Today my friend took her top off in a public place - to 'make a stand against all the men doing it' - and got told off! AIBU to think... I'm a total hypocrite/shit friend?

(86 Posts)
WhistlingNun Fri 19-Jul-13 23:09:24

I was out shopping with my friend today and we got ranting chatting about all the topless men walking around, and how annoyed i was that i got berated the other day by a complete stranger for letting 5yo dd take her top off (another story) - when my friend suddenly declared she'd had enough of it.

We stopped to get some ice cream and went to sit on a bench so she could feed her baby ds, too. Anyway, she took her whole top off, and she wanted me to bet with her how long it would take for someone to pull her up for fully exposing herself. She knew it was going to happen, and sort of seemed to be looking forward to it.

Anyway, I'm ashamed to say i was mortified. We were getting tons of looks. She stopped feeding her ds, put him back in his pram and sat for a few minutes with her top still off. She started waving at people who were looking at her and asking them if they wanted a picture.

Again, i was mortified and wanted the ground to swallow me whole. The more i asked her to put her top back on/cover up a bit, the more she laughed and seemed to determined to keep it off. She suggested we get up and continue shopping - i told her no chance until she puts her boobs away.

Anyway, we sat for a while longer and a man wearing a fluorescent coat came up (think he was a council worker as i could see his name badge a little) and said my friend ought to 'get dressed before she gets into trouble'.

Anyway, i found myself apologising. And i then pleaded with my friend to do what he said as she was really embarrassing me (still waving to everyone looking at her).

She accused me of having double standards. Why is it okay for the men to waltz about with their nipples showing, but not her? Why would i let my dd walk around with no top on the other day without embarrassment, but cringe when friend does it? etc etc. She said she's shocked by my attitude and that i'm not the confident person she thought i was.

Anyway, on reflection i feel i was being entirely unreasonable. I should have supported her. Especially after the humiliation of getting pulled up the other day because i'd let my daughter take her top off.

She had a huge rant about the council worker on FB and got lots of support from other women that she should have got up and carried on shopping with no top on. But then some people are saying she could have gotten 'done' for indecent exposure.

Anyway... i feel i ought to go round tomorrow and apologise. But at the same time, i think she was doing the waving and saying hello to the starers because she knew it was making me squirm.

Should we both apologise? Am i just a big fat hypocrite?

tiggerpigger Fri 19-Jul-13 23:13:57

Is she fit?

YoungBritishPissArtist Fri 19-Jul-13 23:14:58

Did she have a bra on?

VivaLeBeaver Fri 19-Jul-13 23:15:45

Don't apologise to her.

She shouldn't be putting you in a position where you feel uncomfortable and let's face it 99% of people in your position would also feel uncomfortable. If she feels this strongly and wants to act like that then fair enough.....but she shouldn't drag others into it.

She should be saying sorry to you.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 19-Jul-13 23:17:15

It's legal in New York. story

gordyslovesheep Fri 19-Jul-13 23:17:58

did she T rex?

ImNotBloody14 Fri 19-Jul-13 23:18:01

Well i say fair play to her. Yes she could have been arrested and that is a disgrace IMO when men are able to walk around topless legally!

Whilst i would support a friend doing the same- im not sure i could do it myself < wimp>

picnicbasketcase Fri 19-Jul-13 23:18:11

I totally get her point, why is it fine hmm for blokes to get their boobs out but for women it's indecent exposure? However, it sounds like she took it too far when you made it clear that you found the situation uncomfortable.

edam Fri 19-Jul-13 23:18:25

You were embarrassed because your friend was flouting social convention. That's an entirely normal reaction. Your friend was quite deliberately breaking social norms in order to make a point - which is entirely her right. She caught you off-guard as you hadn't intended to go out and make a political protest! She has a point, but your reaction was reasonable.

Just talk to her and make friends again.

Wtf at is she fit? What do you mean?

OP, I don't know, public decency or summat springs to mind, no idea what the law says.

