So Far So Good for Topfreedom in New Hampshire

Blog woods
A wild Ginger in her natural habitat, the pine forests of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Rumors of such creatures have circulated in local folklore for centuries.

 

Quick recap: Last summer, September 2015, a group of women went peacefully bare-chested on Gilford town beach in New Hampshire.  They had already had many peaceful bare-chested outings over the summer at other New Hampshire beaches and parks, as groups and as individuals, but on this day, after receiving complaints, police issued citations to two women in the group.  Both women asked to be cited.  They took their citations to court in December 2015 and in January 2016 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division Judge Jim Carroll said that since it is not illegal in the state criminal code for a woman to be bare-chested Gilford’s ordinance was unenforceable.

In reaction, a group of state representatives from the lakes region introduced House Bill 1525, which would have made it illegal for a woman to expose her nipples but not for a man to expose his, exempting breastfeeding.

In the weeks leading up to the legislative session, a female representative posted her opposition to HB 1525 to Facebook and received two responses from male colleagues in the New Hampshire house, one arguing that if it’s okay for her to whip out a boob, it’s okay for him to touch it, and the other announcing he wouldn’t want to see her breasts anyway.

The story made national news outlets and spread through social media quickly.  As a result, the scrutiny was pretty intense when HB 1525 finally had its public comment hearing before the Criminal Justice committee this Monday, February 29, 2016.

I had a scheduling conflict that kept me from attending (you know it had to be important!), but my fiance Jeff attended and from his descriptions and those of a couple of the women who attended, I can say the whole event sounds like a grand success.

The group covered all the key points, from personal stories to constitutional and legal hurdles, fiscal costs, health, equality, social growth and so on, with very little redundancy in their presentations.  Jeff says all presenters were clear, concise and calm.  The only outburst seems to have come from an opponent who threatened to throw radical feminists from a helicopter (we don’t think he owns a helicopter though, so we think we’re okay) and declared that women needed to be “protected from equality.”  To their credit, no one took his bait.  Getting no response, he packed up his camera and left.  He clearly had no real interest in the issue.  He just wanted attention.  (Hmmm…. Where have we heard that before?)

Anyway, including two of the bill’s sponsors, there were only four people who spoke in support of HB 1525, and about 20 who spoke against it.

From Jeff’s notes, here are some other quotable quotes from the hearing.

“If we allow social standards to keep evolving like this, what will be next?  What else will they ask for?”

“There are moms and dads who live in New Hampshire with young children, as well as grandparents with grandchildren who struggle with this public conduct and evolutionary challenge to family values.”

“Once the genie is out of the bottle, we can’t go back.”

“I support HB 1525 because Adam and Eve covered themselves as soon as they realized they were naked.  I have too much respect for myself to expose my breasts.”

“It’s indisputable.  Men and women are different.  Women are emotional.  Men are more calculated and logical.”

“Topless women will scare tourists away.”

“I’m more afraid of these guys walking around Louden Road with guns strapped all over them than I am of women’s breasts.”

“If this were just about topless women at the beaches, their argument might have some merit, but it’s about a lot more than that.  If you want to know where this is all headed, I urge you to visit the website (pause, ominous voice) Breasts Are Healthy to see where these women are going topless.”

“If we let them go topless at the beach, what’s to keep them from going topless at the library?”

“I don’t want to turn back time (to when bikinis were illegal).  I just want to draw a line.  I want to stop this slide.”

“I’m afraid toplessness will lead to other things.  Worse things.  Things like streaking.”

“Think of your daughters, your wives, your sisters, your mothers.  Ask yourself, would you want them going topless?  I doubt it.”

“It’s a shame that some folks are more concerned with exposing their breasts in public places than they are concerned about how families and children may be impacted by being forced to experience this evolving societal behavior.”

Etc, etc, etc.  BUT, the good news is, supporters of HB 1525 were a significant minority and were not well received by the committee.  The committee, made of a dozen men and two women voted unanimously to oppose HB 1525 and return the bill to the house marked “inexpedient to legislate” which is the best outcome possible.  Now the bill goes on what is called a “consent docket.”  The idea is that when a bill leaves committee with a unanimous decision like that, it goes in this consent docket where the full house typically just takes the committee’s recommendation and moves on.

With that said, the bill’s sponsors can still have the bill removed from the consent docket at the last minute, which would bring it before the floor for debate and a full vote, which could have the effect of artificially skewing the vote if those in opposition to HB 1525 were no longer present (because they thought the issue was resolved in committee) when the bill finally comes up for a vote.

From what people told Jeff, this is not all that likely, given the rather definitive rejection HB 1525 has received, but it is still possible, so we don’t pop the corks until the bill is dead for good.  Hopefully the sponsors will accept the committee’s decision.

