Advocates of “gender equality” have been trying to win the right for women to go topless in public places because men are free to do it everywhere but women can’t in most of the country. The battle has gone to court quite a few times.
Scenes of topless women were long part of movies and magazines, but were not considered decent for general audiences and not legally allowed in public in daily life. The movement for allowing women to go topless in public practically scored its first legal victory with the 1992 decision of the New York Supreme Court, after a series of protests in the 1980s supporting the movement, granting the women their demand. The ruling legalized toplessness for women in New York.
The next big moment for the movement was Lina Esco’s 2012 movie Free The Nipple, which gave the movement its name. In September 2019, the Free The Nipple movement scored its biggest victory to date as the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed women in six states to go topless. These states include Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Utah.
Emboldened with the legalization of going bare-breasted in six states, the gender equality advocates pushing for women’s right to go topless expected a similar victory in another important case—Ocean City, Maryland’s restriction on letting women bare their breasts in public. After losing the appeal in a federal court in August 2021, five women advocating Free The Nipple took the case to the Supreme Court. In February 2022, however, the Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge, thus denying women the permission to sunbathe topless.
Advocates of Free The Nipple consider the restrictions on women specifically to keep a top on in public as sexist and discriminatory. They are convinced that breasts are sexualized and the laws against topless exposure for women only represent unfair male dominance. To date, there seems no serious effort to learn how many women across the country really support the right to go topless in public. The left, particularly the feminists, have been supportive of the Free The Nipple movement, insisting on desexualizing the female top half of the body and the laws. They argue that legalizing toplessness wouldn’t make women roam around topless everywhere; but that they should be able to go topless where men do, like on beaches, without any fear of penalties.