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

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.