Student brings topless campaign to Farmington

FARMINGTON — A bare-chested university coed handed out fliers last weekend announcing a march April 30 to expose the double standard between men and women and to point out it's legal for women to go topless in public.

Andrea Simoneau, 22, of Brooks, a University of Maine at Farmington senior, said she was inspired to create the Farmington First Topless March for Gender Equity, as listed on Facebook, after she and several friends participated in a similar walk April 3 in Portland.

"It was empowering and I figured I'd extend it to women in Farmington as well," she said Monday.

On Saturday morning, she distributed fliers in front of TD Bank at Main Street and Broadway, prompting several 911 calls, Farmington Police secretary Rachel Heseltine said.

“There's no law against being topless unless it impedes traffic safety,” she said.

The fliers announced the topless march from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday, April 30, starting at Meetinghouse Park on Main Street and going nearly half a mile to Abbott Park. It also notes that electrical tape will be provided for anyone who is shy.

Simoneau said she wants to accomplish two things: Let women know it's not illegal to go topless in the state of Maine; and "we're trying to help lift the social stigma of women going topless that men don't face, and expose the double standard."

"I've always been angered by the double standard. On a hot day I've wanted to strip off my shirt like men do," she said. "Women should be able to go topless everywhere that men can."

She said men are encouraged to march as long as it's not just to leer or be gross. As for cameras, she's working with the Portland march organizers to see how they handled pictures taken without consent but figures marchers will have to basically ignore it.

She said the catcalls and comments have to be ignored, she said, but police will protect marchers from any touching or threats.

"Ive already cleared it with police and they have been wonderful," she added.

She began advertising the march over the weekend because she felt the Portland march, which drew about three dozen participants, was not advertised well enough. She said some people were very offended by her topless advertising on the street corner, several called police, and still others were supportive.

"A few shouted mean things but that's to be expected. It's a very deeply ingrained social taboo," she said. 

However, it won't stop her from trying it again this Saturday. The aspiring political activist said she's hoping for change.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

Huh?

I repeat... huh?

Lisa Lindsay's picture

I'm going to march, too

I think I'll march (clothed) at the same time and my sign will say, "If you're going to march without a shirt on, please start using a gym." Ugh. That goes for the men, too. Please, just step away from the drive-thru and march yourselves right over to the UMF gym before showing us what you've got.

And at risk of being a broken record, it is normal and biologically correct for men to want to look at breasts. They are sexual--some of the time--and that's OK. They are not just for breastfeeding (which I have done and fully support anywhere, anytime).

Ultimately, I don't really care. I have nothing against women going topless, particularly at beaches, for example, but their reasoning behind the march is faulty.

 

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

FINALLY!!!!

Thankfully, there is someone who sees my ultimate point.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

A brief history

In the Beginning

For over 99 percent of known human existence our ancestors lived in communal nudity. Until loom technology emerged in Asia about 6,000 years ago, clothing wasn't an available option anywhere on the planet unless one was into fur, a bad choice for humid days.

All children grew up knowing exactly what others of their fellow species looked like. Modesty was presumably not a burning issue, and the notion that human bodies were obscene would never have been imagined. Unless taught otherwise, body acceptance was as natural as life and self acceptance.

Colonial Cover-ups

Social nudity is an old tradition in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to the 18th Century invasion of their tribal villages by Western Civilization's emissaries clad in military armor and clerical robes, the earliest Californians had lived unashamedly nude in this temperate, coastal climate for over 10,000 years.

Their sad experience was a familiar story of colonialism: that is, cultural genocide, including a compulsory cover-up of naked savages in the name of civilized modesty. Instilling body shame became an essential element in the conversion and control of native peoples.

The modus operandi was systematically repeated over four centuries in the Americas, Africa, Australia, the Pacific Islands and most of the rest of the world where clothing was and is climatically superfluous. Disregarding tropical discomfort, European colonial/religious authorities made wearing clothing the most visible sign of subservience to the new order. The Hawaiian mumu was one such fashionable result.

A Culture Shifts

Nudity was not always taboo in Europe, of course. Those prime contributors to Western Civilization, the ancient Greeks, found the nude human form both noble and artistically inspiring, competed nude in the Olympics for centuries, and sometimes even fought wars with nude combatants. Their cultural successors, the Romans, socialized nudity in their public baths, and nudity was often part of pagan ceremony and celebration throughout pre-Christian Europe.

Though early Christianity cleverly coopted key pagan holidays and myths to gain acceptance, it denounced the more flexible pagan attitudes about nudity, sexuality and the human body. Faithfully believing Jesus's Second Coming was imminent for many centuries after his crucifixion, early Christian leaders tended to be extreme ascetics who closed their doubting minds, rejected their sinful bodies and focused mostly on their spiritual hereafters. The "flesh" was seen as an evil temptation, especially if it was female.

