New York City Cracks Down On Female Nudity

New York City’s battle against bare breasts is reaching a fever pitch. Despite the fact that being topless — and soliciting tips for being topless — is completely legal in the city, Mayor de Blasio has declared war on the topless women of Times Square. With the creation of a “Task Force To Curb Topless Individuals” helmed by Police Commissioner Bratton and City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod, de Blasio seems committed to a heightened NYPD presence in Times Square. It looks like lately the biggest struggle for New York City police is making women keep their shirts on.

While de Blasio conceded that there’s First Amendment protection for individuals who go topless and paint themselves — saying “it makes no sense, but I understand that is a First Amendment protection” at a press conference earlier this week — there’s recent evidence that maybe the NYPD need a little reminder about freedom of speech.

Last Wednesday, three women who go often go topless and painted in Times Square reported that around 9:00pm their clothes were taken by the police while they went to the bathroom as their assistant — who paints the women, makes snack runs, and protects their tips — was arrested. Subsequently, the women had to walk nine blocks in robes to the Midtown South Precinct where they were separated and questioned by police without ever being formally arrested.

Ironically, many cite this movement against topless women as being for the safety of the women themselves. The Mayor, Governor Cuomo, and some news sources have implied that they think these women are being pimped out by male handlers against their will. However, the performers themselves find this characterization insulting.

“A woman’s body is always going to be commercialized,” said Sairi Nicole, one of the performers detained by the police last Wednesday, in an interview with the Gothamist. “But as soon as a woman takes control and says I’m going to commercialize myself, that’s a problem.”

New York City’s elected officials having a war on breasts is especially enraging considering that culturally New York City seems to be on the cutting edge of the #FreeTheNipple movement. There’s 37 states where a woman being topless is illegal and New York isn’t one of them. There’s no real legal basis for de Blasio’s crackdown, just a discomfort with naked women being in public and making some money. It’s nice to see our elected officials be so dedicated to harassing women for something that’s entirely legal.

C’mon New York, let’s not be the Instagram of cities! Censoring women’s bodies is never cool.

Photo via Hilary Swift and The Denver Post

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