Alex on going top free

15 Jan

Alex talks about her experiences going top free at festivals and in Manchester City Centre. We thought we would take this moment to point out this gallery of “normal” breasts; whilst we don’t agree with everything on the site, it can be a pretty useful resource. 

In early July, we had a heat wave.  I was at a festival in the beautiful Ribble valley and it was around 30 degrees C- a far cry from our usual weather in Lancashire!  Everyone was lounging around on the grass, soaking up the sun and naturally, a lot of people were shirtless. Wanting to enjoy the sun on my skin too, I took my top off, but within minutes I had security personnel telling me that I had to put my top back on or leave the festival.  The difference between me and the numerous other topless folk there?  They were all men and I am a woman.

When I went topless in the centre of Manchester while filming “My daughter the teenage nudist”, it took less than a minute for a police officer to come over and insist I put my top back on. He didn’t even seem to notice my topless male friend standing right next to me. In Michael Deacon’s review in the Telegraph he describes the policeman as “valiantly trying to maintain eye contact”; yes, how valiant of him to manage not to stare at my breasts, despite such a provocation on my part (can you hear me rolling my eyes?!)  He goes on to say that  “[w]hile Alex was admonishing the policeman for his sexism (walking around topless in public is “a freedom you’re denied as a woman”), a fully dressed man, brandishing a mobile phone, asked if it was OK to take a photograph of her. “No, it is not OK!” she snapped, clearly affronted…”  From Deacon’s tone, his implication is perfectly clear: if you get your tits out, what do you expect?

This response is so telling of our attitude to women’s bodies; by revealing my chest I am somehow inviting harassment, and if a man can manage not to ogle me, he should be applauded. Now I am not so naive or optimistic to have thought that my going topless was not going to get a reaction. I knew perfectly well what to expect. But that is exactly the point I was trying to highlight – a woman can expect to be sexualised, told she is being indecent, harassed or even arrested simply for possessing a woman’s body. The freedom I am angry about being denied is not the freedom to walk around Manchester city centre topless, it is the freedom from constant objectification, sexualisation and the male gaze.

Alex lounging in the sun at the festival with one male and one female friend. Alex is topless, with flowers in her hair, and the male friend has their shirt open. There are a few topless men in the background.


There is no excuse for this double standard – there is simply no good reason why a woman’s chest should be indecent in the same context in which a man’s is innocuous. At the festival, when I asked for a justification the first thing they said was “there are children here.” Yes, God forbid an innocent child should see a woman’s bare chest, they might… what, exactly? Be corrupted into thinking that a female nipple is no more obscene than a male one? See a woman enjoying the sunshine? But of course such a relaxed attitude to women’s bodies would be at odds with the cultural message they are receiving every day- that a woman’s body is a sexual object first and foremost. After gently suggesting that children couldn’t care less about a topless woman, the second explanation the festival security gave me was “there are teenage lads here and it will cause a commotion.” Like Michael Deacon, they felt that my breasts, and not the teenage boys themselves, would be responsible for any ensuing trouble; indeed men would be incapable of simply treating me as another human being rather than a sexual object once my nipples were visible.

It is worth noting that the issue is not having breasts, it is being a woman.  I have no doubt in my mind that a flat chested woman, or a woman who had undergone a double mastectomy, or a trans woman without breasts would face a similar challenge to being  topless in a public setting. I have no doubt that if an androgynous person were to go topless, the deciding question in whether or not to allow them would be- are they a woman? Indeed when the androgynous, male-bodied model Andrej Pejic appeared, arguably presented as female, topless on the cover of Dossier Journal, shops and newsstands placed the magazine on the top shelf or even covered it up. Pejic, as biologically male, does not have breasts, but when presented as female, the acceptable male chest becomes an unacceptable female one.

Yes, I knew exactly what to expect when I went shirtless in Manchester city centre, but how should you respond to a society that tells you your body is obscene because of your gender, other than by refusing to accept that? My suggestion to everyone, regardless of gender, is this: resist the objectification of women in your own thoughts and behaviours, turn off MTV, go topless in the sunshine (when you feel safe to do so), challenge sexism in any guise, think of your body as a vessel that allows you to experience the world and recognise that other people’s bodies do the same for them, they are not there for your titillation.

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151 Responses to “Alex on going top free”

  1. John C. Kirk January 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Thanks for posting that, it was interesting. I thought you came across very well in the documentary, although I was curious about why you didn’t want the photographer to take your picture. Was it just because you were busy (i.e. he was interrupting your conversation) or would you have refused before the policeman arrived? You’re certainly entitled to refuse; I’m just curious, so that I can understand your point of view a bit better.

    When the two teenage girls said that you weren’t the right choice to represent the campaign, I wonder whether they realised that you were doing it voluntarily (rather than being a paid model). Since this is obviously something that you believe in, it seems like a rather unfair form of reverse snobbery to say that you’re not allowed to strip off because you’re too attractive.

    • Alexandra Hill January 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      Thanks. Regarding the reaction of the two girls I was sympathetic to what they were saying; of course I will continue to take part in the body positive action but the import of the message is diluted unless we have a variety of shapes and sizes on show!

      As for the photographer, if he had subtly taken a photo without approaching me (after all, us + cop + filming crew was a bit of a spectacle) I wouldn’t have kicked up a fuss, but he was taking my toplessness as an invitation to approach me and leer over me, which it most certainly was not.

      • Hayden January 21, 2012 at 1:06 am #

        It’s still perfectly legal to take a photo of anything and anyone in a public place and there are very few exceptions to that rule. I found it a little odd that you would promote one freedom whilst denying another? I agree it was a little odd to come up like that but (I don’t mean to be offensive in any way) unfortunately young males are never going to stop seeing breasts in a sexual way…

      • radicalrabbit January 21, 2012 at 1:20 am #

        Personally I think the freedom from harassment trumps the freedom to approach someone, unsolicited, for a picture of their tits.

      • Hayden January 21, 2012 at 2:15 am #

        ‘Radicalrabbit’, obviously but that’s not my point. It’s his freedom to take a photo of what ever he likes in a public place, if you are topless in public then you can’t take offence if someone takes a photo no matter how tactless the photographer is. I know that guy was different but It’s common practice among photographers, mainly to get the subject on side, to ask permission before a photo is taken but it’s not the law.

      • John Tompkins January 21, 2012 at 11:51 am #

        Was he wanting to approach and leer or was giving you the common courtesy of asking your permission.

        I don’t know which – can you honestly say you do – did you ask?

        Or are you over reacting to an imagined slight that was never intended.

        How many women took your picture to show to their mates and/or partners?

        How many men took the picture so their mates and/or partners would believe there was a topless woman in the street.

        As a photographer myself (see, I ask permission if someone is likely to appear in my photos – not many in the wildlife shots. But a few months ago I was taking pictures of Kirby Muxlowe castle and I realised that (as luck would have it) a nice looking young woman had accidentally wandered into one side of my picture.

        I approached her apologised, showed her the photo and asked if she wanted me to delete it. She smiled, said “no that’s ok” and she thanked me for asking. I didn’t have to ask her but I felt it a courtesy to do so.

      • David Perrins January 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

        I agree with you that it was polite to ask if you should delete the photo. As an OAP with leisure time to spare, I would love to get out & about to do, for example, candid street photography. Having read however in the popular photographic mags the hassle bona fide photographers get from all & sundry, I’m somewhat put off.

      • John Tompkins January 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

        Hi Dave

        Don’t be put off lots of people take candids, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask afterwards – you never know they might want to buy a copy.

        Did I say btw I’m in Anstey, i looked in at the new Ulverscroft manor camera club on their first night but didn’t take to it. So I keep looking – I cant understand why most clubs ahut over the summer.

      • Alexandra Hill January 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

        It may be legal to take a photo in a public place but that doesn’t mean I can’t take offence! I support the law that upholds freedom to take photos in a public place; by analogy, I also support freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean I am required to not take offence to anything anyone says,

        And trust me, he certainly wasn’t asking in order to be polite, he was simply trying to get closer up to get a more explicit shot and have some interaction with me. By contrast, at the naked bike ride there were many photographers who were couteously asking if they could take photos and I happily gave my permission to all of them.

      • John Tompkins January 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

        Hi Alex

        Thanks for clearing that up, I’m glad it was like that and not an imagined slight.

        Well done for your handling of it. (sorry I hope this isn’t condescending)

  2. Nick Inthehat Harrison January 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Put realy well alex , i thought the photographer was rude ,

    john this week ann summers unvaled a winner of a comp , the lass that won is a size 16+ student and she looks pretty , but the comments make by others about her are just horrid , its just the way i think most brits are , moaners and haters , then we think i wish i tryed that now , shame we cant have a more open attatude here

    • Indre January 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      totally agree with you , Nick

    • John Tompkins January 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      Your impression is media driven and doesn’t fit the majority of the population. The media has to sensationalise things or they have very little to report.

      Even the program we are all discussing was sensationalised to some extent. It wouldn’t surprise me if the production crew had told the Police that she was there and he should do something about it.

      Otherwise, as she was doing no harm, he might have looked the other way.

      The majority of us didn’t know Ann Summers was running a competition – so we didn’t comment. But I wonder how many of those comments were from women, I may be wrong but I get the impression Ann Summers is for mainly women. I don’t know I don’t use sex shops.

      • radicalrabbit January 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

        Erm, I think we would have noticed if the cameraman went and told the police on us…

      • John Tompkins January 21, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

        Was there only a cameraman, what about it being arranged beforehand, or someone from his office?

        Even if it wasn’t, there are many provable examples of the press bulling things up to make more of a story.

        You can bet, as soon as naturism starts to become respectable, the media will find some reason to take against us and we’ll be fighting for our rights all over again.

      • radicalrabbit January 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

        It was a pretty spontaneous event – we hadnt planned on doing topless leafletting beforehand – the production company didnt know that was going to happen.

      • David Perrins January 22, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

        Don’t forget guys…International Go Topless Day: Sunday 08/26/2012!

