Women Go Topless to Celebrate 25 Years of Equal Rights

Topless book club meeting in an NYC park
Topless book club meeting in an NYC park

The summer of 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark 1992 court decision establishing that women have the same right as men to go bare-chested in public places throughout New York State.

Celebrating this milestone with a summer-long series of outdoor events is the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society (ToplessPulp.com).

It is a book club founded in the summer of 2011 to give women in New York an opportunity to safely exercise their right to go topless in city parks, plazas, and other public spaces.

The group’s events in past years have included boating on Central Park Lake, book discussions on the steps of the New York Public Library, picnics in Washington Square Park, figure drawing sessions on the High Line, and a 13-mile bicycle tour of the city – all done topless.

Last summer, the group produced an acclaimed all-female, fully nude outdoor production of The Tempest in Central Park to commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

Full nudity is permitted outdoors in New York as part of the performance of a play or other artistic exhibition. Toplessness is permitted at any time.

The events planned for this summer (all of which are free of charge) include meet-ups in many of the city’s most popular outdoor spaces, and range from adventurous to simply relaxing: a gathering of 10-20 women reading on the grass in the park, as unconcerned about baring their breasts under the sun as the countless topless men in the park are about baring theirs.

“A woman’s chest is no more inherently sexual than a man’s,” said the group’s co-founder, Alethea Andrews. “Eighty years ago, men weren’t allowed to take their shirts off in public, and today that seems ridiculous. Years from now, it will seem just as ridiculous that we ever restricted women in this way. Once people get used to the sight, it’s really no big deal.”

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Rakesh Raman