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CHICAGO (WBBM) – What would the Chicago Air & Water Show be without a topless protest? Men go topless all the time. So why not women? That was the message of a protest Sunday at North Avenue Beach, as a group of women fought for the right to bare their breasts.
WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports that at noon Sunday, in the middle of the Air and Water Show, a group of women took off their shirts and exposed their breasts for National Go Topless Day.
Several held signs reading “Equal topless rights for all or none. Women’s breasts are family friendly.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
Diane Brisebois, spokeswoman for the organizers of Sunday’s protest, wears a pin-striped suit during the week, but on Sunday, all she was wearing was a white skirt, fluffy white angel wings and strategically-placed daisies on her chest.
“If we are successful, women and men will have the same right to be topless on the beach,” she said.
As part of the protest, men with the group wore bras or bikini tops, instead of going topless.
“This is to demonstrate the support. We want to show that if men can be topless, women should be allowed, too,” Brisebois too. “And if women have to wear bikini tops, then in support men today are wearing bikini tops … to demonstrate that.”
Although the women were technically going topless, police weren’t making any arrests at the protest, as the women had all strategically painted over their chests just enough to stay within the law.
Going topless is not illegal for women everywhere in the country. The State of New York, for example, permits women to go topless in public areas.
But Chicago does not.
Under the city’s Municipal Code, it is illegal to “appear, bathe, sunbathe, walk or be in any public park, playground, beach or the waters adjacent thereto, or any school facility and the area adjacent thereto, or any municipal building and the areas adjacent thereto, or any public way within the City of Chicago” exposing “any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof of any female person.”
“The police came earlier, they know us, we’ve been here for the past four years and they always support us,” Brisebois said. “We are not doing anything that is illegal. We’ve covered our breasts from the nipple down and, therefore, we’re perfectly legal. But we also want to show that, if men can go on the beach without wearing paint, why can’t women?”
The protest event, which is now in its fourth year, proclaims that women have a constitutional right to go topless in public. It encourages equal opportunity by urging women to bare their breasts, and for bare-chested men to cover up with bikinis or bras.
Organizers say men should be legally required to cover up their chests as long as women are.
In Chicago, the prescribed penalty for indecent exposure – of the female breasts, or of the male or female buttocks or genitals – is a fine of $100 to $500.