Boulder City Council members Macon Cowles and Lisa Morzel deserve praise for speaking out against the provision in a proposed public nudity ordinance that would have criminalized toplessness for women but not for men.
You might ask why public nudity needs to be criminalized at all, provided it’s not part of a sex crime. That’s a valid question, one that Morzel had the courage to ask. But apparently some local residents don’t know we’re past the age of fig leaves and shame when it comes to nudity and complained to police about naked folks riding bikes or running down the mall with pumpkins on their heads. It doesn’t matter that these events — the Naked Pumpkin Run and the World Naked Bike Ride Day — are well publicized, enabling those who are upset or overcome by the site of pee-pees and wee-wees to avoid them. The constipated prudes of Boulder demanded action.
Rather than suggesting they increase their fiber intake, police obligingly made some arrests, and people who’d committed no crime greater than making mischief faced fines and the stigma of having to register as a sex offender.
The public nudity ordinance is the city’s attempt to provide legal penalties for those who engage in harmless public nudity so that they’re not prosecuted under more stringent laws that turn naked pumpkin runners and bike riders into sex offenders.
But instead of sticking with the current restriction on nudity, which criminalizes the public exposure of genitals, they got ber-zealous and decided to make it illegal for women, but not men, to bare their breasts in public.
When Boulder Weekly confronted city staff about this attempt to make the law more restrictive for women, we were told that an exception was written in for breastfeeding. Well, how generous of them! Women can feed their babies. What a progressive town Boulder is!
The gist of our question to city staff was this: Why is it wrong for a woman to have bare breasts in public but not for men?
It seems our city staff — together with Council members Ken Wilson, Geroge Karakehian and Susie Ageton — still consider the female breast to be a sexual organ that’s indecent unless stuck in a baby’s mouth, while the male breast is just “chest.” Perhaps they still think that male sexuality is so potent a force that bare-breasted women will cause social chaos, perhaps even violence, while women, sedate and less lustful than men, don’t feel anything at the sight of a nice set of pecs.
Wrong on both counts.
Apart from women whose sexuality has been stifled by archaic social customs or religion, women are every bit as lustful as men. If you think women don’t ogle those bare-chested guys playing a game of disc in the park, you’re just plain ignorant. And watching women drag down the g-string of a stripper at a male strip show with their teeth will relieve you of any illusion as to women’s sexual passivity.
If female breasts are just too sexy for public perusal, then so are men’s. Any ordinance barring female nipples must, to be fair, also bare male nipples. Women don’t yet make use of their ability to go topless the way their European cousins do, but it’s only a matter of time before shirts and jog bras start coming off.
Fortunately, Cowles and Morzel moved to have the nipple bit of the proposed ordinance removed, and Mayor Susan Osborne, Matt Appelbaum and K.C. Becker agreed with them.
Now we can drop this nipple nonsense and go back to a sane discussion on what to do about people who with no ill intent make their privates public.