HB 1525 Docket
19-0, a unanimous vote in committee against HB 1525, which is seeking to criminalize female bare-chestedness but not male bare-chestedness. Great work, team. Thank you Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Nevertheless, from the sounds of it, the hearing was a great success for topfreedom and equality.  The presentations in support of topfreedom were polished and effective, included two civil rights lawyers (including one from the ACLU), female and male elected officials and many members of the public.  People even brought their children and parents to support the cause.

So far, it seems, so good for topfreedom in New Hampshire.  Well done, everybody.

Complete video footage of HB 1525 hearing

Advertisements

46 thoughts on “So Far So Good for Topfreedom in New Hampshire

  1. Being topfree, male or female, is one of life’s nicest feelings. It has nothing whatever to do with sex, but rather, sensory well-being, and a proper exposure to sunlight -producing Vitamin D is a healthy side benefit. Having no pressure on your lymphatic system by wearing bras will make you less susceptible to breast cancer too,unless genetics are at play.
    There will always be close-minded [clothes-minded?] busybodies throughout our lives, seeking through intimidation and force to control us, and if we all give in to them, we’re the poorer for it
    What you’re doing is good and proper – you know it and I know it. Keep up the good fight. The results are well worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think this is great. I love the comments from those people though; I would have loved to know which gender said which statement (other than the woman obviously who has too much respect for herself to show her breasts – poor thing). I’m getting hassled because I have recently decided to no longer wear a bra; I can imagine the uproar in my little conservative town if I didn’t wear a shirt. Hmmm. A funny story, though; years ago, I was in (coincidentally) NH with my husband at The Basin. We had just hiked up the rocks. It was a gorgeous day, sun shining, and so I decided to take off my halter top. I laid down on the rocks for a brief moment when my husband started with “put your top on; put your top on!” I sat up, just in time to see a troop of little cub scouts coming over the rise of rocks! LOL Yup, I put on my top really damn quick. I never forgot that. Keep up the great work!! ❤

    Like

    1. Thank you as always for writing. Funny stuff, though of course the cub scouts would have been just fine. The scout leaders might have been more confused then the scouts themselves lol. Kids take our cues. I’ve had some funny interactions and reactions from school groups on my walks. They all lived though, funny enough. No breast related casualties yet. 🙂 I don’t wear bras either. So much better… Be well.

      Like

  3. Thank you for your efforts. Equality is an important issue for all.
    We would like to join you for a walk this spring or summer. Please contact us to arrange a place and time. Looking forward to warm weather.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes amazing. Such a great way to break down peoples’ barriers, be creative in ones body and have a non-sexual intimate experience. Recently, on a very hot summers evening (no alcohol involved as this is an intentional, somewhat non-religious, spiritual experience) the guys stripped off their shirts and after some consideration I did the same. I was surprised that it was ok. It is possible to normalise the body whilst appreciating it and what is is capable of. I was able to protect my breasts from actual contact by controlling my moves, which is a more advanced way to practice the dance any way, so one doesn’t get hands, feet or other parts crushed by the floor or someone else.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I take heart knowing people see these comments as unjust and antiquated. Sometimes we hear so much racial and gender-based ignorance we can forget there are a lot of people who really want to get past the entrenched stereotypes and prejudices and come together and support each other. It’s been a great joy of working on the blog to have met so many of them. It helps me continue. Thank you for your time. Be well.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Reality check! How sad that many adults feel so ashamed of the human body that they embarrass themselves by making such silly and superficial comments (as quoted). As a teacher I would feel ashamed for children to hear adults expressing such pathetic thoughts.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. As a nudist couple we have long observed that children are the most natural nudist of all. Over judgemental parents and our society are what change their minds. Thus the same struggle for breast freedom.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. One quote that stands out above for me as a Canadian is:

    “I’m more afraid of these guys walking around Louden Road with guns strapped all over them than I am of women’s breasts.”

    Me too. If anything is going to keep tourists away, guys wandering around with guns will, at least Canadian tourists.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. FYI, NH has virtually no restrictions on carrying guns. Vermont and Maine are pretty similar, although they do have minimum age requirements (18 in Vermont and 21 in Maine) which NH does not. If knowing that there are guns around is an issue for you, you may want to take that into account. It does not seem to have scared away the tourists (Canadian or otherwise), any more than nipples have done so (or nudity, in Vermont, which has no state law against being completely naked in public).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Flint: Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting. I agree. No one was upset about the people walking around carrying guns openly, even in the state building. I think the commenter at the hearing itself was referring to the relative “fear” factor of guns and nipples, and saying if we (meaning New Hampshire residents) can normalize to open carry, surely we can normalize to bare-chestedness. I don’t see either open carry laws or topfreedom affecting tourism in any noticeable way. And you are correct about Vermont allowing public nudity except in Brattleboro’s business district. Maine allows female bare-chestedness except where some local ordinances exist (which will probably fall to constitutional challenges eventually) and Massachusetts has an undefined statute regarding indecent exposure, so New Hampshire will not lose tourists because of female bare-chestedness. As one speaker pointed out, she specifically chose to vacation at New Hampshire beaches because they afforded her more freedoms than other places in the U.S. So heck, tourism might increase. Who knows? Thanks for your time and consideration, and for your non-confrontational tone. I appreciate it!

