Rain puts damper on New Hampshire topless beach protest

Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:10am EDT
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By Ted Siefer

HAMPTON, N.H. (Reuters) - Rainy weather put a damper on a plan for hundreds of women to shed their tops at a popular New Hampshire beach on Sunday in a statement for gender equality, with only two or three dozen showing up.

More than 1,300 people had indicated they would attend the event at Hampton Beach. The gathering was inspired by "Free the Nipple," a 2014 documentary and a national movement that its proponents say seeks to "stand against female oppression and censorship."

The Hampton Beach gathering coincided with "Go Topless Day," which is loosely observed in the United States and elsewhere.

In New York, male and female topless activists walked through midtown Manhattan to advocate for women having the same right as do men to go bare-chested in public. One woman had the words "Equal Rights" in yellow across her chest.

In New Hampshire, amid a persistent drizzle, women gathered on a covered stage on the boardwalk, drawing attention and ogling from visitors to the strip of hotels, souvenir shops, bars, arcades and casinos.

Jessica Wardell said she took part to help make toplessness, and especially breast-feeding, more socially acceptable.

"The main problem people have with breast-feeding is they sexualize breasts, so it offends them," said Wardell, 28. "If we could make them less taboo, breast-feeding would be much more acceptable in society."

Most spectators were men, many wielding cellphone cameras, while some female onlookers said the demonstration was not appropriate given the families and children on the boardwalk.   Continued...

Topless activists pose for photographs for onlookers during a "Free the Nipple" demonstration in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire August 23, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder