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topless women?

(39 Posts)
nailak Mon 10-Oct-11 23:58:10

What is the feminist view on differently socially acceptable standards of modesty for men and women?
Should women be allowed to.walk around topless?
And would this be desirable?
Or is it accepted that women's breasts are a private part?
If so how do we come to this conclusion as breasts are a functional part of a women's body, and other titilating parts can be on show such as legs?
If breasts or bum are so desirable then why is it acceptable to show their shape and form with tight or sheer clothing, but not to reveal skin?

AnnieLobeseder Tue 11-Oct-11 00:04:51

I don't think women should walk around town topless. But I don't think men should either. Personally, I'm all for more modest clothing for everyone. Even at swimming pools, men and women should all have to cover their chests, some men's chests are horrible to look at!!

But (semi) joking aside, I also wonder why tight clothing is so acceptable, I don't like it.

Any time women wear clothes designed to show off their bodies, I feel they can't have much in the way self-respect. Surely if you believe in yourself, your personality and your abilities, you wouldn't need to parade your body around.

So, back to my original point, while I don't think we should all be totally covered all the time, I'd like to see everyone, men and women, but more especially women, dress more modestly, because displaying flesh/form reduces a person to their physical form, not their inner self, imo.

bemybebe Tue 11-Oct-11 00:24:44

"Women should all have to cover their chests" Really?? Should they?

kickassangel Tue 11-Oct-11 03:41:03

annie - why especially women?

op - I'm wondering about this atm.

dd is 8, and VERY comfortable in her own skin. I don't want to make her feel uncomfortable about it, but am aware that when she runs around the house at night, people can see in (though our neighbours aren't that close) now that lights are on. she also forgets about this when we have people over.

PrideOfChanur Tue 11-Oct-11 07:18:40

I'm torn on this one.In some ways I agree with this:
because displaying flesh/form reduces a person to their physical form, not their inner self, imo.

But part of me thinks that if you are attractive,it is a pity not to be able to enjoy that,and show it off ,and be comfortable,without society reading into that messages either about sexuality or about self respect etc(disclaimer:definately not talking from experience here,as I've never felt I had much to show off,and I am by nature and nurture a cover it up type.)
I don't mean that I like women being pressured to dress up in a particular way by what men and society expect,but I'm not sure that a reverse emphasis on modesty is better.
As far as women walking around topless goes,in principle,why not? We look on breasts as we do because that is the way our society regards them,and no reason that I can see why that shouldn't change.The Victorians used to come over all funny at the thought of an ankle,after all.(unless that is a myth!)

AnnieLobeseder Tue 11-Oct-11 08:19:37

Kickass - because on the whole women tend to reveal more of themselves than men. I'd like to see equal levels of modesty from both genders.

Let's face it, a lot of people who seem to think they're attractive and display themselves would really be doing us all a favour if they covered themselves up.

nailak Tue 11-Oct-11 09:47:46

so the feminist position is society should alter its attitudes towards breasts?

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 11-Oct-11 10:03:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nailak Tue 11-Oct-11 10:08:13

well isnt the mens fascination with breasts as they dont have breasts formed like womens?

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 11-Oct-11 10:11:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mumwithdice Tue 11-Oct-11 10:25:56

You know, forgive my lactivist tendencies, but I think if women could go around topless, it might make establishing breastfeeding easier as you'd see more women doing it. And more women breastfeeding might in turn reduce the sexualisation of breasts as they would be seen to be functional.

And frankly, it's not fair. If it's very hot outside, DH can take his shirt off and be comfortable that way, but I can't so I must remain uncomfortable.

KRITIQ Tue 11-Oct-11 10:26:06

Got to dash, so I'll give some thought to this one.

What is and isn't "socially acceptable" in terms of showing or concealing parts of the body is different in different cultures and has been regarded differently at different times. Remember those stories about long table cloths to hide table "legs," lest they remind people that women also had legs beneath those billowy skirts? In some cultures, there is no taboo about women's or men's breasts being bare. They can still be regarded as sexually arousing in an intimate context, the source of food for children in another and just a part of the body like a hand or ear in another.

I tend to think there is a sort of fetishisation of the the female breast in our society - and that's used as a means of exerting control over women as a group. Photos of breastfeeding women are pulled off facebook while pages that joke about rape are left standing. Breastfeeding women get glaring looks and are still asked to leave some public spaces, yet often in that same space, you see a newspaper open to page 3 or a magazine showing far more bewb than a breastfeeding woman.

I think all the "rules" are designed to keep women confused, anxious, self-conscious about their bodies while men are encouraged to see breasts as something they want to possess. Aaarrrggghhh, it's crap.

Malificence Tue 11-Oct-11 11:47:16

I'll happily go topless on holiday abroad around the pool or beach ( if it's the done thing) but I wouldn't do it here, our society is so hypocritically prudish, as others have said, public breastfeeding can be frowned upon etc. but advertising everywhere leaves very little uncovered. We in this country have some deeply unhealthy attitudes to sexuality and nakedness.