RedPencils Fri 19-Jul-13 23:21:24

I don't think it's ok for men to walk round the shops with no top on either. unless David Gandy decides to check out B&M round my way

Moxiegirl Fri 19-Jul-13 23:23:07

'Is she fit' made me laugh grin

quoteunquote Fri 19-Jul-13 23:23:09

It a human body get over yourself.

have a lie down and a think, why do you find it shocking what led you to think like that,

people get so hung up about bodies, we all have one,

maybe everyone should have to do an A level in life drawing.

Amitolamummy Fri 19-Jul-13 23:24:38

Difficult one. If she wasn't waving and trying to draw attention to herself then maybe it wouldn't have been quite so embarrassing. That just sounds like she wanted a reaction and you don't need to make a point by trying to wind people up and getting a reaction. If she wanted to be able to wander around topless like men can, then do that, don't sit and wave at people. In theory I agree women should be treated the same as men, but I think there are better ways of going about it. Maybe you could go round and discuss it further and agree to disagree on the finer points of challenging this social norm

WhistlingNun Fri 19-Jul-13 23:26:31

No, she didn't have a bra on. She has rather small breasts though (not that this matters) so it wasn't extremely obvious, but still very awkward.

I can see her point though. I let my dd take her top off, but when an adult female does it - i feel uncomfortable. And i'm ashamed of myself for this as i completely see her point.

But she did seem to be relishing in the fact i was uncomfortable. I think if i'd just sat there quietly and let her get on with it, she would have put her top back on almost right away.

I also feel guilty that dd heard our conversation (although she seemed to be more interested in wiping ice cream into her ears). She heard me telling her 'aunt' to cover up her chest and that she was embarrassing me.

My friend thinks that it was her right to do this today - which is true - and now has loads of women on FB giving her their support.

There's no way i can expect an apology. But she seems really peed off and disgusted with me. So if i don't say sorry... that'll be the end of this friendship it seems. I don't have many friends two so can't really afford to lose one because of my own self confidence issues.

HooverFairy Fri 19-Jul-13 23:27:40

Firstly, ignore what the other people on Facebook are saying; being there and hearing about it are 2 different things. There are lots of times when we say "I would have done x" but the reality is often the opposite. Your friend flouted social rules, anyone would be shocked by it. I don't think you should apologise to your friend but you could explain that although you felt uncomfortable you do support her and that you'd hate for her to feel otherwise. I think your friend should understand that if she's a true friend.

FreyaSnow Fri 19-Jul-13 23:28:02

Is it illegal to be topless in public when not breast feeding?

edam Fri 19-Jul-13 23:29:03

If it is, there are a LOT of men who are in trouble...

kim147 Fri 19-Jul-13 23:30:05

Interesting - I've seen plenty of men with rather large chests recently and with man boobs.

There's also plenty of breasts around in papers and magazines.

So why the double standards?

AdmiralData Fri 19-Jul-13 23:32:41

Hey don't beat yourself up! You said yourself that you see her point and she did put you in an awkward position. If you value her friendship explain that you're just bashful and felt a little put on the spot but that you admire her bravery etc? For what it is worth I am bloody glad she did, I am sick to death of sweating under five layers of black in this heat because I look awful in strappy tops etc whilst men can go nipples akimbo >sad

I have witnessed two men, on seperate occasions, in the last week being asked to put their top back on incase others were offended. So while I understand your friends point, I am not so sure that men are "allowed" to walk around with no top on, especially in shopping areas.

YWNBU to be mortified, I don't think you owe her an apology at all.

symfem Fri 19-Jul-13 23:42:14

It's wrong of her to do that and there isn't a clear analogy between men being topless

A thoroughly stupid fight to pick

celestialbows Fri 19-Jul-13 23:47:50

I laughed at the fit comment too. YANBU,it's something I would have done twenty years ago and I know that my friends would have been mortified. I wouldn't do it now because I have a different understanding of society and "acceptable behaviour" although I don't always like it.
She wasn't unreasonable to do what she did to make her point but she was U to make you feel uncomfortable and to do it with a 5 year old around as it could have kicked off.
I also feel that her age is a factor in the story.

mayoandchips Fri 19-Jul-13 23:48:45

I think if she wants to go around topless thats up to her.

I think if you are uncomfortable with all the negative attention you and your friend received, which you didn't ask for, I also think that is your right.

I think half naked children and half naked adults are completely different things. It is a fact that men find breasts titillating (no pun intended) whereas we see a pair of nipples on men and the majority of us don't think anything of it.

