Squeeze box


They seemed to be everywhere today, ‘dem pesky breasts. They were out and about, flying free, fighting for women’s equality in the USA yesterday. And then today, a Labour MP tweeted the letter she received from a voter, outraged over her lascivious cleavage on a TV interview. It was all too much for a Monday morning. Too much the same as it ever was.

So it was the seventh international Go Topless Day yesterday. Or at least it was in seven American cities, where women marched to complain about inequality in the law for toplessness. I didn’t notice anyone out and about in the scud on my travels around here. There would be few folk finding it hot enough to go topless on a Scottish beach.

It seems the battle doesn’t just concern the beach, but the streets of the city too, where men can go about shirtless in the summer if they please. Or indeed the winter, but that would be most foolish. Women cannot, in some of the places, so yes, there is an inequality in the law. But couldn’t they think of anything more important to take to the streets over?

It’s true that I am on record as being suspicious of these ‘get your kit off to be empowered’ type movements. It’s mainly an excuse for young people or narcissists to indulge themselves and to get a ton of free publicity. After all, what newspaper can resist the lure of putting up a tit shot, under the guise of a legitimate story? And you don’t see many older women swinging their baps at these events. Here’s a sample pic of the demographic from an article:

o-GO-TOPLESS-DAY-570 (2)

I don’t judge these women too harshly. They are just young and annoying, enjoying the feeling of excitement, of getting involved in a campaign, and the danger element of walking around topless. It will make a great shot to show the grandkids one day. Once upon a time you were a rebel.

They will also be enjoying the feeling of the breeze on their naked skin, something we women lose as we grow up, unless we bare a bit more than usual on some far flung beach. Something men get to do if they want. It really isn’t fair. But it is the way it is.

Newsflash: heterosexual men like women’s breasts. Some fetishize them more than others, but essentially they all like them. And no matter how right on they are with the whole breastfeeding thing, they still see them as sexual objects. As do some of the men out there ‘supporting’ the women, which is why they’re there. Even the woman who organised it knows it. And weirdly, the organisers are people who believe we were created by aliens and want us to buy their book, that will reveal the secrets of the universe. Secret number one: men like looking at breasts.

And that’s the problem with these boob led protests. If people are staring at your tits, they’re not really listening to what you’re saying. Good for situations like getting someone to write you a large cheque, not so good for political protests. And women know that. We might not like it, but we know it. So we work within that context, which means that if you get your baps out, the point of your message might be lost to many.

My other example of this mammary menace was, on the contrary, not getting anything out, but was simply wearing her clothes on a TV programme. I now can’t find any links to this, but the MP had a tiny bit of cleavage on display and received a letter cursing her for her shameful scarlet behaviour and lustful ways. The writer gave only initials, but it makes me think of an elderly JR Hartley type, foaming at the mouth with the indecency of it all, while staring desperately at her bosom. I guess it could have been a frustrated old woman of the Mary Whitehouse variety, but I think the former more likely.

Either way, it’s a classic example of why the Go Topless campaigners are onto a loser. There are ways that things could change in the future: I have come up with two. The first is that all male children are fitted with some kind of breast repellent microchip (or possibly app, who knows?) in early childhood before they have their first memorable sexual thought.

The second possibility goes back to the aliens. What if, before we completely destroyed the earth, an intelligent life force out there took pity on earth? Blasted us misshapen humans all to kingdom come and replaced us as tenants of the planet, with homogenous creatures: same colour and shape, only difference being reproductive organs. No tits. No black and white. The chance for ‘people’ to be seen as equals.

Perhaps. If the human drive for power was eliminated. The kind that relies on keeping other people away from it, propelled by self-interest. It not, we would find other things to replace sexism and racism. Maybe we would end up fetishizing nubbins, or tentacle size and quality. If we were anything like humans, we would think of something.

In some ways, I don’t blame men. Breasts are lovely. But they’re just flesh, and not important. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman unable to talk to a man without staring at his ass or his lunchbox. But most women will have had at least one conversation with a man who spoke entirely to her chest.

I digress. Just as I wouldn’t take a man wearing nowt but a loincloth too seriously as a political force, I don’t listen much to these crazy, alien-loving young ‘uns with their boobs in the air. In a sexless, alien utopia I might walk around naked with no thought for perception or safety. Other than that, I’ll save it for a trip to a remote island.

Despite this, I hate the hypocrisy about women’s participation in the world. It comes with so many conditions attached that are not applied to men. Thankfully we are all subject to social norms around clothing. Jeremy Paxman would have caused a stir if he had appeared on Newsnight in a mankini.

Until next time,


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