Yes, Ladies, You Can Walk Around the City Topless
Yesterday, we reported that a woman was spotted strolling the Bowery topless. Yes, full-on topless, no bra, no shirt, just boob. Two of them. One photo suggests that the woman was getting a ticket from two cops, but some of you commenters pointed out that this lady had every right to be beating the heat in the buff.
We emailed NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne our original post, asking whether or not this woman was breaking the law. He replied:
The state's highest court established long ago that women have the same right as men to appear topless in public. Absent a link to some commercial enterprise or promotion, the woman's lack of certain attire in this instance does not appear to be a police matter.
Browne added in a later email that there was no evidence that he was aware of to suggest that the woman was in fact ticketed. Topless Bowery lady, get in touch, we want to hear your story!
A woman's right to go topless in New York has a long history. The defendants in the 1992 case People v. Ramona Santorelli and Mary Lou Schloss were arrested along with five others in a Rochester park for violating a law which prohibited women from showing "that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola." (Areola = coloring around the nipple). Santorelli and Schloss argued that the law was "discriminatory on its face since it defines 'private or intimate parts' of a woman's but not a man's body as including a specific part of the breast." The New York Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the two women.
More than 10 years later, Jill Coccaro was arrested in 2005 on Delancey Street for going topless, but sued the city and received $29,000 in a settlement.
So ladies, it's a scorcher out there, feel free to bare it all on top, and if you want some solidarity, August 21 is National Go-Topless Day. But remember this other handy comment on our earlier story: "Honestly, I find it much cooler to wear a T-shirt because the cotton absorbs the stickiness." Noted!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.