GoTopless celebrates 501c3 tax exemption status
“This is wonderful news on top of the great turnout we had at our Go Topless Pride Parades and other events held in over 60 cities worldwide on Sunday,” said Nadine Gary, President of GoTopless. “August 24 was our 7th annual GoTopless Day, which was timed to honor Women’s Equality Day. There was a great turnout for our pride parades and other events, with thousands of men and women showing up to support our mission, so how appropriate this is that we have received our tax-exempt status the very same week! All contributions to GoTopless will now be tax deductible.”
She said the GoTopless mission is to achieve the right for women anywhere in the world to go topless legally in public wherever men have that right.
“With the federal government now granting us public charity status, it seems more and more ridiculous for certain states and municipalities to continue banning female toplessness,” Gary said.
Yet local laws forbidding it are still very common.
“For example, one of our activists, Sonoko Tagami, was cited for indecent exposure last weekend on Chicago’s North Lake Shore Drive even though her nipples were covered and the supposedly exposed breast was actually painted on,” Gary pointed out.
Gary said Tagami and GoTopless will fight the citation through the court system.
“The citation was unconstitutional,” Gary said. “Equal topless rights for women is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution under the 14th Amendment.”
Gary said that in most cities where GoTopless parades were held, police escorted the bare-chested participants through the streets to avoid problems.
“In San Antonio, we were surrounded by men carrying rifles on their shoulders,” said Michelle Laforce, the GoTopless organizer for that city. “I guess they thought the purpose of our peaceful demonstration was to make them give their weapons back.”
“In Los Angeles, conservative Christians came to remind everyone that our exposure of female breasts would send us to hell,” Gary said. “Violence and threats were their answers to our peaceful protest. But fortunately, those people were a minority. The huge crowds that gathered in cities like New York and Vancouver were highly supportive. And more and more women are daring to join our topless parties.”
“Our goal is to make the public aware of the unconstitutionality of the current situation, eliminate the double standard and free women from thousands of years of sex related submission” Gary said. “Our new 501c3 tax-exempt status will be a big help in raising public awareness of this issue.”
Wrongful arrest in Craiova, Romania during GoTopless Day Aug 24, 14
We went at the Mayor of Craiova on Wednesday, to ask for the authorization to demonstrate for GoTopless Day. On Thursday they said they would call me Friday to let me know their decision.
I made sure to also ask them what alternative they offered in the case that our request was turned down. Their answers was : "if we don’t receive the authorization to demonstrate, you can still hold up banners in our hands, but YOU CAN NOT give flyers to the people; except if people come to you to ask for more information"
It is exactly what we did, respecting the authorities demand. We showed up and no one gave out any flyer and in fact, the police was already there, waiting to stop us before we could do anything.
On Friday I didn’t receive any answer but the Mayor's office had sent notice to the police saying that they didn’t approve of the protest. The police showed us the notice as soon as we arrived in the park. They explained that we did not have the right to protest because another activity was already taking place there. (which was not true!)
The police spoke about Law Statue 61 which bans obscene behavior in public and that is what they used to arrest us though we were NOT going topless. They said this law was applicable because the boys (including myself) were wearing bras to support women's topless cause and the girls were wearing see-through shirts.
Anyway, the Police force present was actually the Local Police (they are paid by the Mayor), and they were waiting for us with 2 police cars sent there especially for us, of course!
After speaking with them for a few minutes and trying to explain to them that we were not doing anything illegal, they decided to take us to the Local Police Station, where they kept us for about 2 hours, and gave us each a $130 ticket……one of the girls signed the citation….the rest of us did not.
The citation stated that we were topless while none of us was. They also wrote that we had a protest, which we did not. One of the girls was French and doesn't understand Romanian. So, when she refused to sign the citation in an unknown language and asked to be put in touch with the French embassy, the police officer took me aside in the hallway and said to keep it simple and not to mention the French girl in the arrest. The French girl refused. The confirmation of the citation with the fine should arrive in 2 weeks they said.
We have pictures taken in the park to prove we were not topless as well as a video from when we arrived showing the police was there and we did not even had time to do any protest!
