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Nipple Still Not Free in Berkeley

“It’s my right, it’s my body!” at the Berkeley City Council. Photo: City of Berkeley

“It’s my right, it’s my body,” exclaimed Gypsy Taub as she stripped naked at the end of the Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting in protest of the city’s oppressive and sexist “nipple ban”. Berkeley’s anti-nudity ordinance, which dates from 1993, forbids the bearing of female nipples in public while allowing those of men. Such gender-based disparities have been roundly denounced by public advocacy groups.

“Nudity doesn’t hurt anyone, so please give us body freedom it is our basic human right,” said the first speaker on the item at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Women’s breasts are seen as obscene, while men’s breasts are not,” said 16-Year-Old resident Ms. Gonzalez. “We have had this meaningless law that shames women for something that does absolutely no harm since the beginning of history.”

“Under California state law, women’s breasts are not criminalized, so why in Berkeley are they?” asked resident Simone Stevens. “Calling a women’s chest sexual and salacious is inane and sexual objectification.”

“How much longer will children be taught that their bodies are disgusting?” said Taub in her public comment. “Our young people grow up seeing breasts only in advertisements and porn. Most of those breasts are not even real.”

“If men’s nipples aren’t subject to sexualization, it is only fair that the same respect be granted to women,” said another woman.

But the resolution to Free The Nipple was promptly shot down as fellow council member Sophie Hahn attacked it in a long diatribe on Tuesday evening. Worthington had proposed amending the city’s Nudity Ordinance to treat both male and female nipple the same, that is, to allow them to be visible in public.

The call to amend the city’s nudity ordinance was made after residents had agitated for years to fix the gender disparity, which currently requires both male and female genitals to be covered in public and bans the public display of “any portion of the breast at or below the areola thereof of any female person.”

But the rest of the City Council balked.

“We have a lot of fake news, and I really question whether this might be a fake women’s movement,” said City Council member Sophie Hahn. “Men’s penises aren’t being liberated. I mean it, I think this is a double standard.”

“Somehow I had missed this particular issue as a top women’s issue,” said Hahn sarcastically.

“With all of the important things that we have to deal with as a council, as leaders of this city in a time of crisis, I just feel like we should not be wasting time on this item,” said City Council member Susan Wengraf.

The Berkeley City Council voted 7-1 to table Worthington’s motion to adopt Top-free Equality in the City of Berkeley. The resolution will be reviewed again at a future city council meeting.