Why Can’t A Woman Take Her Top Off In Public?

Juliet Kelso dissects a YouTube video that begs the question: Can men and women ever be equal if women aren’t allowed to take their tops off in public?

The popular YouTube video titled “Why Men and Women Can Never Be Equal” involves a man and a woman mimicking one another on the metro. They are strangers, take notice of one another, and the woman starts playfully mimicking the man’s actions…until he loses his shirt. The woman then discontinues the jest and looks around, ashamed. The video/title combo had us wondering, why can’t we be equal on this front? Why can’t women comfortably take their restrictive, tan-line mongering bikini tops off without risking arrest? Meantime, men can take their shirts off in places as public as the metro. Sure, women do have larger, more conspicuous breasts, but that hardly seems to validate the norm.

Women claim to wear bras for comfort, to support their breasts, and prevent them from flopping all over creation. But let’s get real, bras are usually not comfortable, and even women who don’t need or necessarily want a boost still feel compelled to wear them in order to cover up their nipples. This obsession with obscuring women’s breasts only further sexualizes the female body. It seems to attract a bunch of hype around the anatomically non-sexual-organ as a kind of forbidden fruit.

Do you think the societal need to hide women’s breasts is outdated and rooted in old, Puritanical views? Is it just what we’ve been groomed to feel comfortable with, or is it truly practical? Is it a necessary measure to prevent sex crimes? We want to hear your two cents on the topless debate.

Juliet Kelso is a senior English major with concentrated studies in gender ideology at Bucknell University, where she is also editor of the campus newspaper. Her works have been published in Her Campus Magazine, The Bucknellian, and The Rambler. She is currently acting as marketing and editing assistant at David Fickling Books & The Phoenix Comic in Oxford, England.

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