Lose the Tops, Girls

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It hasn't been a good week for swimming pools here in the US, but in Sweden, they've been doing substantially better lately. The third largest city in Sweden, Malmö, has recently decided that if the men don't have to wear tops while bathing, neither do the women.

Chair of sports, Bengt Forsberg is quoted as saying, "We don't define what bathing suits men should wear so it doesn't make much sense to do it for women. And besides, it's not unusual for men to have large breasts that resemble women's breasts." Indeed.

The fact that a woman's chest must be covered at all times, it seems to me, needlessly marks her body as both sexual and taboo in a manner not enacted on the body of men. I'm not advocating for nudity here. (Although I'm not necessarily advocating against it, either, but that's not the point.) I'm merely agreeing with the official of Malmö, if it's not the law for one of the sexes, it shouldn't be the law for the other. Of course, the puritanical leanings of our society would probably shame most women into keeping covered even if we did strike the law from the books. But I think many of us believe that body-shaming in any form is reprehensible.
Continually signaling to women that their bodies somehow deserved to be covered in ways men's don't, that their bodies are shameful and unfit for normal public consumption is one reason why the female form is so easily over-sexualized in today's pop culture. Keep your body under wraps in order to function in polite society, or display yourself and be a whore (albeit a desirable whore). There seems to be no space in our culture for women to exist happily and comfortably in their bodies without choosing sides. So grab your towel, I'm ready for Sweden.


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