While reading an opinion piece at Creative Loafing called the “Right to Bare Breasts” by Jessica Blankenship I came across one of the most powerful statements of why indecency and nudity laws, as well as the general idea of obscenity is an illness in our society.

“The criminalization of the female body fucks with a woman’s ability to hold herself with any sense of balanced identity and worth.”

How in the name of all that’s holy can we teach our daughters and our sisters and our friends and loved ones that the human body, in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders and configurations is a sacred thing to be cherished and enjoyed if we deem something as insignificant as the display of a female breast to be criminal?

The very concept of criminality is one that most people never think about.  To deem something as criminal is to deem it worthy of bringing the awesome power of the State to bear upon that act, in all it’s impersonal violence.  To deprive a human being of the most sacred of things; their freedom for the societal sin of that act deemed criminal.

Think about that for a moment.  To say that baring a breast is criminal is saying that baring a breast is worthy of taking someone’s freedom, of locking them away from society for society’s good.

Teaching our children that from birth is to teach them that they are not worthy of society; that they are not decent; that they are, by fact of their gender and shape of their body indecent by nature and unworthy in any sense of the word.   They they are, in fact, criminal by design.

I’ve been following the protests around the world.  I find it highly ironic that a political protest movement about gender equality in the display of 1/2 of the human body has to resort to black bars over nipples to post the photos from their protests to Facebook.   If the numbers are to be believed, fairly 1/7’s of the world’s population; 1 Billion people; are on facebook . If that doesn’t represent the entire human race, I don’t know what would.  And to say that baring a nipple is to be shunned and banned from communicating with that billion people is, itself, a travesty.

What’s to be done?  The legal challenges in the courts now, and the successful challenges in some states in the past are ultimately the best avenue to success; at least here in America.   Other countries have their own legal avenues of change.   Some will require generations of change, but it’s coming.

It’s not about showing a boob in public.  It’s about respect and love of the human body. It’s about giving people total sovereignty over their bodies and what they do with it.  It’s about equal protection under the law, irrespective of gender or orientation or configuration.  It’s about freedom to be, and to love and to be loved.  But most of all, it’s about beauty; the beauty given by our creators, be they random events born of quantum equations or some bored long-bearded sky god with a celestial biology kit.

I realize that this post probably doubles the number of words posted in the last year here.  And there hasn’t been a photo yet.  There won’t be a photo, this time.   There is an assignment.

That assignment is to go take off your clothes.  All of them.  Stand naked before your mirror and your self.  Look at yourself with the thought that what you are seeing is, under some very broad and common circumstances, is criminal.  Think about what it is about what you are seeing that is so unworthy of society that your very freedom is the price you’d pay for it.  Remember that feeling.  Let it burn hot and deep, down where you’ll never forget it.

Now, the next time you see a story or an article about someone getting arrested for “indecent exposure” or flashing their breasts or some innocent or even not so innocent photography, think about that feeling.  Think about what it felt like for your body, the most wonderful of creations, to be deemed indecent, to be deemed criminal.

The next step, I leave up to you.   Thank you.



  1. Reply
    corrie August 26, 2013

    “Bearing a breast” means possessing a breast. “Baring a breast” means uncovering it.

  2. Reply
    Xander Opal August 28, 2013

    There is a lot of pressure in American culture to be ashamed of one’s body. The main two are christianity and fashion.

    With christianity, the literal readings of the book they hold holy hammers people to feel ashamed of their body, their natural desires and responses. There is a constant reminder of how bad a person is for being human, and heaven help you if you deviate from their strict guidelines because heaven’s priests won’t.

    Fashion comes at it from a different angle: the high priests of fashion decide which body-type is attractive, then mock or deride anyone who doesn’t conform to their ideal. This trickles through the movies, the magazines, the news, the promotions for clothes, food, cars, and any other product. Anyone who doesn’t conform is pressured to feel shame.

    Making it legal to let anyone see one’s gloriously imperfect body, the beauty of nature or the art of self-sculpture, is merely opening the gates of healing this part of the American psyche. To flush the subtle poisons of religion and fashion from our hearts, that is what needs to be done.

    It will take a lot of effort by a lot of people. A lot of brave people who give the finger to custom and tradition, religion and fashion to simply be themselves where everyone can see.

    • Reply
      scott August 28, 2013

      Good point on the religious aspect. Western religions seem almost Dionysian compared to some of the middle eastern religious responses to the naked human form. Stoning for simply uncovering your hair, for instance.

      A lot of it is based on the concept of collective guilt. This is, you are responsible for the actions and feelings of others and bear at least part of the blame for their transgressions.

      Couple this with the concept of original sin, ie.. you are impure and unworthy simply by existing due to the actions of a mythological tart and her pet snake 6,000 years ago.

      When you add those two together, and both threads run strong through most Western and Middle Eastern (or at least Abrahamic) religious thought, you get the kind of social ills we see all over the world.

      An interesting study in a similar vein is the history of birth control and family planning in this country. Some very determined and brave women put their freedoms, fortunes and lives on the line to allow men and women both the right to sovereignty over that aspect of their bodies.

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