NYC Desnudas Are Victims of Censorship Double Standards
The desnudas of NYC are being criticized for exposing their breasts in public and are victims of censorship double standards.
If you’ve been living under a rock for a few months, you may not have heard of the Desnudas. The desnudas are a group of women that wear a bikini bottom, heels, and their bodies covered in paint. Desnudas is a Spanish word for naked that the painted women of Times Square have embraced. The earliest sightings of the women date back to the summer of 2013 but the summer of 2015 has had a least a dozen women that are painted. But these women are the subject of four out of every five complaints received by email or Twitter by the Times Square Alliance. People are upset about the nudity, being touched by the women, or hassling of money. But the Naked Cowboy, a street performer that wears only cowboy boots, a hat, and briefs, with a guitar strategically placed to give the illusion of nudity, makes $1,000 a day because people flock to see him. He is allowed to prance in his underwear but the desnudas women aren’t? The censorship double standards in the media and it needs to be put to a stop.
Desnudas women combine Las Vegas flair with a New York City touch. The women wear large feathered head pieces and carry feathers as well. Their paint is usually red, white, and blue and tributes to NYC love. And they claim they are “walking art.” The women are hard workers, even though they don’t match the standards of a regular “nine to five” job. They are outside for 10-12 hours each day. People are constantly taking photographs of them, some tip them and others don’t. The desnudas require a large amount of self-confidence. They are baring it all and allowing photographs of them. They tend to make around $300 a day. Then, they go home, wash up, and start the trend the next day. What they are doing is not against the law in anyway. People just get upset about a couple of nipples, which everyone is born with.
The Times Square Alliance is talking about dividing Times Square into zones. There will be one zone for pedestrians, one for public events, and one for solicitation area where the costumed characters and desnudas would be permitted to go. Mayor Bill de Blasio has created a task force to come up with ideas. There will even be an “express route” for pedestrians so they could avoid the craziness that is Times Square. It currently only a proposal and nothing is set in stone just yet. They claim is for the panhandling and not the nudity. Regardless, it’s still “hiding” the women from the masses because they simply don’t like the desnudas. They probably wouldn’t have even considered the separation zones if the women didn’t have their breasts exposed. Why didn’t they think about doing this when the Naked Cowboy first made his appearance?
The great thing about them is that the police can’t do much to stop them. Over two decades ago, the highest court allowed women to bare their breasts in public. There are only three states that don’t allow the showing of female breasts. They are Indiana, Tennessee, and Utah. 33 states allow women to be topless in public. And the other 14 states have ambiguous laws on the matter. But over half of the United States allow the female breasts to be exposed. Why are they still getting criticized? Also, them asking for tips is also legal. The characters that are also seen in Times Square, such as Woody or Cookie Monster, also ask for tips when people want to take their picture. Another infuriating fact is that the original “naked” performer, the Naked Cowboy, is against the desnudas women.
The Naked Cowboy is complaining about them. He said to NY Daily News, “There are so many boobs, you don’t look at them anymore.” So, he’s allowed to walk around with his guitar and collect tips but women that are doing the same thing aren’t? He also wore a bra to support the city and state politicians to regulate the desnudas. If he is so against the idea of the desnudas, he should wear a shirt or the bra all the time. The Naked Cowboy also went on to say “This place [Times Square] has been here for a million years and it’ll always be here.” Maybe the Naked Cowboy should be studying his history and spend less time fighting against the desnudas.
But there is a glimmer in hope in accepting this women who are embracing their bodies. Just as there are many people complaining, there are just as many people that are okay with it. Some are rejoicing for the liberation of the female breasts. Some are just fans of body art. And even others enjoy them because just another aspect of how unpredictable NYC can be. Back in August 2015, a group of over 300 protesters stood outside of Mayor de Blasio’s office who supported the desnudas and asserted their legal right to expose their breasts. They were holding up signs that said “Women breasts are family friendly” and “Demand topless equality.” They parade from Columbus Circle to Bryant Park. Manhattan isn’t the only city that will have the GoTopless Parade. The parade is also staged about 60 cities worldwide.
There is even a campaign about letting nipples go free. Free the Nipple is an equality movement focused on the double standards regarding censorship started by activist and filmmaker Lina Esco. It hopes to resolve the decriminalization of female toplessness and to empower women in an effort towards global gender equality. It was upsetting Esco that even though in some states it’s legal for women to be topless, they are still at risk at being charged with public indecency, disturbing the peace, or lewd behavior. In 2005, Phoenix Feeley was arrested and incarcerated for being topless. Since toplessness was legal back then, Feeley was released and received $29,000 in damages. In 2015, Iceland military police (MP) Björt Ólafsdottir posted a picture of herself topless in support of the cause. A lot of celebrities are supporting the campaign as well. Celebrities include Chelsea Handler, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Scout Willis. Esco also released a feature film in 2014 entitled Free The Nipple. It was shot in 2012 and was impossible to release which promoted her to start the movement.
Women use their breasts to feed their children but then claim they don’t want those same children to see a breast in public. The negative stigmaattached to exposed woman’s breasts needs to put to an end. If the women don’t mind being naked and are doing it on their own free will, they shouldn’t have to be criticized for doing so. We were all born naked, why are we still so ashamed of it? This is the image of sexism. New York City is willing to revamp a staple NYC attraction because they don’t like breasts. It’s going to be getting colder within the next few months, so we will probably see less of the desnudas. Hopefully, in the summer of 2016, there will be even more desnudas and maybe break the double standards of censorship.
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