Let them hang

Protesting topless should be protected as a woman’s right.

by Hemang Sharma

North Carolina is not “a better place to be” if you are a woman indulging in topless protest, as its state slogan would suggest.

 House Bill 34 seeks to outlaw any exposure of “external organs of sex and of excretion, including the nipple, or any portion of the areola, of the human female breast.”

Republicans like Rep. Rayne Brown, who introduced the bill in the state Legislature, have proposed that letting the twins out in public be considered a Class H felony that can include prison time of 30 days to six months. Brown’s interest in limiting the baring of women’s breasts was prompted in part by an annual Asheville, N.C., topless protest for women’s rights.

Topless rallies have been a popular way to direct attention toward a neglected issue. Such protests manage to gather many eyeballs and allow for people to indulge in a positive discussion about societal evils.

A 1970 North Carolina law that banned exposure of “private parts” in public clearly did not account for the titillation caused by nipples as it only covered sex organs. Women kept using their breasts to highlight their causes, much to the chagrin of more prudish individuals who now seek to outlaw any expressive public exposure of nipples.

One exception to the bill would allow for breast-feeding mothers to escape the obscenity charge. Intellectuals are already suggesting pasties to continue protesting freely. Hey, it’s the American way:  Fix everything with duct tape.

No one questions the nipple-exposure of Abercrombie and Fitch gentlemen who stand bare-chested in a place where many minors frequent. Men are often free to walk around without a shirt wherever they may please.

The U.S. Constitution gives us a right to protest. This includes the right of women to protest in a topless manner. To these brave women in North Carolina, it is a matter of standing up for what they believe in. There is nothing sexual about their nakedness. They’re deliberately using their bodies to draw attention to their respective cause. This bill is indicative of a misunderstanding about partial nudity.