Tuesday November 2, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- It is among the more unusual questions on a ballot in Massachusetts: The right for women to go without a shirt the same way men can.

And on an election day when the temperature hovered in the low- to mid-40s, a good number of Pittsfield voters exiting their polling places were not in a mood to approve the measure.

"I think it was a complete waste of time for most people," said Jim Watroba of Pittsfield. "They're not doing this anywhere in public."

The non-binding question, which was only on the ballot in the 3rd Berkshire District in Pittsfield, was to push the district's state representative to introduce legislation amending the state's definition of nudity.

Under the proposed redefinition, "females of any age may be unclothed from the waist up in public anywhere males may be, including in print and on film."

Polls closed at 8 p.m., and results were not in yet on the question.

Katherine Gundelfinger of Pittsfield, who spearheaded the signatures to get the nudity question on the ballot, declined to comment on Election Day.

Gundelfinger had previously issued a petition to designate a portion of Burbank Park at Onota Lake for topless sunbathing in 2007, which was defeated by a 9-2 City Council vote.

Two years later, many other voters expressed their vehement lack of support for idea.

"Absolutely not, I voted no," said Denise Yon of Pittsfield. "I have a 12-year-old daughter. Clearly, the vote is no. And I asked everyone around me, and they said no, too."

Mark Jester of Pittsfield said "to be honest, I haven't taken a lot of stock in the question, because it's a non-binding referendum."

Jester's wife, Michelle, shared her thoughts about the question. "All I can think of is your daughters," she told her husband. "Would you want them to be walking down the street topless?"

Linda Rost of Pittsfield said that the question was so broadly worded that it was destined to fail.

"I think the intent was to have areas, to have beaches, where people could do it if they wished," Rost said. "But that's not the way [the question] was worded."

Her husband, Darrel, agreed.

"As provincial as Massachusetts is, and as provincial as Pittsfield is, it would never pass," he said.