New Hampshire

A Court Denies that Charges Against Topless Beachgoers is Gender-Based Discrimination

The city defines nudity as showing nipple, but only if you're a woman.

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|||Andreea Dobrescu/Dreamstime.com
Andreea Dobrescu/Dreamstime.com

Just days after Maroon 5's Adam Levine went shirtless on national television without the threat of a Janet Jackson–style "nipplegate," a court weighed in on which nipples are acceptable in public places.

In 2016, three women were ticketed at Weirs Beach in Laconia, New Hampshire, for not covering up during the Memorial Day weekend visit. Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair, and Ginger Pierro were practicing yoga and sunbathing when some beachgoers asked the police to demand that the women cover their breasts. The trio refused, and the three women were then arrested for violating the city's ordinance prohibiting public nudity.

After a motion to dismiss the charges was denied, the trio appealed the decision, aiming to overturn not just their convictions but the ordinance itself. The statute defines nudity as the "showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering, or the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple." The Laconia 3 believe the breast clause is a form of gender-based discrimination, since both women and men have nipples.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has now ruled against the women. The judges acknowledge that the ordinance required "the draping of more parts of the female body than of the male," but they argue that this was only because female bodies have more procreative functions than male bodies do.

Two judges disagreed. In their dissent, they offered the example of a man and a woman wearing the same beachwear. If that beachwear doesn't cover their nipples, only the woman would be engaging in unlawful behavior. This, the dissenters argued, was a "gender-based classification." The separate definitions of nudity for both women and men were also a gender-based classification, they said. Laws based on differences, they warned, can go too far in mandating behavior.

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61 responses to “A Court Denies that Charges Against Topless Beachgoers is Gender-Based Discrimination

  1. Maudire la difference!

  2. We must tread carefully for fear of repeating one of the many “I saw a tit!” mass suicides that litter history.

    Joking aside, I was very nearly the victim of an actual tit exposure, perhaps one of the only people in the world who can claim such. Thankfully for my sake it was the guy standing next to me who had the pregnant female drag queen’s breast milk squirted on his face from the stage. That shit, if anything, should not be acceptable.

    1. “…pregnant female drag queen…”

      I am not sure how those words go together to describe something that makes sense. Similar to the square root of negative one.

      1. You’re telling me.

      2. A drag queen is a cross-dresser, not a transgender person. She was a pregnant cis-gender woman wearing the pants in the family.

        1. She was a female who dressed in female garb and lip-synced to female songs. We just kinda went along with it.

          1. At least she didn’t take dick in the ass right in front of you.

  3. So tell me, exactly, how the busy bodies, the officers, or the court knew the sunbathers were female?
    Can’t be because the nipples in question were / are pendulous, the obesity epidemic has made that part equal at least.

    All they had to say was “I am feeling like a man today”, and no worries.

  4. I’ll put $1,000 down that says that the “some beachgoers” contains a confounding gender bias.

  5. He who owns the beach makes the rules. The problem is that government owns the beach, and as a public resource morally needs to provide the lowest common denominator rules. Which unfortunately for the culture wars means erring on the side of a bit more conservative rules.

    1. Seems like no discrimination would be the lowest common denomenator.

      And morally, since these seized the land in the first place, they have no morality to consider.

  6. Sorry to go off-topic, but I’m glad I don’t live in Virginia. The Democratic Party’s leadership there is plagued with the racism and toxic masculinity I thought was exclusive to Republicans.

    Another accuser has just come forward to accuse Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax of raping her in college

    Northam should have resigned already. Now Fairfax needs to step down as well.

    1. Trump first.

      1. That’s a disappointing response, Tony. Your white male privilege might be affecting your ability to see racism and rape culture as the national security threats they are.

        Besides, we in #TheResistance can’t compare Drumpf to Hitler, then allow our own politicians to only be as good as Drumpf is, now can we? We’re on the right side of history. We must demand our leaders be better than Drumpf.

        1. As long as we don’t demand so much better that we replace Democrats with Republicans in governorships.

          1. And there you are, a demonstration that most the fervor is just partisan politics as usual. Progressives like Tony don’t REALLY care about this stuff. It is just another hypocritical weapon to use against political opponents.

            1. It’s an eminently pro-human, pragmatic, and rational viewpoint. A Democratic governor who did blackface in the 80s will harm fewer Virginians than a Republican who didn’t (if they can find one).

              For the millionth time, it’s not my fault Republicans are sociopathic religious nutfucks who couldn’t give a shit less if the world exploded.

              1. A Democratic governor who did blackface in the 80s will harm fewer Virginians than a Republican who didn’t (if they can find one).

                Fewer Virginians perhaps, since I suppose you actually have to be born before you can be a Virginian. Fewer people? Impossible at this point.

