Go Topless Day: Fighting patriarchy or flippin’ pointless?

Protestors want to Free the Nipple but are there more important gender equality issues to fight?

This weekend topless protestors took to the streets of New York to ‘Free The Nipple’ and fight against the gender inequality that deems women’s breasts obscene.

Here at Marie Claire we offered up the idea that in the myriad of ways in which women in 2015 are oppressed, the freedom to walk around topless is pretty low down on the list.

Go Topless Day

This picture sums up everything that is wrong with Go Topless Day

MC readers spoke out in unprecedented numbers, sparking a lively debate across social media that raised numerous key and interesting points.

Some of you just flat out disagreed with the article, claiming that whenever we try to tell women what to wear we are in essence oppressing them:

‘Repression is repression, whatever form it takes,’ Aubrey McKenzie.

‘It seems as though the author completely missed the point where is one can come to realise the inequality of the laws regarding nipple exposure, one can more easily understand the inequality of things which are not so easily seen,’ Chris Clark.

A big talking point was the need to desexualise women’s breasts and, even though the Go Topless protests are not ideal, they are at least a step in the right direction:

‘I should think the desexualisation of breasts would lead to less objectification of women in general and could lessen the discomfort of natural, healthy things like breastfeeding. Maybe this isn’t the perfect way to do it, but doing something is the only way to get somewhere,’ George Rivas

‘If the breast wasn’t such a taboo thing, men may not gawk every time they see one or two. It needs to be normalised,’ Douglas Hoover

On the other side, some of you argued that female breasts are inherently sexual and thus not the same as men’s chests:

Go Topless Day

Go Topless Day

‘What a load of nonsense. Men are allowed to be topless because there’s nothing sexual about a man’s chest, breasts are sexual,’ Steven Fraser

One reader pointed out the irony of using a nearly naked female body to protest gender inequality:

‘How can our fight for equality be taken seriously if we use the physical attributes that distinguish us?’ @loucloverturner

One of the questions asked in the original article was what measurable benefit would freeing the nipple actually bring women in their daily lives, a sentiment echoed by this reader:

‘If you “win” and are allowed to walk around topless, what does is actually accomplish in terms of what you wish to be equal?’ Michelle Wilder

One reader summed up a common thread running through the debate, that there are many battles in the fight for gender equality and this is just one of them:

‘This is one of many causes worth protesting…It does not hurt to challenge the cultural taboos regarding female breasts and this is just one of many ways to challenge the traditional codes of patriarchal behaviour related to expressing yourself.’ Panka Banerji

What do you think about the protest?

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