Did you know that it is legal in 12 states for women to go top-free in public? First off, this is a small number, and second, many cities can and do override this with their own laws. (Having just watched the movie Iron Jawed Angels, I feel like a suffragette counting the states that have given women the right to vote. Haha Not the same, I know.)
Women acquiring the equal right to go top-free wherever men can is a cause that’s become more and more important to me. I think what bothers me most is the pointless arrests and physical abuse that women go through for going top-free even when it is perfectly legal. Doesn’t everyone have more important things to worry about? (Apparently not.)
I recently met a kindred soul against this discrimination: Phoenix Feeley, and I asked Phoenix if I could interview her about her current battle for top-free equality.
Phoenix has been actively fighting for top-freedom since 2004 when she was falsely arrested in New York City for being top-free in public. She suffered physical abuse by the officers, spent 27 hours in jail and to top it all off, had to go through a mental evaluation. It’s been legal in NY since 1992. The city apologized with a settlement of $29,000 when she sued.
Since then she’s been marching in top-free rallies in NYC, and now the brave Phoenix is fighting charges in a state where it isn’t legal (yet), New Jersey. In 2008 Phoenix sunbathed without a top on the beach of Spring Lake as a form of civil disobedience. The police arrested her and inflicted physical abuse once again. An obese man had the gall to clap as she was getting arrested, and Phoenix promptly replied, “Your boobs are bigger than mine!” She was given two charges of disorderly conduct, one for obstruction of justice, a charge of nudity and a charge of dressing/undressing, along with a $2,000 fine. The following quote circulated last year when her appeal was rejected by the state appeals court:
“Restrictions on the exposure of the female breast are supported by the important governmental interest in safeguarding the public’s moral sensibilities.”
That’s right, moral sensibilities! The government is just trying to protect everyone from women’s immoral breasts.
At this point the charges have been cut down to the nudity and dress/undress charges and the fine cut in half. However, the legal fees have added up to way more than $1,000 because this is clearly about way more than a few charges and a fine. Phoenix has now appealed it to the 4th branch of the judicial system, the NJ Supreme Court, where this law can (and hopefully will) finally be changed. “I refuse to pay injustice,” she said, “You have to go all the way with it.” And she’s prepared to do just that. Unfortunately the Supreme Court only hears 10% of cases, and a previous top-free case further complicates things. A couple in NJ were caught fishing illegally, while the wife (a Ms. Vogt) was topless. She fought for the right to go fully nude, but wouldn’t testify for herself and lost. Regardless, Phoenix says if she can’t get into the Supreme Court, she’ll appeal to the Federal Court, and even go to prison if she has to!
Are any Europeans reading this on their smartphone as they lay topless on their towel at the beach? Are they wondering what the big deal is with showing breasts in America? So are we.
As we wrapped up our meeting, I asked Phoenix why top-freedom is so particularly important to her. She replied that she sees it as a symbol of women’s inferior legal rights, and this is one wall of discrimination that needs to be broken down. I agree!
Some of you may have attended Fools for Freedom last month, Phoenix’s awesome top-free party and fundraiser aimed at helping her with all the legal fees. If you didn’t make it, you can still donate and support her courageous fight for women’s right to go top-free wherever men can!
Donate by Paypal to: phoenixfeeley[at]hotmail.com
Subject: Fools For Freedom
For the latest top-free news in the U.S. & Canada, this is a great site.
Category: Felicity's Nudist Blog By Felicity Jones
About the Author (Author Profile)I'm Felicity, author of Felicity's Blog and co-founder of Young Naturists America. I write about nudism and naturism in today's world along with issues like top-freedom and body acceptance, and various naked topics. Enjoy, and leave a comment when you've got something to say! :)
I just watched Iron Jawed Angels on Youtube. Great movie, but sadly it shows there's going to have to be a long fight and lots of arrests if there'll ever be equality. The public won't accept the entire body anytime soon, but they will accept equal rights. One thing I really like is that Elizabeth Stanton's great something? granddaughter is one of the Topfree 10 who was trying to get equal rights in Florida. Too bad I didn't know this when my history teachers were talking about the Declaration of Sentiments! freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1005825/posts