Florida County Tickets Woman for Sunbathing Topless on the Beach

Nudity Ordinance TicketCredit: Fallon JohnsonOn a warm day in May, Fallon Johnson, a 21-year-old waitress, found herself on a deserted public beach in St. Augustine, Florida. She decided to stretch out in the sun and subsequently drifted off to sleep. She doesn't know how long she was asleep before she was awakened by a police officer asking to see her ID. With her mind still hazy from being abruptly awakened, she wasn't sure what law she'd broken, but she handed over her New York driver's license.

Johnson, who had been sunbathing topless, was unaware that female shirtlessness is illegal in St. Johns County. She was handed a ticket and fined $53 for violating the county's public nudity ordinance, which was drafted by the county's board of commissioners in 1992.

The ordinance states that "appearing nude in public places is still contrary to the general societal disapproval that the people of St. Johns County have of persons appearing nude" and "the mere appearance of persons in the nude in public places generally increases incidents of prostitution, sexual assaults and batteries, attracts other criminal activity to the community, and encourages degradation of women and other activities which break down family structures."

The ordinance generously offers women the chance to choose how they cover up, stating that "each female person may determine which 1/4 of her breast surface area" to conceal. But that covered area must include the nipple and areola. 

Thirty-seven states have some sort of legislation making it illegal for a woman to be publicly topless, according to director of Free The Nipple Lina Esco. Free the Nipple is a movie about women launching a movement against the censorship of nudity.

Recently, Scout Willis, the daughter of Bruce Willis, made some comments endorsing the film after she walked around New York City wearing only a floral skirt. In a blog post on xoJane, Willis wrote:

There are also some people who would criticize my choice to relate nipples with equality at all. To me, nipples seem to be at the very heart of the issue. In the 1930s, men's nipples were just as provocative, shameful, and taboo as women's are now, and men were protesting in much the same way. In 1930, four men went topless to Coney Island and were arrested. In 1935, a flash mob of topless men descended upon Atlantic City, 42 of whom were arrested. Men fought and they were heard, changing not only laws but social consciousness. And by 1936, men's bare chests were accepted as the norm. 

If the government wants to regulate breasts, then it should at least be equitable about it: Give large men with big tits tickets, too.

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  • waffles||

    Give large men with big tits tickets, too

    I can see this getting traction. Of course the real answer is for women to go topless more often. I do worry that this will desexualize breasts. But I suppose I can live with that.

  • Robert||

    NY's law against topless ladies was struck down decades ago as sex discrimination.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Free the Nips!

  • Pope Jimbo||

    domo arigato!

  • WTF||

    Lacist!

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Lacist? Maybe a plick, but I don't think lacist.

  • kinnath||

    You could at least link to a version of the photo with out the modesty bar.

  • BilboTeabaggins||

    If perky 21yo tits are wrong...

  • BilboTeabaggins||

    O/T, but somewhat-related:

    The combination or sororities and tumblr is probably the greatest thing to ever happen.

  • ||

    (TIWTANFL)

  • Raston Bot||

    Cite your source material!!

  • BilboTeabaggins||

    http://kappadeltaucf.tumblr.com/

    Even the ugly ones are hot.

  • ||

    As long as we're going to have an extensive commons, including publicly owned and accessible outdoor spaces, it seems reasonable for the public to get to decide the rules of its use. Want fewer tragedies of the commons? Put less shit in the "commons". I don't think Florida is exactly bereft of private beaches that allow fully nudity anyway.

    This was the same bullshit that got trotted out during the OWS encampments in public space as well.

  • Tonio||

    it seems reasonable for the public to get to decide the rules of its use

    As long as those rules don't infringe on people's rights, presumably?

    I don't think Florida is exactly bereft of private beaches that allow fully nudity anyway.

    An interesting speculation. I thought that ocean beaches were public up to the mean high tide line.

  • ||

    As long as those rules don't infringe on people's rights, presumably?

    Well, no, not really. By nature of being rules they are going to infringe on people's rights. Not letting people take a dump on the sidewalk or drive an ATV through the dog park or catch squirrels and cook them over an open fire at the state park is infringing on their rights. It's an unfortunate consequence of putting things in the public commons. Here again, Want fewer tragedies of the commons? Put less shit in the "commons".

    An interesting speculation. I thought that ocean beaches were public up to the mean high tide line.