It's just the way things are, and it would take a long time for society to deem bare breasts as acceptable. Sad, but true, and it is especially a shame when you see breastfeeding women doing their utmost to hide.

Technotropic Fri 19-Jul-13 23:49:23

There's lots of this kind of stuff going on at the moment, like the Swedish train drivers wearing skirts to work etc. There is no denying that women have more clothing options in the workplace whilst most companies still won't allow men to work in shorts.

People like your friend OP (and the trian drivers) are raising very valid discussions IMHO. Women should be able to walk round with their breasts out. Either that or men should be banned from going topless.

There are double standards everywhere so need ironing out

WhistlingNun Fri 19-Jul-13 23:51:48

Thanks everyone. I think i'll go round tomorrow for a chat. Doubt i'll come home with her apology though.

She's 26 and has a professional job albeit not in this town. But again, she just laughed when i said 'Imagine if your boss was to walk by right now.'

She's not immature. But does love attention and a bit of drama. I think she was a bit disappointed actually by the lack of people approaching her. She had a whole list of comebacks ready to go.

zoraqueenofzeep Fri 19-Jul-13 23:54:12

I would walked away, she sounds deranged. It's outrageous for anyone to complain about a young female child not wearing a top because that insinuates that there is something sexual about the childs body which is perverted and wrong.

The reason why it's unacceptable for women to be topless in public is because our culture views adult, female breasts as being sexual. It's irrelevant whether your friend or anyone else believes that to be wrong, it is what it is and because of that her bare chest will offend some people although most probably found the crazy woman hilarious. Any normal person would have been mortified to be seen with someone behaving in such a socially inappropriate manner and feel embarrassed for the ridicule they are exposing themselves to. Don't apologise.

Shakirasma Fri 19-Jul-13 23:59:19

I think your friend is fantastic. It is people like her who are willing to make a stand, who bring issues of equality to the forefront and enable change through challenge and debate.

I'm not brave enough to do it, and I understand why you were embarrassed by her challenge of social norms and inequalities. But if she were my friend I would explain and apologise.

Shakirasma Sat 20-Jul-13 00:01:39

Zora...our culture does see breasts as sexual, all the more reason for people like the OPs friend to make a stand to action change to the better.

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Sat 20-Jul-13 00:04:23

She's mad! You should have just told her that you were embarrassed and walked away until she put her top back on.
Don't apologise to her, just put it down to the fact you have different ways of dealing with things. No need to fall out with her either.

mayoandchips Sat 20-Jul-13 00:04:57

Haha this thread reminds me of Nude Girl in Balls of Steel. grin

It's interesting to see the reactions, especially the bumbling men.

Technotropic Sat 20-Jul-13 00:05:32

Isn't that because breasts are sexual?

kim147 Sat 20-Jul-13 00:06:48

But isn't that the issue people have with people who breastfeed in public - because breasts are seen as sexual so should not be seen out.

Which kind of makes BF difficult in public.

Breasts are for making milk.

scottishmummy Sat 20-Jul-13 00:09:46

Pointless and big bit wow lookey at me miso riiiiight on

tigerdriverII Sat 20-Jul-13 00:13:50

What Shakirasima said. I'd love to have a friend like this, don't apologise but do support her (though from what you say, little support needed!).

Technotropic Sat 20-Jul-13 00:15:19

Full circle.

For most women, breasts are erogenous.

Breasts make milk but not all women use them for that purpose i.e. those that don't breastfeed or have kids. Thus it's not unreasonable to say that breasts are perhaps more sexual than they are for making milk. I guess this is where societal views come from.

EvaM Sat 20-Jul-13 00:19:55

Next time you and your friend are in company of men, convince one of them to go bottomless.

To me a woman getting her breasts out in public is like a man walking around showing of his penis. Ok, on a nudist beach, not ok in a shopping mall.

Then again I don't think it's ok for men to pop into tesco's minus a shirt (that being bad style rather than displaying sexual stimuli)

Let me get my hands
on your mammary glands

Szeli Sat 20-Jul-13 00:24:35

It's not illegal to be topless either; iirc for 'indecent exposure' to be cited someone else must have made a complaint - more likely with boobs than chests hence council man saying "could get into trouble".

