friends, family, I have begun sharing my experiences and lessons learned. I have watched women shed shame in front of my eyes going bare-chested for the first time. Years of self-hate and poor body image lifted, if only for the duration of the walk, but lifted, and once you feel it, you won’t unfeel it. And THAT’s what people are scared of. Strong women are no one’s possession. Please understand, this whole thing started because I wanted to go on a walk, quietly, peacefully, bothering no one. But I couldn’t. I can now. Women have been fighting for this form of equality since 1986. It’s time. The bottom line is we are all human beings, equal under the law.

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        1. Kudos to you! I totally agree with your beliefs and admire you for having the courage and self confidence to take bare-chested walks. I can’t picture myself having the courage to do it. And I agree that if lots of women did it, then it would be normalized and men would “get over it”. Breasts need to stopped being viewed as purely sexual ‘objects’. Thanks for doing your part to bring it to people’s attention.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hi Jessica: Thank you. I am working to see the day when it will require no more courage for a woman to walk bare-chested than it does for a man to do so. In some places we are getting pretty close, and that feels good. I walk in super crowded places in part to show other women that going bare-chested on a beach or in a park might not be as hard as they think. As far as men getting over it, I think for the most part, from my experience, the vast majority of men are over it. I mean, many men and women like to look at breasts. That’s fine. But I don’t experience many men acting disrespectfully. I will get an occasional call from a passing car, but I mean occasional. Rarely. The push back we’ve been getting in places like New Hampshire, Missouri and Fort Collins Colorado has been from mothers of children between 9-13 years old. So that’s our challenge, reducing the fear of normalized bare-chestedness in 25-45 year old mothers and the men who are afraid of them… but we will figure it out. May I ask what state you live in? It’s okay if you don’t want to say. Just curious. Thank you.

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    2. Thanks for sharing the stroll!

      My only “criticism,” if you will, is that were I to see you walking along, I’d know someone was nearby with a camera.

      The reason:
      You have no purse, and are wearing a skirt – nowhere to keep keys, wallet, money, etc.

      But I love seeing the non-reactions… though some people appeared to deliberately NOT look, meaning they were looking.

      (What’s even more amazing is the number of fire plugs in such a short distance, and they’re all at wrist level… 🙂 )

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      1. Hi Jeff. Thanks for writing. I have a side pouch under my skirt. Renaissance Festival nerd… For the record, I’ve been walking exactly as you see me for two years now, all over the east coast, no purse etc, and this is the first time we’ve ever made a video of it. But I get your point. We made the video because I wanted to show visually what I write about, which is that bare-chestedness really doesn’t receive much reaction. Certainly not as much as people fear it will. Thanks again.

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    3. I go to clothing option camps, the human body in all forms is beatiful to me. I walked topless in downtown Manhattan where gender equalities was pass that women do not have to wear a shirt to cover themselves…it was the most empowering point in my life

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      1. Thank you so much for this message. I agree. Walking bare-chested is an incredibly resonant and powerful experience. For me, feeling that freedom, that self-love, without shame or guilt, that was a feeling I can never unfeel. I would love to hear more about your walk or about you in general, either hear or through correspondence at breastsarehealthy@gmail.com. Thank you. Be well.

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  1. A change in costume always brings about hostility or amusement from the masses – for example, from the book “The Americans, a Social History of the United States 1587 – 1914″ page 493” presents a remark regarding the wearing of bloomers under skirts that ended above the ankles c. 1840: “Mrs. M. M. Jones, the matron of Dr. Trall’s hydro, explained why she gave up wearing Bloomer garb out of doors: ‘however modestly … you may pass about your business, base rowdies congregated round street corners, hotel steps, and lager beer saloons will look at you … in a manner that will cause every drop of blood to run cold within your veins … Lost women, pointing … their polluted fingers, will follow you … [children] hooting, shouting, and yelling … today pelting you with snow-balls, and tomorrow with apple cores.'”

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    1. So we’re improving. Women of today have it better off than poor old Matron Jones! Lol. Also, what exactly is a hydro? Is it what I think it is? I picture wabble wousers and woudy woustabouts thwowing wotten apples at her ankles. Bless her heart, poor thing. Thank you for the comment, and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Thank you! And thank you for all the support reblogging and sharing. Someone reblogged me on Facebook today. Is that you? I know because my metrics went crazy in the last two hours. Which is awesome. I am boycotting Facebook because of their anti-nipple policy, so I can’t even see who’s spreading the word out there. But thanks to whoever it is.

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  2. Great job. The video looked like it was very normal and not many cat calls which kinda surprises me. Now if we can normalize the breast in more states.

    I follow you on twitter at http://twitter.com/t3dus but you don’t follow me so I can’t reply to your tweets because my account is private. 😦

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    1. Thank you! I don’t usually get a lot of catcalls, an occasional “nice” or “beautiful” or something akin to that which I don’t mind. There have been one or two in the past couple of years that were less than appropriate or appreciated, but not everyone is of an equal level of maturity, haha.

      I am trying to work on different states, either going to them myself or trying to find people who are already there and giving them the information that I have gathered and my process. I need help spreading the word, so if you have access to people in different states, please share the message and share the blog!

      I just followed you back on Twitter. The sad state of our society is you can’t always tell who is legit and who is a real person and who isn’t simply a troll. Thank you for reaching out to me!

      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t really know many people outside of Iowa where I reside and I’m not sure the laws in Iowa regarding nudity but I’d love to help out the cause anyway I can.

        I believe women deserve equal rights as men.

        Though to go a step further I also would like to normalize nudity in general because I believe that the United States is behind on that level. I believe nudity is a very natural thing is shouldn’t be viewed as sexual, the same way breasts shouldn’t be viewed as sexual.

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  3. I know nothing about Iowa, unfortunately! I would suggest going to your governmental websites and looking up what the language is on indecent exposure, and if there are any city ordinances, or any pertinent cases. Then share the info with any local people you know, especially women, who share your views. I’d caution against having rallies or protests if there is no legal language against it. Just go out and do it calmly, normally… I have some blog posts that go into more detail…

    Personally, I understand the joy of being clothes free. Socially and legally the challenge of the moment is to get everyone on equal footing. That must be accomplished before we can have meaningful conversations about body pride, sexuality, and nudity. I don’t believe there is anything inherently evil about the human body, but I also do not believe that we as a society are mature enough yet to deal with it in a healthy and responsible manner.

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    1. Ha ha, great handle. No, I don’t get trouble for obscenity. Obscenity is mostly focused on printed material, video and music and has to be basically solely designed to address “prurient interest.” Lewdness is sometimes thrown into the conversation but that charge also requires the lewd person to be motivated by some sexual interest. Since I’m just walking around, they can’t argue I’m acting in a sexual manner. But the short answer to your question is, in two years walking all over the east coast, I’ve never been arrested. I have had police officers stop and talk to me. Only four times have I been asked to cover up, but all times I continued my walk without covering up after talking it out with the officers. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      1. My wife, who’s reading this with me and doesn’t do computers, say to tell you what you’re doing is great. Keep up the good work. She tried the same on the farm where we work, but the management eventually (after some years) vetoed it. Co-workers all were positive. The actual language of the policy that was adopted was wear what one sees on Main Street in town (avoiding any sexist language, but saying to conform to the sexist culture). Maybe she can try Main Street instead of the farm!

