NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Women around the world took their tops off on Sunday for the annual “Go Topless Day.”
The protest is meant to draw attention to what some call inequality between men and women when it comes to baring their chests in public. It is organized by GoTopless.org.
Dozens of New Yorkers took part in the event. One woman, Moira Johnston, is trying to get 25,000 signatures on an online petition to the White House by Sept. 13th.
Johnston appeared on WLNY’s The Couch — topless, of course — to explain her stance.
“It is totally legal in the entire state of New York, since 1992, for women to go topless, anywhere that guys cans go without a shirt,” Johnston explained. “That includes in public and in the business sector as well.”
Johnston has been advocating for topless equality since January. Her behavior was sparked when she tried to practice yoga without a shirt. The studio she belonged to, while they allowed men to workout bare-chested, didn’t grant women the same rights.
“[The studio] said it wasn’t okay,” Johnston said. “That made me feel passionate about it. It was a situation that I thought was safe and socially appropriate, and so when I realized people don’t know that it’s legal, I realized that I can make it happen.”
She admits that while she feels confident making a feminist statement by showing off her chest, not everyone feels the same way.
“It does make other people uncomfortable, depending on the situation,” Johnston said. “I know I’m living my truth, and that’s what’s important to me.”
Even if it means getting arrested.
“I was in an area of Union Square where there’s a children’s park, and a bunch of parents had called to complain, probably because they don’t know its legal,” Johnston said. “So the police department came…and said they would arrest me if I didn’t put on my shirt, and when I didn’t put on my shirt, they arrested me, and detained me.”
Johnston points out that women can go topless anywhere that guys can without a shirt. That’s on the street, in the subway, on beaches, in swimming pools, indoors and at businesses like gyms and spas.
Her current goal is to work on educating businesses and having them understand the right of a women to patronize them sans shirt.
“My family is supportive and my friends as well,” Johnston said. “My friends, they don’t necessarily feel comfortably doing the same…they don’t necessarily want to join me.”
To see Johnston’s full interview, check out the video below.