    Admittedly I was doing a bit of assuming there, but this is actually an interesting read on the topic:

    http://www.floridabar.org/DIVC.....enDocument

  • ||

    That article may as well have been written about Malibu. We have exactly the same thing going on here.

  • ||

    I remember seeing blurbs about that in the news. Mostly pitting rich celebrity beach front property owners about the downtrodden proletariat. Everything has to have a class component these days...

  • ||

    *against, not about

  • ||

    Some of the property owners are overtly dickish about blocking access to public land, or in some instances ruining the public property* they knew was there when they purchased their property.

    *One of the few places in LA dark enough to watch a meteor shower was a very wide stretch of beach in Playa del Rey. One of the home owners disliked this and has installed a fuck-ton of flood lights to shine out across the beach. No Leonids for jesse.

  • ||

    Yeah, I don't really have any sympathy for the property owners, except in the narrow sense that I think chunks of the beach should be up for private grabs. The coverage was just tedious with the rich vs poor overtones.

  • ||

    Agreed. Unfortunately most of the people writing on the topic are lazy hacks.

  • Tonio||

    Although this isn't much of a problem these days, what about shipwreck victims? Or more likely an ocean swimmer caught in current and unable to land where he started from? That's the best rationale for keeping beaches public up to the dune or tide line.

  • ||

    You could theoretically make a similar argument for most types of property, roads, easements, etc. I'd like to think that the vast majority of the time such a problem wouldn't cause an issue for the property owner. But I suppose worse case scenario you could trespass intentionally to save the life or lives and deal with the repercussions in terms of compensating the owner later.

  • Brett L||

    "Stay the fuck out of Malibu, Lebowski!"

  • Swiss Servator, CH yeah!||

    +1 White Russian

  • ||

    BTW, I should point out that "tragedy of the commons" isn't precisely correct here since there is no shared resource being depleted by public access. But it's an easily relatable concept of a similar nature and identical solution.

  • steve walsh||

    They can count on my support!

  • Joe_in_Indiana||

    What do we do with transgenders and asexual people?

    This is getting silly.

  • Tonio||

    Why would "we" have to "do" anything with or to those people in this context?

  • ||

    I don't think this was intended as seriously as you took it, but in terms of the way the law is currently structured, because a person with, say, a penis and implants replicating female breasts throws a wrench in the gender requirements associated with toplessness and its legality (or lack thereof).

  • Tonio||

    Why would there be any gender differences in this regard?

    Also, you occasionally read a story about a guy with man-boobs being asked to cover up by the po-po.

  • ||

    Why would there be any gender differences in this regard?

    In terms of the law, I don't know how it would be handled. If the person identifies as female, but is biologically male with breast implants, are his/her nipples male or female for purposes of the statute? That's where you could theoretically end up, I guess.

  • Tonio||

    I was particularly curious about his inclusion of asexual people. Perhaps he thinks that those are people without genitalia, as opposed to people who simply have low/no sex drive.

  • derpules||

    "transgender" is now a slur, the new appropriate term is "reality-challenged"

  • waffles||

    +1 T-slur

  • sarcasmic||

    While I'm generally not one of those "Let's be more like Europe" kind of people, when it comes to nipples I say "Let's be more like Europe."

  • ||

    It's a slippery slope from nipples to 85 year old leather-skinned guys with hair every place but their head in Speedos. Be careful what you wish for.

  • Tonio||

    No slippery slope at all. Either there is an individual right to be bare-chested in public or their isn't. Are you really asserting a right to have people who you find unattractive cover up for you?

  • Ivan Pike||

    Either there is an individual right to be bare-chested in public or their isn't.

    Does "society" get a say in that? Can they determine what is socially acceptable or not, and enforce those things that are not?

  • np||

    No.

  • ||

    ROADZ!!!!!!

    But seriously, the practical implications of that would be pretty retarded.

  • np||

    Weren't you just advocating for privatization?

  • ||

    Yes. Those aren't conflicting positions. Public spaces by nature of their shared ownership and access entail public control. That's precisely WHY I prefer privatization of the vast majority of public space so that issues like this are non-existent or become simple property rights issues.

  • Ivan Pike||

    No

    Why not? A community has no say in what goes on in the common areas of the community?

  • ||

    Get a fucking sense of humor for christ's sake. It was a joke about the stereotypical European old dude creeping out the topless beaches.

    FWIW, I find all rules regarding public dress and behavior to be completely arbitrary, which is why I think there should be a lot fewer public spaces.

  • ||

    Do I want to know the image search you did for that?

