I walk bare-chested because I enjoy the feeling of freedom it gives me.
After two years quietly doing so, I started a blog at the request of friends and family to share my experiences and lessons learned.
Through the blog I occasionally get this question, “If you want to normalize female bare-chestedness, why do you walk bare-chested in places men don’t appear bare-chested?”
So here’s my answer.
First, I only appear bare-chested where it is in fact legal for a man to appear bare-chested. I do not enter private establishments, for example, if the proprietors ask that men also wear shirts. I’m not out to challenge the owners of businesses trying to survive.
Second, with few exceptions, when I have appeared bare-chested I have seen at least one man bare-chested. I make notes of it, in fact. It’s just that people don’t see him. We are so accustomed to it, he just goes right by unnoticed. (As do I, mostly, for the record.)
Third, I anticipate bare-chestedness will first become normal at beaches, pools and parks. Through my videos, I want to empower women who wish to go bare-chested in these places to feel comfortable doing so by showing them that women can walk safely, quietly and comfortably even in the most crowded places. See? I can do it here, you can do it there.
I also seek to normalize female bare-chestedness on an accelerated timeline. Men first fought for the right to go bare-chested in the 1930’s. That means we’ve had 85 years to normalize the sight of men’s chests. We have only had about 5 years to normalize female chests. But with the power of social media, of course, we can accelerate that significantly.
My opinion is the more people who see women bare-chested and behaving conventionally the better, ideally in person. You can only shock a person with the same thing once.
A woman should get to decide if, when and where she goes bare-chested, not have it dictated by what men do. Saying there is something wrong with going bare-chested in a place where men may legally but don’t typically do so is reinforcing the idea that men get to decide what women get to do. It’s saying women can do a thing only after men have approved that thing by doing it themselves first.
Imagine if a pool made a rule that said men can only enter the water if women do so first, and in greater numbers. If the women choose to leave the water, the men must leave as well.
I say we establish equality under the law and let each individual decide when and where she or he will exercise those rights.