Fort Collins in Colorado is stirring up national controversy after its decision on Friday to abandon its defense of a 2107 city ordinance banning women from going topless in public, which the city felt was needed to protect children.
News outlets say that the decision will now allow girls over the age of 10 to bare their breasts in 6 states – Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
As expected, public comments have ranged from disgust, to support, to fear to what does it matter?
The brouhaha stems from a lawsuit filed by “Free the Nipple” movement activists, Brit Hoagland and Samantha Six, who sought to overturn a city ordinance forbidding them to expose their breasts in public.
They were fighting for “gender equality,” they said, and found it objectionable that men could go topless, but not women.
In a statement from their attorney, Andy McNulty, the female activists decried the idea that women’s breasts should be considered sexual.
“By getting rid of this law, we are saying women are more than just a sexual object and their bodies are more than just a sexual object. They’re human beings just like men,” McNulty said.
The 10thCircuit Court of Appeals agreed with the women last February, and ruled that the city’s ordinance discriminated against women.
“We’re left, as the district court was, to suspect that the city’s professed interest in protecting children derives not from any morphological differences between men’s and women’s breasts but from negative stereotypes depicting women’s breasts, but not men’s breasts, as sex objects,” the ruling says.
Ft. Collins was all set to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but after spending $300,000 in legal fees, decided it was not worth the money to continue the fight.
Tyler Marr, a Fort Collins government spokesman, said: “The money was just better spent on other city priorities.”
Mixed public reactions have appeared on numerous news outlet websites.
“I’m a Christian conservative,” wrote Short Southern Girl. “My breasts are no more sexual than my knees or elbows. It’s not my fault if a guy is creepy.”
Apparently, a guy is now “creepy” if he finds a woman’s breasts sexual.
Winters War wrote, “If a man looks, can he now get sued?”
Give it time, Winters War. I’m sure someone will eventually sue…and likely win.
Joining the banter was someone self-identifying under the profile “You,” who wrote, “The problem with this ruling, is that all the wrong people will be doing it.”
Not in this day and age, “You.” Not with Instagram, Snapchat and Social Influencers. You’ll get your chance to be “creepy.”
But the battle for the “Free the Nipple” movement is far from over.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce a decision later this year whether to accpet a case where three women appeared topless at a lakeside beach in New Hampshire.
In that case, the three women were arrested after refusing to cover their breasts at a beach in Laconia following complaints by beachgoers.
Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro, who are also part of the Free the Nipple movement, argued in court that their constitutional rights to free speech were violated.
But the N.H. highest court, in a narrow 3-2 ruling, disagreed. The ordinance was upheld.
In August, the women appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court saying the city’s ordinance is discriminatory because men can appear in public without their shirts own and that the law creates the “sexualized objectification of women.”
What a world we live in.