Why I Walk Bare-Chested “Where Men Don’t.”

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Ocean City, Maryland, Summer 2016. One of the more common objections I hear to my bare-chested outings is to ask why I do so where men aren’t going bare-chested. The simple answer is that I don’t. Male bare-chestedness has become so normal we don’t see it anymore.  So for the last year I’ve been taking photos of bare-chested men in public places, often while I’m also bare-chested.

 

I’ve been having a long conversation with an Icelandic woman on YouTube objecting to my public bare-chested outings, specifically my walks and rides in city centers.  She says the beach is one thing, but her feeling is that outside of beaches such behavior is not proper.  During our conversation she asked me a couple times why I walk bare-chested where men aren’t bare-chested, which has had the positive effect of prompting me to finally write this blog post after a year in the making.

The simplest answer of course is that I don’t walk bare-chested where men aren’t going bare-chested.  Men are going bare-chested all over the place.  It’s just so normal we don’t even register it any more.

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Local Skatepark, Summer 2016. Parents and children frequent this city-owned facility and it is perfectly visible in the middle of a neighborhood. It is also about 200 yards from a school and borders a busy road.
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Local Skatepark, Summer 2016. I watched this guy skate for 20 minutes. No parents objected. No police arrived. No one besides me snuck pictures, as happens sometimes to me when I walk. No one cared that he was bare-chested, well-muscled, blond, tan and glistening in sweat.  In other words, he was very sexy and attractive and bare-chested.  No one objected. 

 

Saying simply that men do go bare-chested is not a complete or satisfactory answer though.  My visceral reaction to this question goes deeper than just pointing out that men do in fact go bare-chested with ease and regularity.  It is to point out that allowing women to do a thing only if men are already doing that thing is still giving men the power over women’s bodies.  The only just way to address issues of freedom is to give everyone the same freedom and let each individual choose how to use it.

 

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YMCA Outdoor Pool, Summer 2016.  This is a beautiful breast, if you ask me.  Nice round shape, full, smooth skin tone, nice movement when walking.  I enjoyed watching!
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YMCA Pool, Summer 2016. One of the arguments people use against female bare-chestedness is that women and men are “biologically” different.  Are we really so different?  None of the parents of these children seem to mind these impressive breasts swaying around in the pool where their children can see them. No YMCA staff asked this patron to exit the pool or cover up. No police arrived.
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YMCA Pool, Summer 2016. Even in the presence of this obvious breast tissue and bare nipples, these moms laughed with their children and enjoyed their afternoon. No one asked this person to cover up.

 

Another objection I hear from time to time is that women and men are inherently different, biologically, psychologically and physically.  Meaning I guess that equality is impossible.  There also often follows this fallacy that treating genders equally under tha law means men and women act the same way and wear the same clothes and so on.  The argument also goes on that female breasts are just seen as sexual to men and that’s how it is and always will be.  And then there’s this leap that says, since men won’t change, women just can’t enjoy the same freedoms as men.  I reject this thinking.

 

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Capitol Hill, Washington D.C., July 2016. Jeff took this photo of a man riding his bicycle bare-chested up Pennsylvania Avenue at the exact same time I was elsewhere walking bare-chested up Pennsylvania Avenue with several other bare-chested women. 

 

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Capitol Hill, Washington D.C., Summer 2016. He’s even running a red light!!! In traffic!!! If that’s not confidence, I don’t know what is.

 

People say seeing female breasts is harmful to children.  This is not true.  Children need breasts for nourishment and comfort.  What is harmful to children is watching their parents apply disparate standards to men and women, and making girls cover up while not making boys cover up.  Violence and hate harm children more than anything, but we don’t censor those.

 

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Fall 2016. The last blog post I wrote was about local newspaper and television coverage of my bare-chested walks and bike rides.  I didn’t ask for the media attention, but when they contacted me asking for quotes, I asked them to run uncenscored and unaltered photos.  They all declined, even though female bare-chestedness is legal where I make my outings.  The day after the Daily Times (delmarvanow.com) ran their story with censored photos, they ran this photo uncensored, online and in print.

 

Words like “decent,” “proper,” and “moral” strike me now as weapon words, words used by those in power to oppress and control.  They are words steeped in subjectivity and prejudice.  Who decides what is proper and over whom do they wield this standard?  What is the penalty for violating this standard?  To me it is another way of saying a person has deviated from the norm, behaved atypically, or strayed from the herd, whether it was by doing backflips through the mall or demanding racial equality and justice.  There are people who are just inherently threatened by people doing their own thing.

 

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My hometown, summer 2016. This man spent the day working bare-chested, going in and out of the construction site in a professional office building with many occupied units.

 

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Art Show, Art Stroll, Summer 2016. This man spent an hour bare-chested inside an art show, then skated through a large outdoor crowd when he left. He had no shirt with him at all.

 

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My hometown, Summer 2016. Walking the dog bare-chested. No police, no complaints, no traffic slowing.  He also has no shirt with him.  If someone asked him to cover up he could not.  But why would anyone ask him to cover up?