        Like

        1. Indeed. Over 50% of New Hampshire residents moved here from somewhere else (a large portion from Mass, but also from places like NY and CT, among others). They easily normalize themselves to the presence of guns to the point that they don’t even notice, despite generally having grown up without them. There’s no reason they will not normalize themselves to the occasional nipple.

          Also, FYI, I’ve heard that Burlington prohibits nudity in their parks, but not in the rest of the city. And Maine actually has caselaw stating that women can be fully nude in public (two college students were streaking, and won their case by arguing that female genitalia are internal and, therefore, were not visible – presumably, leg position and body hair both played into the argument), so take that for what it’s worth.

          No thanks needed on being non-confrontational. We shouldn’t have to thank people for common human decency! Although it’s (sadly) the case that it’s no longer as common as it should be… I had fun chatting with Jeff at the hearing, and after.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. We are literally watching the hearing in its entirety right now. All the speakers just did so well. I wanted to be there so much but it’s really exciting to see the level of sophistication in the conversation, nationwide even, but in NH specifically, about topfreedom and more broadly, equality. Were you a speaker or on the committee? Unless you don’t want to identify yourself online, I understand.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I was very impressed with how close to polite the hearing remained. I was a bit concerned that someone would get aggravated and start shouting, but it stayed reasonable in tone, even if some of the content was clearly unreasonable!

              I’d prefer not to post my name on a blog, but if there’s a way to contact you, I’d be happy to do so (or, I assume, you can see my contact information that I used to post her).

              Like

              1. Yeah, I think there was really just one speaker who bordered on inappropriate but even he kept his cool. Further proof that the urgency of the issue diminishes even in the minds of detractors. It’s exciting to see this kind of progress. Hopefully the bill dies and everyone moves on toward normalization.

                Like

                1. And die, it did. One of the first things the House did on Wednesday morning was to vote to go with the committee recommendations on all Consent Calendar bills. Since HB1525 had not been removed, it was killed while some of us were still eating breakfast!

                  Liked by 3 people

      2. I try to do things that scare me every so often. Visiting my crazy neighbour to the south is one of those things. I do it about once a year.

        Like

        1. No need to be scared. Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire are among the safest places on the planet. Much lower violent crime than even the safest Canadian provinces. You’ll have to take your chances if you go further south than that, though!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Fact check; murder rate for Canada overall 1.46 per hundred thousand; for New Hampshire: 1.3. Is Canada so evenly safe that none of the provinces are lower than 1.3? Don’t have time to check right now but it is an interesting question.

            Like

            1. The number of murders in NH is so low that the rate fluctuates wildly from year to year. It’s been as high as 1.6 and as low as 0.8 in the last decade, because one or two murders will swing the rate drastically. But most of those murders are between folks who know each other, not strangers, so the murder rate really doesn’t play into how safe you’d be as a tourist (or even how safe normal residents are, since most of us aren’t gang members or otherwise likely to be in those sort of situations).

              The overall violent crime rate, though, is significantly different. NH is generally well below 200, and even goes down into the double-digits on occasion. Vermont and Maine both stay close to 100. Canadian rates are several times higher (5-20, depending upon which state and which province are compared, in which year). Canada’s still much safer than a lot of other places, but VT, NH, and ME are an oasis of safety compared to the rest of the world.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Of course I’m happy about the positive outcome in NH, but what I really wanted to compliment you on is the caption to the top photo. I get a good chuckle out of it every time I land on the page.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Now that women have formally won the right to be topfree in the state of New Hampshire, how is the movement progressing – i.e., are women appearing on beaches topfree; are they being accepted; are they being harassed or worse, arrested? As of mid-summer 2016, does anyone know how things are progressing?

    Like

    1. I updated a bit in my latest blog post but nutshell, yes, women are going barechested. Laconia arrested three women who went out specifically to challenge a town ordinance, because the police chief said publicly he was ignoring the judges decision that towns couldn’t ban barechestedness, and those cases will be tried in the fall if they don’t resolve out of court, and otherwise all seems well. There are a couple women who have apparently become somewhat obsessed against the idea of topfreedom and are writing pretty obnoxious letters to the editor of the conservative newspaper there, but in my opinion that just spreads the word far and wide that it is legal and women are doing it. So thanks to the haters for doing our PR work…

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s