We lived in Germany near to the Dutch border 20 years ago, they have a much better and heathier attitude to nudity, we would go to the lake and there would be people swimming and sunbathing naked, it was embarassing to watch the young British squaddies etc. leering at the women.

I don't think it's in any way wrong for people to dress in a way that shows their body off, I've never done it and I quite envy my 21 year old daughter's confidence to wear tight/revealing clothing, she has far more self esteem than I did at her age.

Tchootnika Tue 11-Oct-11 21:31:38

I agree with Malificence. I really don't get this idea that women (or men) who like to look beautiful - to 'show off their bodies', even - are necessarily lacking in self-esteem.
I actually think that looking good is public spirited. I like it when people look stylish, beautiful or well presented. I don't think self-beautification is something we should feel obliged to do, but I think that making negative judgments about other women because of the way they choose to look is far, far from progressive.
As for toplessness: I don't much like it for myself or other people, but that's because I don't like the look of burning flesh in strong sunlight (particularly not nipples - ouch and yuck).
I really don't think this is a political issue, though (aside from obvious re. personal choice, social norms, etc.)

I actually don't see why women consider criticism of other women's aesthetic/personal style choices as a valid issue for 'feminist' debate. I think that that's quite regressive and potentially destructive.

TheFidgetySheep Tue 11-Oct-11 21:37:12

Bit of a practical issue for me. I have huge boobs so very rarely go unsupported, even in bed!

I have no problem with topless sunbathing if a woman wants to, but hate the idea of topless pics in newspapers.

Dh would never go topless unless on beach or in garden so we are consistent. And then I remember swim shorts vs a swimsuit!

messyisthenewtidy Tue 11-Oct-11 22:37:00

Everyone should just wear what they feel comfortable in and NEVER be judged for it.

Currently dress is a language that is cultural and therefore is open to many interpretations.

Some cultures tell women they should cover up to avoid being seen as a sex object, some tell women they should show everything in order to be sexually attractive. The only constant is that women are seen as sexual objects. Once that is stopped then women will be free to wear whatever they want to.

confidence Tue 11-Oct-11 22:43:35

After all, men have breasts too

Aye, I certainly do. Unfortunately, noone seems terribly keen when I show them off though. grin

Have to agree with Malifience and Tchootnika. The idea that showing off one's body mean one must be worried about the weakness of one's mind or personality is an obvious false dichotomy. There's absolutely no reason why one can't be strong, attractive and confident in both respects and happy to show it.

nailak Tue 11-Oct-11 22:47:01

So how do you stop women being viewed as sex objects?

And those who believe society needs to change their attitude towards bare breasts, how would we go about that?

confidence Tue 11-Oct-11 23:31:57

Well one way might be to just show them all the time, until they lose their mystery.

I remember seeing a nature documentary about a tribe in Africa who lived in extremely high, large and complex tree houses. They had the most incredible building technique and would erect these things hundreds of feet up some trees and then the whole tribe would move in.

The significance of the tree house thing is that when it was completed, all the men would have to climb up the ladder first, followed by the women, so that the men couldn't look up their skirts.

BUT throughout the entire film, all the women were walking around with bare breasts and nobody batting an eyelid. It's like they didn't even register as a sexual thing. Funny just how cultural these things are - they clearly had a concept of sexual modesty about genitals just like ours, but no concept at all of including breasts within it.

Might be a bit cold in merry old England though. hmm

TeiTetua Wed 12-Oct-11 00:49:46

One thing I've noticed is that when women going topless is presented as an issue of equality, it's amazing how many male feminists there are.

piprabbit Wed 12-Oct-11 01:04:14

TBH being topless sounds horribly uncomfortable - I need a nice comfy bra to provide some much need support. I wouldn't be comfortable with them dragging around, knocking into stuff.

I would be concerned that if the only topless females being regularly seen in public had a small, neat, matching pair of breasts - this would lead to even more unreasonable expectations about what 'normal' breasts looks like.

nailak Wed 12-Oct-11 12:46:00

confidence, so basically you would encourage people to go around bear breasted, even if they felt uncomfortable, for the sake of society and the cause?

margerykemp Wed 12-Oct-11 13:57:14

I think we, as a society,, need to desexualise breasts. Necks are an erogenous zone but we dont cover them.

bemybebe Wed 12-Oct-11 14:11:23

"I think we, as a society,, need to desexualise breasts."
Breasts are a massive business from sexy lingerie to plastic surgery to page3. I do not believe for one second that any of the agents who make money on the back of sexualisation of female breasts would allow any threat to their revenues.

rosy71 Wed 12-Oct-11 14:15:50

Isn't it a bit cold here to be going around topless, whether male or female?????

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