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The right to bear arms and bare breasts
19 February 2013, 14:57 PM | Source:
In North Carolina, it is possible to buy an AK-47 with seven magazines totaling 540 rounds of hollow point ammunition thrown in for just $1300. On the internet. To close the deal you will only have to show some form of ID. This is totally legal.
However, rather than question why it is possible to purchase military-style semi-automatic weapons online - and for what exact purpose - North Carolina legislators plan to expend energy making it a felony for women to expose their nipples.
The General Assembly of North Carolina, the state parliament, will soon debate House Law 34 which aims to clarify the meaning of “indecent exposure”. By “clarify”, Representative Rayne Brown (who is female) would like to define a women’s breasts as indecent, or at least “the nipple, or any portion of the areola, of the human female breast”.
To be clear, a felony is s serious crime. Women who expose a nipple or any portion of an areola could face up to six months in jail if convicted. According to an Associated Press Report, Brown, a Republican, said her constituents were concerned about topless rallies promoting women’s equality held over the past two years in a town called Asheville.
Asheville is located over 100 miles from Brown’s electoral district.
So do the maths. The “rallies” were not millions taking to the streets espousing mammary mania. A grand total of 12 women, representing an organization called gotopless.org, went topless in Asheville last August as part of “Go Topless Day“ (this is an actual international event).
“If the [North Carolina] bill becomes law, that law will clearly be unconstitutional, since men will enjoy a privilege denied to women,” said Nadine Gary, President of go topless.org.
In the United States, it is against state law in Utah, Indiana, and Tennessee for women to expose their breasts. New York, on the other hand, must seem like Sodom and Gomorrah for North Carolina’s politicians.
Women have been known to wander New York City’s streets topless on a regularish basis. It’s not a fashion, exactly, but it’s certainly a thing. The main fallout from such promenading seems to be reminding New Yorkers that, for women, going topless in public is perfectly legal.
Moira Johnston became something of an activist-celebrity across Manhattan last summer after she was wrongfully arrested and jailed for bearing her breasts in a downtown park. Johnston (she’s a topless dancer by night) was motivated to action after being tossed from a yoga class where it was OK for men to shed shirts but not women. When Johnston was arrested in New York City, cops had forgotten the 1992 ruling that said, yes, ladies, you may go topless. The charges against Johnston were thrown out.
Here’s a bare-breasted interview with Johnston, telling her story.
And here‘s her Facebook page.
In 2005, another New York woman, Jill Coccaro won a $29,000 settlement from the City of New York after she too was wrongly arrested for being topless in downtown Manhattan. According to go topless.org, other U.S. cities where going topless has been legally “tested” include Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colorado; Eugene, Oregon; Honolulu, Hawaii; Madison, Wisconsin; Santa Fe, New Mexico; South Miami Beach, Florida (on the beach); New Orleans, Louisiana (during Mardi Gras); and Columbus, Ohio.
In other words, it is easier to legally buy assault weapons than it is for women to bare their breasts. Work that one out.