I don't think you should apologise - she made you uncomfortable. She also chooses to live in a society where topless women are not the norm. If she wishes to spend the day sunbathing with her norks out there are places to do so

EvaM Sat 20-Jul-13 00:25:24

kim147: mammal glands are for making milk, they could be 'housed' in a flat chest.

Breasts are breast-shaped because apes began walking on two legs buttocks stopped being a conveniently-placed sexual stimulus.

I won't say anything about breastfeeding in public because all of mn can't be wrong but breasts are the way they are because of sex.

I'll send a postcard from Argentina...

BlingBang Sat 20-Jul-13 00:30:01

Good for your friend. If no one challenged the status quo then nothing would ever be debated or changed. And I don't find my breasts erogenous, doesn't really do anything for me.

PerchedOnMyPeddleStool Sat 20-Jul-13 00:32:27

Your friend is a twat.
No one likes men with their tops off. It is not acceptable.

superstarheartbreaker Sat 20-Jul-13 00:32:59

Fair play to her but I can understand why you fely awkward. C'mon op...this thread is HILARIOUS but at the same time making an important feminist point!

kim147 Sat 20-Jul-13 00:34:30

Why shouldn't men have their tops off?

How much clothing is acceptable? Is it age and body dependant?

Maybe we should go back to the days of Adam and Eve. Except it would be a lot colder.

superstarheartbreaker Sat 20-Jul-13 00:35:13

Breasts are primarily for feeding babies. I personally have never felt mush sexual pleasure from having them played with..
I guess they look pleasing but whatever; a six pack looks pleasing but we don't demand it's put away!

superstarheartbreaker Sat 20-Jul-13 00:36:17


superstarheartbreaker Sat 20-Jul-13 00:44:30

Perched..... I LOVE men with their tops off!

EvaM Sat 20-Jul-13 00:52:25

And while I'm here:

I think I should also point out that when you display your breasts in public, it doesn't matter if you personally like them played with during sex.

Personally I'm really sensitive around my neck but have been displaying it for most of today.

The reasons humans (that is female ones) have enlarged mammary glands as a sexual signal. If you are still wondering find a female mammal (eg you cat) and look for her 'boobs'.

I found a female mammal - she was a cow. Boobage was quite easy to spot!

KingRollo Sat 20-Jul-13 06:47:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KingRollo Sat 20-Jul-13 06:54:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Sat 20-Jul-13 07:40:03

She's conflating two separate issues... Supporting the ideal vs the embarrassment of being suddenly in that situation and with your daughter.

TimeofChange Sat 20-Jul-13 07:48:43

If she was on a beach it would have been fine, but it's a bit mental to walk round the town centre with bosoms hanging out.

I would have to have walked away.

Surely to goodness equality doesn't mean women are going to go topless in public places.

It's bad enough seeing half maked men with boobs.

Some African cultures mock western ideas that breasts are sexual, comparing western men to babies. So it's not a universal truth that breasts are sexual.

A Friend of mine made a similar stand in the US (Florida) by sunbathing topless. She was asked to put her top on and replied 'that man has bigger tits than me, why don't you ask him to?'. In the end a policeman came over and she did as she was told. Crazy though, she was on a beach FFS.

Wuxiapian Sat 20-Jul-13 08:02:07

I would have been mortified, too, OP.

She should have more respect for herself and her baby - let alone everyone else.

pictish Sat 20-Jul-13 08:09:56

She sounds like an exhibitionist. I wouldn't do what she did...even though I actually agree with her and am not embarrassed at all by the sight of people's bodies. Men with their tops off don't bother me at all...I hear a lot of meaning about it but I think people ought to mind their own, and not worry about it.

I'm not an exhibitionist though, so no way would I be sitting on a bench with my tits out.

In your position it's difficult, because she was being antagonistic, and who needs that? I don't think you need to apologise for not wanting to be cast in her big production!
She brought hassle to you both, despite you telling her you were not comfortable with it. That's not cool.

SuperiorCat Sat 20-Jul-13 08:16:51

I admire your friend as I agree with her but wouldn't be as brave.

