Let’s face it: most men wouldn’t really mind if women started to take their tops off in public as much as men do. And why should the male nipple be exposed to the free air more often than the female nipple is? What’s the difference? It’s one thing to believe it immoral for a woman to be shirtless, but it’s another entirely for it to be illegal — and women across the country are still arrested on a daily basis for letting their boobs hang out.
Some law enforcement don’t even seem to know that women are legally allowed to breastfeed in public no matter where they are — it’s legal in every state — and the average person probably doesn’t either. There are a constant stream of controversial new articles discussing the subject.
And then there’s the women who don’t believe breastfeeding should have anything to do with it.
Associate Justice Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi of New Hampshire’s highest court said laws that “prohibit women but not men from exposing their breasts” are “generally upheld…against equal protection challenges.”
This was the issue when three women were arrested for appearing topless on the beach. They contended that allowing men to appear topless but not women violated their constitutional right to equal protection under the law. The court disagreed.
Marconi continued, “We have found that the ordinance does not violate the defendants’ constitutional rights to equal protection or freedom of speech under the State and Federal Constitutions. As such, it does not unduly restrict the defendants’ fundamental rights. Accordingly, we agree with the trial court that the city had the authority to enact the ordinance.”
Not everyone agreed. Associate Justice James P. Bassett and Associate Justice Gary E. Hicks both agreed that the ordinance in question obviously treats men and women differently — thereby denying the defendants the right to equal protection under the law.
The three women who were arrested for indecent exposure are aligned with the “Free the Nipple” global campaign to allow women to appear topless in public places.
The lawyer who represented the three women in court, Dan Hynes, made a statement after the decision was made: “We are extremely disappointed in the court’s ruling that treating women differently than men does not amount to sex discrimination. The court has effectively condoned making it a crime to be female.”
They may decide to appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court. For now, they hope that New Hampshire’s government officials work to correct the unjust law through new legislation.