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Sun’s Out, Tits Out: Kitchener women exercise their fundamental right; internet takes it personally

Last week, three Kitchener, ON sisters went for a bike ride on a hot Friday evening and decided to take their shirts off – thereby cycling topless – to try to beat the heat. Tameera, Nadia and Alysha Mohamed rode for a while to a “mostly positive reaction” before a Kitchener police officer pulled them over and asked them to put on some shirts, citing that there had been a complaint.

Being the informed, bad bitches they are, the sisters told the officer that um, no, they actually didn’t have to put on their shirts on. That’s because in 1996 women in Ontario were given the legal right to expose their breasts after Guelph badass Gwen Jacob appealed her own 1991 conviction of “committing an indecent act” by walking around topless.

gwen jacob

Gwen Jacob

Even though the officer backpedalled once the sisters called him out, Tameera, Nadia, and Alysha have said they will file a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director over the incident. And to show further resolve in their commitment to desexualize women’s breasts, the sisters hosted a march last Saturday, August 1 at Waterloo Town Square entitled “BARE WITH US: Top Freedom Rally”.

Now, if you’re a fan of the internet, you may be aware that women’s bodies, specifically their breasts, has been a prominent topic of discussion in the past few months (Editor’s Note: Unlike normally. Normally no one on the internet ever talks about boobs.). Instagram’s well-known ban of the female nipple and harsh policing of **ahem** certain women’s bodies has created a huge online backlash. And just over a week ago, Instagram banned the tag #curvy because, they alleged, it was the gateway to too much porn. However, the tag #pornos conspicuously exists consequence free.

Closer to home, the parents of an eight-year old Guelph girl were asked to put a shirt on their daughter at a public pool after someone complained that her exposure was bothersome. This received immediate attention and caused the City of Guelph to abolish a sexist policy that stated: “For the protection of all participants and staff, females ages four and older must wear a bathing top in City of Guelph enclosed or fenced pools.”

Can we stop this illegal, overt and harmful policing of women’s bodies?

Of course, social media has been flooded with comments from your friendly neighbourhood douchebags, starting with the CLASSIC “joke” that the officer pulled them over to “get a better look”.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 11.46.13 AM

Photo via @_mallow_ on Instagram

The Rally’s Facebook page was* (*most negative comments have since been removed by the page’s admins in an attempt to keep it a safe and respectful space) the real treasure trove though, with such insightful comments from the typical MRA-types who believe “It’s about being provocative and drawing attention to ones self [sic]. It has nothing at all to do with feminism as many of these ladies pretend it to be.” This leads to the ol’ universal reductionist argument that “there are so many crucial needs in our world with hurting people, disasters, shootings and so much more and you want to waste your time and others on something so unimportant and meaningless as women going topless in society,” and on to a personal favourite by Juan Abee that states:

“The best of western white trash childless worthless junk people..gee I wonder why women are portrayed in western media and Rap videos as disposable worthless sex toys? DUHHH Its because they are worthless disposable sex toys.”

Y-U-P.

Not sure about you, but THIS is why I need feminism. Plain and simple.

The countless arguments that claim these women are only hosting this event for attention is why we need feminism. The notion that there are “more important” issues to spend our time on is why we need feminism. Pitting the pioneer of this movement, Gwen Jacob, against the Mohamed sisters and questioning their motives is why we need feminism.

The catalyst for this entire event – to combat the sexualization of women’s breasts – is reason enough to need feminism. But the fact that there are women who openly admit that this is a losing battle– that we will never be able to desexualize women’s breasts– is not only why we need feminism; it is the reason why we need to show up – tits in and tits out, regardless of gender – and fight those who continue to try to tell us what to do with our bodies, 20 years after we’ve already won.

Stand up with Elle Beaver and show these amazing ladies that we support them!!

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