However her behaviour made you fell uncomfortable which was a little unfair. If you want to retain the friendship explain and apologise.

oohdaddypig Sat 20-Jul-13 08:20:17

I like the sound of your friend. grin

Samu2 Sat 20-Jul-13 09:11:44

I would be happy for it to be illegal for both sexes to walk around topless unless on a beach.

Breasts are sexual, of course their main purpose is milk but but they are sexual too. Mens chests shouldn't be seen.

Instead of it being acceptable for women to walk around topless it should be unacceptable for both sexes to do so.

Your friend put you in a bad position and I think that was shitty of her.

pictish Sat 20-Jul-13 09:31:10

Mens chests shouldn't be seen?

Whyever not?

specialsubject Sat 20-Jul-13 09:41:03

There's nothing wrong with any part of any human body - but convention in this country is covered nipples except in bed, bath, beach or pool.

As a matter of interest does anyone know the actual legal position in the UK?

floatyflo Sat 20-Jul-13 09:49:13

Hear hear to your friend. I highly admire her!

I believe men and women should both have to cover up or both be allowed to walk around topless. Not one rule for one, and another for the other!

I'm disappointed in myself for not having the balls to be as brave as her!

NachoAddict Sat 20-Jul-13 09:57:30

I agree with your friend but I would have been embarrassed too.

Can't breasts be both sexual and for making milk. One doesn't exclude the other.

neunundneunzigluftballons Sat 20-Jul-13 10:53:45

*Breasts are breast-shaped because apes began walking on two legs buttocks stopped being a conveniently-placed sexual stimulus.

I won't say anything about breastfeeding in public because all of mn can't be wrong but breasts are the way they are because of sex.

I'll send a postcard from Argentina...*

Where breastfeeding is the norm particularily into childhood this tends not to be the case me thinks it was probably a non breast feeding exposed scientist who came up with that theory plus lots of breast feeding mammals from apes species have larger breasts when feeding.

Morloth Sat 20-Jul-13 11:07:00

She sounds excellent.

I am socially conditioned enough that I probably would have felt uncomfortable as well. But that is the problem not her breasts.

Is stupid that it is OK for men and not women. It can't be law surely?

GobblersKnob Sat 20-Jul-13 11:47:04

Agree floatyflo, though tbh would be happier if it were just decreed that all should be covered.

Am more than happy for anyone to have anything they like out on the beach or similar, but don't think anyone should be walking topless around a town or supermarket, it's just grim.

MamaMary Sat 20-Jul-13 11:53:17

In parts of Africa, where I've been, many women of all ages go around in public topless. Interestingly, the men don't.

Which proves it's purely a cultural thing.

FeckOffCup Sat 20-Jul-13 12:17:45

In your position it's difficult, because she was being antagonistic, and who needs that? I don't think you need to apologise for not wanting to be cast in her big production

I agree with this, it sounds like your friend was enjoying making you squirm more than making her actual point about double standards (which I agree with but in the sense that I don't think men or women should be allowed to walk round shopping centres topless).

Sallyingforth Sat 20-Jul-13 12:32:11

Breasts are designed for one purpose only - feeding babies. The sexual thing is purely cultural, and not universal.

In Victorian times it was considered sexual to show womens' legs, but we laugh at that now. Again it was purely cultural, and cultures change.

Not so long ago it was considered outrageous for British women to bare their breasts on beaches at home or abroad, now it's commonplace and rightly so. I hope it will soon be the case that we can walk topless down the High Street if we choose - in the current weather I resent having to put a shirt on to go down to the corner shop.

digerd Sat 20-Jul-13 12:59:19

In hot weather, it is cooler to go braless but wear a top that is loose and wafts in the breeze which cools the ski , as I have been doing smile
< not a see through top though>. Nipples with sunburn, no thank you!

digerd Sat 20-Jul-13 12:59:48


ChunkyPickle Sat 20-Jul-13 13:05:45

Women's chests are sexual, and mens aren't? Am I the only one that sees half naked men used to advertise to women then? Plenty of people find mens chests attractive!

Personally I'd prefer that neither men nor women wander around town with their tops off (too much sweaty skin), but if men can, I don't see why women can't.

