Men are such beasts. At least, that is the conventional wisdom. We are considered to be smelly, brutish, crude creatures who know only the satisfaction of carnal pleasures. It’s why we have laws on the books like not letting women go topless to the beach. Men are deemed to be so impulsive and incapable of controlling themselves that the mere sight of a naked breast would cause pandemonium and a near riot.
It is for the protection of (sarcasm alert) “the weaker sex” that they must be told to cover their chests. This faux modesty is absurd and a vestigial remnant from more prudish times.
As silly as it is, and there are varying degrees of silliness in the law and the world, it is not really a difference in kind, but merely an extension of the wearing of the burqa, that full-body covering that is required in some Muslim countries, and is a matter of religious choice for some women in others.
I dare say that most Americans would deem the burqa as an overly protective garment, but not really think twice about making a woman wear a top at the beach. It’s kind of inane, since the boys that are staring at the tops are already imagining the top gone.
Personally, I have no dog in this fight. I don’t particularly need to see women flaunting their naked breasts on the sand by the Santa Monica Pier. But I’m sure that it would increase our tourism and that would be good for the local economy, and since I don’t see it as such an incendiary thing that will cause men to suddenly leave their wives and begin assaulting women in the hope of satisfying some carnal pleasure, I wonder why our community has not taken a more libertarian view of the matter.
After all, who hasn’t seen a naked breast? There are hundreds of men who regularly walk, play volleyball, workout or tan shirtless and that doesn’t lead to the crushing downfall of our society. Not everyone looks like Mario Lopez (oh my!), but then again not everyone looks like Jabba the Hut. There are women who resemble Pamela Anderson, both pre- and post-enhancement and reduction.
I really don’t see what the big deal with nakedidity. Most people are ashamed of their bodies to some extent, and maybe if we took a less prudish view of the topic we could have a society that was less self-hating and more affirming.
Nudity is such a vile and hated thing in this country that we label people sex offenders based on it. If a woman was to go topless at the beach, her crime could conceivably render her a sex offender. Lest you think I’m overreacting, it’s happening in Santa Barbara at what used to be a nude beach there.
The nanny state that we are creating is beyond protective and is reaching the point of abusive in my opinion. I’ve had clients who have had to defend against Child Protective Services complaints because they merely bathed with their children. Two years ago I was defending a client who had taken a bath with his 2-year-old daughter and mom called Child Protective Services on him. I realize that most parents are not going to stoop to such a debased and appalling level as that to win a custody case, but the point is that CPS took it seriously, even after meeting with my client. It was felt that a 2 year old should not be seeing their parent naked.
If this type of institutionalized body phobia is what we are teaching our children, it is no wonder that there is so much shame in our society. Particularly so when it is counter-balanced by the liposuctioned, anorexia-induced, steroid-taking, hyper-sexualized views of celebrities, who become famous by making sex tapes and having them “stolen” and uploaded to the Internet.
For a society that is so afraid of our bodies and sex on the one hand, and yet so steeped in sex and sexuality on the other, is it really any wonder why there is so much neurotic behavior around sex? We live in a society that regularly has killings on TV shows with graphic depictions of gruesome scenes, but realistic portrayals of a loving affectionate relationship are considered dirty.
Frankly, I’d like to see the law banning topless sunbathing repealed by our City Council and one passed that required television programmers to provide equal time to positive portrayals of loving relationships, gay and non-gay, for each hour of violence they present. Instead of 23 versions of “Law and Order,” maybe we could get some love and tolerance.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.