  3. stefan002 January 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    I think it okay for a woman to go ‘topfree’ any where she like, just like a man can. If is 2012 now not 1812. The law in the UK is a ass

    • Alexandra Hill January 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

      I think lots of people agree with you Stefan- certainly at the festival most people were totally non-plussed, which was really refreshing. It’s just a shame that not everyone is so progressive.

    • Lee Farrow January 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      Hopefully Alex won’t mind me, as an older man, replying!!

      It isn’t the law that is the problem here it is people’s attitudes. Certainly in England and Wales it has never been illegal to be naked in public. in that respect the policeman in Manchester was 100% wrong. He can only act if a member of the public complains, from the programme it appeared no one so did he is well beyond his jurisdiction in asking Alex to put her top back on. his job is to enforce the law of the land and not to apply his personal prejudices.

      • John Tompkins January 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

        Nearly right Lee but the police officer can claim to be the offended person so creating the offence for which he/she will try to charge you for.

  4. Rob Jordan January 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Hi Alex – this is an extremely well-written riposte to the attitudes expressed by Michael Deacon (as well as the festival security and Manchester police). Have you considered submitting this article to the Telegraph or other national press?

    • Alexandra Hill January 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks. Submitting to the Telegaph had crossed my mind; perhaps I will have a look at how to do that.

  5. Sandra "Rivvy" Rosie January 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I agree so much with everything you’ve said here, and I’d kinda like to share a little bit of personal experience of this sort of…well, discrimination, really.

    I’ve never gone completely topless in public, although as I’m sure you noticed from my contributions to the site, it’s not a problem for me at home etc. my experiences are based on the reactions I’ve had to me breastfeeding my daughter, Ella, in public. i’ve had many people turn their noses up, scoff at me and mumble to themselves about it not being appropriate, even my own mum telling me I should cover up when I have to feed her so as not to offend people, and so that men can’t ogle my breasts while I’m feeding (in my opinion, that’s pretty hard to do when there’s a kid attached, but I guess I’m being to generous to those dirty creatures we call men, since they can’t even for two minutes keep their mind off sex *rolls eyes in sarcasm*).
    One time, I was riding the bus, feeding Ella, a woman and her friend got on the bus, sat behind me, and started to mumble (quite loudly actually) about how it wasn’t cold and I “didn’t need to be wrapped in that coat” (which was actually Ella’s sling, but that’s not so important). Her friend, at this point, pointed out that I was breastfeeding, and the woman’s mumblings turned into a very deliberate sermon, within my earshot, about how it’s not decent of me to do such a thing in public, I should be considering those around me. This is far from an isolated reaction, and I really felt enraged watching your interaction with the policeman, because it’s so commonplace to be objectified whatever you’re using your breasts for!

    I know breastfeeding is an issue in itself, but if we can’t accept a woman breastfeeding – the most natural and intended use for her breasts, a completely non-sexual activity, then how are we to deal with a woman simply wanting to relax without the confines of clothes?

    • Alexandra Hill January 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

      Thanks for sharing this Sandra and pointing out this aspect of the issue- I totally agree. It is ridiculous that even when a woman is feeding her child her breasts are sexualised and deemed indecent.

      Also ridiculous is the idea that men can’t take responsibility for their own response to a topless woman – most men are perfectly capable of being decent human beings. Women shouldn’t have to cover up to avoid ogling – men should stop doing it!

      • baryonyx January 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

        Alex, I would be careful about aiming the fault at men alone. Its a wider spectrum of interwoven faults as I’m certain you know.
        I have walked down the street and been stared at by men, ogled by women, wolf whistled at and called out to from passing cars as I walk down the street. My point is its not a male thing or a male trait. Additionally I think context is highly important.
        Sandra actually hits on a good point, with regards to social expectations. It’s often the fear of offence rather than a reality that leads to problems. Both in those who advocate covering up to prevent ogling and those who are suspected to be likely offended.

        Another example is as you described in your case with the festival security and the police. It seems it was out of fear of what might be rather than what is.

      • Hayden January 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

        People who have a problem with breastfeeding are misguided and stupid. It’s perfectly natural and I’m surprised anyone has a problem with it.

        It seems it is being made out to be unnatural for males to find breasts sexually attractive though? It’s genetically about as natural as breast feeding unfortunately. Even if a normal, respectful guy walked past you topless in the street and didn’t obviously ogle them then it would have been in his mind. It’s natural for guys to want to see attractive females and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

        It’s getting a bit close to saying the reason why people wear clothes is because it’s because it’s imposed upon women by men.

      • John Tompkins January 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

        Don’t forget that women will ogle men as well – I am reminded of the diet coke advert “diet coke break”, where the women gather to ogle a fit young man with his shirt off. This is well observed – I have seen women doing something similar.

        Inequality in action, that advert could not be run with men ogling a woman in similar circumstances.

        Part of the human DNA programs us to breed, but not only that it programs us to look for the member of the opposite sex who is likely to produce the best, fittest and strongest off-spring. The upshot of that is that Men will check out Women – but horror of horrors – Women will also check out Men.

        There is absolutely nothing wrong with this state of affairs, but where it goes wrong is when someone takes it so far that the person being checked out starts to feel uncomfortable about the attention. Stalking is the ultimate example of this behaviour and I seem to remember hearing that in Los Angeles there are more restraining orders against women than there are against men. I don’t know if this is repeated in the rest of the world.

        Now Alex you are into logic, What would be the logical reason for men to force women to cover up, when (according to feminists) their one reason to live is to get them clothes off and treat the inhabitants as sex objects?

        The feminist problem is that there were feminist fanatics who trotted out trite and unsupported maxims – which took the media imagination and today many feminists still trot them out without considering what they are actually saying and without finding out if they are true.

        The cover up brigade are generally the Religious lobby who misguidedly believe the bible exhorts them to wear clothes but there are as many incidences of nudity and support for nudity in the bible as there are insisting on covering up. Yes religion is in the control of men – but not all men – just a minority of fanatics and many of those men are in the control of “the little Harridan” indoors, who will make their life hell if they don’t do as they are told. (I have no religion, but I have studied the bible so I can put reasoned arguments to those that try to use it to control my beliefs – Know thine enemy).

        The indigenous peoples of the south sea islands, lived quite happily Naked until the missionaries interfered with their idyllic way of life. It wasn’t the men of the islands that covered their women (and themselves) it was the religious nuts.

        The Fact is the majority of men and women are perfectly reasonable people, who have never questioned their education and when it is explained to them why what was taught was, at best misguided, will whole heartedly support any righteous cause – even if they don’t strip off themselves.

  6. David Perrins January 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    This is how the Germans tolerate nakedness in their public parks…& when the sun gets too hot, they take a swim in the little river, but sometimes get carried by the current & surface in the city & have to return by tram! Will post further reply ASAP.

    • Indre January 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      is that common in all parts of Germany ? that’s brilliant!

      • David Perrins January 15, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

        German people certainly have fewer hangups about social nudity as the link here will confirm. It has been going on for more than a century & quickly became the accepted way to behave in certain situations like saunas etc.
        In the UK, nudist clubs like Spielplatz which began in 1929 followed the German tradition. Google it for more info.,1518,415516,00.html

  7. Hugh Dower January 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    When I was being interviewed on Radio York about the York Naked Bike Ride, and the issue of children came up, I said, “If there are any children out there who don’t know what naked adults look like, then it’s high time they did and we could be said to be performing a public service.”

  8. Fnurg January 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    More power to you. Non violent, peaceful and going about your business in an orderly way. We are becoming more repressed by a materialistic society. It is refreshing that you are prepared to stand up for your freedoms.

  9. Iain January 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Interesting and well considered post, Alex. I went to an talk once where the old sumptuary laws regulating people’s modes of dress (albeit class based rather than gender based) were mentioned. And, what you’re saying about one group in society not having the same freedoms as other groups when it comes to choices of clothing, or lack thereof, is pretty much exactly the same thing when it comes down to it.

    Not that I’m suggesting we all wear purple silk with sumptuous gold trim when it’s too cold or otherwise inappropriate to go topless or naked, but the point is we can, and that change can happen.

    Trying to educate people, though, you’re up against a bit of a monster on the part of Hollywood, the media and the rest of the internet I fear. Good luck!

  10. John Tompkins January 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    As a man who finds you very attractive (and this is important), It is hard to express this without being misunderstood. I agree with everything you have said, the right of all women to be allowed the same freedoms as men should go without saying.

    The reason why finding you attractive (clothed or unclothed) is important is that my wife and I have been a naturist for 35 plus years, although I am in love with her, find her very attractive and have a fulfilling love life, when we are nude in a naturist environment, we are never tempted to think of taking advantage of our nudity, even when we were younger and desperate for each other.

    The sexual side of nudity doesn’t enter our heads, we save that for when we are alone and in that mood. So seeing you in a nude environment makes me think in much the same way as any man would when seeing you clothed and out shopping etc. I am a hetro male so I don’t find men attractive, but I can think that a man is good looking (and in some cases wish I was that good looking) and in the same way I can think a woman good looking without seeing her as a sex object.

    I do know men who, if they had seen the program, would have made comments such as “cor look at that, I could give her one” it is impossible to educate that type. Although they usually prefer the Katie Price (blow up doll) type.

    The majority of men I know and women for that matter are more enlightened and while they wouldn’t go nude in public, they appreciate our right to do so if we want to and in particular agree that the playing field should be level for all.

    What I cant understand is, for whatever reason, most men and more than a few women seem to be happy with the idea of women being able to go topless in public – so where do these “offended” people come from.

    The law of sexual discrimination seems to support women’s rights to be equal to men so how does it become an offence to go topless. Even Nudity laws only restrict the exposure of genitals. But I’m no lawyer, perhaps some legal mind could explain this anomaly.

    Keep up the good work and best of luck

  11. rosie January 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Big thumbs up to you Alex for not getting flustered around the policeman and staying polite and unaggressive, he was obviously a little bit stumped! I used to live near Malmesbury Abbey gardens shown earlier in the documentary, we bought my grandma a season ticket for her birthday as the owners are always kicking back naked between the flowerbeds! keep up the good work!

