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OPINION: The right to go topless

I, for one, support what Moira Johnson is doing.

According to The Huffington Post, Johnson, an exotic dancer by night, has by day been walking around New York City topless to advocate a woman's right to go shirtless.

This is an equal rights issue, you see. Johnson and other topless lasses want to know why men are free to trot around shirtless anytime, anywhere, but women are not. After all, men have breasts, too.

But maybe Johnson has a point.

Where upper-torso nudity is concerned, maybe there is a double standard, and maybe we need to shed it like some old T-shirt, as we have so many outmoded standards of the past. 

It wasn't long ago that women were expected to stay at home and attend to the needs of men. But nobody thinks this way anymore.

In fact, many men these days prefer that their wives work and make a boatload of money. They see no shame in staying home with the kids and clapping the first time Junior uses the toilet to do No. 2.

It used to be that women were expected to be soft and feminine, much like actresses in the old movies, but that's no longer true.

Women's professional basketball is as exciting and competitive as any male sport. Women now have their own professional football league. And on ESPN, professional female boxers do things to each other that make Mike Tyson look like a Quaker.

It used to be that women needed husbands to have kids, but that's no longer true, either. Famous women who have dough are not only shunning husbands, they think they're better off without them.

We men are stinky and hairy. We mess up the bathroom. We make loud noises when we eat. We snore when we sleep.

Regrettably, though some women may think they're better off without us, we don't fare so well without them. We find ourselves waking up in a pile of dirty laundry and newspapers, still clenching the tequila bottle we began drinking from three days earlier.

In these modern times, then, is it right that American society tolerates men walking around shirtless without extending this same basic freedom to women? 

After all, many attractive European women are allowed to go topless. Sure, they don't frequently bathe or shave their armpits, but you can't have everything.

Perhaps this topless thing is just another example of our rigid thinking, in which we hold an opinion on how women should act without really thinking it through. So let's think it through.

What if more American women conducted their daily business topless? I assure you that would prompt me to get out of the house more often. I'd spend every waking moment, to quote the great Dean Martin, "standing on the corner watching all the girls go by."

Besides, many towns, including New York City, have no laws on the books that say it is illegal for women to walk around topless. Johnson was arrested for her topless protests, but the cops had to let her go.

In any event, as many Americans sit idly by while their government strips away all kinds of freedoms — such as a religious organization's freedom to not have the government tell it what health insurance plan it must buy — I suppose someone standing up for any kind of freedom is a good thing.

So I support all lasses who go topless on International Go Topless Day — I'm not making that up — which is on Aug. 26.

Because the freedom to go topless may soon be one of the few freedoms we have left.

Tom Purcell is a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune- Review.

August 11, 2012 - 6:10am


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