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        1. P.S. You touch on something here… I saw it this week when I attended the trial of two women who were cited for bare-chestedness in Gilford NH, which has a local ordinance banning “topless sunbathing.” The paradox goes like this, to use your situation… you can’t do it on Main Street because people don’t do it on the farm, and you can’t do it on the farm, because people don’t do it on Main Street. It’s this self-referential fallacy of legality depending on popularity, which can be basically restated, “You can’t do it because no one does it.”

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          1. If your working on a farm part of the reason for asking you to cover up could be safety? But then i dont know where you work… and i know men may do it, but I’ve also never seen a mans boobs get in the way as much as mine. Just like a vagina around machinery would be safer than a penis. Just a thought 🙂

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            1. OSHA Regulation 4.(b).35 sec a2: Employers of agricultural workers shall require all employees to restrain all penises, breasts, prominent nipples, fingers, hair, toes and any other appendages that may come to be stuck in augers, mills, thrashers or combines.

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              1. This quote is not found at OSHA.gov. I expect it is a spoof. Care around dangerous machinery is important. But fingers don’t have to be covered at all times on the farm.

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          2. I saw this shared by an awesome freethinking mate. My first thought was it would be mobile soft porn. I am nearly 42 and have 2 daughters. I see the sad side of men and have outed a former employer as a sexual predator.

            I watched and it was not erotic at all (sorry! as beautiful as your breasts are). See I took on the message of the walk and not the visual before me.

            I thought wow, empowerment. Owning ones body. Equality. All the stuff I am fighting fully clothed to make this the best would for my daughters and there female friends.

            Your non-violent protest speaks so loudly.

            My daughters through me thank you. The world is one little bit better for your peaeeful protest.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Thank you so much for this beautiful message. Fathers of daughters have an incredibly important role to play in their daughter’s self-image and confidence. You are modeling an open mind and acceptance and I can’t overstate how important this will be to them. Whether they ever go bare-chested or not is not the real issue, it’s that they know their bodies are okay, that they have received an incredible gift to have been born into female bodies, to be women, to be humans, full of potential to live and experience happiness. You are creating ripples. Thank you also for fighting sexual predation. I celebrate men fighting against sexual predation as much as anything else I do. Please pass along my well-wishes to your daughters. Thank you for the Facebook link also. I don’t use Facebook myself because of their female nipple censorship policy. But I’ve had a gazillion visitors from Facebook this week and I’ve been dying of curiosity to see if whoever posted my article had posted it with or without the bare-chested photo. And lo! There I am. That’s awesome. The robots haven’t caught up to it yet. High fives for all of the above. Thank you. Feel free to correspond with me at breastsarehealthy@gmail.com. Your daughters too of course. Comments are fine too if you don’t mind people reading your conversation.

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    1. Yes, I’m aware of this proposed bill in New Hampshire. I’m working on an email to send to the New Hampshire legislators and I would like to be present if there will be public comment opportunity. If you hear of when that bill will be discussed on the floor let me know please.

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  4. Only one double-take that I noticed – that surprised me. I think *I* would have looked twice and exclaimed something – maybe, “Yay!!” Although social nudity among other nudists is delightful and freeing for me, I have not liked being nude in “clothing optional” areas where lots of clothed people turn up just to ogle. I had to work too hard to relax! I admire you for modeling the normalcy of the uncovered body on a city street, without challenge or message. Just being. Yes, thank you.

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    1. I get some quiet voices of support and approval, a “nice!” or “alright!” or people talking amongst themselves about bare-chestedness legality. I’ve had women come up and thank me, shake my hand and such. Sometimes people ask of they can take a picture with me. Other times my walks are very lowkey. I think both types are important to have; the more people who have pleasant interactions with me, the less scary I seem to them and everyone watching, and the more quiet my walk the more people see no one freaking out and everyone behaving normally.
      I can definitely understand how it would be more difficult to relax. When I go out for a stroll I know and am prepared for what comes and am doing it in a place where it is likely no one else is (or sometimes even has), which makes it different than clothing optional areas.
      I truly appreciate all the support you’ve given me! May I ask where you are from?

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  5. HI, Thank you so much for what you are doing, and for the beautiful, well written letter you wrote to my state reps in NH. I am one of the two women in NH who was cited for toplessness and go to trial on the 28th. I can not tell you how much I do appreciate what you are doing. Come warm weather I will be joining you, on walks in NH.
    I, obviously, am closely following the action at our State House regarding the Bill, and would love to keep in contact with you regarding this, and have any input from you you’re willing to give. My email is Lilleyhei@gmail.com if you’d like to contact me directly.
    Again, thank you. Heidi

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    1. Heidi! I’m so glad you reached out. I’ve been following you since Laconia. As I’ve said elsewhere I drove through New Hampshire the day of the Hampton Beach event but try as I might I couldn’t get there. This is awesome. I have received several promising replies from New Hampshire Representatives so far, voicing pretty strong support for gender equality and topfreedom. Yes, please do keep me up to date on the developments of House Bill 1525 and also your trial. The issue of unconstitutional local ordinances is of particular interest to me and I would like to learn more about your experience challenging the one in Laconia. And absolutely yes we are walking together. Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like a normal walk to me which shows progress. I feel that the majority of current generation (or anyone born 1980-present) is not the problem. The problem started with the “upper class” from back in the day (exclude financially successful “hippies” from this). I personally don’t know a single man who would tell a woman to put a shirt on (take that however you want) and I’m pretty confident none of them would comment or say anything inappropriate as well. I do however know women who have a problem with other woman going top less claiming that it is “gross”, “she’s doing it for attention” and “what a whore” (not exactly sure how top less = whore) among other things. As a husband and father of 4 breast fed babies (feeding whenever wherever till age 4ish) who has and will continue to support women able to be topless if they so choose I believe this video shows progress. Good job. Resistance plus time equals change. As the old law makers, judges, Congress men/women, etc die off and the ratio of new school to old school people who try to controls us (let’s face it, that is the correct term) shifts more towards younger, openminded, educated and realistic lawmakers the bull shit laws will be changed or go away completely. Great job with the video, takes a lot of confidence and courage to confront injustices especially publicly. To be completely honest, I am concerned about your choice in foother wear, or lack there of. You are in the city, people and animals(sick and healthy) spill some nasty bodily fluids on the streets/sidewalks, couple that with a small cut due to a piece of broken glass or other sharp object and things get shitty really quick. Keep up the good work, you are making a difference.

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    1. Haha I understand. I don’t mind being looked at in whatever way. I mind being minimized to only represent that thing.
      Women’s relationships with each other is fraught with peril. We’ve been made to feel shame for so long that when one of us has freed herself from it, it is scary to the rest. We have also been taught to be in constant competition with each other, so when some women see a bare-chested women they go “I have to do *that* now?!” It’s a difficult conversation, but one that we need to be having.
      You’re touching on a phenomenon that I have noticed- people are more concerned or freaked out or uncomfortable about my bare feet than my breasts. Which I think is awesome! I definitely appreciate your concern, but I barefoot almost everywhere. It creates and promotes awareness of one’s body and surroundings. It is also free and continuous foot reflexology, and helps keep me stay grounded (no pun intended). I walk with care, and rarely ever even stub a toe.
      I appreciate your time and your comment! I also very much appreciate your views coupled with your fatherhood. Keep up the good work, dad!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a selfish woman you are. If that had been my 10 year old son, I would have told him that some people are so self-centered, that they give no thought to anyone other than themselves and will force their beliefs down the throats of other regardless of whom they may hurt.