  12. Vikki January 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    It makes me so angry how breasts have become so sexualised, men have made women ashamed of their bodies and if we don’t cover up then it is our fault because of course who should ever expect a man to be able to control himself? I think it would be one of the best ideas to specifically have topless women around children, hopefully this would encourage their generations to NOT be so hung up and breast obsessed.
    We now live in a society where a woman is punished and made to feel obscene for doing the most natural and important things a woman can do – breast feeding. Only yesterday I had an argument with some male collegues who were complaining about a woman who “got her tits out” heaven forbid to feed her hungry baby in a cafe, putting them off their food. Why should a woman be punished for who she is.
    When looking at tribes across the world, in warm climates the majority of woman, like men only wear clothing on their lower body, if any, and they seem happier and to have as stable a family, if not more so, than in our western “developed” society where depression and insecurities are rife.
    I may not have the confidence to do as you have, but I applaud it and any other action that promotes the rights of a woman to be a woman without persecution. If you have any advice or events that I could join in with on this subject I would really love to hear about them 🙂

    • John Tompkins January 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      Please understand not all men are guilty as you charge them.

      When you say ‘Men do this’ you are being sexist.

      Myself and many of my friends love natural women and feel that women should have the same choices as men without opposition.

      Be aware that there are as many (if not more) women that complain about naked breasts as there are men and the vast majority of complaints about social nudity come from women.

      As for the comments about children – they are often fed from the breast when young – why should they feel threatened by them a couple of years later – but it is usually women that use children as an excuse for curtailing women’s rights.

      I support all women’s rights to have the same freedoms as men and I do not appreciate being lumped in with those that don’t.

      For the sake of your own cause don’t alienate those that support you.

      • Sandra "Rivvy" Rosie January 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

        I’m 100% behind your comment, John. It’s too easy to start generalising the opposition to being all men, when it’s definitely not the case. In my own experience it’s been mainly women who’ve ever commented on me breastfeeding, mainly women that’ve been coaxed into being ashamed of themselves so much that they would rather pass that self loathing onto others, shaming them for doing something as natural as feeding their child (and heaven forbid you breastfeed past a year old!) or being comfortable with their own body.

      • Alex January 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

        I appreciate the good intentions of male allies, but consider reading (‘But I’m not like that’)

      • John Tompkins January 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

        Alex that makes very interesting reading and in some cases is applicable, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for a basic flawed hypothesis.
        Are you saying that your statement should not be criticised because you want to make a point and are using inaccuracies to make it.

        If you want to achieve your ends, start from a strong and truthful basis that no-one can deny any part of. Blaming men for a law that affects women is an unstable claim that could derail your argument particularly when you consider the imbalance of penalties for total nudity.

        Few women might have been involved in draughting the laws but how many lobbied for them?

        Take a street poll and find out which gender it is that is most opposed to your cause, I’m sure you will be surprised.

        I could never be considered a feminist, because I have always supported fairness and equality for all. Sometimes this agrees with the feminist cause and sometimes not. In this case it agrees with the protest but not the blame for its need.

  13. Janos Cortez January 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    Your right it is a double standard plus I think with currant european legislation its also illegal as it infringes on your human rights to be treated equally. If you had the motivation you could sue both the police and who ever ran that concert for sexual discrimination.

  14. Mike Calvert January 15, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    I very much agree with John above. Yes, as a male I find Alex very attractive indeed, but just because I do, does that mean I’d automatically be considered to be leering if I did more than glance her way?

    I think this goes both ways – men must of course behave and not treat women as sex objects, likewise I don’t feel that women should objectify men, or condem a man just because he thinks you are attractive.

    As to the law and the attitude of security at the festival, and the police in the city centre, they do seem to have a whole load of decency laws, and ‘behaviour likely to cause a disturbance’ type laws to throw at you, but that is not their fault – it is the law makers who weild the power, and rightly or wrongly they view the exposure of the make and female upper torso quite differently. It is those lawmakers I think should be challenged, not the police, they can only work with the laws they are given.

    Oddly enough, when it comes to the sexual offence of displaying genitalia, it is much easier for men to commit that since ours are prominently displayed, unlike female genitalia which is, to be blunt, only visible with some difficulty…

    I am glad that people like you are bringing these issues to the fore though, as the constant sexualisation of pretty much everything in media and advertising is deeply unhealthy for the future of women’s rights, and I do genuinely fear for my daughter’s future in this country.

    • David Perrins January 15, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

      Mike, I agree with most of what you’ve written, however, although the law makers produce the laws, laws in themselves have to be interpreted, some thing the police are not very good at, especially the beat officers. I’m a semi-pro photographer & was almost arrested once in the middle of Leicester for, allegedly taking photos of shop security systems. Security staff as found in most shopping centres must be avoided at all costs for they get even less training than the police.
      I am not surprised at the action the beat bobby took over Alex’s nakedness, pity, it’s about time they understood particularly the laws governing breach of the peace.

      • John Tompkins January 15, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

        Hi David

        I avoid the shopping centres with my camera, particularly Highcross centre. Their security staff seem to have a God complex. No chance of nudes or topless females there, they’d be on you before your coat was off.

        I live just outside Leicester – see my blog ( I do regular wild life walks around Watermead, Sence Valley and Bradgate.

      • David Perrins January 15, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

        It’s a small world John, I live near Coalville & get out & about with my camera as much as possible, but a few probs with our solid fuel stove seem to taking up a lot of my time so fa this month. Almost blew it up today, had to shovel the coals outside!

        Will be in touch soon.

    • Rachel January 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      Personally (I am female), my genitalia is fairly obvious. Just sayin’

  15. John Tompkins January 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Thanks Mike and Rivvy

    I didn’t know if my clumsy attempts at explaining what I meant would be understood an taken in the right way.

    I should say that contrary to the media image of men – the first thing I look at in a woman is her eyes – they really are the windows of the soul.

  16. textilefreearea January 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    I was sorry that Alex was asked to cover up both in M’cr City Centre and at the festival in the Ribble Valley. On both occasions Alex would seem to be the only topless woman and was therefore an easy target. At the recent well publicised ‘naked bike ride’ day there were many topless (and indeed totally naked) women participating, all of whom seemed to avoid being told to cover their breasts by the police. The lesson seems to be… many breast= no problem, whereas one pair of breasts= total moral decline. I think Alex was very brave going it alone, not an easy thing to do!
    I would bet that if you got a group of say 30 women (preferably a mix of ages) and you all went sunbathing topless in the local park… or say all went to the baths and just used bikini bottoms… or say went for a topless walk along one of our beautiful canal tow paths (or a cycle ride) etc etc you would probably be OK from the police. I am sure there are thousands of women out there (with supportive husbands and boyfriends) who would support you. You wouldnt need many of these to turn up in support. It could be done. Have you checked out the American Top Freedom sites? America is even more backwards when we are in equal rights for topless women. If they can do it I am sure we can do it better

    • Alexandra Hill January 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      Next summer I would really like to get a mixed group of topless sunbathers together! Think there may well be safety in numbers.

      • Sandy Beach cat (@SandyBeachcat) January 30, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

        Had you seen the topless pulp fiction lot in NY?
        Also had you considered asking BN to write to your local police expressing concern about their officers misinterpretation of the law, in that actual non-sexual nudity is legal in England, never mind topfree. (I don’t think they share John P’s view on naturist support for topfreedom.) Then make topfree, a frequent part of any leafleting that you are doing, ideally with several participants of both genders?
        With a bit of luck they will soon get used to the idea, & leave you alone!

      • Alex January 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

        My daughter’s mother regularly sunbathes topless on UK beaches without any issue. Over a decade ago I was a little shocked when we visited a beach with some friends and the girlfriend undressed to only a bikini bottom (whether he being of German origin influences this I couldn’t say). With little hesitation my (then) girlfriend did too.
        I hadn’t given a thought to our friend undressing but was suprised at my own girlfriends boldness! After the initial undressing I didn’t give it any thought ~ as did nobody else on the beach.

  17. Carley January 16, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    I feel you attack male’s actions when their actions are a consequence of the same commercial structures you aim to oppose. I also believe your attempts of such opposition to be naive. please let me explain …

    If your hair was not so finely shaped, your pit hair remaining, you wore no accessories, and wore not fashionable well-fitted clothes then one could see some integrity against the recurring points of opposition to insecurity, to female subjugation from the profit and perpetuation of exploitation of insecurity, and anti-sexualisation in your article and presentation on the documentary. Nevertheless the antecedent is quite false and thus your image is of sexual vanity which I presume is motivated by insecurity and the induced objectification you aim to oppose.

    I would hazard a guess that you also pluck your eye-brows, cut your pubic hair, ware make-up on occasion … and you wish for an all body tan?

    Unless all of these things can be explained purely by blind practicality, which is unlikely, then you should be able to see the glaring contradiction in your attitudes that where, not so eloquently, highlighted by the girl at the flyer handout.

    I could analyse your body language and intonation but I think the point is already nearly made and to do so could be inappropriate, even for a “naturalist”, for a public blog.

    So Alex, please, do not criticize, patronize, attribute sexism or “get angry”, at the “male gaze”, attempts therein not to, or general “sexualisation” of the female body when the males involved are nearly always unconscious or unintentionally doing so in a negative way – just as you are so clearly unconscious and unintentionally inviting that precise behaviour. Their actions arise from the same root as yours.

    The problems you raise are wholly the responsibility of the businesses and lobbied politicians that profit so grossly from them, please focus on them only in future writings if you sincerely intend on making any difference.

    • radicalrabbit January 16, 2012 at 12:46 am #

      Mansplain: (verb)
      to delighting in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation

    • Alexandra Hill January 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      I do my best to resist patriarchal brainwashing in my own behaviour, though no-one is immune (e.g. I don’t pluck my eyebrows, shave my legs or underarms… I do very occasionally wear make-up.) This article isn’t about me though; it is about a social attitude towards all women.

      This article is not directed at men, it is directed at everyone. On an individual level, what can each of us do to resist the negative influence of the media? The least we can do is work on our own attitude towards our own bodies and the bodies of others. I’m trying bloody hard on a daily basis not to objectify myself and the women around me, and I simply encourage others to do the same.

