Go Topless rally represents a fight for women’s equality

Peyton Rodgers 

Opinion Staff Writer

prodgers@unca.edu 

The future of women continues to grow. The people of Asheville helped make an impact when they gathered together in Pack Square on Women’s Equality Day for the ninth annual Go Topless rally. Many other U.S. cities hosted the event.

I am a supporter of the rally because it was created not only for the right of both men and women to go bare-chested in public places, but for all around equality between men and women. The women who came out to the rally were fighting to end wage gaps, gain better maternity leave and the simple fact that a woman can’t walk around topless in public places, but a man can.

LaDonna Allison, planner and spokesperson in Asheville for the Go Topless rally, organized the event in order to educate women on their rights.

Participants showing some skin in celebration.
Photo by Maxx Harvey

“This rally is about being treated as equally as a woman,” Allison said.

Allison wants to stop double standards between men and women and believes he Go Topless rally offers a great step in that direction since it gathers many people together. She hopes women will become more comfortable with themselves and become more confident.

Allison wants women to feel more liberated and to gain the freedom to make their own choices, no matter the circumstance.

A misunderstanding many people get from the rally is that the supporters are forcing women to be topless, but Allison stressed to everyone who attended, that the message is more than that. The message is not saying a woman has to face the world topless but is allowing her to have the choice if she desires to do so.  

Not all participants chose to be topless. Both men and women chose to stand by the topless women with pride, speak on behalf of all supporters who could not make it and come together as a community, which in itself is liberating.

This topic became so popular that some participants traveled from out-of-state to witness the rally.

Joyce Davis traveled from South Carolina to participate in the rally for her fifth year.

“I just think that we should have equal rights as a man,” Davis said.

Public breastfeeding remains a  controversial topic, but Davis supports it and believes women should be allowed to breastfeed in all locations without feeling ashamed.  

My favorite part of the rally were the children. Children held the hands of their mothers who stood for their rights and beliefs. This allows children to not only learn the importance of acceptance through witnessing all types of women standing together for the same cause but, teaches them to not sexualize a woman just because her breast are exposed.

Jamie Bratcher attended the rally with her son and daughter by her side.

“Women’s bodies are often seen as objects,” Bratcher said.  

Bratcher hopes for the normalization of women’s breast in public places, and supports the rally for all the women who feel frightened and sexualized.

By participating in the rally, Bratcher hopes for a safer environment for kids, transgender people and women.

Although the rally brought lots of women together empowering each other, it also attracted lots of gawkers, who stared at women’s chests and took pictures, sometimes without the acknowledgment of the woman being photographed.

This is exactly why the rally is an important matter: women don’t want to just be allowed to walk around bare-chested, but to be able to do so without the disruption of harassment.

Women shouldn’t have to prepare for violence. Women, constantly assaulted for not responding to inappropriate remarks made toward them, fuels the fear of being alone at certain times and places. Nobody should feel the need to carry pepper spray on their keychain or brass knuckles in their bag, but as long as women are sexualized and treated as less, the issue will continue.

Consuelo Perez, a sophomore mechatronics engineering major at UNC Asheville hopes to see more women in her field.

“We’re maybe one or two in the class and people expect less from us,” Perez said of being a woman in STEM.

           Perez believes that many people like to act as if men and women are equal, but then their actions prove otherwise.

“Some people may be threatened by women trying to get their rights, but we should honestly confront it and negotiate a way to be equal” Perez said.

The conversation is out there, are women and men equal? Personally, I believe no. It’s absurd to say both men and women have equal rights when women have had to fight for the right to vote, the right to proper health care, the right to serve our country and now the right to walk in public places bare-chested.

Some people say the fight for women to gain the ability to walk around topless is a cry for attention, but maybe that’s what is needed. Women need you to recognize the problems they face and not push them to the side. People want to be recognized as the individuals they are and not a set of breasts. We can say the world is a dangerous place until our voice runs out, but until something is done about it, there will never be a change. I support the Go Topless rally, because the rally is a fight for me.

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