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    1. Hello JC. Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. Before I respond may I ask for some elaboration? You imply I’m forcing a belief. Which belief do you object to? And what am I doing that is forcing that belief down someone’s throat, as you describe it? Related to my belief to which you object, do you feel my belief is wrong or my approach is wrong? If it’s just my approach that is wrong,
      How would you prefer I express my belief? Also, may I ask if you are male or female, how old and where you are from and so on?Generally, I mean, so I can understand more about your position. These are sincere questions. Thank you.

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    2. “(F)orce their beliefs down the throats of other regardless of whom they may hurt?”
      You mean like telling women they must cover their chests when men don’t have to? Basically, you’re saying that because *you* are uncomfortable going topless, then all women must cover their breasts.

      Exactly what harm is done to anyone by a woman not covering her nipples? Who is hurt, and how? Please be specific; if I am wrong in supporting women who want to go topless, I want to know.

      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I’m really curious as to how she is being selfish and self centered. How is she forcing her beliefs (or me forcing my beliefs) down anyone’s throats?
      ‘Yes, equality is an issue I believe strongly in and will fight for with my dying breath, but will never force my beliefs on anyone else, I will fight for equality in a legal manner. I intend to live my life by my motto of not hurting anyone. I’m sorry if you believe your ten year old son would be injured by seeing a breast, I’m sure he has already seen them in mainline media, they are visible on any television show, including Saturday morning cartoons. It is society that frowns upon seeing the female breast in open places in America, just like it did the male breast in the 1920’s and 30’s, but that was changed when men began going without tops, as is what is happening now with women going without tops, making it more of a social norm.
      In America you can see the female breast on any magazine or television show, you need to become accustomed to seeing it in the same places you can see a male breast.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. BTW…were you Barefoot in that video walking around? Because I shared this to one of my barefooter groups! You should join us if you also love being Barefoot in public…so we can help support your movement too! Barefooters.org and on Facebook Barefoot Is Legal What you are doing g for women’s breasts… we’re trying to do for bare feet! Actually, I’d also like nudity to become common too…see total body acceptance be the norm…but one barefoot step and one nipple at a time, I guess!

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    1. I am barefoot most of the time! I appreciate that you noticed and that you shared it. Barefooting keeps me present and allows me to walk with awareness. It is also free and continuous foot reflexology. And keeps me grounded and connected, which I think everyone needs. Though I am sure I am preaching to the choir here!

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  9. I am curious – do you see a difference in behavior towards your choice of attire in the general public when there are no visibly operating cameras, versus when there are?

    p.s. i think what you are doing is awesome!

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    1. Hi J.W. Thank you for visiting the blog and commenting. I’ve not spent a lot of time publicly bare-chested in front of visible cameras, despite all the photos I post. In a three hour walk the camera will be out for a few seconds and my goal is to record my walk for people to understand visually that I made the walk, where I walked and with video how people reacted or didn’t. I don’t make artistic photos because the Internet is so full of exhibitionist pornography that many people’s eyes are conditioned to see bare-chested ness as sexual. I don’t want to complicate things by mixing stimuli. With that said I see a difference in how I am received and how I see other bare-chested women received when those women are protesting or giving television interviews or holding media events. I’m not saying they are wrong to do those things. I’m saying I’ve watched people react to them and to me and it feels different. Part, only part, of that difference I attribute to the fact that people immediately try to figure out a persons intentions for doing a thing. The sight of cameras or posing gives them an easy answer. She is seeking attention. And that’s all the work they do. But if I eliminate that as an obvious motivation they have to ask, why is she doing this? And they may either think a bit, ask me, try to find out or ignore me. All of which I’m comfortable with. The key element in whether a person is charged with a many crimes for example is that person’s motivation for the act. As I pondered that in my learning curve I realized that a huge part of normalizing bare-chestedness would be to reduce or eliminate my perceived motivations. There are many reasons a woman would go bare-chested. I prefer people to ponder them or just move on to whatever else their day entails that’s more important to them than why a woman is walking by bare-chested. Thank you again.

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  10. Proud of your courage to set the example! I would suggest carrying a small purse and /or shopping bag to look even more like you’re just outon an errand.

    I spontaneously join a local Free The Nipple group at their first demonstration in town because I am fed up with the ridiculous laws on what is legally ‘indecent’. These laws are mostly supported by fundamentalist religious groups that call themselves Christians but are actually mostly like the Pharisees of the Old Testament, who were severely castigate by Jesus for their self-righteousness and arrogance.

    Perhaps living 7 years in Europe as a young man (I’m now 75) had something to do with forming my opinion on this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve thought about this some more this morning and want to add this bit. The way I think of the people who resist this change is simply that they have one thing in common, and that is fear. The fear can even be of different things, but they fear something about the change. I keep emphasizing the point that I like and respect men and that I am surrounded by strong, respectful men who believe in gender and racial equality. I would like to add to that that I am also surrounded by very supportive people who identify and are active in various Christian and Jewish faiths, both in my daily life and from online interactions. I agree that fundamentalist anythings are often fighting back strong fears within themselves by attacking the world before it attacks them (which they erroneously believe is inevitable). So I’m not disagreeing with you there. I just want anyone who reads this thread to know that the equality and topfreedom movements both receive a lot of support and participation from people who identify as religious. And I appreciate that very much. And regardless, we aren’t getting far without figuring out a way to live together. It really does just boil down to are we all willing to accept freedom and equality? It’s easy to say. But it’s very hard to make real. Fear is one of the most powerful forces on earth.

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  11. I wonder how reactions might differ if you weren’t a young, thin, pretty, white woman? I don’t mean that to be a criticism at all, I think what you are doing is awesome, and has value for all women. But I think people are more comfortable seeing naked bodies that look like yours than some of the other body shapes and colors out there. Maybe I am wrong. Just wondering what you think about that.

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    1. LP, I definitely agree with you. The Free the Nipple campaign and its ilk have been very much white-washed. I have been reaching out to women of other backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, etc because I think it is incredibly important for all of us to be represented. Equality, or lack there of, is something that affects everyone. I am fully aware that my age, color, and aesthetic have at least some pacific effect on my observers. The only thing I can do is continue on my path and keep working to include all women.
      If you know of any women, (regardless of age, color, shape, etc), who would be interested in my blog and possibly joining me please share with them and send them my way!
      One of my dreams is to have a very diverse group of women working together towards normalizing the female body and helping our society take steps forward in equality and maturity.

      Thank you for your thoughts. I share them.

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      1. Being an older woman, 55, and a large woman who also goes bare chested I will attest that it is not as easy. People are very judgemental, and not always so kind. I have thick skin and broad shoulders and I am not going nate chested for them to judge my body, I do it in hopes that one day it will be legal everywhere it is for men.

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        1. I love your spirit Heidi. Rights and freedoms belong to everyone, regardless of race, gender or appearance. We are all guaranteed the opportunity to pursue happiness, and we should have equal opportunities to find that happiness. We are not guaranteed happiness itself, only the right to pursue it. Artificial, unequal impediments are fundamentally un-American.