      There is no need to get defensive. If you are not guilty of objectfiying women, great. If you are, you may not be able to change other people’s behaviour or the media’s behaviour but that shouldn’t be a reason not to change your own.

      • John Tompkins January 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

        Hi Alex

        It’s good to know you try to be as natural as possible, my wife has always followed that path and we have always been very happy.

        However, I have to ask about the tattoo on your ankle. Not only is that an adornment which will attract some men, but it is copying one of the worst of mens habits.

        A habit more often followed and admired by the very men that will objectify and abuse women.

      • Carley January 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

        “This article is not directed at men, it is directed at everyone.”

        Well it does come across like that in some ways – you seem to attack the men on an individual level. Part of the point I was making is that women can seem to blame “men” for “ogling”, as you continue to do so by claiming the “brainwashing” is as a result of male control – “patriarchal” – *that* is “sexism”. Men are not in control and to say they are is quite offensive, corporations and government are.

        “shave my legs or underarms”

        You have way less hair then me then! There’s a scene with you on the phone and I couldn’t see any at all in the second or so it played. I get reactions like “yuk … hippie” in clubs and such – not nice.

        “On an individual level, what can each of us do to resist the negative influence of the media?”

        Not a lot really. As you may have gathered I know my psychology, and the ‘brainwashing’ of us all gets ingrained from childhood. Also as you have discovered the law and society we live in makes it very difficult. This is some of that nativity I was trying to get at.

        Change will only come about through a lot of legislative change.

        Some might call me extreme, but my reactions and approach are motived by extremely negative things related to the clothes and cosmetics industries: anorexia, bulimia, self harm, suicide, child labour, exploitation of developing countries, HUGE amounts of waste, animal testing, etc, etc.

      • Alexandra Hill January 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

        Carley, I am totally in agreement with you about the media and political system. However, as an individual with little or no power against ‘the system’, you can still try and resist embracing those influences in your own behaviour! You obviously agree, since you mention that you have also opted not to shave etc.

        I know lots of men as well as women who manage to behave in a consistently feminist way despite the culture they’ve grown up in. That is not to say that the system doesn’t need to be changed… as a feminist I believe that we need an entire revolution. But I also believe that the personal is political, and choosing not to hold people accountable for their behaviour just because they have been brainwashed by patriarchy seems counter-productive. Better to encourage everyone to raise their own consciousness.

        Incidentally, by patriarchy I understand something like the “megatheocorporatocratic ideology of domination” (quoting If you think that complaining about patriarchy is ‘sexist’, I really can’t engage with you any further.

      • Carley January 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

        “If you think that complaining about patriarchy is ‘sexist’, I really can’t engage with you any further.”

        Well I said *blaming* patriarchy for any of the problems highlighted is sexist, whereby the definition I am using is the one you would find in a dictionary not some sesquipedalian arbitrary blog. Blaming (accidentally or otherwise) ‘male control and authority’; a central implicit and literal vein, is not going to help the feminist or naturalist movements. In fact if you look into the psychology and history this is exactly the kind of behaviour corporations want as it isolates individuals from one another, in this case men from women, which increases consumerism and subconscious attachments to the state.

        I totally understand that this is not your intention, you are clearly a very kind hearted good person, you just need to be a bit more logical.

      • baryonyx January 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

        Carley, your claims of a lack of logic appear logically flawed.

    • Alexandra Hill January 17, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

      As Jess mentioned, I am not a naturalist; I am actually a mathematical logician 😉 I am sorry to hear that you can’t follow my logic here.

      • Carley January 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

        “I am actually a mathematical logician”

        Interesting! I studied a bit before I went into cognitive science. What do they research at Manchester? I recall Peter Aczel teaches there so I suppose it’s foundational, it’s that trivial non-standard stuff where I am.

        Anyway you know I didn’t say I didn’t follow Alex, just because your a logician doesn’t mean you can get highfalutin 😉

      • Alexandra Hill January 19, 2012 at 1:22 am #

        Heh, I know you didn’t say that, but I realise we’re never going to see eye to eye on this and I couldn’t let a dig at my logic go unanswered!

        Peter Aczel is retired now- sadly, as I would have loved to work with him! It’s mostly model theory (as with most of the Uk logic departments) but I work with Jeff Paris on non-standard (in particular, probabilistic/inductive) logic 🙂

  18. Adele January 16, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    This is extremely well put and you are absolutely right! I have always wondered this, what a terrible thing we are teaching our children too. That women can’t do what men do. Thank you so much and well done!

  19. eirikthered January 16, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Hi Alex,

    I knew you at St Hugh’s and I was surprised (and dead impressed) to see you on the programme. Well done you for sticking to your principles and for applying some mathmo logic to a stupid, irrational debate. Exactly why should women’s chests be seen differently to men’s? It’s baffling, since their primary function is to provide food for infants and only secondarily as a source of fun and games. As for the ‘there are children here!’ argument… um, don’t babies look at breasts all the time when they are breastfed? Ridiculous how women are always held responsible for the actions, or imagined likely actions, of men. I wonder how many men actually would go berserk at the sight of a woman’s breasts? Judging by behaviour on the rest of Europe’s beaches, none.

    Thanks for flying the nudie flag for women’s equality!

    • Alexandra Hill January 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks for the message! So true that it is the ‘imagined’ likely response – at the festival I went topless around the campsite and most people didn’t bat an eyelid. It is a small minority who actually behave badly.

      • eirikthered January 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

        You might be interested to know that in England and Wales public nudity is not an offence. The exact wording of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (relating to exposure) is:
        A person commits an offence if—
        (a) he intentionally exposes his genitals, and
        (b) he intends that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress

        So that policeman would have had to argue that breasts are genitals, and that you intended people to be ‘alarmed and distressed’. So if someone had complained to him about you, that would probably count. But if no one had seemed to be upset by it or complained then he was in the wrong. It’s the same protection offered in law to breastfeeding in public, for example. Quoting the law at policemen never goes down well, but the fact is no court in England and Wales would convict unless the prosecution could prove you intended to cause alarm and distress. It’s different in Scotland though – they take a really dim view of nudity.

  20. Paul January 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Once again I think the programme was incredibly positive and represented by an articulate and mature bunch of young people. In terms of Alex’s observations on toplessness I really believe that in many respects society has become more conservative over the years with no clearly thought out rationale for this new conservatism. In the mid 80s a girlfriend, her friends and I used to regularly sunbathe in Hyde Park and on Hampstead. I would be nude, my girlfriend would wear a thong and some of her friends would be a combination of nude and topless. Police would walk by us and not once did they tell us to cover up or that we were causing any form of offence. On one occasion they warned off a man who was clearly gawping at us. I’d be interested to know what has caused this turn around where simple nudity is viewed as offensive by some members of the public, of all ages.

    I too have sunbathed in the English Garden in Munich and have found the co-existence of clothed and unclothed sunbathers to be incredibly refreshing and healthy.

  21. Becca Roberts January 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Hi Alex (and to the boys too!), I recently watched the Channel 4 documentary (as did a lot of commenters I think) and not to sound too geeky, I was really inspired by the 3 of you and what you’re trying to accomplish. I’m 25 and it’s only in the past few years that I have become more comfortable with my body though I still would have been too shy to go naked in public. Im surprised by what a massive boost in what I can only call “so-what-ness” I got from watching the documentary, to the extent that this is something I really want to get involved in and come summertime, if it’s warm enough up here in Carlisle, I will be topless down the park and standing up to any coppers who try to stop me, because at the end of the day, so what? It’s my body, different to but at the same time just the same as everyone else’s. I dont think I had realised the actual importance of nudity before, in regards to gender equality, childhood development, breast feeding and of course the ever present Hollywood “ideal” (and the destruction of). So yes, big thanks and even bigger respect to all of you.
    Oh and I love your tiny teaset!(not a euphemism)

  22. Lee Farrow January 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Hi Alex

    I really enjoyed the TV programme. I thought everyone featured came over as very positive and (if I can use the word) “normal” as those who enjoy social nudity are too easily stereotyped by the media in this country as eccentric, weird, or both! Reading through your blog here is also very thought-provoking.

    What strikes me, though, is that, as a country, we seemed to have gone backwards with regards social nudity. I used to live in Cornwall in the early 1980s and back then it was pretty common to see a significant number of women sunbathing topless on any beach, often they were in the majority, but now, 30-odd years later it seems to be the total opposite and a woman sunbathing topless on a British beach is almost a unique occurrence, apart from on clothes-optional beaches.

    As you say, one of the things that has changed markedly over that time is the objectification of women, especially their breasts. The policeman and the loser asking to take your photograph in Manchester being perfect examples, plus those who use “protecting children” as their weapon of choice for enforcing their own opinions on others.

    The irony being that successive studies have shown that children raised in a “naturist” environment are far less likely to suffer eating disorders, teenage pregnancy, or any of the other social hangups so many teenagers suffer from these days when compared to children raised in a non-naturist environment. From that perspective alone it seems to me “protecting” children from seeing non-sexual nudity is, in actual fact, doing far more sociological hard to children than good.

  23. scottie January 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    While I agree that woman should be given the same rights as men, I do not agree with your desire that men should somehow desexualize their geneic dispositions when seeing a nice pair of boobies, which for most men is just about any pair.

    You call yourself a “naturalist” but it is completely un-natural to expect that men should bury their natural desires to oogle at what they find beautiful.

    in conclusion: yes, go right ahead and let it all hang out. But keep in mind that when a man spots a naked, and shimmering Ferrari 550 or a Rolls Royce drop head on the street, he’s going to fantasize about piloting it.

    • radicalrabbit January 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      She’s a mathematician not a naturalist o_0

    • John Tompkins January 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      The term Scottie is Naturist – a naturalist studies nature.
      The parts of the anatomy to which you are referring are Breasts “boobies” is rather childish.

      A Ferrari or a Rolls cant feel aggrieved by your obsession they are objects and isn’t that exactly what Alex is trying to highlight – Women are not objects and should not be treated like a Ferrari or a Rolls.

