Nudity in public (and breastfeeding) is not just a civil rights issue – it’s also a reproductive rights’ issue

by jovan1984

If reproductive rights activists really want equal rights, the civil rights of nudists like George Davis and breastfeeding mothers must also be on their reproductive justice agenda. Even in 2015, nudists are being denied their civil rights (similar to sex workers) in some jurisdictions, while breastfeeding mothers are being harassed by citizens in others.

In recent years, sex workers, transgender people and African-Americans successfully convinced reproductive rights activists that their right to live without fear or harassment from cops is an issue they need to work on.

However, reproductive rights activists still have two lingering groups of people that they really need to be paying attention to: nudists/naturists and breastfeeding mothers.

Like the three groups mentioned in the opening paragraph, nudists are also harassed and arrested for doing nothing wrong.  Like sex workers, nudists are also denied of their civil rights.  And, like all three groups mentioned in the first paragraph, both nudists and breastfeeding mothers alike are harassed by ignorant citizens daily just for exercising their legal rights in public.

Below the fold, we will post more about these two groups of people.  We’ll begin alphabetically, with breastfeeding mothers and why their rights are a reproductive justice issue.


The first of the new and emerging reproductive rights’ issues we will tackle is breastfeeding.  Elizabeth Grattan posted about this two months ago, and this will be the basis of almost the entirety of this segment.

And it isn’t just the breast milk that produces inside of a woman’s breast.  Breast milk grows inside of the woman’s breast (hence why some women have large titties).


As mentioned in the previous paragraph, growth is essential when talking about reproductive health issues.  And since breasts, penises and vaginas develop and grow, nudity in public is also emerging not only as a big civil rights issues, but also as one of the biggest reproductive rights issues we have to face.

For far too long, we have not been talking about public nudity in the correct manner.  We’re not talking about it from the narrative we should be.

Raw truth: nudity is 100% a reproductive rights and reproductive justice issue.  All day long.  All the time.  It’s not about clothing or even what is the best or healthiest choices for nudists.

That’s why whether it’s in Topeka or New York, it’s a little intellectually dishonest to frame the discussion of nudity in public only as wanting the best for nudists.  That’s irrelevant.

Because wanting to be topless (if you’re a woman) or naked in public is not the argument for making public nudity legal everywhere.  Reproductive freedom and reproductive justice are.

Quite simply: Nudity in public might very well be a decision people are making for a variety of reasons (nutrition and mental illness recovery notwithstanding), but being a nudist is not a choice.

From contraception to abortion, the rights for women to make healthcare decisions over their own bodies are fought constantly. Why hasn’t public nudity and female toplessness taken priority?  Why?

As of now (until the Supreme Court officially hands down its ruling on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act), discrimination against clothed and topless men and pregnant people are illegal.  While it ought to be a no brainer that being in a state of nudity in public should be included under “reproductive rights”, because of the way we’ve framed the discussion on public nudity as a ‘choice’ and not as something natural, far too many employers, businesses, police deputies and judges are able to dismiss legitimate violations of this law based on nothing short of ignorance about public nudity.

Unfortunately, the public doesn’t really seem to care that much that people’s civil rights to be naked in public are being violated. Go figure. In a society that condones inadequate laws that are tantamount to government surveillance of women, it shouldn’t be surprising that discrimination against law-abiding nudists is still a valued norm.

The civil rights of people to be naked in public shall not be infringed upon.

These are just incidents of illegal arrests of people simply for being legally naked in public that have been reported since 2013, and there are many more not posted on here.  Some of these arrests are especially egregious, considering that Wal-Mart has long allowed for people to be in clearly indecent clothing.

All 50 states currently provide exceptions from state indecency laws for breastfeeding women in some way. (Jovan Note: Only three states allow for nudity all the time, which is the same number that only allows nudity for breastfeeding.  The other 44 states sometimes allow public nudity on state-owned property or in some jurisdictions.)  Exceptions to indecency laws are 100% unnecessary and exemptions don’t help the causes of breastfeeding or nudity at all.

The simplest, most consistent, most equitable solution is, of course, the Naturist Action Committee, Topfreedom and #FreeTheNipple. Basically, these movements not only demand the civil right to be naked in public, they also demand equality in the law for women and men. Both have genitals and breasts, therefore, no separate treatment should be given to one class of citizen.  Laws requiring men to cover up their penises and/or women cover their nipples in public are discriminatory and are being challenged across the nation as unconstitutional.

Bottom line is this: there is absolutely, positively no excuse for treating nudists (and all other naked people) as second class citizens.  Nothing in the living document gives people a right to not to be offended in the public square by what they see.  People do have an absolute right to bare their genitals and anus in public – and in the case of women, their breasts – and children do a have a right to eat.

So yeah.  We need to do this: we need to change the narrative diametrically and keep both public nudity and breastfeeding framed as the reproductive rights discussions it should be.  So that every conversation can rest on the one golden rule that it is a person’s right to use their reproductive system by all means necessary.