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  12. I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if anybody has said this, but I am in awe of your courage – not because of the police, but because of the attitudes and rebukes I would expect from the general public. I can only imagine what would happen if I were to walk around naked in New Zealand, even though there are no official laws against nudity, only guidelines on appropriate behaviour. (I am a man, been doing the bare chested thing for a hundred years 🙂 )

    You’re amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tim. I appreciate the kind words. My goal is that women won’t have to be any more courageous to go bare-chested then men are. In places we are already there I think. In other places we will be there soon. A couple years. Other places of course will take longer. As it becomes more and more normal, the rate at which it normalizes will increase too. Thanks again.

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        1. I have had many women reach out to me, those I know personally, those I have met online through the blog and social media, and even some on the street. I’ve had two women at different times ask if we could go for a walk together. Both times were in D.C. and the days were magical. You can read the blog post that the first woman wrote for us here:
          https://breastsarehealthy.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/ravens-own-words-on-her-first-bare-chested-walk/
          And I am working on the blog post about the walk with my newest friend this morning, so check that out once you get a chance!

          Women on social media have been very supportive, with some even inviting me to come visit them so we can go somewhere together.
          The interactions that are particularly wonderful to me are the ones that happen on the street. I am incredibly appreciative and humbled to have all of you across the country and world visiting and commenting on my blog and social media. You all, however, have chosen to be here and in many cases have sought me out because you already agree. People voicing support on the street have no idea who I am nor any prior dealings with me.
          There was a woman who was walking amongst a group of her female friends that crossed a street to get to me. She took my hands in hers, looked me in the eye, and said “you are so bold. I appreciate what you are doing. You’re awesome!” That was such a wonderful moment.
          There was a mother and adult daughter in the window of an eatery who pointed me out to each other as I walked by and gave me huge grins and thumbs ups.
          I have heard people defending me when someone else voices disgust or says that I “can’t do that.”
          Sometimes a woman will come up to me angry at what she perceives I am doing, only to change her mind after I engage her in a calm and reasoned discussion.
          Women (and often people in general) will stop and ask if they may take a picture with me, which I always agree to, and they often put their arm around me.

          I have had many such moments in these past couple of years, and I treasure each one.

          Thank you so much for your question. I love when people are engaged, so please don’t hesitate if you have more!

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      1. Honestly I don’t get it … What’s the equality in going bare chested … Where men do not even go bare chested … I also find it interesting that you do not have others join you

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        1. Hi again, I think I answered this in your other comment, but just to recap, the equality issue that concerns me is in the law, not in how many people of their respective genders use the rights they have. Under the law in some places, men can go bare-chested and women can’t and I think that’s wrong. In the places it is legal for women, up until recently, it has been more socially accepted for men to go bare-chested then for women. That is changing, fast, but that is because women are starting to use their rights. So again, just because men don’t use their rights doesn’t mean they don’t have them. In many places, women don’t even have the choice. In the places we do have the right, my mission is to normalize the sight of female bare-chestedness the way male bare-chestedness is normal so that women who wish to go bare-chested will find it easier to do so without the social pressure that comes from confused or judgmental looks or negative interactions with police or passersby. The second part of your comment, that you find it interesting I do not have others join me, is vague. Do you mean you find that fascinating, or do you mean you find it telling? My first response is that I have had women join me, as you will see in the articles about Raven and Hontouni Heart. My second response is something I have written many times in other articles, namely that I specifically do not ask women to join me because I don’t want anyone to go bare-chested out of some pressure to please me (friends, family, etc.) or because she feels pressured by my invitation. The choice to go bare-chested should be made by each individual woman when she is ready. It is a new thing for our society, and we are all getting used to it. I simply want to make sure that if a woman chooses to do so, she is safe legally and socially to do so. Thank you again for commenting.

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  13. You have a well thought through approach to normalizing the female chest.
    I find it refreshing that you build upon neuro science and psycology, as well as approaching the subject from a legal point of view :o)

    Do you have any sense of the percentage of first walks in new areas of jurisdiction, where you have been approached by the police, as opposed to first walks in new areas of jurisdiction, where you were not approached by the police?
    Has the percentage dropped over time?

    Once you have confirmed the legality of female bare-chested walking with the police in a specific area, when at a later time you come back to walk there again, do you “warn” the police again, or do you just go on your walk?
    How often are you approached by the police on those subsequent walks?

    Do you see any significant change in peoples reactions to you on the street, between the first time you walked in an area and when you later return?
    Do they actually seem more relaxed about it the second time around?

    I ask these questions because I’m curious about how fast (or slowly) people get used to something new like that, as well as how permanent their initial “mid-brain reprogramming” actually is.

    Keep up the good work :o)

    (Sorry about my English — it is not my native language :o))

    Cheers, Johnny :o)
    Denmark, Scandinavia, Northern Europe.

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    1. Thank you for writing, Johnny. Your English is very good, in fact. Don’t apologize! When I started walking, sometimes I would just go walk and have the inevitable conversation with the police out there on the street, but then I realized that wasn’t really fair to the patrol officer who responded. Expecting a patrol officer, whose daily life consists of drug calls, violence, robberies and those types of crime, to be aware of the legal language in an indecency statute was unrealistic. They were just trying to do their jobs and not get the call wrong in either direction. Now some individual police officers have been pretty insulting and dismissing, but in the end even those officers (some were male and some were female) heard me out and let me go on my way. But in having those conversations I watched every one of them call a superior and we stood around on the street waiting for that superior to do some research and get back to us. I realized, this would be far more productive and effective if I had this conversation myself ahead of time. So yes, with my new process of contacting police first, the police interactions have dropped to almost zero. I say almost because occasionally I will have an officer greet me or say hello, in this way that says I’m not really talking to you to see if you are high on drugs, but I’m talking to you to see if you are high on drugs… haha. That happens very rarely now, but sometimes. The last half dozen walks have had zero police interactions and few “drive-by’s” even. Yes I see and feel a change when I see a group of people for a second time, such as would happen on the return trip of an out and back route, or if we bump into each other again later. No one cares the second time around. It’s just the first shock where I see reactions, and those are minor to be honest. Shock is too strong a word. When I go back to a city in which the police have responded the first time I walked and I have had subsequent conversations with a superior, I have experienced a far lighter police response in subsequent visits. People normalize to my appearance very, very fast. Within minutes, if not seconds sometimes. Especially at the beaches. I haven’t even called police in advance at most of the beaches I went to, and I’ve never had a police interaction. A bare-chested woman at the beach is much closer to people’s expectations of what they will experience than on a city street. And… what else? No, I don’t warn the police when I return there after my initial visit. I think that’s all your questions! Thank you for the thorough, well-conceived comment. Good stuff.

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  14. Thank you for a good answer :o)
    Have you considered sharing all your documentation for the legality of female bare-chestedness, in a structured manner for other women to use, as documentation if they are approached by police?
    I mean in the context of someone who would like to go bare-chested where you have already established that lawfulness, are worried about being arrested by an uninformed police officer, but doesn’t have the energy or insight to do all the work it requires to correspond with the local police in order to produce that documentation.
    You have already done the work applicable for a lot of places, and have got the documentation needed.
    Sharing it might get other women to feel safe going bare-chested in those areas, having access to the documentation that establishes that they can do so.
    It might also get other women to produce documentation for new areas, as it is often a lot easier to get a job done, when there is a pile of previous work to use as a template.
    Maybe seing a growing list of documentation for places where bare-chestedness is legal can also motivate more women to join in, both in going bare-chested and in expanding the list.
    Cheers, Johnny :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, thank you. I’m working on it. I’m trying to figure out how to structure it so it isn’t cumbersome. I also have a couple conversations going on right now that I’m waiting to resolve before I publish my list and pertinent contacts etc. But I absolutely agree that this information is vital to have in the hands of women who wish to go bare-chested. I would also like them to know how to contact me if they do have a negative interaction with police. And you’re right, having other women contribute to such a list would be beautiful. I’m not much of a techie… that feels like it should be its own website almost. What do you think? How is the best way to format this. I would like to moderate it so I can vet the information before we put it out there. I don’t want jokesters claiming its established somewhere just trying to get women to take their shirts off. I need to know the info is legitimate before publishing it.