      • Alexandra Hill January 16, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

        Thanks for the comment John- well put!

    • Alex January 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      Sorry scottie; neither Ferrari or Rolls Royce excite me at all.
      You just can’t beat a sweeping generalisation!

  24. PJpjcroad January 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    If breasts are not sexual, then you have no problem with men touching you there without your consent – it would be like touching your arm. If they are sexual, then you shouldn’t be complaining about not being allowed to be topless. They’re either sexual (in which case they get treated differently from male nipples), or not sexual (in which case you agree it’s not sexual assault to touch them without consent)

    • radicalrabbit January 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

      I have problems with anyone touching me anywhere without my consent. Thats what “without my consent” means.

    • John Tompkins January 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      I’m a man and I would not be happy if a stranger started trying to touch my chest without my permission. What about you PJpjcroad do you allow strangers to touch parts of your body without your consent?

    • Carley January 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

      Not sure if your argument is technically valid since if breast exposure was normalized then it could be the case that breast touching for women would not be problematic.

      Though you raise a good point that breasts ARE sexual, rather they are likely to be sexual given the scientific evidence, in particular that they evolved soon after our ancestors started having face to face intercourse. Some go as far to say they imitate bums. So anyway, comparing “male topless” to “female topless” as a social asymmetry born out of arbitrary unfairness is invalid as the asymmetry most probably is in fact sexual/natural.

    • Alexandra Hill January 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      Some men and some women are aroused by having their nipples touched. Some are not. This is neither here nor there. Also, what Jess said!

    • Alex January 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      PJpjroad ~ is this a serious post?

    • Dani February 17, 2013 at 1:30 am #

      It’s assault to touch anyone anywhere without their consent.

      • mike February 18, 2013 at 11:47 am #

        Dani, the definition of assault is “a physical attack intended to take effect upon the person of another” – touching is NOT assault unless that touch was the result of a physical attack.
        The point made about touching an arm or touching a breast is a good one to highlight the sexual nature of breasts – and the media certainly reinforces the sexual nature of breasts – for good or bad.

  25. Hannah January 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Er, can we stop having competitions about who’s the hairiest, and thus suggesting that it’s no good trying to espouse feminist views if you’re not hairy enough to *look* like a feminist?

    Anyone suggesting that Alex is somehow in less of a position to argue for women’s rights because she happens to look a certain way, have a certain amount of hair, or occasionally wear make up, please realise that the point is that it *shouldn’t matter*. It is offensive to tell women that they should shave their body hair, and it is offensive to tell them that they shouldn’t.

    I thought it was horrendous when the two women who saw Alex topless suggested that she shouldn’t be encouraging body-positivity because she happens to closely resemble the images we see in the media. This kind of thinking both misses the point and perpetuates the us-and-them thinking that advertising/capitalism/whatever-else-is-behind-it-all has instilled within us, which is the very thinking that fosters our insecurities and allows them to sell us crap to remedy the supposed issues with our bodies.

    To dictate to anyone what they should and shouldn’t do with their body, regardless of their gender, or appearance, or anything else, is repressive.

    • radicalrabbit January 17, 2012 at 12:32 am #

      this ^

      • John Tompkins January 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

        On the subject of inequality of the law, we know that a topless woman will be told to cover up where a topless man wont.
        But had that couple been naked, a woman would first be told to cover up then if she didn’t she would be arrested for causing a disturbance.
        A man would be arrested charged with an obscene act, jailed and put on the sexual offenders register – this will affect the rest of his life.
        So it is not a male conspiracy – Shakespeare said it best – “The law is an Ass” and nothing has changed since his day

      • radicalrabbit January 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

        This situation shows us some very interesting views on how society views male and female sexuality.
        A woman would be told to cover her chest in case she caused a commotion – i.e. in case males reacted to her in a sexually aggressive manner (i.e. harassment, assault, etc.) – it is her effect on men which is considered the danger. The case would be largely similar if she was completely naked.

        A naked male chest isnt seen as a danger (of causing a commotion or of being a sexually aggressive act in itself) but a completely naked man would be seen only as a danger to others (i.e. as a sexually aggressive act in and of itself) rather than because of the commotion it could potentially cause.

        To me, this situation shows how society views male sexuality – as an active force – and female sexuality – as non-existent, or at best a passive vessel for male enjoyment. A naked woman is seen as a danger not because she is a sexual being but because the men around her are – and they are seen as not being able to control themselves. The idea of women being sexual objects for male enjoyment is everywhere in popular culture – from porn, to lads mags (and girls mags), adverts, etc. and as such is part of a wider institutional patriarchal system. This doesnt mean that every man is conspiring against every woman, but that society is geared up to benefit men over women – often in very subtle ways.

        This situation of men being seen as being seen as sexually aggressive even when they are non-sexually naked is obviously negative, but I dont think it represents discrimination against men – its simply that women are not seen as being capable of having an aggressive sexuality – which is an obviously fucked up way of viewing the world.

  26. Blue Brother January 17, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Sonic the Hedgehog was made naked, still is, and he is blue! I’m bored, depressed, and this blog sorta made me feel less bad about having Autism which I could compare to walking about naked cause it feels like walking about and everyone will notace it, but no one looks at that, they just take you for what you are. I also lost my hair and said I’m not ever going out again, but if you guys can do what you do, I can go outside badly 🙂

    • Becca Roberts January 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Good on you blue brother- here’s to Sonic, Bugs Bunny and all the poor Barbies and Kens who haven’t even got anything to show off, but Im sure wouldn’t mind 🙂 Good luck to you mate.

  27. Naturist Review January 17, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    Thank you Alex for your post. I could never understand all the fuss over a body part that both males and females have.

  28. Peter Morgan January 17, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Hello Alex, a very interesting blog about a programme where you all came over as very well-adjusted people.

    I echo nearly all what John wrote, except for maybe one thing. I see women’s nudity on three levels.

    Eg. (1) breastfeeding (totally unstimulating, just beautiful nature); (2) naturism (simply sensual); and (3) deliberate sexual display (quite-to-very stimulating).

    It surely depends on the situation. Is this the naturist viewpoint, or do you not agree with the third point?

    As another poster wrote, male genitalia is more obvious. I am sure the general public would be more troubled by a man showing everything than a woman. Even when he’s flaccid.

    Whatever, keep up the good work. I now follow you on Twitter. Here’s hoping, in my lifetime, to see females allowed to be topless wherever males are already. And the police to let us sunbathe nude in the privacy of our own back gardens.

  29. baryonyx January 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Excellent article.
    To me it appears as brilliantly skilled delineation and analytical elucidation of the points you wished to make, and in which I wholeheartedly admire and value the subject espoused. I feel that I personally struggle with such endeavours, to be so clear in conveyance of my own thoughts that I marvel at those that do it so well (and less ostentatiously verbose).
    I wish to appendix further deliberations on my part, to the dialogue of the blog regarding some of your observations and suggestions that have stirred me into response.

    I realise your blog post isn’t meant to be comprehensive on all aspects of social taboo, social habit and social norm regarding male and female nudity and its issues but I wish to add some thoughts to be questioned.
    Firstly with your blog mostly underpinned by your own personal experience as reference, I believe I can understand the vantage from which this article’s discussion is to be viewed and its context, as in that of the female that is being objectified and sexualised. With that in mind, I wish to stress I don’t intend to refute that in anyway.
    I was interested in raising the idea that the very ‘objectification’ issue surrounding females is not exclusive or isolated to the one sex or even other aspects of society, as I take the liberty to assume you’d agree and that additionally to your article above, males as a single example are subjected to similar. The reason I mention this is the ease in which it can be overlooked. It seems apparent to me that historically, female of the species have been subject to a level of inequality, under the greater umbrella of gender stereotypes as a whole, to a far greater magnitude than the male counterpart with regards to sexualisation and therefore expectations within society. Sadly it seems to me that the sexualisation of society is extending its reach over men, women and children to ever greater levels.
    I believe it to be highly ironic that a society which pertains to be “free, fair and progressive” is at the same moment riddled with deep social inequalities. Even though the law may stipulate or at the very least not prevent public nudity of all genders, it happens to be society itself that stumbles into objections to it. That seem to be born out of insecurities. Not exclusively an issue of body image but of expected social practice and response. I see it as an educational issue about social thinking and what individually a member of a society assumes is expected as ‘proper’ from one another and therefore themselves. The response is then in keeping with apparent expectations rather than reason. Especially aspects of social attitudes to naked busts, bottoms and genitalia.

    In time I hope better values and respect will be bestowed on the human body and that of the individual. As it is as much an issue about the person as it is about the flesh and it is down to the efforts undertaken by people such as yourself in highlighting the issues that attitudes, understanding and greater respect will be progressed. They are immensely important.

    Apologies for the long winded post. It’s spawned by an excellent article.

  30. Lee Farrow January 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Hi John.

    A friend of mine who is a police officer told me it would be very difficult, given the nature of the job, for a police officer to gain a conviction by claiming to be “offended” by a topless woman.

    Take the example of the programme, the police officer was very quick to intervene and threaten Alex with arrest and a court appearance but when Alex asked him what she had done wrong he was very evasive and quickly got on his radio for further “clarification”.

    There seems to be a general assumption by the police thag public nudity is automatically illegal and then they scratch around in desperation to find a law to justify that assumption.

    • John Tompkins January 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      Hi Lee, I thought I’d heard something to that effect but I wasn’t certain and I know that the officer used to be able to be the offended party in nudity cases – maybe that’s changed as well – we can hope.

      But that now means that the arrest of men for public nudity would be even more biased against men and the fact that if the case is proven they will be put on the sex offenders register even more draconian.

      Women are never put on the register for going nude in public. So the laws are very much in favour of women.

      Will Alex support protests against that blatantly sexist law?

      • Lee Farrow January 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

        Hi John.

        My friend has had to deal with three home deaths in the last month or so, two natural causes and one apparent suicide, he said that being expected to deal with situations like that as part of their job make it very difficult these days for a police officer to convince magistrates that the police officer was “offended” by the sight of a topless lady in the unlikely event it ever got to court.