Madame Minister of Women's rights, will your gender equality bill of Aug 4, 14 include equal topless rights?
Letter to Ms. Najat VALLAUD-BELKACEM, French Minister of Women's Rights
Paris, August 21 2014
Dear Madame Minister,
As Minister of Women's Rights, you crafted the bill on equality between women/men that just passed this past August 4. Your goal was to establish real equality between the two genders. This reason is why I felt compelled to write you this letter.
My name is Maryline Canin and I am France’s representative for the activist and non-violent organization, "GoTopless."
Gotopless, an independent non-profit organization based in the United States, was established in 2007 under the guidance of spiritual leader, Rael, in order to promote gender equality. It is based on a simple premise: Wherever men are granted the right to be shirtless, women should have the same right to be topless, in the name of equality among all human beings. The Topless protests and demonstrations organized on International GoTopless Day that have taken place over the years have quickly gained a lot of support and, today, the event draws thousands of people each year on the Sunday closest to August 26. In fact, this year we will celebrate the 7th year anniversary of the event and "GoTopless Pride" parades are organized in over 60 cities worldwide.
GoTopless seeks to eliminate the double standard that currently exists everywhere around the world. For instance, our very first protest was in Paris in 2011 and on that day something very unexpected happened. Only women from our organization were arrested and taken to the police station even though they still had their clothes on. They were held at the police station for two long hours and after being released, the police continued to harass them and prevented them from joining the march. Men, on the other hand, were able to freely enjoy the event in their red bras as a show of support for our cause.
We wrote to you at the time to ask for advice and support. For your information, a complaint has been filed since then for wrongful arrest and discrimination. The investigation is underway.
Gotopless activists don’t show their bare breasts as a sexual act or in order to attract attention. Rather, it is a political demand for the liberation of women. A woman showing her breasts should be natural and part of life. It should be a non-event.
I would add that the right to be topless gives women a commanding sense of empowerment after centuries of subjection to Puritan Judeo Christian values and macho laws. Such constraints weaken women’s self-esteem and how they view their bodies.
Your concern to make France less sexist and less violent toward women touches us and we would like to support your work by suggesting that you take a fresh look at this path of sexual equality that calls for toplessness for all.
The "topless" theme about equality between women/men is everything but trivial: it is one of the most sensitive themes because it triggers a reaction in people’s consciences, religions and governments.
This change is unavoidable. We need only look at fashion shows that highlight women's breasts, or at women who protest topless to seek gender equality around the world (I’m thinking about China!), or at women who travel around the world topless and post photos of their bare back on social networks to elude censorship (see attached photos).
And for those who fear that such an event might be an opportunity for men to show up in large groups, rest reassured. Less than one hundred years ago, when men were allowed to go shirtless in public did women rush to see them? Not so. Then why should we assume that men would not be equally reasonable?
And even if there was an influx of men, all we need to do is remind ourselves of how Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, reacted after a wave of rape incidents stormed her country. While the popular demand was to impose a curfew on women, her response was: "This is a problem that involves men, therefore, men are the ones who should be locked up."
Children will not be shocked by it either no matter what people say. Aren’t breasts one of the first things they see, touch and suck in their lives: their mother’s breast? To imagine sexual ideas in the minds of children at the sight of a breast, is this not the result of adults’ brains projecting their own fantasies?
This year, our national event will be held in Lyon, on Sunday, Aug. 24 at 2pm at Bellecourt PLace. In addition to requesting a right, we have added a festive and awareness-raising feature by launching a “GoTopless Pride” parade celebrating the Pride of being a Woman and Pride of our nude breasts, just like the Gay Pride. If you recall, this Gay Pride March was made possible thanks to the relentless efforts of a minority that wanted to defend homosexuals’ rights. It would be my pleasure to welcome you if you were to decide to attend the event in your beautiful city.
I hope my letter will touch a feminine and activist fiber in you, the one about just causes. I would be happy to discuss with you the fruits of our mutual thoughts, those of your research, and of our seven years of experience. I am available to arrange an appointment in a timely manner.
GoTopless Representative in France