Your friend was very brave - even if it was just for attention - and embarrassment on your part was a completely normal reaction, which is what her taking her top off was challenging.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Sat 20-Jul-13 13:11:52

I think your friend is awesome! Fair play to her, I say! If she has the body confidence to do this to make a stand then why shouldn't she.

I think you need to apologise for your 'double standards' and just say you were embarrassed by the shouting and exhibition-ism. Perhaps if she'd sat still and carried on and not attracted the attention by shouting at the gawpers maybe you wouldn't have felt so humiliated. Men don't walk round without their tops on shouting and cajoling passers-by, do they?

I wish I had the body confidence and a good set of tits to do this. It would make a great point. I could even carry a sign around with me stating what I was doing to stop people asking.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Sat 20-Jul-13 13:13:04

And I also should have said there that I don't think your embarrassment was misplaced. You had every right to feel uncomfortable but I think you are mixing up the discomfort with the breasts and with the shoulting, iykwim.

ImperialBlether Sat 20-Jul-13 13:34:25

I can't believe all these people saying the topless friend was great for doing that. She sounds unhinged to me. If she'd gone topless on a beach, that's one thing but to breastfeed your baby then take your top off on a bench in a shopping centre? I wouldn't be going shopping with her again!

Morloth Sat 20-Jul-13 13:53:52

If it is OK for men to do something then it is OK for women.

Either both are OK or neither.

Personally I prefer shirts on for both but hey why should people dress how I want them to?

It doesn't harm in anyway to see a bare chest so why does it matter?

BlingBang Sat 20-Jul-13 14:19:27

I prefer both sexes to wear tops in public areas. But hate that women are forced and made to feel their breasts are shameful and to be hidden away (unless the men decide it suits them like in mags and strip clubs). YANBU to feel uncomfortable I can't help admire your friend for challenging the status quo. Why can a man look at a women's breasts and more in a paper in public but the sight of actual breast in a non sexual setting is taboo. Crazy and time it was challenged.

TimeofChange Sat 20-Jul-13 14:54:05

Bling: I don't think we are taught that our breasts are shameful.

But I think we are taught that they are private.

If we walk round with breasts out, we will be walking round with out fannys on display next and blokes have their bits hanging out.

Covering our bodies does not equate with being ashamed of them.

BlingBang Sat 20-Jul-13 15:09:29

But men can go topless and women can't. Men's chests are deemed fine, healthy etc. Women are forced to cover theirs - why?

TimeofChange Sat 20-Jul-13 15:34:21

Most of us go along with convention. In general the following are the norm:

Women wear dresses and skirts.
Men don't.

Women wear high heels.
Men don't.

Women wear makeup.
Men don't.

Men's chests can be uncovered in public.
Women cover their nipples in public.

It's just the way it is.

Some men buck the trend - thinking of Grayson Perry.

I used to go to festivals in the 70s and quite a lot of women would be topless and a few men and women nude (depending on the weather).
But they would cover up to drive home!

The 70s was also the time when body hair was acceptable.
Many women had all their body hair intact.

EvaM Sun 21-Jul-13 01:31:59

Can't stop giggling about the notion that breasts were 'designed'.

And that it's SOCIETY who decides what we find sexually attractive. Nature doesn't do agendas (that doesn't mean you can't have any, though).

emmelinelucas Sun 21-Jul-13 01:51:57

Give her a grip, OP.
She's been rumbled.
Thankyou for reading x

BrianTheMole Sun 21-Jul-13 01:55:55

Good for her, she sounds fab!

Hooray for your friend!

I hate it that women's breasts are seen as sexualised, shameful and need to be covered in public while men can wander about topless. Either everyone covers up or no-one has to!

FWIW, those saying that women's breasts are sex organs and erogenous - um, so are men's. I think most men find having their nipples played with as sexually stimulating as women do. But that doesn't stop them whipping them out in public.

RealAleandOpenFires Sun 21-Jul-13 02:21:02

Ok...a compromise then, I won't go topless wink I'm Male btw, but you Ladies have to agree to really embarrass men (with saggy moobs*) by talking loudly, laughing, pointing & guessing what cup size they are, then offering your old spare bras/bikini tops for them to use as they seem to be in need of them than you do. grin

*I really hate that word grrrr

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