  • ||

    Literally "european old guy speedo" at Google.

    And if you replicate that search you will see that my choice was merciful

  • ||

    Ha. That I don't doubt.

  • From the Tundra||

    My neighbors are from Belarus. Lovely people. Her father, a retired boxer, liked to mow the lawn in nothing but a speedo. Imagine a fairly large Russian dude, completely covered in hair, pushing a mower in the suburbs of Minneapolis.

    Quite a spectacle and, yes, PM was very merciful.

  • gimmeasammich||

    From the Tundra, I hope you haven't made the mistake of calling them Russian to their faces. If you have, then how long were you in the hospital when the father came out of retirement to make sure you understand that Belarus is not Russia?

  • From the Tundra||

    Lol. No way I would make that mistake.

    If you were casting a stereotypical Russian for a movie,though, this is your guy.

  • Tonio||

    Get a fucking sense of humor for christ's sake.

    This from the poster who throws a hissy fit whenever someone makes an obvious play on his screen name? LOL.

  • ||

    Mistaking an obvious joke for something serious is of a slightly different nature than eventually getting annoyed with some idiot acting like an immature 5 year old and appending letters to your name to make menstrual jokes during the course of a more serious conversation. But then that's the kind of thing that would probably be lost on some idiot acting like an immature 5 year old and appending letters to your name to make menstrual jokes...

  • Tonio||

    Perhaps a fucking sense of humor would help you with that?

  • ||

    Maybe. I'll put myself on a steady diet of Adam Sandler films and see if it takes the edge off.

  • ||

    I'll put myself on a steady diet of Adam Sandler films and see if it takes the edge off.

    I don't think self-harm is the answer here, PM!

  • Brett L||

    And women about the same.

  • wareagle||

    yes, indeed. Go to a beach in Europe and there will be some woman you would be happy to help cover up. I guess the plus side is the Euros are way less uptight about how they look than we are.

  • KPres||

    They could stand to be a little more uptight about their teeth.

  • Libertarian||

    It's a slippery slope from nipples..

    Pardon me while I contemplate that phrase.....

  • Robert||

    Gotta say the pictorial & video ads for soap in continental Europe (women shown topless from the front) are a lot more realistic than in North Amer. In the last 20 yrs. in N. Amer. they've even been showing children wearing brightly colored swimsuits (so as to call att'n to their non-nudity) in bathtubs & showers, although I see with the ads for Tinti (Dutch IIRC) that practice may be spreading to Europe.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Nothing says, "We don't want to degrade women" quite like such paternalistic control over women's bodies, especially when the rules are different for men and women.

  • ||

    ^THIS^

  • KPres||

    But the rules aren't really different, it's that men and women are different. However they're written, the spirit of the laws are that you keep sexual parts of your body covered. Crying discrimination is like saying driver's licensing discriminates against blind people, so blind people should be able to get drivers licenses.

    Also, you could argue that breasts aren't sexual enough to warrant covering them, but if paternalism is your beef then you can't support covering anything.

  • ||

    it's that men and women are different.

    Unpossible.

    The argument is that breasts aren't a sex organ, so there's no reason women should have to cover them if men don't have to. Of course, female breasts *are* an evolutionary sex selection tool for men whereas male breasts are less so for women. But if we're honest with ourselves it's got a lot more to do with culture than biology.

  • Acosmist||

    ...no.

  • Robert||

    Men's & women's faces are different, you want them covered?

    I have breasts that'd be the envy of some women, but unfortunately because of fat. More broadly (heh) put, between them & my belly, I look pregnant. This is why I'm planning to take up vaping; substitute for eating.

  • ||

    I hate to admit I have been influenced by anything on xoJane, but I will admit that I am about ready to join the Free the Nipple movement.

  • ||

    Is it more or less just a "stick it to the man" type of thing? Because honestly, being of the privileged gender, I rarely find occasion to go out in public with no shirt.

  • Brian D||

    WHat? Dude, everyone knows that the "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" signs only apply to women.

  • ||

    Well if you look into the Scout Willis thing, it's less about being topless in public (which is A-OK in NYC) and more about the fact that a bunch of websites and social media services will censor nipples and/or kick you off for posting topless pics. And I think that makes those sites and services MOTHERFUCKING LAME.

  • ||

    As I said earlier this week, how pathetic is it that NYC is more permissive than a bunch of the internets?

  • ||

    Ahh. I hadn't bothered reading it, but that makes more sense.

