Topfreedom is a social movement to accord women and girls the right to be topfree in public where men and boys have that right. Examples of public spaces at which topfreedom might be exercised include beaches, swimming pools and parks. The reasons include keeping nursing mothers from having to hide for breastfeeding, sun tanning, comfort, and sex equality.
Whereas in Canada topfreedom was made legal, it is still illegal for women to show their breasts in public in most states of the USATopfreedom: The Fundamental Right of Women. In the USA, where resistance to toplessness of women is greater than in mainland Europe or Australia, a small topfree equality movement has grown. In February 2005 in California, attorney Liana Johnsson contended that under Megan's Law, women convicted of indecent exposure (for breastfeeding or sunbathing) could find themselves listed as sex offenders alongside rapists and child molesters. The term "topfree" is used as an alternative to "topless", which may carry negative connotations. Some women prefer the term "shirtfree rights". In 1991 in Canada, the arrest and trial of activist Gwen Jacobs, represented by attorney Jeff Wright, for walking down a street in Guelph, Ontario, while topless eventually led to a change in Ontario laws so that they agree (at least in principle) with topfree equality.
Western culture generally tends to oppose public female toplessness because of the idea that females` breasts are sexual organs, and thus indecent. In contrast, the male chest is not commonly considered to be sexual.
Biologically there is no particular connection between mammary glands and copulation, but some cultures have regarded the exhibition of breasts as sexually arousing (others have also so regarded the exhibition of the chests of men). Some zoologists (notably Desmond Morris) believe that through human evolution, female breasts have acquired secondary sexual characteristics as a counterpart of the buttocks in other primates. For more information, see breast.
Some courts in North America have ruled that mammary glands are nurturing organs, not sexual organs, a relevant distinction in light of laws in certain jurisdictions that specifically restrict the public display of sexual organs.
Some places in North America have topfree equality by law, although whether such equality is practiced varies. These include:
Even where topfree is legal, police might still arrest those practicing it for disorderly conduct or similar charges.
In some European countries and Australia, it is well-established that females may go topfree at places such as beaches, parks, and outdoor swimming pools. That might be by law (permitted) or might be by common consent, with the law simply not being applied (tolerated). In other areas with more conservative social norms, women are prohibited from being topfree in any public place.
A protest movement called "Bara Bröst" appeared in Sweden in September 2007 to promote women's right to be topless in places where men could also be topless. Several events were staged in public swimbaths in September and October. While toplessness is not illegal, several private or public establishments in Sweden have a dress code which demand that everyone wear tops: topless individuals can be denied access or thrown out.
The Topfree Equal Rights Association (TERA) is a Canadian organization for helping women who have legal troubles exercising their rights to go 'topfree' where men are able to. Their Web site states that they serve both Canada and the United States.
The organization also aims to inform and educate the public about topfreedom. They campaign to change laws against topfreedom which exist in most North American jurisdictions, which laws they see as sex discrimination and inhibiting to breastfeeding.
This article is based on "Topfreedom" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Topfreedom&action=history