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Topless women in public not breaking the law, says NYPD

Police memo says breast exposure is not considered public lewdness, indecent exposure or disorderly conduct.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor May 17, 2013 7:26PM

Women of New York, it’s OK to let the girls loose.

In February, New York City’s 34,000 police officers received a rather unusual memo: For “simply exposing their breasts in public,” women are guilty of no crime, reports The New York Times.

Photo: Still of the 2012 Go Topless Day Rally In New York City (JoseKickaha1 via YouTube) The police officers were ordered that, should they encounter a bare-bosomed woman walking in public, they should not arrest her. In fact, should a crowd form around a topless woman, officers are to “give a lawful order to disperse the entire crowd and take enforcement action” against those who do not comply, says an official memorandum included in a federal lawsuit filed this week by Holly Van Voast. Van Voast, a Bronx photographer and performing artist, is known for stripping naked in Times Square, Grand Central Station and outside a Hooters restaurant in Midtown.

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The decision that it’s perfectly legal for both a woman and a man to bare one’s chest in public comes after more than two decades of proceedings and protests fighting for equal rights to be shirtless.

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No one bats an eye at a bare-chested guy, so why is a topless woman in public so scandalous?

Read the complete story at The New York Times here.

Tell us: What do you think about this decision?

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Photo: Still of the 2012 Go Topless Day Rally in New York City (JoseKickaha1 via YouTube)

113Comments
Aug 3, 2014 9:38PM
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Well, folks . . . topless broads are O.K. with me, so long as when I'm thirsty for a mouthful of milk, I can take a swig direct from Nature's Source!   

The Japanese have private clubs like that---a much more sophisticated society than ours! 

Gary / Aug'14     
Aug 3, 2014 8:26AM
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That the double standard if a man exposes him self he go to jail,he call a perverted person,a sex deviant. 
Aug 3, 2014 8:05AM
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I could care less if a woman walks around topless,I like the azz . I have breast myself everyone does. Can you see a 60, 70 year old walking around topless.
Aug 2, 2014 3:40AM
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I think that women who wish to expose their breasts are part of the problem with this "Everything's O.K." Society!  I think that women have taken themselves off the Pedestal that God has put them on!  Women are "SPECIAL" so why degrade yourself and show the children of this world, a world without morality and decency, besides contributing to the lustful minds of perverted men, raping women. If you want to put yourself in that position, you are just asking for it!!!!!
Aug 1, 2014 7:14PM
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In my travels I have been to many areas where bare-chested males and females are the norm. I have also been to a couple places where it was the men that are required to cover themselves and the women, while tastefully dressed, had much more leeway in displaying their "charms".


The bottom line is that I have always thought it unfair to women that they be required to cover in places that men are not. When it is the norm then there is no "fascination" with the display. It wasn't that long ago that women in the US were expected to keep their ankles covered at the risk of being named a "tart" or a "floozy". Therein lies the core of the argument, proper dress is what is determined as a local and cultural norm. I agree with the courts that a woman running around New York topless cannot be considered a crime, but the woman IS being disrespectful of the current norm.


As for the comments on wearing appropriate attire in a restaurant or place of business. Legally a woman cannot be held to a different standard anymore than can a man. The law should be gender blind, but the culture should not be expected to be the same. Eventually the culture will change, it always has and it always will. There may come a time when those that live in a semi-dark environment that is temperature stable may opt to go completely nude as we were when we were more primitive (or if you prefer...as we were meant to be by God).


Clothing exists primarily as a protection from the elements now but was almost certainly adopted to show rank, position and etc. in long ago times. Our bodies self-adapted to the wearing of clothing. As any lion or horse can explain, that isn't exactly natural.

Jul 31, 2014 10:29PM
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Well, as long as they do not plan to stop somewhere for lunch that requires shirts and shoes,  if they want to flaunt their floppies, that is their privilege. 
Jul 31, 2014 9:25PM
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If this was more the norm than it wouldn't be such a big deal.
Jul 31, 2014 11:21AM
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I love topless women in public, like the site and love the nipples showing.Maybe panty-less next.
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