Vote against nudity double standard

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We need to end the double standards in Massachusetts' nudity law. There should be parity and equality, but there is not. It should be the purpose of the law to recognize equal treatment as fundamental. Instead women are penalized and an equality liberty withheld; the freedom to walk, swim and sun without shirts, because of body shape.

For a long time in Massachusetts, there was no protection for moms who nursed their infants away from home. In fact, Massachusetts was one of the last states to afford any protection for breast-feeding mothers. And today, leave the baby off the breast a little too long without immediately covering herself and the mother faces possible arrest for indecent exposure.

Making matters worse, a 1988 amendment to the nudity statute rewrote it so that references to the "post-puberta" (post-puberty) breast were deleted. Now, an innocent photo of a pre-pubescent girl without a shirt could result in child pornography charges if a jury is able to be convinced that a simple portrait or family snapshot is really erotic.

This double standard is also unfair to teenagers. Right now, if a teen boy receives and shares an e-mail from a girl showing her own breast in a photo, he may be charged with possession of child pornography. But if a teen girl forwards an e-mail of a boy showing his breast, she faces no such consequence. Girls should have the same freedom to remove their shirts for the sun or for the camera without reproach. Instead, girls are made to feel dirty and immoral to expose the very same part of their bodies that boys do. This is not equal and it is not right. Equal treatment means the right to act equally, to play equally, and to dress equally, regardless of body shape.

Women walking publicly without shirts should be as acceptable as men walking this way. It should be as acceptable as women holding positions in all areas of the workplace, including the military. This fight is fundamentally about holding men and women as equals. People may react against equality, as did Gov. George Wallace in his 1963 "stand in the schoolhouse door" to stop racially integrated schools. But today, there is no one who would stand for segregation would even remotely be taken seriously .

On Nov. 2 in Pittsfield, vote for equality. Vote "to amend the state's definition of nudity so that no part of the female breast is included, and so that females of any age may be unclothed from the waist up in public anywhere males may be, including in print and on film." This is an important step in furthering equality between men and women.






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