New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering letting car traffic back into one of the world’s most famous pedestrian and tourist plazas – New York’s Times Square. The reason: the Nipple Pride Parade that was held last Sunday, and a feeling that cars might help to tackle the controversy of bare breasts in public.
Body-paint-wearing women and costumed characters, often topless, solicit cash in Times Square. Not many people object but the authorities feel that ending pedestrian-only plazas in the busy district would make it more difficult for the “entertainers” to trade.
Matters came to a head on Sunday when the women’s organisation GoTopless launched its first Nipple Pride Parade in New York City. It coincided with the eighth annual GoTopless Day, in honour of Women’s Equality Day.
“For 23 years, New York has been a beacon of topless equality,” Rachel Jessee, New York’s GoTopless leader, declared. She was referring to a landmark case in 1992, when the New York State Supreme Court ruled in favour of a woman’s group, the Topless Seven, thus establishing the right of women to go topless.
“But few women exercise their topless rights in New York even now,” Jessee said.
“Shame and guilt are deeply ingrained, and they find it hard to break free. The purpose of the Nipple Pride Parade is to empower them to overcome those feelings. Decades ago, bare-chested men were arrested for indecent exposure, and many were self-conscious about going topless after it became legal. But men overcame their reluctance and women can too!”
GoTopless denounces the argument that women’s breasts should be hidden because they are considered sexual.
“What a primitive concept, full of Judeo-Christian guilt,” said Maitreya Rael, spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement, who launched GoTopless in 2007.
The Raelian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrial aliens. Members of this species appeared human and deliberately misinformed early humanity that they were angels, cherubim, or gods. Whether the extraterrestrials went bare-breasted, or whether they have breasts at all – these matters seem destined to remain cosmic mysteries.
Back on Earth (on California’s Venice Beach no less) the eighth annual GoTopless Day Pride Parade over the weekend followed a “pre-rally party extravaganza” in West Los Angeles featuring a screening of the film, “Free the Nipple.”
“We’re working toward freeing women’s nipples and obtaining equal gender topless rights that are enforced worldwide,” head of the Los Angeles branch of GoTopless, Lara Terstenjak, explained on Saturday.
Written by Peter Needham