Equal Rights?

This past weekend, some two dozen topless women protested in a New York City park as part of what they called “National Go-Topless Day” to draw attention to inequality in topless rights between men and women.  Organizers say similar protests were scheduled in about 30 U.S. cities and 10 around the world.

According to the internet news article (Reuters), there are no laws against women going topless in public in New York City but the laws do vary widely across the United States.  Activists claim the discrimination is unconstitutional and they’re asking for full equality.

Sound familar?

After reading the story, my brain began to make the comparisons between the struggle for barefoot acceptance and the work these woman are engaged in.  My internal thought processes even went a bit further: if women are legally allowed to go topless in public, the issue of me being barefoot at the mall shouldn’t even register so much as a “blip” on the proverbial radar screen!

I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say the protest didn’t register as much attention, either.  Some might say, “It’s New York; stuff like this happens all the time.”  Public online commentary, following the news article, doesn’t appear to take the organized protest all too seriously.  I enjoy the occasional discussion when it pertains to civil liberties and human rights.  Needless to say, the majority of public comments ammounted to nothing more than complaints by hormonally-charged men who were demanding photos from the protest.

I suppose the question I have to ask is: what’s considered “equal” when it comes down to the debate over No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service?  Where does society draw the line of acceptance?  As individuals, barefooters might be more open-minded to the ideals that these protesters are fighting for.  The general consensus, however, probably isn’t as eager to embrace the concept of bare-breasted women in public society–at least within the parameters of North American culture.  Here, nursing mothers are still subject to the controversial views on public breast feeding–with much of the criticism coming from women themselves.  Bare feet are generally considered unsanitary but the female nipple is often labelled as erotic and pornographic.

In the United States, we want to believe that equal rights are consistently upheld from one end of the country to the other.  History, however, is chock-full of examples where the rights within the same demographic widely vary from state to state.  Consider same-sex marriages for example.  Presently, gay couples are only free to marry within six states.  While that might be considered a glorious victory on their behalf, there are still forty-six states that only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.  How does that happen?  Yes, I know; the Federal Government has handed that decision down to the individual states, but still…

Similarly, I can shop my local grocery store with bare feet but a guy at the same store in a different city might get stopped at the door.  It’s a fact that human equality isn’t always black and white but various shades of gray.  As much as we may cry foul, that’s just the way life goes.

But what happens should the bare-chested protesters decide to call attention to our bare feet?  What happens if politicians and legislators should conclude that everyone must be covered from head to toe at all times, no matter the circumstance?

I know, the chances of that happening are rare, but still…

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