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
National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Local

Mayor announces plan for solar panels at city…

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the planned installation of 24 new solar panels at city schools on Monday morning. The panels, a $28 million investment,…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

Movies

Review: Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children' is…

Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" takes a hysterical and melodramatic look at disconnection in the digital age, turning strong actors into zombies.

Television

TV watch list, Monday, Sept. 29: 'Castle,' 'Mom'…

Tune in for the season premieres of "Castle," "Mom" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…

Education

Nap rooms: The latest college campus trend

College is a time filled with new experiences (and lots of schoolwork), leaving little time for students to get a good night’s rest. University of…