The double standard allowing male toplessness but barring female toplessness needs to end. My brother can walk outside and feel the warm sun on his bare chest without shame, hesitation, humiliation or fear or legal repercussions. Yet I am prohibited from experiencing this simply because I am female. To condemn me for my gender and anatomy, neither of which I chose, is wrong and keeps me and millions of other women from living our lives to the fullest with the same dignity that men enjoy. As long as there are laws prohibiting women from enjoying the same rights that men have, gender inequality and rape culture perpetuate and noxiously hinder women from enjoying full liberty, freedom and happiness.
Until the day I can legally walk outside without having to censor my ‘indecent’ nipples, I am being discriminated against because I am female, and that is the true indecency. These laws forbidding female toplessness hyper-sexualize and objectify my nipples by equating them with genitalia. However, a chest is a chest and genitalia is genitalia, and to mix or confuse the two is a veiled excuse to perpetuate gender discrimination. Nipple exposure does not actually negatively affect other people, and the only reason these corrupt laws exist to is to continue the archaic and unfair demonization of my gender which has only ever contributed negatively to the female experience. It perplexes me why we are so educated about the historical hardships women have suffered throughout history only to continue them in some semblance in the present.
If our culture implored boys to respect women instead of shame and humiliate them, it would help remove the negative stigma attached to women’s bodies that promulgates our suffering. The encumbering stress that society places on women to censor themselves creates a needless fear of ‘nip slips,’ ‘wardrobe malfunctions,’ shame, and legal and financial repercussions. Juxtapose this experience with men who are completely free to be bare chested sans consequence. This shame-fueled culture which tears down a woman’s self esteem while building up a man’s from a very young age is emotionally, mentally and psychologically scarring to girls. Further, it sends the message that women are not worthy of the same dignity and respect that men are. If society were instead encouraged to respect and honor women, it would help grant women equal respect and dignity, close the inequality gap and move society forward.
Every morning in school growing up, I recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and the last line, ‘With Liberty and Justice for all,’ was always my favorite. Liberty is defined as ‘the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.’ Justice is defined as ‘fairness,’ ‘equity,’ and ‘impartiality.’ Therefore, prohibiting female toplessness denies women Liberty and Justice as it discriminatorily imposes ‘oppressive restrictions’ on women due to their gender. Further, the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution states that (1) no state shall deprive any person of Liberty and (2) no state shall deny any person equal protection of the laws. Therefore prohibiting female toplessness denies women the right to (1) Liberty and (2) equal protection under the law, thereby denying us our Constitutional rights. This must be rectified.
Demeaning women by not granting them the same rights and privileges that men enjoy perpetuates this abusive, shame-fueled, sexist culture which creates the illusion that women are not worthy of the same respect and dignity that men are. This arcane and inhumane double standard poisonously preserves gender inequality by dehumanizing women, sexually objectifying them and making them second class citizens in their own country. My whole life I have felt like I have been punished for being a girl, and that is not fair or right. I hope together we can free women from these sexist, discriminatory, disrespectful and unconstitutional laws. I dream of the day when I can live with the same basic liberty, freedom, dignity and respect that men enjoy every day of their lives.