COLUMBIA — Women in Missouri are encouraged to exercise their topless right this month at the Fifth Annual Go Topless Day, organized by the Go Topless movement.
The Go Topless organization is planning a topless rally from 1 to 3 p.m. August 26 in Peace Park. The event is part of a day of rallies around the nation to raise awareness about gender equality. The largest rally will take place in Washington D.C.
The event coincides with Women's Equality Day on Aug 26.
In a previous article from the Missourian, Sgt. Jill Schlude noted that Columbia has no ordinance against being topless but does have an ordinance prohibiting indecent exposure, but that applies only to genitalia.
“The right to go topless is not a moral or religious issue, it is strictly a constitutional one,” said Nadine Gary, president of Go Topless, which is based in Las Vegas.
The rally is also intended to challenge the way men are trained to see breasts in a sexual way, said Donna Newman, a spokesperson for the organization.
“Why such fear?” Newman said. “A breast isn’t going to jump off and attack you.”
Newman said that many women live in fear of going topless, and the rally is meant to educate them about that right.
Previous rallies have had a good turnout, Newman said, and she has had numerous women tell her they don’t have the guts to be topless in the rallies but they appreciate what the organization is doing.
There are no local organizers for the Columbia event yet, but Newman said she hopes women will connect with the issue and step up to be organizers.
The Columbia rally will include a march from Peace Park to downtown and then back, Gary said. Women who want to support the cause without going topless are also encouraged to do so, she said, and men are welcome to attend and take their tops off.
Past rallies have not encountered any difficulties or harassment said organizers. There have been no arrests made during any past rallies.
The idea of the Go Topless organization came from the prophet Raël, who is the founder of the Raëlism spiritualism movement. Raëlians believe that extraterrestrials created the human race and that they will return once earth has become peaceful. Raëlians try to usher in that peace.