    Honestly, that just doesn't even register on my give a shit meter. It's not hard to find tits on the internet, and I presume the sites that ban or censor them are doing so because of customer demand. If there's a market for an alternative it will materialize.

  • ||

    Yeah, but you want to find tits on the internet, I might just want to Instagram my own. Or I might not want to use any social service that wouldn't let me do so. Etc.

    And whatever customer base these services have that don't want tits shown, I want to shame them. I am very happy to go topless to shame mommies who are scared of their widdle ones seeing boobies, or whoever the culprits may be.

  • gimmeasammich||

    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I want to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Ivan Pike||

    ,iI am very happy to go topless to shame mommies who are scared of their widdle ones seeing boobies

    Why? Shouldn't you just go topless because it is your right?

  • ||

    Shouldn't you just go topless because it is your right?

    I think "wanting to" is a better reason than "because you can," but sure.

  • ||

    Admittedly, as seldom as I find reasons to go out in public shirtless, I've yet to find any reason to post shirtless pics of myself on social media, but if that's your thing I'm sure there are places available where you can do so (I think Tumblr is permissive of full nudity). Or if there's enough people who think like you do, a massive money-making opportunity in providing it. But I'm not much for the whole boycott/hashtag activism/name-and-shame thing more generally. Twitter and Instagram sparing themselves the wrath of a million outraged soccer moms vs showing Scout Willis' uncensored nips just doesn't raise my dander. But if it's your thing, godspeed on your inquisition against prudes.

  • Tonio||

    I'm not sure that shame is the right word Nicole. They are not ashamed, they are bothered by the actions of others and it brings out their worst CONTROL instincts for all to see.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Fuck xoJane and their brain-dead digital companions. Freeing the female nipple has everything to do with common sense, rationality, and intelligence- not some histrionic issuance from a group of cunt whiners most of whom wouldn't know a brain from tapioca.

  • ||

    Did you read the Scout Willis piece?

  • Agile Cyborg||

    This cretan cop clearly and infinitely lacks sexual class. What a grotesque waste of salary.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What this thread needs is more humorless whining. Where's Bo?

  • ||

  • radar||

    Dear god, hopefully saying his name doesn't summon him like Bloody Mary.

    No one is more tedious than Bo.

  • kibby||

    You have to say it three times, so shhhh!

  • Libertarian||

    Woo hoo! Saint Augustine makes Reason! Guess I need to ride my bike on the beach more.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    The question should be: Why do women have to show their cleavage? Of course, none of this is new. Women have been dressing at various times for centuries in a way that men can get a good look at their "melons".

    And then there are entire periods in history where women in certain societies were not allowed to show much of any part of their body. Cover up was the fashion under Queen Victoria. Obviously this is a culture thing.

    Muslim societies don't permit this. A Muslim guy I knew told me that the only reason Western women like to show their "boobs" and their legs, and almost their vaginas at public beaches, is they are making the statement that they are available for sex with the right man who might have something to offer the. That something could be anything from money to a big ding dong. The women could be married or not. My Muslim friend's interpretation was that women who dress immodestly are advertising themselves.

    But the point of this article could have been less indignation at the fact that the woman was ticketed by those naughtily police. It could have been some concern for any woman is is stupid enough to uncover her tits and then fall asleep on a so called deserted beach. Had the beach remained deserted, then what the hell. But instead of some cop coming along it could have been some nut case guy with a boner and no self-control who might have decided to rape her.

  • ||

    Leave it to you to say something so incomprehensibly stupid it almost me sympathetic to the Tumblr SJW brigade.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    PM,

    Fair enough. Now I know that you believe that my comment is "incomprehensibly stupid", the tell me why you believe it is stupid.

    All you are saying to me, and the other people who have posted comments on this article, is that you don't like my comment, but have nothing to offer that is intelligent.

    If you don't like what I say then refute is with a rebuttal that actually shows (and proves) that I have posted a comments that is stupid.

  • Civil Liberty||

    Sometimes even modestly cut apparel cannot contain my endowments adequately. Cleavage is pretty much standard unless I resort to a turtleneck or perhaps a burka.

  • Raston Bot||

    I bet some lame mom and her kid strolled over the dune and saw her napping, then called the cops.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Raston Bot,

    Was the Mom actually "physically" challenged? Do you know for sure that she was? How old was her kid.? Did he get an erection when he saw the bare breasted wonder woman napping? These are questions that will have to answered in a detailed investigation of this incident. Perhaps you can get that investigation started.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    But instead of some cop coming along it could have been some nut case guy with a boner and no self-control who might have decided to rape her.

