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Gender-specific nudity laws don't
make sense

Posted by Jesse Singal  October 15, 2010 12:16 PM

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In today's Globe there's a story about a nonbinding question on the ballot in the Third Berkshire District which would change the local legal definition of nudity:

In Katherine Gundelfinger’s view, women should have “equal access to sunshine.’’ That means being able to walk or bike shirtless through downtown, or bathe at Onota Lake wearing only a pair of bikini bottoms.

“Here I am, a grown woman, who can’t go for a swim and feel the sun on my chest and feel comfortable,’’ said Gundelfinger, 39.

Prompted by this “major resentment,’’ Gundelfinger said, she has collected the 200 signatures needed to pose what might be the state’s most unusual ballot question in the Nov. 2 election.

It's easy to giggle or make cheap jokes about something like this, but I'm genuinely curious: What's a legitimate argument as to why women shouldn't be able to wear whatever men can wear when out in public? It's obviously not enough to say that men would find it distracting if women went topless, or that traditionally womens' bodies have been seen in a different light than mens' — these shouldn't be the sorts of arguments the law relies upon (and many judges would scoff at them anyway).

So what argument are we left with?

tags nudity
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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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