Pro-topless protesters bare breasts in Boston for equality

A group of protesters march through Beacon Hill in support of topless equality for women. Photo by Erin Baldasarri/Metro
A group of protesters march through Beacon Hill in support of topless equality for women. Credit: Erin Baldassari/Metro

In honor of Go Topless Day 2013, five Massachusetts residents marched topless on the streets of Boston on Sunday to make a bold and head-turning statement: Women should have the right to bare their breasts in public. 

“[The demonstration] is to crush the social stigma, and crush the political and legal stigma,” said Stacey Schnee, 38, of Worcester, who organized the march to coincide with similar GoTopless.org demonstrations held today in 35 states.

“The wind blowing across your chest and your body feels amazing. I feel like it’s 10 degrees cooler than it actually is. Women should absolutely be able to enjoy that,” said Schnee.

Although she has gotten plenty of support from spectators, the self-described nudist has also endured rude and harassing comments from both civilians and police.

“A lot of people have said, ‘I’m calling the cops,’ or, ‘You’re scaring the children.’ But many people breast-feed their children,” she said. “So what’s the problem?”

Massachusetts state law regarding the indecent exposure of breasts in public is ambiguous. State law does not clearly define “indecent exposure,” however the court system considers it to be “an intentional act of lewd exposure, offensive to one or more persons.”

Photo by Erin Baldassari/Metro
Demonstrators make their way through historic Beacon Hill. Credit: Erin Baldassari/Metro

Schnee, a spokesmodel for topless equality, said police will typically “harass” or threaten arrest or citation during nudist events, and often appear to be misinformed about the laws surrounding indecent exposure.

When confronted with criticism over baring her breasts in public, Cally, 22, said her response is to ask, “What is offensive about my body? And why is my body intrinsically more offensive than a man’s body?”

Cally, who declined to give her last name, and Schnee were the only two women to bare their breasts at Sunday’s march. They were, however, backed up by three bare-chested men. ”I’ve been doing body comfort things for 30 years,” said David Linden, 53, Bedford.

Todd Cooper, of Franklin, said he’s participated in similar pro-topless events, and has been asked by police to cover up.

Topless equality activists Stacey Schnee, left, and Todd Cooper stand in front of the Boston Commons to advocate for gender equality in baring their chests, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. PHOTO BY ERIN BALDASSARI/BOSTON METRO.
Topless equality activists Stacey Schnee, left, and Todd Cooper stand in front of the Boston Commons to advocate for gender equality in baring their chests on Sunday. Credit: Erin Baldassari/Metro

Holding signs and handing out flyers, the group made their way around Boston Common before marching past the State House and on to City Hall Plaza.

With Duck and trolley tours in full force, the shocking demonstration drew plenty of reactions. Some passersby voiced support, while others laughed and heckled the group.

One woman who drove by the procession on Beacon Hill yelled, “Y’all need Jesus,” and a man on Tremont Street said, “Stay away from me,” as the group passed on the sidewalk.

A clique of adolescent boys giggled and pointed, as did a bus full of amused tourists in front of the State House. One man hung out the window, recording the group with his tablet. Dozens of people snapped photographs, apparently entranced by the sight of breasts in public.

A tour gawks at topless equality activists walking from the Boston Commons to the State House to advocate for gender equality in baring their chests, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. PHOTO BY ERIN BALDASSARI/BOSTON METRO.
A tour gawks at topless equality activists walking from the Boston Commons to the State House. Credit: Erin Baldassari/Metro

“I appreciate your balls, and your tits,” said one man who sat in a wheelchair on City Hall Plaza. He took a flyer, and said he supported their cause.

The occasionally crass feedback didn’t seem to bother Cally: “I think this should be (accepted) nationwide. Boston more so would be more welcoming. I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more support.”

Schnee was also unfazed.

“It doesn’t matter what you do. You could walk down the street wearing a purple hat. Some people would love you, some people would be offended. What’s the difference?”

Organizers said they plan to hold a bigger GoTopless Boston rally next August.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Local

NYPD arrest man after finding body inside plastic…

Police said they found a man stuffed inside a plastic container in a Brooklyn home. Authorities arrested Joshua Simser, 24, in connection to the death

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.