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      1. Hi,
        being a computer tech nerd I would like to contribute whatever advice I can, helping you to get the documentation list airborn.
        It’s technically easy, but there are a good handful of technical things to decide between before deciding on a format for the documentation and before uploading it.
        I don’t think it’s useful posting tech stuff here in the context of this particular blog’s subject matter.
        I think it’ll be more practical to communicate about this via email.
        So, if you would like me to help, feel free to contact me on my email address.
        (I’ll be away from email Dec. 24Th – Jan. 5Th)
        Cheers, Johnny :o)

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  15. I’m curious how many men you actually saw walking topless ? I mean this is the argument right ? You want equality ? Or are you hoping men will start walking topless in this square too? Please clarify. And before you pass judgement on me I practice nudism and am perfectly comfortable with the human body …

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    1. Hi Tanya: Thank you for visiting my blog and for commenting. First, I don’t pass judgment on my commenters. I want everyone to have a fair shot at being heard and I think you will find I treat people with respect no matter where their opinions fall. I saw about a half-dozen bare-chested men on the day I made the M Street video, two were runners, not together, and the other four were in a large group playing volleyball. I have made this point before, which is that my primary goal in walking bare-chested is to enjoy the experience, not to “be equal” to men. In the current dynamic, men still pretty much decide what rights or freedoms they want, and then women get to have the same thing. That’s the current definition of equality, at least how I see it. I would prefer that we all have an equal opportunity under the law to seek our individual happiness. My real concern with the legal inequality of indecent exposure statutes is that they allow males more freedoms than females, and I think that’s wrong. Socially, the fact that men choose not to use their right to go bare-chested should not mean women don’t get to use ours. That’s still giving men the power to decide what we can do. We should be able to choose when to use our freedoms and rights when we choose, not when a man chooses to use his. So no, that’s not my argument. My position is that men and women should be treated equally under the law, and allowed to decide when they use those freedoms according to their own judgment. Thank you again for visiting and writing. I hope this clarifies my position for you a bit. If not, let me know and I will try again.

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  16. Definitely an interesting social experiment. Congrats to your boldness. Any interaction with the police on this? And thoughts on indecent exposure questions? Not that I think it is indecent exposure – we just live in a breast phobic culture.

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    1. Hi Greg: Thanks for visiting. No police interactions with police on any of my walks for the last several months, and no negative interactions since… August? And that was just a female police officer telling me I had to cover up, me telling her I didn’t, she calling a supervisor with whom I had already spoken, and she letting me go on my way. If you read my articles titled, “Is bare-chestedness legal here?” I address the indecent exposure questions. And my article “Being Female is Not Disorderly” addresses the next response police use which is if it’s not indecent exposure, it must be disorderly conduct. But it’s not that either. It’s just legal behavior! Thank you for writing.

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  17. Hello! I just want to say, reading your article and watching (part) of your video was very touching to me. I even liked reading some of the comment threads, because of how open and receptive people can be when they are not put on the defensive. While I support women finding their strength and equality in many ways, including the take-what’s-yours mentality, it’s also empowering to see it in this form-of sharing the growth with those around you. If that makes sense! Also, it was a learning experience for me to watch the video. At the beginning I felt myself getting uncomfortable; I was concerned with what the people around you were thinking. But after watching for a minute or so, I stopped worrying about the responses. To me, it seems like that kind of nudity could have a unifying effect on a community of people. It’s intimate, but in a natural, non-intrusive way.

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    1. Hi JR. Thank you. You have touched on something I just wrote in another reply, which is that I am so proud of how commenters here and on the YouTube videos have remained civil and calm, even those who haven’t agreed with my going bare-chested in public. In this day and age of vitriol and flaming anonymous comments, it is wonderful to hear a mature discourse on a difficult topic. That alone tells me our society is ready for this form of equality. It’s just not inciting the level of venom it used to. People still disagree, and always will, but they don’t seem to feel it warrants these big energy expenditures anymore. That’s a canary in the coal mine to me, people are normalizing. Thank you for the insightful comment.

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      1. Hello! I don’t know your name, but I was inspired by your words and actions. I want to say thank you. I’m brazillian and I thinl that it would enrich a lot of people in my country to know about your words and actions, so I took the liberty of translating to portuguese and publishing here: https://medium.com/@gabriel.aquino/posso-sentir-o-peito-nu-feminino-normalizando-98fa286dff05#.b7xe99amr.

        If you don’t like it to be published this way, just say the word and I will take it off.

        Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi Gabriel: That’s really cool. Thank you. And thank you for asking. I ran your translation through Google Translate and it looks like you have captured my intentions accurately, so well done. Let me know how it goes over. I’ve noticed a lot of Brazilian visitors on my analytics this week. I have seen videos and articles about females asserting their right to go bare-chestedness in Brazil. I will be interested to see how this goes over. Exciting stuff! Thank you for your effort and for writing to me. ~Gingerbread

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          1. Hello!
            Yes, more than 9 thousand people read your article at my site! People really liked it here in Brazil!
            I’m part of a network of people interested in Non-Violence Communication, thats how I came across your article, an english friend shared it with me, and everybody loved the way you think and act about all this. I know some women that are organizing right now to act inspired by your article.
            And so many people that are just talking about it now, this thing that was a taboo yesterday and now, because of the way you explained your feelings and needs about it, so many people are sharing and being touched.

            I want to thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. This is incredible to hear. Thank you. I better start learning some Portuguese! This experiment has been successful so if you wish to translate another article or talk about something I can address specifically to the Brazilian conversation please let me know. I look forward to hearing updates from the Southern Hemisphere summer. Good luck to everyone involved. Please keep in touch.

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    1. Good morning. Thank you for visiting my blog. A YouTuber named Mark Dice made a video in which he uses an “authoritative voice” and tells shirtless men to put shirts on, because if women can’t bare their nipples neither can men. It’s interesting. Your comment spurs a couple thoughts and I can’t tell which direction you’re coming from, or if you’re male or female, but first, just please remember that touching someone against their will is assault, no matter how you touch them. But aside from that, I was thinking that the legislators who are trying to pass laws making it illegal for women to bare breasts can’t really say it’s not an important right, because if it wasn’t important, they would just propose a law making it illegal for anyone to bare their chests. But men clearly feel it’s an important right to have. Imagine all these men in bikini tops, or going back to the one piece swimsuit of the 1920’s. Which maybe is what you’re getting at with this idea, exposing the hypocrisy? Or maybe you’re saying everyone should put shirts on. I can’t tell. Anyway, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHM2KfVOKEU
      Thanks for writing.