Despite a lack of doctrinal support in the Gospels, this negative corporal attitude prevailed through various waxings and wanings for over a millennium after the Church succeeded the Roman Empire as the standard bearer of Western Civilization. If anything, the Protestants who later emerged were even more body repressive than the Catholics. Many of Europe's most radical religious sects were forced to emigrate to America, where their legacy lingers.

Old-fashioned beach  wear The "Body Taboo" peaked in influence and absurdity in the Victorian Age when even bare piano legs were considered risque in "polite society". By the end of the 19th Century European colonialism was winding down for lack of new, unplundered targets, and most of the accessible naked heathen still left alive had been clad to more modest standards.

At last civilized people seemed safe from the presumed moral danger of seeing a nude human body, including even one's own. Undressing in the dark was the norm, bathing was not especially encouraged, and s-e-x, also performed in the dark and never discussed, was only for procreation, never recreation. (No woman of good moral character would admit erotic pleasure from the act of love lest she be thought promiscuous.)

Nudity Returns

Early in the 20th Century social nudity began its first European comeback since Rome was sacked. An international body acceptance movement emerged to propose nudity in nature as a humanizing antidote to the repressive extremes of both puritanical Victorianism and urban industrialism.

Known as "Free Body Culture" in Germany, "Naturism" in most of Europe, and eventually "Nudism" as it reached American shores in the third decade, the movement's secular, idealistic philosophy included non-sexual social nudity, outdoor exercise, a healthy, non-alcoholic, usually vegetarian diet, and a spiritual bond with nature. Though it was not a religion and neither opposed nor promoted any religion, it provided a convenient symbolic target for many ambitious guardians of public morality, especially in the U.S., where nudity seemed indistinguishable from sexuality in the public mind.

Interrupted only by wars, the body acceptance movement spread very rapidly, especially in Europe, where it eventually devolved from the utopian to the mostly recreational as social nudity became more popular. A BBC documentary in the 1980's estimated that over 50 million Europeans enjoyed naturist holidays.

American tourists are often astonished by European body freedom. In less than a century Europe transformed from total suppression of nudity to a situation where many of the most popular beaches are clothing-optional, as are sections of certain urban parks, spas and resorts.

Frontal nudity, censored in America, is commonly shown on European television, while violence is much less often depicted than in the U.S. Nude destination resorts flourish in the warmest climates, and one of the largest holiday centers in the world, France's Cap d'Agde, is all nude, serving a capacity of over 40,000 in season.

America's Slower Transition

Body acceptance developments in The New World have lagged behind those in Europe. Private nudist clubs, parks and campgrounds first emerged in the 1930's facing nervous media ridicule, censorship and The Depression. Neither World War II nor the regressive 1950's gave the American movement much encouragement after its inauspicious debut, and early growth was glacial.

After finally winning the legal right to publish and mail innocuous nude photos in the late 1950's, nudist publications were swamped in the marketplace in the 1960's by an explosive growth of unrelated pornography with much more erotic images. Their magazines' commercial failure left the mostly family-oriented nudist clubs with few outreach channels besides word-of-mouth by an often secretive membership, and thus they generated few resources for growth and development.

Beach nudity, usually at remote or hard-to-reach sites, grew in popularity beginning in the 1960's. Black's Beach, a cliff-protected, clothing-optional mecca for nude sand-and-surf lovers near San Diego, has attracted over 10,000 participants on seasonal holidays during the following decades.

The Sexual Revolution and the addition of backyard swimming pools and hot tubs made discrete private nudity more sociable and normal through the 1970's. Polls in the 1980's found that although less than 20% of Americans had by then experienced coed social nudity, over 70% felt that designating clothing-optional beaches was an acceptable concept.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

F'n

Can't seem to keep obscenities out of your replies, can you?

Heather Costa's picture

I wonder if it ever occured

I wonder if it ever occured to them that modesty has a place in society too.  Stop being dumb and get an f'n life.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

Best to NOT question my morality.

This has NOTHING to do with morals & values. It pertains to prudish attitudes about nudity that we've been force fed for generations. No, women do not go topless in Europe other than at the beaches. Why? Out of a sense of propriety. It's not the time and place. And though Farmington is FAR from the right place, the fact is the laws ALLOW women to go topless in Maine. If it were otherwise, the state statutes would say so. Andrea is just standing up for her rights under Maine law. If it offends you and your children so much, I'd encourage you to stage a counter-protest. Otherwise you risk coming off as a hypocrite yourself.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

YOUR morality & values, perhaps.

Again, there you go assuming YOUR values & morality are the same as everyone else's. PLEASE keep your morality to yourself. If I wanted to have them force-fed to me, I'd ask. Nothing is more offensive than to have someone assume that they're on the 'right side' of the issue. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but the REAL issue is EQUAL RIGHTS. Maybe the answer is to make it illegal for men to bare their chests. Sounds pretty simple to me.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

I most certainly do.

And I teach him to think for himself and not just accept antiquated values and ideas because SOMEONE ELSE says so. He has suffered NO ILL EFFECTS from attending nude beaches. In fact, he has a HEALTHY attitude toward nudity, and doesn't understand why prudes like yourself see fit to demand that people behave the way YOU want them to.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

You are CLEARLY missing the point

Nudity, in and of itself, is NOT pornography. The natural body is, as our Creator intended, a good thing. We were not created with clothes, nor were the animals. And as I've written, there is a time and a place for everything. We should not, however, be forced to feel ashamed of our bodies because of someone else's ideals. (see article posted below) While a protest of this sort seems out of place to you, it would have little or no impact if enacted behind closed doors. The double standard has been with us for far too long. Breasts are not a sexual organ. Do we cover up the teats of a cow? Or a nursing dog? No, we SHOULD teach our children that breasts are for the feeding and nurturing of young children and nothing to be ashamed of. I agree that in public settings, genitals should NOT be exposed by male or female. GENITALS. Not breasts. Nothing is more wholesome than a mother breast-feeding her child. It is a natural thing. It was intended to be that way. Women should not be forced into being ashamed of feeding their child WHEREVER they are.

Yes, we have issues with sexual predators. They are dangerous to all of our children. They have also been around for much longer than you and I. What we should focus on is dealing with them and the problems they create more efficiently. Andrea's 'protest' only forces us to re-examine the way we view the female breast. In and of itself, it is no more harmful to view than a topless male. As for my comment about 'in-shape' people, it was meant to evoke a response. Perhaps if people viewed nudity as a benign thing, maybe we could chance the social perception of 'beauty' we've been force-fed for years thus helping to eliminate bulemia, poor self-image, and other such issues by realizing that fat or not, our bodies are ALL beautiful.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

Double standards and morals

First off, according to Maine statutes, it is only illegal to bare one's GENITALIA. Breasts are NOT genitalia, unless you subscribe to some ultra-conservative religious group. As for giving the U.S. a "bad name", keep in mind that there are HUNDREDS of nude or topless beaches throughout Europe. True, there is a time and place for public nudity. On the same note, there are MANY men who should ALWAYS keep their shirts on based on their lack of physical conditioning. The same applys to women. However, equal rights are meant to be exactly that... EQUAL.

Ladies, if you don't feel comfortable enough with your own body to go topless.... then don't. No one is forcing you. And for all others, if your panties are in such a bunch that the sight of breasts disgusts you, that's YOUR problem with YOUR OWN morality. Perhaps you should examine why you feel that way. Yup, it's because it's a TAUGHT behavior. From birth, children are NOT ashamed of their bodies. They are taugh to be by their uptight parents. So people, loosen up a bit. Your children, IF TAUGHT PROPERLY, will suffer no ill effects from seeing a topless woman. Certainly no more than seeing an obese, hairy guy going shirtless. Let's grow up people....

Heather Costa's picture

If it is legal for Andrea to

If it is legal for Andrea to walk around topless, why is she demonstrating in the first place?- That was the first thing that entered my mind!  

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

double standard

"if you go thru with this march you are not only putting yourself at risk, but you will also be putting all the other women at risk for stalkers and perverts." This is why Andrea needs to march.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

C'mon crankbait

At least spell 'hypocrite' correctly.

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Andrea is right on

The idea that women can't go topless in public is purely social prejudice. Its irrational and a double standard. If I can make it from work, I will be happy to join her.

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

Oh, and lest I forget...

America was founded by a group of what you would refer to as 'malcontents', people not happy with they way things were. What did they do? Protest! Fight for your rights Andrea!

Rodd St.Pierre's picture

Sarah

Keep in mind that one of England's premier newspapers runs a daily topless photo on Page 3 EVERY DAY. Not to mention the HUNDREDS of nude or topless beaches throughout Europe. Not exactly the fall of an empire.

Lynne Chick's picture

Maine State Law against public indecency

Sounds like the police and the student need to check on the Maine law against public indency.  Here's the link:                                                                http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/17-a/title17-Asec854.html

 's picture

Topless

Little Andrea-  No one is stopping you from going topless on a hot day.  Whip 'em out!  You are only another immature fool that wants to copy another vain broad that from her picture should be ashamed to be uncovered anywhere.  There are even some of us Male animals that should stay covered in public.  I hope your mother and father will be so proud of their little girl.  AND whats with  us being denied our right to photograph anything we wish.  Males should have the same rights as females with cameras.  Get over yourself!

Farmington

Maybe Andrea should return to the jungle. She could be right at home with some of the tribes. Farmington already has a reputation beyond liberal and many people avoid shopping there. I do not believe this action will help the local economy any. There will be onlookers but not the kind that buy goods. I wonder why Andrea hasn't checked out our nudist colonies or is it because she just wants the attention.

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