        In saying that, though, I fully support the pragmatic approach of, in this case, Alex to comply with his request. But still I think he was wrong to make the request in the first place as no member of the public in the vicinity appeared to have any issue with how she was dressed.

      • John Tompkins January 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

        I completely agree with Alex not causing a scene by covering up.

        However, this PC will now continue to ask women to cover up. If it had got to court and been thrown out, it would give him a reason not to do it again – even if his superiors complained about his inactivity.

    • Becca Roberts January 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Did he threaten arrest or mention a court appearance? Maybe that happened off camera because from everything I saw, he was quite polite. Considering how that situation could have gone down, I think he handled it quite well. I’m not saying I agree with it, in fact I feel the total opposite, but sadly the current situation is that most people would be at least surprised to see a topless woman in town and a significant number of people would assume that it was somehow not allowed. Again, Im not saying this is right and I think it is very important to challenge these kind of views and to reclaim nudity as a natural and open thing but you cannot be surprised when someone who is charged with keeping the peace sees something that could disturb it- either by offending some uptight fool who doesn’t know what breasts look like or by giving an old fella a heart attack from pure joy! The fact that the policeman then radioed in for confirmation, I think, shows a positive questioning- it seems like he reacted to Alex in an immediate way but then questioned his own reaction, seeking legal confirmation from the office, rather than basing the situation on either his own opinion or what he perceived to be possible reactions from others. Maybe, if more breasts become visable in public places, this immediate reaction will lessen and lessen until, finally, people can dress (or not) as they wish, but for now, in this day and age, you cannot be surprised, or overly angry, at this type of reaction.

  31. dan smith January 19, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    crumbs! it sounds like festivals have gone a long way downhill since i used to enjoy them. I have a very fond memory of trying to achieve simultaneous orgasm, not just with my partner, but with about a dozen other couples one sunny afternoon out in the open in front of the main stage at one event – just a bit of fun for us! I feel bad for young people today who have to live in such a buttoned up and corporate society.

  32. John P January 19, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Mr Tompkins, you’re wrong–the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 pretty much exempts naturists. Anyone who’s charged with being naked in public these days (unless it’s clearly a case of deliberate sexually-motivated exposure) faces the Public Order Act, not the SOA. These things have been talked about pretty extensively in naturist discussion groups, and news reports about police actions or non-actions get a lot of attention.

    However, although I’m a naturist I’m very dubious about this topfree rights business. Or maybe I should say **because** I’m a naturist I’m very dubious about this topfree rights business. The trouble is the intersection between this topic and the likes of Page 3 of The Sun, 2 new boobs every day of the week. If it’s a question of full nudity, then we’re all on an equal basis, but if it’s just women’s commonly-accepted erogenous zones, then if we say we’re in favour, we look as if we want to get our voyeuristic fun. Not that I’d be telling Alex to get her shirt back on, but I think naturists should stay away from the subject. Let’s talk about nudity, not being partially dressed or wearing skimpy clothing.

    Of course it’s true that most varieties of skimpy clothing are more available to women than to men. Think of going to a beach and seeing women in bikinis and men who feel constrained to wear knee-length shorts–who’s got the most clothing on? But who needs a liberation movement? Or it could be bare legs, sleeveless garments, low necklines, sandals versus solid shoes–if we have to make an issue of who wears the most clothing when we aren’t nude, let’s do a complete job of it.

    • John Tompkins January 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      You are right about the original law, but in the same way as the police got Alex to cover up. They have ways around it, challenge it and you will see what I mean.

      • Paul January 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

        I wonder when and why this sea change occured regarding police reactions to simple, non-threatening nudity. I realise that there must be a variance in the way that individual police officers interpret the law and to some degree this must be subject to their own social conditioning but I do recall a more relaxed reaction to nudity in the mid eighties. The rationale that a person is asked to cover up so as not to offend “public decency” is a fudge. Within this context is the naked person viewed by the law as an aggressor or as a victim? The obvious conclusion may be that they are seen by the police officer as an aggressor and yet I recall instances where the nude sunbathing of my friends and myself was protected from the actions of voyeurs by both male and female police officers, thereby imposing a victim status upon the nude person.

        I just cannot follow the modern logic that simple nudity is somehow a threat.

    • John Tompkins January 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

      A good question Paul, I wish there was an easy when and why answer. I think the media has a lot to answer for.

      I know this is a bit off topic but it does have a relevance in showing the type of thinking that we have to cope with.

      A person was killed by a drunk driver – he was three times the limit – there was then a massive media campaign to get the drink drive limit reduced. Wether you agree with the limit or not has no bearing – the guilty driver was three times over the existing limit, lowering it wouldn’t have affected him – he was ignoring it.

      This is the muddle headed thinking that we face with social nudity and as long as we are fighting between ourselves (men vs women) we will always lose. When we realise that both genders are equally affected and get our act together – we might have some chance of achieving our aims.

    • John Tompkins January 19, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

      John P
      I thought you might be interested in this, lifted fro NUFF naturist site:

      Naturist Facing Trial Over Nude Gardening

      Donald Sprigg from Cirencester has appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates Court after one of his neighbours complained about him gardening without clothes, he pleaded not guilty to three identical charges, denying that he was doing anything indecent and was bailed to stand trial on June 20, 2011.

      His solicitor told the court that:

      “The neighbours who have complained are 150 metres away. They have taken pictures of him in his garden and they say he is acting in an indecent manner. He says that he always checks first and only goes into his garden naked when he knows his near neighbours are away. He says he has acted lawfully at all times and taken reasonable care to ensure no one would see him and be offended by his actions.”

      Suggestions in the Daily Mail that Mr Sprigg had been charged with ‘outraging public decency’ would seem unlikely, since that offence is usually regarded as applying to behaviour of a much more offensive nature than simple nudity. According previous statements by the Crown Prosecution Service the offence “requires a person to commit an act in public that.. is of such a lewd, obscene or disgusting character as to constitute an outrage of public decency”

      Reports in ‘This Is Gloucestershire’ that, although he was initially arrested with ‘indecent exposure’ (no such offence now exists, it is now known simply as “exposure”) the charges relate to “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby” (i.e. Section Five of the Public Order act 1986) seem more plausible.

      If the circumstances of this case are, in reality, as they have been reported in the press many naturists who enjoy being naked in their own gardens will be watching the outcome of this case with interest. They may also note that naturists attending the very popular ‘clothing optional’ days at Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, not far from Cirencester, can also be seen from beyond the garden boundary. A comparison might also be drawn with this 2006 case.

      • Mike January 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

        Well, on the subject of the law’s reaction to FULL nudity – and more specifically, the male genital area, the case of Stephen Gough, ‘the naked rambler’ must be very well known.
        So for blokes anyway, don’t walk around with your genitals exposed in Scotland (should the weather ever be warm enough!) or you’ll be spending a long time in jail…

      • ebniao January 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

        The case was thrown out…
        …but not much of a victory, as he clearly no longer feels he can enjoy his garden as he would wish.

      • John Tompkins January 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

        That’s part of the problem and part I suspect of why Alex covered up. It’s all very well to know you are in the right but who wants the hassle of going through a court case to prove it.

        It needs loads of people to start getting arrested for going nude, so that the courts get fed up with it and criticise the police. with that many failed court cases the police will soon find it too expensive to keep harassing us.

  33. edhallx January 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Great article Alex. You all came across very well in ‘My Daughter the teenage Nudist’. It’s sad that we live in a society where so many people are embarrassed, ashamed or offended by their own bodies. The arguments that nudity might offend children or cause men to riot are absurd as well. Nothing is more natural to children than nudity (in particular a woman’s breast), and if nudity was more commonplace I imagine most people’s obsession with it would calm down. Nudist beaches always seem far less sexually charged than clothed beaches.

    As someone who works in an industry that ruthlessly photoshops out the slightest imperfection in both male and female (although more so female) I think that experiencing public nudity would help everyone to learn to love their own bodies by seeing what real people and real bodies look like.

  34. dan smith January 20, 2012 at 1:38 am #


  35. dan smith January 20, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    i have never heard such boring load of bollocks in all my life

  36. babysparkle January 21, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    As a bodybuilder i am constantly subjected to ogling by females: irrespective of whether i am top-free as you put it or not. Women are always sizing me up; my chest and drawing anatomical inferences – it’s blatant. I do nothing to encourage this, whatsoever – I am simply male. Working out and physical culture is my hobby. So would i be justified in claiming the right to freedom from constant objectification, sexualisation and the female gaze? I somehow doubt it.

    • John Tompkins January 21, 2012 at 11:27 am #

      You only have to see how women react to male strippers to know they objectify men and if the poor chap is not well above average in the genitals department the howls of derision from the audience is far worse than any comments men may make about a small breasted stripper.

      That is possibly because men appreciate the female form more in a variety of shapes and women only look on the male stripper as a sexual object.

      • babysparkle January 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

        This is true – you only have to look at the program where the girl was discussing two of the mens penises – naked male is fair game as an object of mockery. For men to reference the vulva in a similar way would be totally unacceptable. Rightly so imo – but where is the equality in all of this – what about mens rights? I feel women by far have the upper hand. They are simply afforded more respect and dignity by their male counterparts, than vice versa. Btw i adore female – i always draw inspiration from the female form when i’m training in the gym. It is the basis of my motivation.

      • Becca Roberts January 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

        I agree with your main point, John, but I would say there are fewer women who would even be happy to see a male stripper than males to see a female. I saw a male stripper once, there was a hen party alongside us in a club and they had hired a stripper, and it disgusted me. Both the look of the man in a thong (though that’s really just me not being a fan of musclemen) and moreso the reactions of the screaming, leering women, who seemed to be cackling with laughter and derision rather than whooping with desire. It was odd that it seemed to be just entertainment for them, especially when he got out a blindfold and a banana, it was far more comedic than sexual. If it had been a female stripper, however, I think that the calls would have been far more sexual and appreciative and I know that even myself (a hetero female) would have enjoyed the show, as the female form is naturally more graceful in movement than the male.
        My point (amidst my rambling) is that both men and women can appreciate the female form in a variety of shapes whereas the male form, in the context of a stripper anyway, is more of a joke than an arousing experience. I’m not sure who I’m indicting here- women who will laugh at a naked man, men who will be aroused by a dancing woman or just about just about everyone. I think, in the end, the only people who can be judged are the individuals who think cruelly about others. Whether it’s the woman who points and laughs at a man’s genitals, the man who assumes a claim to a woman’s sexuality (stripper=slut) or the anyone who says to their friends “Uhhh look at that…”.

