Letter to Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris: NYC enforces topless equality, why not Paris, France?
First, allow me to congratulate you on your election as Mayor of the city of Paris. It is with great pleasure and interest that I noted your desire to make your city a "place of freedom, equality and parity."
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.
In France, our first event was held in Paris in 2011 and it was obvious then that equality between women and men was nothing but an illusion in the Parisian capital.
That year, even before the approved protest begun, all six of the women who were still wearing their clothes and were getting ready to participate, were arrested, taken to the police station, and their right to freedom of movement and expression was literally taken away from them. Two hours later, they were released from the station and as they tried to reunite with the group they were unexpectedly surrounded once again by a callous police that acted gratuitously and whose sole intent was to prevent them from joining the rest of the group at the end of the march.
During our seven years of peaceful protests around the world, it is in Paris that we had the most misogynistic and disrespectful experience accompanied with unnecessary use of police force. In fact, complaints have been filed for false arrest, discrimination, and for restricting our freedom of movement and expression.
Equality between women and men must be applied in both the private and public sectors. And the projects you have outlined emphasize this. Your political resolve is undeniable and I would like to appeal to your sense of justice and equality by granting Parisian women the freedom to walk around topless in all public places where men are given this right.
It is currently not the case at the beach (Paris Plage) or at municipal pools where many signs warn Parisians to "not forget to wear their top and bottom" (see attached photo). Other municipal instructions threaten women with a fine of 38 euros if they wear anything indecent which includes going topless.
Is it right to invoke indecency simply to avoid addressing the laws that deal with gender equality? Women's legs were once considered indecent in public, as was women’s vote! But gender equality has always prevailed.
We call for a true equality on our rights, one that respects the right for women to expose their breasts as men do. This is a fundamental right and no authority should have the right to dictate how women should behave or decide for them how they should dress, on the pretext that exposing their breasts would be indecent.
This change is unavoidable. We need only look at celebrities such as Miley Cyrus or Rihanna who often expose themselves topless, or at fashion shows that highlight women's breasts, or at women who protest topless and 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 pictures).
The New York community has already figured this out and, for many years now, has authorized women to be topless in public and requested that officers respect this right and not harass topless women on the streets. New York has dared. Why not Paris?
And for those who fear that such an event is an opportunity for men to show up in large groups, one needs not worry. 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."
This year, our national event will be held in Lyon, on Sunday, Aug. 24. 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.
In 2015, we plan on organizing a “GoTopless Pride” parade in the capital. With my American experience, I would be happy to discuss the preparations with you and the positive impact that such an event would have on the French capital. Should you agree to meet, I am available at your earliest convenience.
I hope that my letter will have caught your feminine and humanitarian attention as well as your sincere desire to work for the respect of gender equality. This project is everyone's business if we want true female and male equality to finally become a palpable reality.
GoTopless representative in France
in Press Releases
in Press Releases
Sunday's 'GoTopless Pride Parade' to end at Brooklyn's new boob-themed bar
"New York is the ideal location for the world's first GoTopless Pride Parade,” said Rachel Jessee, GoTopless spokesperson and leader of GoTopless in NYC. “Since 1992, it’s been one of the few cities in the United States or the world where women's topless rights are already recognized by law.”
She said her organization is inviting both men and women “to stand up with topless pride” on Sunday in honor of Women's Equality Day.
"There’s nothing more empowering for a woman than to free her body from the shackles of repression," Jesse said. “Freeing her body allows her to free her mind as well, and also to mend her self-image and self-esteem."
Jesse said “topless and joyful performances” will take place all Sunday afternoon as the Go Topless Pride Parade makes its way from Columbus Circle through Times Square to Bryant Park. The parade will begin at 2 p.m.
"After the parade, all participants are welcome to end the GoTopless Day festivities with a fun get-together at the Boobie Trap, a recently opened, boob-themed bar in Brooklyn,” Jessee said. She added that her organization’s goal is to make female toplessness “a non-event.”
“We hope that by participating in annual topless festivities, New York City women and women around the world will feel increasingly comfortable to go topless in public,” Jessee said. “When a woman’s uncovered chest in public becomes the simple non-event it already is for a man, we will have accomplished our mission.”
Tata Tops to cover chests of GoTopless participants in Venice, Calif., event on Aug. 24
LAS VEGAS, AUG. 22 – Venice, Calif., is about to witness its seventh annual GoTopless event in honor of Women's Equality Day on Sunday, August 24, according to a statement released today by GoTopless.
“In this city, as in most places around the world, women still can’t lawfully go bare-chested, although their male counterparts have had that privilege for decades,” said Lara Terstenjak, Los Angeles leader of GoTopless. “It’s time to celebrate women's topless pride in spite of all the silly and unconstitutional restrictions posed by local laws.”
She said the creators of Tata Top Bikinis, Michelle Lytle and Robyn Graves, offered to provide “breast look-alike bikini tops” specifically for the Venice GoTopless event, and that GoTopless accepted the offer with gratitude.
“By wearing Tata Tops, we’ll demonstrate just how incredibly ridiculous the current law is,” Terstenjak explained. “Women can legally wear bikini tops painted to look exactly like real breasts, but they can’t show their own!”
Taking the point a bit further, she added:
"Imagine if, 100 years ago, women had worn pants with lifelike knees painted on them. Many people in 2014 don’t know it, but women’s knees were considered too indecent to show back then. Today, no one bats an eye at the sight of an uncovered woman's knee. Soon it will be the same for bare breasts! How silly it is to have to wear painted ones!
She said the Venice GoTopless event will kick off at 2 p.m. with a “silent sit-in” on the beach near Boardwalk and Navy.
“At the sit-in, men will be invited to wear Tata Tops along with the women to show their support for equal topless rights,” Terstenjak said. They’ll be saying, ‘Either we all can go topless or no one can!’”
After the sit-in, the group will “joyfully make its way down the boardwalk toward Windward Circle,” according to Terstenjak.
“Our intent is to raise public awareness of Gender Topless Equality and the importance of abolishing all gender discrimination,” she said. “Women's self-esteem and empowerment depend on eliminating such discrimination in all its forms, once and for all!”