Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keep It On

A story about a woman who took her top off at a beer festival in Toronto is getting some surprising support from many commentators who have stated that the woman is well within her rights and that the sexualization of breasts is an outmoded concept. While it's legal in the province of Ontario, Canada to be topless in public, and not just down to the bra, but right down to the nipples, one fact remains: it's still not a good idea.

Take the example of the woman at the beer festival. The woman's friend dared her to take off her top. She accepted the dare and stripped to her bra. A security officer then came up to her and asked her to put her top back on. This is not an unreasonable request. Consider the point of view of the security officer. His job is to make sure that people are safe at this alcohol-fuelled outdoor event. As we all know, people tend to be a little less themselves and a little less behaved when they drink at large outdoor gatherings focused on beer. His train of thought probably went something like this:

I have to keep these people safe while they drink. It's best that they're not provoked or that they don't get too excited. Womens' boobs tend to excite men. Large groups of men are drinking right now in the vicinity of this woman's boobs. This might lead to trouble and I'm the one responsible to keep the order. Maybe I should be preventative and ask her to cover herself up. Don't want any trouble happening.

There's not a single sexist thought in that process. And yet commentators jumped on the idea that this was sexist move. Some people even claim that it's not her problem if boobs excite men, it's their issue.

True. But while something may be perfectly legal, such as walking across the street without looking both ways, and while the fact that a car may not notice that you didn't look both ways and that it's the car's problem and not yours, neither one of these things equate to good idea.

Let's look at the so-called feminist argument that a woman's body shouldn't be overly sexualized and that society should get over the exposure of women's breasts. While it's true that it's a natural part of the human body and people shouldn't be offended by it, there are basic rules about how to behave in public and those rules are called society and living together in harmony. While it's also true that farting is a natural bodily function, we still consider it rude to be doing it in public.

Then there's the whole rights issue, as if the right to bare oneself falls into the line of the right to bear arms. Going topless is not a form of expression, no matter how hot your body is or how strong your belief in the fact that your body is a work of art. There are just some circumstances in life in which clothing is not an option. Attending a public event is one of those.

So leaving aside any potential issues with morality and public decency, going topless as a woman is quite simply not a good idea. Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.

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