Missouri is the “show me state” and one group of Springfield residents has done just that. On August 7, around 70 people gathered in downtown Springfield for a “Free the Nipple” rally, protesting female inequality and drawing attention to societal double standards concerning women. Some of the women protested topless, but none broke the city ordinance that requires women to have their nipples covered with “a fully opaque covering.” In fact, according to the News-Leader, City Manager Greg Burris said that police reported that there were not “really any problems with the event at all.”
Of course, the fact that everyone followed the law and exercised their right to peaceable assembly hasn’t stopped local conservatives from completely freaking out. Apparently, they were not aware that the law allowed women so much freedom of expression.
City Councilman and holier-than-thou douchebag Justin Burnett is now calling for “an enhanced indecent exposure ordinance” to prevent all those uppity women from exercising their free speech rights. Burnett feels that the rally was “irresponsible” and wants everyone to think of the children. He wrote on Facebook that, “Protesting is a right; subjecting the most vulnerable in society to nudity is not.” He even went so far as to tell the local paper that there were “known sexual predators recognized at the event” – an unfounded claim – and compared the rally to showing children pornography. Let me translate Burnett’s true meaning: “I’m pissed off that people are expressing themselves in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable, so I’m going to fabricate some nonsense to scare everyone into supporting my moral crusade.”
And it seems that Burnett’s Chicken Little tactics are working. A counter group calling themselves “Springfield residents against Indecent Exposure!” has formed on Facebook and plans to perform counter-demonstrations as any future Free the Nipple rallies. Unfortunately, I can’t post a link to their site because they blocked me, but not before I took plenty of screenshots.The groups describes themselves – sans punctuation – as “ a group of community members in favor of changing the Springfield Indecent Exposure ordinance to ban all public nudity including going topless which is legal under the current ordinance.”
One group member lamented, “The council is notorious for ignoring the Christian perspective.” During their political strategizing, it was suggested that “taking the religious route probably won’t work” and they will need a more nuanced approach. Hilariously, the group leader – Jennifer – suggested that they try to argue that men’s nipples are sexual because “Magic Mike broke records at the box office. So even if it is normal it is still seen as sexual.” I will give up being an atheist and immediately pledge my life to Jesus if they actually say that out loud in City Council chambers.
Others argued that since “we remove the ten commandments from courthouses, buildings and schools because someone might be offended” that their offense to the topless protesters “is no different.” Of course, that isn’t the same thing. If we use the Ten Commandments as an analogy, the Indecent Exposure group in this scenario is the Ten Commandments; they want their worldview endorsed and enforced by the government.
Unsurprisingly, the anti-Free the Nipple nutcases completely miss the point of the entire movement to begin with. As Free the Nipple rally organizer Alyssa told me, detractors, “think we’re just wanting to walk around with our titties out.”
One of the Indecent Exposure group members chastised a man who supports Free the Nipple, writing, “A man who wants to see boobs will do anything to sound like an advocate and champion of women’s rights.”
It’s interesting – to say the least – that Free the Nipple detractors cannot grasp the concept that this is about equality. They boil everything down to sexuality, assuming every supportive woman is a slut and every supportive man is a pervert. With so much sex on the brain, it makes you wonder if it isn’t the Indecent Exposure group who are the actual perverts or, at the very least, extremely repressed.
[Image: Justin Burnett / Facebook photo]