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About 50 women and a couple dozen men took off their shirts in Columbus Circle yesterday afternoon and set off for Bryant Park, where hundreds of photographers awaited them.
The reason for the communal baring of breasts in Midtown—which is totally 100% legal, of course—was the eighth annual Go Topless Day march, as New York joined cities around the world in protesting the double standard regarding men's vs. women's nipples, and which of those are ok to display in, for example, Times Square, or on Instagram.
Go Topless Day is always held on the Sunday closest to Women's Equality Day, so although the event was planned long before Police Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio went full-prude last week on the desnudas of the Deuce, our civic leaders' battle against boobs certainly played a part in amping up interest among the media. Activist and performance artist Rachel Jessee, who spoke to the crowd in Bryant Park, told me that while there didn't seem to be more marchers yesterday than in past years, there were many more photographers on hand than ever before.
In fact, not a single woman I talked to cited the recent high-powered attack on the desnudas as the reason she participated in this year's Go Topless Day. Rather, the action was a symbolic one, part of the ongoing struggle against inequality, discrimination, and, as one (not-removed) t-shirt stated, rape culture.
At no point was there mention of the Raelian Movement, nor of the extraterrestrials—the Elohim—who created us all.
The march itself was peaceful, with an atmosphere of giddy empowerment, and for the most part the NYPD was a quiet presence along the predetermined route. The one exception: at 48th and 7th Avenue, it was clear that the police were not going to allow the marchers to go rogue and head into Times Square, where apparently the tourists are all super-sensitive and need special protection from any sort of nudity.
The scene at Bryant Park was frankly a bit of creepshow, and though the speakers kept their remarks brief and most marchers split off into smaller groups, some women quickly grew weary of and irritated by the swarms of men with cameras.
NYC Allows Women To Go Topless