        What you said about laughing at a male stripper who isn’t above average in the genital area is an excellent point and I’m sure many man have been the butt of jokes in this department. What is so mad and illogical about this is that everyone knows that a penis grows when erect, everyone also knows that starting size bears no relation to the finished product, everyone knows this!!And still, both men and women will mock a flaccid penis as if it matters. To all men who’s everyday penis doesn’t go past their testicles- it is ok and everyone knows it, even if they are daft enough to mock you.

      • John Tompkins January 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

        Hi Becca
        I agree with almost everything you said, years ago I knew a topless go-go dancer, she was a friend before she got into it and happily married. She danced because she could work evenings and get the money to help put their children through a private school. Later she turned stripper (in preparation for their university education) and invited me to her opening night (at a rugby club) in this capacity.
        During her strip and several subsequent strips at different venues, although there was cheering and applause when the last vestige was removed, I never heard any lewd remarks. Even when people were drinking afterwards the comments were complimentary about how beautiful she was and what a great figure( I had to agree, always wished I’d met her before her marriage). There were none of the lewd comments normally attributed to men in these situations.

        One thing a lot of people don’t realise is there are bouncers at many of these events and if anyone gets out of hand they are removed. My friends dances never needed bouncers and yes there were some women there who appreciated her figure and beauty.

        When I got married my wife met her and her husband and we went to several of her strips and shared a table with them through the evening. Sometimes with her wearing her costume as she waited to go on – OK we’re naturists so weren’t likely to be embarrassed by her nudity.

        Through her I met a strip organiser and often popped in to see him at one of his shows, he never had any trouble at any that I saw – and no going to see him was not an excuse to see his girls, once you have seen them dance a couple of times, it can get a bit boring. They were all nice girls though and out in the street were just normal everyday girls.

        I have never seen a male strip live, but I gather that some of the better known groups can fill a large concert hall – there are many more women want to go to these events than men, a lot of men have got bored with the falseness of it.

        Also where men are not allowed to touch the strippers in any intimate way, women are encouraged to fondle a mans genitals and sometimes far more. Another inequality is that female strippers having sex with someone who’s come to see them, are in danger of being accused of prostitution where male strippers (I understand) are not averse to having sex with some of there customers and in no danger from the law.

        As for the size of a mans penis, you are quite right, but one thing you missed. There is so much debate about size, but for pure ecstasy the only relevance of size is that it should match your partner. It is no good having a mini sized garage and trying to put a rolls royce in it (vice versa there’s not much point).

        My wife and I found we were perfectly matched and have enjoyed our love life from the first night. I don’t mind revealing that I am right on the national average. and as you say when flaccid it doesn’t go below the testicles. Trouble is as you get older your testicles drop further which distorts the image :o)

  37. clara January 22, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Just wanted to say – I sooooo agree with your post. amazing.

    • babysparkle January 24, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      thx clara – btw …that’s a so beautiful name.

  38. babysparkle January 25, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    ‘If it had been a female stripper, however, I think that the calls would have been far more sexual and appreciative’ and ‘men who will be aroused by a dancing woman’; lol: is that what girls think??? – i remember being at a (well known) strip club in Soho once and practically the entire front row was asleep!!! I do think women overestimate their sexuality, and that everything female must therefore necessarily be sexualised, because female == sexy; but most men simply don’t see it that way. Try placing a fully naked female next to a wide screen tv with Match of the Day on and see how far you get!!!

  39. babysparkle January 25, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Re: JT on size of fallus… ‘but for pure ecstasy the only relevance of size is that it should match your partner’ hmm, not sure about that one: for ‘pure ecstasy’ think penis == think redundant, most girls would probably much prefer something like this: (expensive it is, but well worth it!!!) babyS

    • John Tompkins January 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      This presupposes that the only sensations of lovemaking are the orgasms and if all you are interested in is having sex then that might be enough.

      But for the pure ecstasy of love making, you need the foreplay, the act and the afterglow of settling in each others arms when you are spent. In all this you need the comfort of human contact. Without any of those elements you might as well use a vibrator.

      But I have yet to hear of a vibrator that can delivery a delicate kiss on the lips while stroking the base of the spine Or kiss and lick the nape of the neck while gently caressing the stomach and at the same time whisper words of love in the ear.

      There is much more, but you’ll notice, I haven’t got to the area a vibrator is designed for. I know you can touch these places with a vibrator but only one at a time and the user has to think about it. There is no anticipation of “where will my partner touch me next” you know where you are going to place it. You cant lay back and let yourself go, you have to control what you are doing.

      For the real love maker the vagina is only approached when your partner is ready for you to approach it and for me I consider I have failed if my wife doesn’t reach orgasm before me. When she does reach orgasm it drives my orgasm to greater heights – we all know that women can have multiple orgasms, but how many people know that men can as well. I certainly didn’t until I was married and so you don’t get the wrong impression of her – My wife had only had one partner before me and was married to him so she wasn’t at all experienced. The most important thing in all this is that we LOVE each other, you can’t truly make love to someone you don’t Love and want to spend the rest of your days with.

      If you only want the unfeeling touch of a machine, then maybe that will be enough for you. But you will never know the Joy of a real loving partner. Because having gone for the unilateral gratification of a simple orgasm, if you do find a partner, you will be happy to receive the same and think that is enough. Only if you are lucky enough to experience the real thing will you realise you mistake

      The pure joy of lovemaking is not in the “Wham – Bang – Thank you Ma ‘am” approach it is infinitely more than that. But to repeat my original statement, when you perform the act of coupling it is pure Joy if you genitals are compatible.

      Men vary in size and so do women, a big (loose) woman will need a big man and a small (tight) woman will need a small man. I know a vagina is designed to allow the passage of a baby, so should be able to take the biggest penis. But ask any woman if she wants to have a baby every day and I know what the answer will be. Big or small doesn’t matter but Matching size does.

      But all this is getting way of topic – perhaps we should return yo the question of public nudity.

  40. Felicity J January 29, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    I love your article, Alex, and I applaud you for so assertively challenging the absurd inequality of topfree rights! I went through the SAME THING last summer in New York City, except I got arrested after following the cop’s order to put my shirt back on. In the U.S. the laws vary by state, but in NY women can go topfree wherever a man can. Problem is, not many women do it, and sometimes cops don’t even know that it’s legal. I’ve been given the same reasoning about children being around (ridiculous). It’s awesome that you wrote about this and brought people’s attention to this issue. You can read the story of my arrest here on my blog if you’re interested- It was an art performance, and it was all over the news here last summer. (My charges were abruptly dismissed when I went to court.) I plan to go top-free more often this summer, I hope you can too! 🙂

    • John Tompkins January 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      Go for it Felicity

      and consider that at least one cop can accept your right – with official backing.
      Having arrested you and had the case thrown out, his superiors cannot now admonish him or hinder his career when he doesn’t arrest you or anyone else for going topfree.

      Others can cite your case as a reason they didn’t act next time they see topless females.

  41. naturistreview January 29, 2012 at 4:30 am #

    I wrote a piece on my blog about toplessness:

    Tell me what you think. The issue of toplessness relates to more than mere naked breasts.

    • John Tompkins January 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      You weaken your argument by including sexual assault of women, There are at least as many men sexually assaulted, but most go unreported and those that are reported are largely ignored or treated with derision. A similar circumstance exists with domestic violence.

      I added this message to your original as well.

      And I agree with all else that you ask, but while women are attacking their supporters the progress will always be very slow. Didn’t Alexander say “Know your enemy”

      Very few men, if asked, will be against women’s freedom to go nude in public. But if you ask when his spouse is beside him, you might get a different answer. Threatened with the withdrawal of conjugal rights men are not always able to express their own views (read Lysistrata)

      YES thats right the biggest argument against top freedom – is women themselves.
      Most men would love to see lots of naked or semi naked women in public – just look at some of the films that have been made when the censor wasn’t looking or wasn’t consulted or more recently as younger censors are taking over.

      It’s not men’s view that they shouldn’t be allowed even if sometimes it is their voice that is against it.

      • radicalrabbit January 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

        “There are at least as many men sexually assaulted”

        citation needed

      • John Tompkins January 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

        This has been discussed at many levels, but the big problem is that men are more ashamed of being attacked and raped than women. It is not only an attack on their person with all the psychological issues that involves. but also an attack on their manhood.
        Most men are unlikely to complain about a woman taking advantage of them, but when that involves violence they are left devastated and the police are unsympathetic. There is slightly more sympathy (but not a lot) for homosexual rape.
        A number of men have been persuaded to talk anonymously about it, but few try to take it further.
        I’m afraid if you want written confirmation of this you’ll have to dig for it, there are support groups, but they are difficult to find. I only know of them because of research for a book, which I decided would be too horrendous, for the people involved, to be published.

      • radicalrabbit January 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

        Im a male survivor of rape and sexual assault, I know it exists and I know why people dont feel able to talk about it, and I know there are support groups.

        However, it is patently not true that males experience similar levels of rape or sexual assault to females. The vast, vast majority of survivors are female. All the statistics, including anonymous self report data, all suggest this.

      • John Tompkins January 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

        I’m sorry to hear of your misfortune. But we will have to differ on the statistics, much of the information on the male side is missing and most of the statistics are compiled by female rape support groups.

      • radicalrabbit January 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

        I’m open-minded! show me a peer reviewed study with a good methodology saying anything different and I will believe you. However, all the studies I have read on male rape or sexual assault seem to point to a different conclusion.
        Of course, that doesnt mean that we shouldnt talk about male sexual assault – there is a lot to talk about – but it is no where near equal numbers to female sexual assault.