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  18. I’ve been doing this kind of thing as long as I can remember. The story I’m about to share I posted on Myspace back in 2008. Thought it would fit nicely here. I went swimming topless in a freshwater spot outside Boston. A young man age 17-19 came over and sat down on the grass observing me like a caged animal only looking at my breasts. When I said Hi to him he got up to move to stare at me from another angle ONLY looking at my breasts. I slumped my shoulders and became self-conscious instantly. Realizing I was doing this I turned to face him smiled and asked him if he lived around the area. He answered and I realized he was perhaps autistic or “slow.” I asked him if he had any questions and said how it’s not usual you see a woman with her shirt off, huh? and he agreed. I said “You know, in some places it’s quite natural for a women to have her shirt off” and he immediately asked “WHERE?!” like he was going to get on a plane and go immediately. hehehe. By the end of the bit of conversation his face went from being dark and sort of overwhelmed with perversion to smiling, sincerely. His whole demeanor did change. There were a couple German women sitting nearby, a mother and daughter. They were completely enlightened by the whole experience and asked me if I was an “artist” and said they felt “his eyes were opened to a new world” – I think he just realized that boobs can talk but, hey-

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    1. This is absolutely beautiful and reflects the experiences I have had myself. You are very strong and have used that strength to remain non-confrontational and in this instance you were able to normalize this young man to the sight quite quickly it sounds like. Thank you for sharing this with me. It makes me have that much more confidence in the non-confrontational approach. High five.

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    2. Something else I am responding to is the transformation from shame to pride you felt and then showed outwardly, if those words aren’t too strong. Self-consciousness to self-assuredness. One of the joys of this blog for me has been making contact with women like you. I know there have been a lot of women going bare-chested all over the country. I’ve met them, talked to them, seen them, and there still exists this impression that it is highly unusual. I know it’s not, it’s just that women are doing it in isolated pockets sometimes. I’ve had emails from all over the country recently from women who have said they do this themselves, publicly, and without arrest or big negative confrontations. It’s so exciting to know that we are that much closer to normalizing, because once we establish the legality in broad spectrums, I think there are enough women who are either willing to do this or actually already doing it that it won’t be such a glacial process. I was already in a good mood this morning (Tai Chi Chuan sparring, rawr) but this really makes my day. Thank you.

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  19. Congratulations for your courage and serenity!
    May I ask you the following questions?
    What about your neighbours and relatives? Are they aware of your bare_chested outings? Are they used to see you in that attire? If so, what is the impact on they reactions and behaviour towards you?
    The video shows you walking non stop and rather quickly. Do you also go for downtown strolling and maybe shopping?
    Merry Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Andy: Thanks for commenting. Yes, most of my family knows as do my neighbors, some of whom are also my family 🙂 The most common reaction I get from people who love me is concern for my safety. After showing them my videos, taking them for walks with me, talking it out, they feel far more comfortable about it. Same as always, adult mature conversation… the key. I garden in the backyard and my neighbors, who have a lot of children between them, are supportive and behave normally. The kids don’t care at all.

      As far as stopping, yes, I do stop. You can see this is the Assateague video, and the Philadelphia videos. Also you can find many pictures of me on the blog sitting on blankets, park benches, playing Frisbee etc. I do not enter private establishments without putting a shirt on, as any man would be expected to do as well. My goal is to achieve equal treatment under the law, not to protest some poor shop owner’s effort to keep people coming in her store. I’ve only made these few videos so far to show people how it looks and feels and that most people don’t really react much. I will continue to seek ways to subtly show these non-reactions in the future. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, etc. Thank you.

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  20. Now wait, are you going for female equality, or just normalizing being topless for everyone in general (men and women)? Honestly on an average day in town I’d find it a little weird if anybody including a guy walked down the street shirtless. I mean obviously I see the difference in how society reacts to female toplessness as opposed to shirtless males, and I do agree that the double standard is pointless and wrong. I’m just curious as to why women want toplessness to normalize in places where being topless isn’t quite normal or advantageous for anyone.

    Obviously this doesn’t apply to breastfeeding women, as I already firmly believe it is natural and normal for women to breastfeed in public, and I vehemently disagree with anyone who says otherwise. I also agree that female toplessness should be normalized everywhere and anywhere it is normal for a male; like water parks, pools, and beaches.

    Finally, I’d like to say I’m not trying to start a fight with anybody. It’s a sincere question, which I am interested in receiving an answer to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for visiting and writing. My personal primary motivation when I walk bare-chested is to enjoy the feeling of freedom it gives me. My secondary mission is to promote and develop the legal and societal conditions other people of any gender would need to feel the same. Body shaming happens to all genders and is wrong. When I refer to gender equality in regards to topfreedom I mean first legal equality, how the genders are treated when creating and enforcing law, and second, societal equality, how the rights, privileges and opportunities afforded the genders are perceived by society in general. As I have discovered through my walks, we cannot have the societal conversation until the legal conversation is resolved. In D.C. for example, bare-chestedness has been legal since 1986. Yet the first three times I went walking I had negative police interactions. They never cited me. They would just stop, (sometimes four cars at a time!) ask me questions and let me go. My message to the police chief was that no one will ever consider female bare-chestedness normal if every time a woman goes for a lawful walk the police surround her. Now two years later they don’t even respond to me and you can see from the video of my walk on M Street that it is normalizing socially. The day of the M Street walk I saw two men running bare-chested through Georgetown and four men bare-chested playing volleyball in Rock Creek Park. People ask me why I go bare-chested in places men don’t go bare-chested. Ponder this question. It still gives the discretion (power) to decide where a woman can go bare-chested to men. In this construct, only after men have approved the behavior with their own behavior can women do it themselves, instead of creating an equal legal condition and allowing every single individual the right to decide when and where she or he decides to use the right. Imagine we said men can go swimming in a pool, but only if women are doing it first and in larger numbers. Just open the pool to everyone. If one group chooses not to use the pool, why should that change how another group gets to use the pool? My ultimate goal is to end body shaming and to promote body pride, for all genders. As it turns out, we’ve discovered some impediments (fear, prejudices, legal inequalities, etc) and now we are studying and dismantling them one by one. I have also realized the age old lesson that people with a right don’t consider that right to be as meaningful as the people who don’t have that right. This can be voting, marriage, topfreedom, so many things. I just had a conversation yesterday with an elderly man who just could not understand why it is such a big deal to me that even though he never actually goes bare-chested, he could, but I couldn’t (in the place we were at the time). He couldn’t fully grasp that he had the choice and I didn’t and that that was unfair and also betrayed a systematic gender bias. I didn’t take your comment as provoking a fight by the way. Thank you for commenting and sharing a sincere question.

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  21. Wonderful!! thank you for doing this…

    I was a new mom breastfeeding my baby in UK when a British lady came in to visit me and saw me…she immediately suggested I ‘invest in something to cover up’…even at home!! …I was surprised. Women are still trying to normalise public breast-feeding today..and many women have been made to feel ashamed of it for ages… So what you are doing is revolutionary, yet its long overdue.

    I was raised in India where women who walk bare chested on the streets because they are begging are a common sight and normally someone would offer them clothing to cover up their body, they would sell the same and then back to business…Yet when a woman who is educated and well employed would have to think twice before wearing a sleeveless shirt or a short skirt..and would be stared at by eve teasing men even if she were draped from head to toe. And this is a country where women would be bare chested in the past, the ancient land of bare-chested goddesses…it was all normal…The women in my ancestral line were not required to wear a blouse above their skirts…or even underwear beneath their skirts…my grandma talks to herself in the past..tattooed and bare chested going about her daily life in the village… I don’t know what changed in India and how the victorian mindset became so rigid…Perhaps an influence of new religions that prohibited women from looking good in public…from wearing anything less than a full robe. There are still some countries where women have to fear being raped and are accused of ‘inviting rape’ to them for simply wearing a western outfit and its been sad to see India, a land of goddesses turning into one of them. Revolutions like this might take time to reach those corners of the world but they will…and women will be free for sure!

    We will have truly arrived at a positive world when women and men could walk bare, naked without any fear and would still be respected as normally as otherwise

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning. Thank you so much for this comment, and for taking the time to visit my blog. Your words about your grandmother are beautiful and echo what I am hearing from my Brazilian commenters, who tell me about growing up in indigenous cultures where it was the normal state of dress for women to be bare-chested, and they express nostalgia for those times. I have spent a lot of effort recently trying to understand fear and power. I suspect if we trace the origins of enforced female “modesty” that we will eventually arrive at a fear of losing power. Confident, empowered women are forces, and that is bound to make weak people nervous. I will say this, I have been receiving some positive feedback from India, men and women, and while a handful of commenters in a country of a billion people isn’t much, I take heart in knowing the sentiment is sitting there in people’s minds, meaning maybe the conversation will live again. A man wrote to me recently telling me he was working on an art installation involving many breasts, because “breasts are a powerful symbol.” I prefer to think of breasts as a symbol of power, power that exists in every woman on earth. If we can realize more of that power, and use it for good, to make the world better and lives happier, the use of that power is justified. Power is used today to create and maintain fear, which is used to control people. It’s getting to the point that we are afraid of NOT being afraid, because it feels reckless to walk around on anything but high alert. Ponder the malignancy of this. Our lives are drip, drip, dripping away and we are being told to cower under a rock for our own safety. But what’s the point of protecting a life lived under a rock? I guess I got to the point where I just decided, no more. I’m going for a walk. Thank you again. Please keep in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Have you considered making a video somewhere a bit more crowded, where it is more obvious there are bare-chested men around, such as a park or beach on a busy day? Was your fiancé bare-chested during your walk?

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    1. Hi again. I’m not sure how much more crowded I can get than M Street in Georgetown on a Sunday or Brighton Beach in August! haha. I have 9 videos posted on my YouTube page, I think. I just started making these videos recently because I realized we can show people the non-reactions about which I keep writing in the blog. In a four hour outing, I only usually have the camera out for a few seconds to grab some snapshots, and the video camera is discreetly placed somewhere to keep people from changing their reactions to me. I want people to see the unedited footage. Sometimes my fiance goes bare-chested, sometimes not, it’s up to him and what he wants to do. When he is carrying the video camera in his hand, we try very hard to make him look unaffiliated with me. Otherwise, yeah, it’s whatever he feels like doing at that moment. Beach, bike ride, walk, sometimes yes sometimes no. Just like me. We each get to choose. I wrote an article this week about why I walk in crowded places, including places where men may be but aren’t typically bare-chested. I encourage you to read that article if you haven’t already. I get the question a lot so I answered it in a longer piece. Thank you again. I appreciate your time and support.

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      1. Thanks for the reply. I didn’t realise you had YouTube videos – I thought they would be taken down because of the problems about female breasts – so I’ll give those a look and read the article you mentioned.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Have you considered wearing a radio mic tucked somewhere into your skirt, clothing, or bag and linking it to the camera so the comments by people near you, and your replies to them, can be better heard on the videos?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. While I would love to he able to share the evolution of these conversations I’m having, and the interactions, my understanding is that secretly audio recording conversations even in public (except with the police) is illegal in most states and federally as well. The Supreme Court seems to feel public conversations caught by video in passing or in the background does not violate the law, so I think I’m good with the little bit of conversation I tend to pick up but in general it’s nothing I want to mess with. I don’t even jaywalk when I’m bare-chested! 🙂 one of the things I hope will happen with the videos is that I can establish my credibility with my readers, so when I describe my experiences people believe me. That’s about the best I can do I think.

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              1. I didn’t know that – thanks for the explanation. For the record, I do believe what you say, but thought better audio quality would improve the videos. Keep up the great work!

                Liked by 1 person

  23. Agreed. Women should be able to show their chests. The reason why they can’t is because breasts are seen as sexual. In a lot of societies any body parts seen as sexual are by law, covered (penis, vagina, breasts etc). Also agree that some should be able to walk without threat of rape, unfortunately this will never be the case. There will always be that person with a screw loose who will see a body part they consider as sexual and then that person showing the body part is at risk. I understand women should be able to do what they want etc as far as showing their bodies, without the threat of violence/rape, but this will never change. Women are therefore placing themselves at risk by showing what is considered by others as sexual body parts. There will always be a person in every city in every Country who has that wrong wiring, so sometimes ladies common sense needs to prevail over your rights. You need to protect each other and see the risk you are faced with which will always be the case. You can never rid the planet completely of people who are born with bad wiring so please be careful out there with what you’re promoting to our young girls.

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    1. Hi again. I think I’m responding to basically the same message twice, so just to add to the answer I made to your other comment, you say this will never change… it is changing. Women are walking around bare-chested in public, peacefully, quietly, without arrest. Wrists and ankles and collarbones used to be seen as sexual. Wearing pants was deviant and unladylike. Men are changing. Women are changing. Some change will be slow. Some will be fast. But the conversation is maturing, the law is evolving, policing is evolving, women are growing more confident. I will also direct you to my article, Why Some Parents are Afraid of Bare-Chestedness. in which I speak directly to your last line, regarding what we are teaching our young girls and the fear it triggers in parents. Being aware is one thing, being frightened into hiding is another. I don’t think we should give ourselves over to fear. I do appreciate you visiting my blog and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I love when people react more strongly to my bare feet than my bare breasts. That’s not why I go bare-footed, but I take it as a sign of improvement 🙂 Barefooting is a very liberating thing for me to do. It promotes presence and awareness. The world is full of poopy, drippy things and I like knowing I can navigate them safely. It’s not for everyone, for sure, but there is a growing community of barefooters out there who feel it is a natural and healthy way to walk. Me included. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and comment. Take care.

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  24. as feminists bitch about gender equality in bare chestedness they give two shits about boys who are falling behind in school every year, because gender equality