 

Etc, etc, etc.  I have other photographs of bare-chested men elsewhere on this blog as well.  The woman with whom I am conversing on YouTube says that female bare-chestedness looks like exhibitionism to her.  I agree.  It does look like exhibitionism to her, because she has never known it to be anything else.  But there was a time in this country when male bare-chestedness was illegal and considered indecent and exhibitionist.

Now we don’t even see it.

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21 thoughts on “Why I Walk Bare-Chested “Where Men Don’t.”

  1. I spend most of my summer bare chested and am completely comfortable with it. It is always a challenge to enter commercial establishments without a shirt, and several times I have been asked – or ordered – to leave. Another mystery to me is why shirts are required at gyms, but this rule is almost universal and enforced. It is amazing to me how many people feel entitled to tell others what they should or should not wear, even when they are complying with the law. On the other extreme are those who hardly notice and are completely accepting. I remember a sign at a prestigious university on the cafeteria door: “Shirts and shoes are required to eat in the cafeteria”. Beneath it, some wag added “Pants and socks may eat wherever they want to”. Keep pushing the envelope. Cheers.

    On Mon, Jan 2, 2017 at 6:26 PM, breastsarehealthy wrote:

    > breastsarehealthy posted: ” I’ve been having a long conversation with an > Icelandic woman on YouTube objecting to my public bare-chested outings, > specifically my walks and rides in city centers. She says the beach is one > thing, but her feeling is that outside of beaches su” >

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been catching up on your blog posts, and here you are as spot-on as ever. In this post, my favorite photo is of the man attending the art show, because that is a place where you normally would not see a topfree man. If the show organizers didn’t kick him out, then why should they (hypothetically) kick out a topfree woman? Keep on challenging society’s so-called “norms”, and have a happy 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very thorough and very accurate, as usual!
    Sometime it seems appropriate for me (a male) to wear a shirt. One example would be in a gym. I really don’t like to use a machine which has been soaked with sweat. A shirt helps prevent this to a small degree.
    But almost always, I agree with you. Keep singing the praises of bare-chestedness!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Saying that “…seeing female breasts is harmful to children” is an old trick. First people actively teach or passively model breast shame, and then they pretend that it’s the sight of exposed breasts that “harms” a child rather than the toxic emotion of shame that adults have previously instilled in the child. If children don’t learn breast shame in the first place, they are not “harmed” by the sight of exposed breasts.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It was interesting for me to recognize that it even felt odd to read you describing men as “bare-chested” while I was reading this post; of course, that only serves to highlight your point — it’s so ordinary, so unnoticed, that to point it out, and to use the exact same language that you do when referring to women being bare-chested, seems jarring… but only because it’s so normalized and accepted!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Another great post.

    “The argument also goes on that female breasts are just seen as sexual to men and that’s how it is and always will be. And then there’s this leap that says, since men won’t change, women just can’t enjoy the same freedoms as men. I reject this thinking.”

    Absolutely. Men have been the oppressors for centuries and men absolutely do have to change for society to evolve. And men like me – who have absolutely zero comprehension of why anyone would have an issue with gender equality in the first place – have to remember to keep nagging away at our fellow men in order to help bring that change about.

    And as for children being harmed by the sight of naked breasts, egad! It’s indoctrinated body shame that does the damage – as sexhysteria so rightly says.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Linked in my secret Facebook group. Most, but not all, of its members are in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen a few comments here from others in Pittsburgh I am not connected with, IRL or on social media, so if anyone wants in, contact me. Fb is not at all topfree-friendly, but there are quite a few of us in The 412 who are, and this is one way we can get together more easily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 I hope you guys are doing well in PGH. And that you’re on the mend mentally and physically. I had a brutally busy November and December but I read your email and would like to continue looking for ways to create the database/map/locator idea. It’s going to take someone other than me to feel passionate about it, but I will help as I’m able. Love to you and the all the PGHers.

      Like

      1. I will convey that love to the pgh topfreedom community.

        Since this is the first you’ve mentioned it, allow me to explain the mapping thing to the larger community.

        Chelsea and I exchanged a few emails on the idea of developing a mapping tool to assist with this effort. Now that she has provided the toolset for Gingerbreads-in-Training to contact police departments, what we need is a way to keep track of progress. I have some background in this area, so outlined what we would need and how we might create, present, and maintain such a tool. It would need to be broad enough to cover the various U.S. states and Canadian provinces, and probably internationally, to be able to tell where the law is clear (PA, DC, NY, etc.), where it is clearly against us (UT, KY, IN), and a couple of shades in between. But it also needs to be detailed enough to show distinctions between, for example, the two cities in VT, one where it’s OK, and another where it is not. Just finding lists of police departments can be difficult.

        It doesn’t have to be this detailed, but that would sure help:
        http://suds-cmu.org/2016/07/19/update-additions-to-police-department-map/

        Anyone interested is assisting with this, please contact me.

        Liked by 3 people

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