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

Eric Garner death prompts NYPD retraining, pols demanding…

The New York City Police Department will revise training procedures for its officers following the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner after an arrest gone awry.

National

Parched Texas town turns to sewage water to…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - When the going got tough due one of with worst droughts in a century, the parched Texas city of Wichita…

International

NYPD: Robber makes elderly man drive to Queens…

A robber grabbed an elderly man's neck outside a Queens supermarket, stole his wallet and made him drive to ATMs for withdrawals last week, police said.

Local

Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

NFL

5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.

Parenting

Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.