Women's Bare Breasts:
Equal Rights or Double Standard?

March 11, 1998, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

On March 11th 1998, Paul Rapoport presented an hour-long talk at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario. The title was: "Women's Bare Breasts: Equal Rights or Double Standard?" Dr. Rapoport is President of the Topfree Equal Rights Association.

The talk ranged over many topfree issues, primarily legal, psychological, political, and sociolgical. It reviewed cases around North America (in both the U.S.A. and Canada) before concentrating on events in Cambridge Ontario in 1997. Dr. Rapoport showed that the main opposition to topfree women results from confusion between nudity and sexuality. He showed that topfree women do not harm children or cause violence to women, contrary to the claims made by ignorant political grandstanders in Canada and their supporters, many of whom are members of extremist groups.

Ultimately, he said, the matter is one of equal rights for men and women. It is also a matter of respecting the Ontario Court of Appeal decision on women's topfreedom, which ruled in Ontario in 1996 that it was legal.

To illustrate his points, Dr. Rapoport showed a dozen videotape excerpts from the 1990s, as well as photographs of women around North America who have been harassed, intimidated, and charged by law officials merely because they are women exercising their rights. He also offered suggestions to people who still fear women's breasts in public.

At the end of the talk, Dr. Rapoport introduced the two heroic women from the Cambridge-Kitchener area who were charged in 1997 for swimming topfree: Jeannette Tossounian and Fatima Pereira Henson. Both defeated the charge, and Ms. Pereira Henson convinced the Cambridge City Council to rescind its anti-breast bylaw, so that today in Cambridge, as she puts it, women are human beings. She and Ms. Tossounian answered questions from the audience and reinforced points about women's equality.

Dr. Rapoport is one of the foremost authorities in Canada on the subject of women's topfree rights. He has written many articles on it and has appeared many times on radio and television. He is available to give his presentation at other locations in Canada and the U.S.A. This one was very well received by the audience, which was mostly university students. It was sponsored by the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at McMaster University.