By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
August 23, 2019
ASHEVILLE – This Sunday will mark another GoTopless Day in Asheville, North Carolina. The rally, which will be held in Pack Square, is a protest against laws that prevent women from baring their naked breasts in public. GoTopless events have been held consecutively in the city since 2011.
The organizers of GoTopless Day are a part of a national group, GoTopless.com, scheduled to hold such demonstrations in 30 cities across the U.S. The GoTopless website claims women have the same constitutional right to go bare-chested in public as men.
“Topless rights have been the exclusive privilege of men for over 80 years! It’s about time Western heads of state denounce the fact that human rights are dictated strictly according to one’s vulva or penis,” said Nadine Gary, president of GoTopless.
“GoTopless exposes nipple inequality and denounces the abysmal bodily repression still inflicted on women by Abrahamic religions in the 21st century and carried out by obsolete prudish laws even today,” adds Gary.
The Citizen-Times reports that initially, crowds at the GoTopless rallies were into the thousands, but in recent years they aren’t as well-attended.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said he remembers when this event and the issue surrounding it came before the North Carolina General Assembly.
Creech said that in 2013, Asheville’s City Council asked state Representatives to craft a state-wide solution. They wanted to ban the rallies via a city ordinance, but their concern was that if Asheville enacted an ordinance, it would be challenged in court because of ambiguity in the state’s indecent exposure law.
During the 2013 legislative session, Rep. Rayne Brown (R-Davidson) and Rep. Tim Moffitt, (R-Buncombe) filed, HB 34 – Clarify Indecent Exposure Law.
The proposed legislation declared that “the term ‘private parts’ means external organs of sex and of excretion, including the nipple, or any portion of the areola, of the human female breasts.”
Brown argued a State Supreme Court ruling in 1998 implied that a woman’s breasts ought to be included under the definition of “private parts,” but that the clarification was never entered into the state’s statutes. She said public exposure of women’s breasts was already against the law and her bill clarified that it was an act of indecency.
Moffitt, a cosponsor of the legislation, argued the clarification was needed to provide Asheville with the relief from events like the GoTopless rallies.
Creech added that he remembered HB 34 had a serial referral, and it passed the House Judiciary and the House Rules committees, but Moffitt was getting a lot of negative pressure from his district over the bill.
“Moffitt’s district was not solidly Republican by any stretch, and it was putting him in a difficult position to get re-elected,” said Creech. “Although HB 34 was calendared to be considered by the entire House, it was withdrawn, and sent to the Rules Committee to die a quiet death.”
Moffitt, the incumbent, was defeated in 2014 by Democrat Brian Turner who garnered 51.9% of the vote as opposed to Moffitt’s 48.1%.
Creech said the legislation filed by Brown and Moffitt was the right thing to do and he thinks it should be revisited.
“This seems to be a simple fix, and lawmakers should face such matters seriously and courageously. The people who support and promote this indecency want to erase all lines between the genders and act as if the two sexes are the same. Let’s face it! Most of the associations with women’s breasts are sexualized. If you don’t think there’s a difference, then why do thousands show up for a GoTopless rally, most of them gawking men, but if a man takes off his shirt you won’t see that kind of response,” said Creech.
Creech added: “When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the Bible says God clothed them. He clothed them, in part, because sin distorts nakedness and men and women were created to respond to each in certain ways. Without clothing, the two sexes are generally apt to respond to each other destructively. So there’s a moral basis for why people should cover-up. We are living in a day when basic common sense is turned on its head. It’s wrong for the good people of Asheville, as well as those in other cities, to have to be vexed with this licentiousness. Furthermore, a legislature that is complicit with it is just as guilty before God as those participating in these lewd public displays.”
Any legislation contemplated for the future will also have to consider that three New Hampshire women have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against a city ordinance banning their topless appearances in public as unconstitutional.
All three women violated nudity laws in their state and were arrested. They challenged their convictions but lost in the New Hampshire courts. Now they are asking the High Court to take-up their appeal when the justices start their new term in October.