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Suffrage and Spaceships

By UrbanAnthropod, August 26, 2010 10:08 am

On suffrage and spaceships

August 26th marks the anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in the United States. 50 years after the right to vote was granted to former slaves, women finally gained their right to vote. This date has been designated as Women’s Equality Day since 1971 by an act of Congress.

I learned about the Go-Topless movement from previous news releases. They utilizes the date to promote gender equality by public demonstrations involving bare-chestedness. Their philosophy dictates that men are free to roam public spaces topless while women cannot and that this is a fundamental inequality. While women won the right to public toplessness in New York in 1992, this is not permitted on a national level. The goal of Go-Topless day is to promote the idea of the national right to women’s toplessness.

On a superficial level, I can agree with the idea of gender equality and the right to go topless whether male or female. The idea of sexualizing women’s breasts have often resulted in strange public conceptions. I grew up believing that breast feeding was a natural process yet have always run into those who have found the idea offensive, even in private. The idea that nudity itself is more heinous than the graphic violence widespread in popular media further demonstrates the the point. Our culture has become strangely puritanical to nudity as implied sexuality that nudity can often result in an R rating in a movie or a Mature label in other media despite any overt sexuality. I still find it silly that I need to see blurred out breasts on travel documentaries and that those that don’t blur out breasts are preceded with warnings. As I stated, on a superficial level, I can agree with these arguements.

Let’s reiterate, on a superficial level, I agree with these arguements. National Go-Topless Day is observed on the proximal Sunday to Women’s Equality Day, so I realized there would be a public demonstration. But then I looked more closely at the web site for Go-Topless. Towards the bottom, there was an advertisement for Rael’s book Intelligent Design. Say what?! What does that have to do with women’s equality? Similarly, the footer of the web site contains other links associated with the Raelian movement. Ordinarily, I let people be when they practice their beliefs until they begin to proseletize. Curiosity took over and I knew I had to attend this event.

So on Sunday, I went down to Columbus Circle in hopes to better understand the involvement of the alternative “religion” and women’s equality. At the Topless Parade, I noted that some 90% of the participants displayed the symbol of Rael on their body. For those who don’t know, the symbol is a variant of a hexagram (Star of David) and currently contains a Swastika. Some wore necklaces and some even had this symbol tattooed onto their body. So, they were quite easy to spot. During the start of the march, random oglers came along and were eventually sucked into the event. A few passerbies took of their tops and joined in. I followed the procession and heard the chant “Free your breast. Free your mind.” This somewhat nonsensical mantra kept hitting me as “Free your breasts. Steal your mind.” I really didn’t understand it. Demonstration chants and mantras usually have a simplicity that espouses the point of the rally. I just found this to be somewhat confusing to the hordes of people slowing down their cars on 59th street with their cell phone cameras hanging out the window. Similarly, the random tourists on the double-decker tour buses were simply amused by something that probably looked innately “New York” counterculture. The only useful demonstration sign stated “Equal Topless Rights for All or None”. Otherwise, the demonstration came out confused with signs offering free hugs or proclaiming “Tits! Wholesome, Holy & Hot!”.

At the end of the small march down 59th Street, the mass of demonstrators returned to the grass in Central Park. There was a brief speech about the idea of being created equally by extraterrestrials, but there wasn’t any hard sell. I didn’t hear a recruitment speech. The name Rael wasn’t even uttered. Cards handed out by the demonstrators did have quotes from Rael, but the “religion” wasn’t otherwise mentioned. I only wonder if the association of this “gender equality” issue with Rael works to de-legitimize the cause.

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