      • John Tompkins January 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

        Like I said most of the evidence isn’t there because the victims that have participated only did it because they could remain anonymous. Even then it is believed that there are a large number that have just kept silent.

        It is similar to the problems of female rape figures 30 or 40 years ago, when things were just glossed over and the authorities didn’t take them seriously.

        There are still old codgers on the bench who say women are encouraging rape by wearing short skirts. Imagine what they say about a man having been raped.

        Don’t leep harping on about official figures you won’t get them – there are none. But if you believe that there aren’t that many you are in denial. An easy way to prove this is look for figures of female on female rape, it has a similar taboo

  42. Julia February 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Someone asking to take your photograph is often wanting you to pose and smile for the camera and people should be able to freely decline this. This has happened to me by strangers and with all my clothes on and makes me feel uncomfortable and like a spectacle. Going topless isn’t a spectacle so there is nothing wrong with declining having a photograph taken like that.

    • John Tompkins February 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Read and signed by self and wife.

      Although I’m not sure how much good it will do as the law already allows women to go topless.

      It is opinion, convention and bylaws that are the problem and these wont be changed by a national law. Unless that national law makes it illegal to stop women going topless if they wish.

  43. Elle February 16, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    shame to hear you were told to cover up at summer festival the last festival we went to was SGP and the security didn’t seem care at all what we were wearing if fact quite the opposite we were encouraged people to get naked in the sauna area which seemed to shock a few of the teenage youngsters at first but in the end they realised everyone else had their kit off and it was obviously the best way to go and they quickly followed suit there we lots of us naked aged between about 15 and 25 so hopefully there is going to be a new generation of young people in the future who really aren’t going to care what people are wearing around them. I would be more than happy to walk topless or naked to our local park on a hot day but sadly there would be to many people who would create an imaginary offence in their minds at seeing my little size B breasts that are probably smaller than the many man breasts I have seen on guys in that same park every summer.

  44. Yves February 20, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Dear Alex,
    Maybe you still follow what is being written here, though you do not take part in the discussion anymore. First of all, congratulations to everyone for the documentary. You did indeed come across very well and if I lived anywhere near you, I would have paid you a visit without hesitation. But anyway, I would like to share a few thoughts with you, based on my own experience of being “au naturel”.
    First of all, the “naked-breast-in-public” issue.
    a) Women have breasts because they develop in women whereas in men they do not. Meaning, that from a strictly biological point of view, female and male chests are not the same thing.
    b) Personally, I do not approve of men walking around in town bare-chested either!
    But neither a biological whim nor my own preferences should dictate yours or others’ behavior. But please, do understand that if living together is about acknowledging and respecting the other’s freedom, this principle is based on reciprocity and therefore it is inevitable that none of us is able to exercise his freedom completely.
    Second, the “female-body-as-an-object” issue.
    The person I love, I also love from a purely physical point of view. Getting aroused by the other’s body is part of the whole thing, I hope you will agree with me on that. And there is certainly nothing wrong of seeing a body, be it our partner’s or a stranger’s, from a sexual point of view. This is, in a way, objectifying it, but certainly not reducing the person to her or his body. Looking at you in the documentary, it is impossible not to notice that you have a beautiful body and a beautiful face! In the same way it is impossible not to notice that you are, judging from what you say and do, from your studies and your convictions, a very smart person. Do not worry, this is not a declaration of love 😉 I only want to stress that one’s interest in other people is due to all kind of things, physical and moral and intellectual, one finds oneself attracted to. Can you accept this? Feminism should never be about denying it. There is no distinction to be made between a context in which it is ok to get aroused by a nipple and another in which it is not. But in most contexts it will not be ok to act according to that arousal. Could you really feel offended if someone told you, you had a wonderful smile? Would you, if he told you, you had most beautiful nipples? But how could you not, if he assumed that, because you go topless, you are an easy girl! (So, yes, I approve of you having forbidden that man to take a photograph of you.)
    Third, personal experience and the explanation why I am writing you all this.
    a) Last summer I saw a topless girl in Carcassonne (where I live) who came into my direction. I glanced at her breasts, gave her a smile, she smiled back. End of story. No offence meant, no offence taken. Simple, casual, natural.
    b) A few years back, when I lived in Toulouse, my former girlfriend wanted to swim topless in the public swimming pool. Of course she was told to put a top on. Her arguments were basically speaking yours: Discrimination and also irrationality (since she was extremely flat chested and had small nipples and areolas, she told the woman who was in charge, half serious half joking, there was nothing there to cause an offence). But it was useless. Then I realized that it really was, as you say, about being a woman and I did not find it normal at all. Ironically, today the pool accepts topless swimmers.
    c) When on a naturist beach or in a naturist resort, occasionally I happen to have an erection which is completely no-sexual. A few times I have been asked to cover it. This I feel as a discrimination against men and there is another reason for me to agree with you.
    End of my message. It has become far too long. Sorry. But anyhow: Good luck to all of you!

    • Alex February 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      To be fair ~ you have a good point. Alex attractive in many ways to anothor person ~ and naked too! Men; we tend to have quite simple behaviour especially when faced with a bright, good looking, naked woman.
      What this exercise really exagerates is that in the same way you can’t force upon others your beliefs (whether right or wrong), other’s can’t force theirs upon you.
      Basic sociology. Different people have different norms and values.
      The non-sexual erection comment did make me titter!

  45. brendan browne February 21, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    I watched the program and enjoyed it very much.Well done to all of you.There is so much crap happening in this world and seeing naked bodies in public is the least of our problems.

    Be well


  46. nudedave March 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Hello,Ive just seen the ‘daughter’ programme on 4od..very good.. I was at Abbey House Gardens on the day you were filming there and wondered what it was all about!!

  47. cpucpu1 May 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    I so enjoyed your recent video I found on tumblr! I am a huge supporter of natural people, naturism, progressive political and social standings, and so respect women going or being totally natural! Keep up the good work, and please visit my tumblr website, and do read my “hairy pits club poet” blog about the joys of girls, women being naturally beautifully hairy! Thank you. Joe

  48. Chris June 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    That’s all I can say is good for you all. I hope you enjoy and go from strength to strength its good to see you doing your own thing and you have the commitment.

  49. Peter July 25, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    Enjoyed the “My Daughter the Teenage Nudist” and enjoyed this website and blog (introduced to through the TV program).
    I have never given a second thought to being naked, I am not self conscious and although I don’t purposely get naked, I don’t hesitate about undressing infront of others ~ known or stranger.
    I love the flatmate describing which flatmate had the least imtimidating penis ~ hilarious!
    It must raise issue for Alex promoting the body beautiful as she has a fantastic model figure which must cause some conflict of interest.
    Anyhow; good luck in your quest!

  50. Peter July 25, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    Hey naked guys ~ why not put a team together to run Tough Mudder in Cheshire in November? There is always a lot of press coverage ~ surely there is a fantastic media opportunity for your cause and some fantastic blogging and photo opportunities for you all!

  51. Bob January 24, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Saw you and others on TV in NZ – it reminds me of my youth in England many years ago. Although similar issues arise here its comforting to see the next generation doing good things about body issues.

  52. Tom March 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Hi all,

    Just a quick one I couldn’t find any other place to e mail so this will have to do.

    Just a note to say Alex is currently on tumblr web site “thatexposedhousewife”
    Yes I look at porn and yes happy to look at Alex I admit both charges your honor !! However the pic is in the kitchen and I don’t think Alex ever meant it to be a readers wife type picture.

    I anyone has contact it would be worth a mention.

    Cheers all

    Ps you all look at porn too … Admit it!!

  53. Ric October 14, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    I love the show and I think you all beautiful people (-:

  54. Michiela January 28, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    I have just watched my daughter the teenage nudist, and l was pleased with how they portraid the subject of nudism. I think that everybody has the right to choose the way they want to live, as long as you respect other people’s rights too, and understand other people’s opinion’s, that’s okay. I have always believed that there is nothing wrong with nudity, we come into the world and are beautiful, then society and culture demands that clothes are essential and must be worn in public. If society demanded that we all walked around nude, all or some of the time there wouldn’t be any issue’s of public decency, and being clothed. It annoys me that as soon as you mention nudity, especially around young adults most people’s mind straight away jump to it being sexual. And think of dirty old men oogling young girls. There are so many narrow minded & predjudiced adults, who don’t recognise that people should have freedom of choice, and how they act in public, why should it be okay inside a room with curtains shut, but not in a park in summer. I am a middle aged disabled woman who has body dis morphia (not officially diagnosed) but l know l have issue’s with my body, and wish l had the confidence to see my body the way other people see it. I think it is wonderful that you are reaching out to people to try to feel free, and to accept nudity as a good thing, we should all have freedom of expression. We are all made exactly the same way, male/female, tall, short, skinny we are all human, and the human body is beautiful. I get frustrated with the way nudity is seen by society in general, and the program made me feel that we have hope that one day maybe a woman will be treated the way a man is when topless. I think a woman should be able to walk down a street naked, without inviting a sexual act or offence/crime be commited against her. If a man walked down a street naked you wouldn’t expect him to be assaulted in any way, why should it be different for a female. I think that the young woman who did the naked bike ride, and the other young people came across really well, as balanced, intelligent, respectful and open, I hope that more people will accept naturism, and in the future more people will accept naturism as a normal healthy life choice, you should be proud of what you have achieved, and wish you luck in the future xx

    • nakedvegancooks February 1, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

      What a beautiful and well thought out comment! Really pleased you like what we are doing and took the time to write such a lovely analysis. Body image is an issue very close to our hearts and it’s awesome to keep the conversation going.

    • Keith February 1, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

      Apart from saying that I’m in tune with what you say, I only wish to repeat that Alex and three men were the only ones fully nude in the programme, apart from some older naturists. The teenagers were only topless, some not even that. As a long-term naturist I have a point here – that partial nudity is more sexual than full nudity.

      All honour to Alex,



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