    There you have it, girls and boys. The Progressive mind in all its glory.

    It must really wear you out to go through the day terrified of everyone and everything. I don't know how you can do it.

  • JEP||

    "some nut case guy with a boner and no self-control"

    Cops get boners, right? I already know they have no self control...

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    JEP

    In which case he could have raped her and then ticketed her on a charge of overt temptation. Ha!

  • datcv||

    That cop should have went ahead and shot her to prevent her from the horror of being raped. Stoning her to death may also have been appropriate.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Maybe that Florida county needs to enact a law that women displaying there humaluchas on the beach will be stoned to death by a committee of concerned citizens.

  • Response||

    I've been to a couple of nude beaches (all in the US). Not a pretty sight - maybe I'm just unlucky. The most unattractive people were there. Worrying about rape would not need to be considered.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Response,

    Good point. Those old ladies displaying their flabby old knockers probably was unattractive. Potential rapists probably went limp.

  • Robert||

    Yeah, like me at the north end of Haulover B. It's just the most comfortable way to swim, especially if you're obese.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    The late P Brooks,

    How is my comment "progressive"? If you were not such a moron you would know that those progressives probably endorse bare breasted women even in public.

    Get your ideology straightened out before you open you damn pie hole.

    Also, if you had any sense of humor you fucking idiot, you might have realized that my comments tended to be somewhat sarcastic and satirical.

    Unfortunately, you and those of your ilk take most things literally because you are too stupid to do otherwise. Have a nice day shit for brains.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    How is my comment "progressive"?

    I think your Progressive credentials are well established.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    The Late P Brooks,

    You still have not answered my question! How is my comment "progressive"? You know it is not, because public nudity is exactly one of the things that progressives would endorse.

    In any event, don't blame me because you are too stupid to provide an answer to a legitimate question. Have a nice day asshole.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    ALL JOKING AND SARCASM ASIDE. The PREMISE of the original article was that there should not be an ordinance prohibiting public nudity. The author is apparently offended that a county or city should have made any such statute to begin with.

    On the contrary, cities and counties have a perfect right to make rules about this. Until it is repealed it is legal, and the cop was right to ticket the woman. I have to idea if there were signs on the beach stating that public nudity was not allowed. If not, the city should take note that this should be done. Either that, or repeal the law.

    With that said, there is little cause for indignation because some city or county has a law prohibiting public nudity.

  • AlbedoAtoned||

    I got that it was about enforcing laws unfairly based on gender.

    Guys can go topless on a beach without any trouble, girls don't get that right. If everybody has equal rights, then either it should be illegal for anybody to go topless, or it should be legal for everybody to go topless.

    Then as transgender people gain more legal rights, there will be more controversy. If a transgender woman who hasn't undergone much hormone therapy if any goes to the beach, would she have to cover up since she is a girl, or would she be free since her breasts aren't that developed or are still masculine? Or would she have to cover up since (in that situation) she would be considered legally female? And if a transgendered man who still has his feminine breasts goes to the beach, would he have to cover up since he still has his feminine breasts, or would he be free to go topless since he (in that situation) was considered legally male?

    This could be solved through some complex double standards, or it could be solved quite easily by treating everybody the same. Over time, breasts would be de-sexualized, just as other things such as legs and any skin showing has become.

  • AlbedoAtoned||

    From what I gather, this law was created because people feared that topless women in public attracted things such as crimes, and was a danger to women. I'd wager that it is the very taboo nature of these things that encourage it's very sexual nature. If we say it is dangerous and cover it up, then people will want to see it. If we say some people have no self-control, we excuse their actions and put the responsibility and blame onto their supposed victims. I think rather than giving an excuse to those people, we should stop treating women like children who constantly need protection. If they choose for their own safety to keep their tops on, then let them, and if they choose to risk their lives by taking their tops off, it should be their right as adults. I have a very big feeling that if we stopped siding with the criminals, that the crime would go down as a natural de-sexualization of the female breasts, and as people stopped giving some men an excuse to not have any self-control. If these guys can't control themselves then they need to be banned from those places, not given an excuse.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    What a great fucking society we live in. If only LBJ were still around to see the results of his efforts.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Why so angry, bro?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Covering up nipples should be a crime.

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