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    1. Good morning. Thank you for visiting my blog and considering gender equality. You will find elsewhere on my blog many places where I have referred to the importance of equality in all regards, in all directions. Equality does not mean one group gets more. It means all groups, all individuals receive the same treatment under the law and have equal access to public resources like education, medicine and public lands. Your message is not very long so I don’t want to read too much into it. I do hear a bit of what is referred to as the fallacy of relative privation, which is a common tactic used against people supporting the topfreedom movement. Basically it says that because the critic feels there exists more urgent issues, arguing or even discussing an issue of lesser perceived importance is a waste of time or invalid. It is basically a shaming tactic, and is considered a fallacy because it is not rooted in logic or philosophical rationality. This particular blog happens to be about my effort to normalize female bare-chestedness. Elsewhere in my life, for example, I volunteer in a youth cycling program to bring healthy alternatives to violence to at risk youth, which includes a mentoring component. Our mission is to keep kids of all genders in school and out of trouble. The word “bitching” I feel does not accurately express my rhetorical approach, in writing or in personal conversation. My entire mission is to remain calm, listen and respond with compassion, logic and not fear. Bitching is one of those terms that is often used to bait women into anger, which allows a person to say see? She’s emotional. Her argument is invalid. Describing a quiet walk on a sidewalk in which I speak with no one, exchange only smiles and nods, and generally receive almost no response as “bitching” implies immediately that anything a woman says or does that asserts a strong position is invalid because she is a woman. When we use the term bitching to describe a man doing something, the implication is that he is not acting entirely like a man, that he is acting like a woman, which the argument implies is weaker behavior. So, as a final thought, I do thank you for visiting and commenting and for raising the important point that gender equality means equality for everyone, all genders. I absolutely agree. But just because one important issue exists does not mean the people discussing other important issues do not have a right to do so, or that they are wasting their time. Do you support a program supporting boys educational opportunity or information about the gender education gap I/we could support or learn more about? Feel free to share it here. Be well. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Also, as I’ve written many times elsewhere, the topfreedom conversation specifically is a conversation men and women are having together. The argument that women should not be allowed to go bare-chested is almost always premised with, “because men and boys can’t control themselves,” or “because it distracts boys.” This is profoundly insulting to men and boys. The males around me are almost universally respectful, strong, kind souls who can in fact control themselves. Lumping all males together as latent rapists is deeply damaging to their health. So I think this is an important conversation for men and women to have together, and we are, maturely I might add. Again, thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

  25. That would turn some heads here in NC, and likely earn you some harassment. I will confess I would be startled to see it, even on the mostly-female college campus where I work, and I would probably do a double-take before I caught myself. My conscious reaction, on the other hand, would be a smile and a thumbs-up. And if I heard anyone giving you shit about it I would get rude in a heartbeat (not that I think you need protection, but some dudes will only listen to another man).

    In the end, I think your bare feet are more worthy of comment than your bare chest here. My experience with Georgetown is from back in the ’80s, and I would have never dared walk there barefoot. No way in hell.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I can foresee some
      North Carolina walks in my future. I met a bare-chested women in South Nags Head a fee years ago. She was cool. Spent a whole week bare-chested on the beach. No negative reactions she said except some dirty looks from a mom but the mom didn’t move their towel and they coexisted all week in peace. I appreciate the offer of support. As far as getting rude lol, I personally think neutral but firm opposition is the best way to push back. I feel like if we treat each person better than that person is treating us, at the very least we’ve made the world a slightly more civil place. As far as Georgetown, it is very clean and well-kept now. Campus was beautiful too. Thanks for the visit and comment, and offer of protection. :). People don’t tend to get too rude with me. A blessing for sure, but also the result of putting out nonconfrontational energy. Be well.

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      1. Damn. I just got schooled. 🙂 To be honest, my “rude” would probably be something along the lines of “Dude, don’t be that guy,” but you have a very good point about keeping the energy positive. And it’s not an offer of protection. You don’t “need a big man to protect you.” I’m just an ally (my only-ever viral post was as a daddy in support of public breastfeeding: https://uncgbls.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/babys-hungry/).

        I didn’t think about the coast; I have heard that folks going bare-chested around the beaches is becoming more commonplace and less newsworthy, and that’s definitely a positive change. I can’t help but wonder how it would go over on this campus in the middle of the state. I haven’t heard of anyone putting it to the test yet.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha. I wasn’t trying to school or one up you, I promise. It’s just vitally important to normalizing bare-chestedness that people associate it with quiet and peace and not scary things like yelling or arguments. My fiancé has worked very hard to keep his response positive when people say negative things to me. He feels protective and I appreciate that, certainly, I’m protective of him, but he believes in this movement as much as I do and we both realize that change will require a lot of positive interactions, and each one is gold. I wrote an article elsewhere on this blog about what men can do to help normalize bare-chestedness. This really is a conversation in which both women and men have to participate. And we are, and that’s exciting. Are you willing to tell me which campus? I’m daydreaming about a college tour.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Haha! I’m at UNCG. I’ll definitely go check out that other post. There have been some slutwalk and take back the night activities here that I wish I could have participated in, but family responsibilities have kept me away. I’m not shy about my opinions on social media though. Kudos to you and what you’re doing! I hope that by the time my three-year-old daughter grows up and decides she wants to go out bare-chested, it will be so normal that no one will notice.

            Liked by 1 person

  26. I agree, It is your right to go bare chested whenever and where ever you feel like it. It is not the right of any bigot to say that you cannot. Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law, Love is the Law, Love under Will, thou hast no right but to do thy will, do that and no other shall say nay.
    The word of sin is restriction. If anyone objects then they should not cause themselves any pain by staring. Me, I will look and thank her. Keep up the good work Girl. I am a strong believer in immunity through exposure. When it is commonplace it will not be a problem, hiding stirs imaginings, exposure satisfies curiosity.Thank You for helping to make this a better world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I have been studying the various notions and demotions of the word sin this week. A friend emailed me after my post about parental fear to tell me about his childhood experiences in which his mother told him it was sin to look at whores (women in shorts, for example). Anyway, more on that in a future article but here is another echo of that sentiment. Thank you for your time and support. Be well.

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  27. Hello there! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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  28. A couple of ideas for a “might be an idea”-list:
    You could consider getting in contact with some neuro scientists/psycologists to write one or more guest posts about how the brain and psyche works, within the context of this blog. Not only could you perhaps learn more than you already know (which seems to be quite a lot). It might also help get “sceptics” to have an “Oh, I see”-moment or two, as well as it being more difficult to reject when it comes from people who have actually studied it and work with it in a professional scientific way.
    You could consider making a FAQ. Having read probably almost all of the comments on your blog, it seems that there is a handful of questions and comments that show up regularly.
    Cheers, Johnny :o)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, right? I do end up answering a lot of the same questions over and over, but I’ve gone back and forth on an FAQ. I think so much of the value of having people comment is the interaction, especially when it is civil. It’s vital that people who interact with me understand that I am not going to attack them or demean them. I can’t really prove that by referring them to an FAQ, even though it would save me time. I’ve had a ton of traffic on the blog this week. I guess the link that’s been bouncing around Facebook reemerged. But I’m not overwhelmed with comments yet so for now I’m going to keep answering them one by one. It’s on my mind though for sure. I find also that each time I respond to a question, I gain a bit more understanding about that question, a little thought or nuance I hadn’t see before. It’s like T’ai Chi again. You do these subtle little moves over and over and over and somehow you never do it the same way twice. It’s fascinating. As far as the psychologist, I would absolutely love to talk to researchers or theorists in this arena. I imagine one will cross my path eventually. Thanks as always for giving this so much thoughtful consideration. I find your input very valuable.

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  29. This seems to be a bit more common out West. Here in Boulder Colorado I’ll see the occasional bare chest at the farmer’s market in the Summer. Not that uncommon on the California beaches.
    The Boulder Reservoir used to have a nude beach, currently closed by the ongoing swing to totalitarianism. But that’s happened before, and it came back. In San Diego county there’s Black’s beach, which was shuttered as a nude beach 20 years ago but still is. Old hippies go play nude volleyball there almost everyday to keep it free. The spectacle of willful liberty is the most enjoyable part of that spectacle 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s what it sounds like, yes, though there are more and more women in the New York City watershed who seem to be going bare-chested this year. I have received a fair bit of correspondence from folks who go bare-chested in Seattle, Portland, San Diego, and Boulder. That’s awesome that women will go bare-chested to a farmer’s market, I love that. Very natural. I’ve heard of a group of yoginis who practice bare-chested in parks around Boulder too. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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