Are laws that make it illegal for women to run around topless unconstitutional?
Thanks to the “Free the Nipple” movement we may soon find out.
A lawsuit filed in federal court says men can go topless in Fort Collins, Colo., without fear of arrest but women can’t and that’s “sexist and, therefore, unconstitutional.”
The Constitution didn’t give women the right to vote for 133 years, but that bit of sexism was expunged by the 19th Amendment.
A Constitutional amendment literally takes an act of Congress, but federal judges could strike down laws that make it illegal for women to do something men do all the time.
Georgia law allows for toplessness from both genders, according to GoTopless.org, but keep your shirt on (especially if you are a woman). Georgia law specifically forbids public intercourse, “a lewd exposure of sexual organs,” “a lewd appearance from partial or complete nudity,” and nude fondling.
Fondling is a creepy word.
In my non-legal estimation, the state law is so broadly defined a woman could be charged with indecent exposure for going topless.
It’s local laws that make police start slapping on handcuffs.
The ordinance in Atlanta, for example, says it is illegal to expose “one’s breasts, if female.”
In 2013, a local woman was arrested for being topless are part of an art project. According to articles from 2013 an Atlanta police officer saw Gabrielle Mirville being photographed and arrested her. She paid $500 to get out of jail and was berated by a judge who told her to “learn to carry yourself like a lady.”
In Colorado, female plaintiffs are asking for an injunction to stop enforcement of the law and that judges declare it unconstitutional, which would affect Atlanta’s ordinance.
Thirty states, as well as Denver, Boulder, and New York, have recognized a woman’s right to appear topless in public, the lawsuit says.
Will Atlanta nipples ever be fully free outside? Probably not in my lifetime. Until then, we have easy access to strip clubs, an airport and Key West.