                1. Is this about abortion? I’ve had it up to hear with goddamn abortion. Where did you people come from all of a sudden? This is why you tolerate the worst person in America as president, right? Because he’ll accomplish your no. 1 goal: forcing women to give birth against their will? That’s what this is all about. If only pro-choicers were as fucking crazy as you, we might not be sitting here letting you ruin women’s lives because Jesus. Oh well, it will just make everyone hate you more.

  7. Men’s nipples aren’t attached to titties. Duh.

    1. They are if the owner of the titties self-identifies as a man.

      Am I doing this right?

    2. But the titties aren’t really the issue, its the nipples. As long as you have a pasty just covering the nipple your titties can be bouncing and flopping all over the place, even on national broadcast television

    3. ” they offered the example of a man and a woman wearing the same beachwear. If that beachwear doesn’t cover their nipples, only the woman would be engaging in unlawful behavior.”

      Hmmmmmmm…what about a man in a string bikini? Cock coverage?

      1. The “same beachwear” analogy is only partially apt. It works for a man and a woman both wearing trunks, but not as well the other way, as a woman’s genital can be fully covered using less fabric than most men’s

        Even among men some bananas can fit into smaller hammocks than others

  8. Wasn’t Levine wearing a lampshade?

  9. Men and women are different. Who knew?

    ” The Laconia 3 believe the breast clause is a form of gender-based discrimination, since both women and men have nipples.”

    They say that both men and women get pregnant these days too.

    And some men have man boobs.

    ‘ Two judges disagreed. In their dissent, they offered the example of a man and a woman wearing the same beachwear. If that beachwear doesn’t cover their nipples, only the woman would be engaging in unlawful behavior. This, the dissenters argued, was a “gender-based classification.” ‘

    And if a man wore the *same* bikini as a woman, his dick is probably visible. Think he’s not gonna get arrested for having his dick only held down by a gstring?

    If you grab a man’s chest, it may be assault, but it won’t be sexual assault. Strange how I’ve never heard about the diligent work of feminists trying to overturn *that* bit of sexism.

    1. Does this shirt make my breasts look big?

      1. Chuckie “Moobs” Schumer would like to have a word with you.

  10. Strangely enough, my first argument with my ex-wife, back when I was courting her, was related to this topic. When she and I returned to my apartment after spending Shabbat dinner with a friend and his family, I told her that there was a problem with her outfit …

    1. She forgot to wear a shirt?

      Her shirt was made of bacon a la Lady Gaga?

      1. Whoa, who knew?!?!

        I REALLY want to meet Lady Gaga and-or ANY ladies who wear shirts or bras made of bacon!!! Maybe even bacon drenched in chocolate sauce…

        I NEEED this badly!!! Will someone PLEASE start a go-fund-me for this?!?!?

        (How much for Lady Gaga to start with, anyway? I am hoping NOT to get Reason.com busted for “slave trafficking” here, by the way, I am just asking for a friend).

        1. Moot point anyway, she’s in her “natural” phase right now, and I don’t mean foodstuffs.

  11. I watched a Playboy doc on HBO long ago. The show pixelized the gawgeous playmates’ titties but showed the repulsive fat old man boobs flopping as they frolicked by the pool.

    That was some fucked up shit….

    1. Yes, and I bet they did NOT even bother to ask the owners of the “repulsive fat old man boobs flopping as they frolicked by the pool”, whether they identified as male or female… Amirite?!?!?

  12. Honestly I would love to see the court agree with their premise, but take it in the opposite direction and force men to cover their nipple, just for the lulz

    1. A new market for the manzierre.

    2. I would agree that the beach should be an exception, but generally I would be pleased if men put their shirts back on in public.

  13. “Counsel, do you have any more exhibits before I go to my bunk, er, chambers, to write my ruling?”

  14. Frankly, it’s pretty obviously gender based discrimination. That said, it’s also a social norm which are often codified.

    I’ve often wondered when these types of regulations would be taken aim at given the current expansive view of ‘gender discrimination’, but really it happens all the time it’s just that women don’t usually like that kind of woman so the attempts go nowhere.

    If the patriarchy was real, you’d think this would already have been overturned though.

    1. Patriarchy, famous for permissive female dress. Unlike those progressive feminists places like Saudi Arabia.

      1. Yet, somehow strip clubs and Hooter’s are examples of the Patriarchy at work, as well.

      2. Saudi Arabia allows polygamy. In such a society, there is greater male competition for females, so men want their women covered up. Western men can only have one wife at a time, which leaves a wider market of single women available for sex.

    2. Right. If the court majority had admitted “yes, this is discrimination, but it’s justified and pass scrutiny because …”, they wouldn’t be a laughing stock.

      1. Yes, the coherent decision would have been for the court to say that it’s OK for the law to treat men and women differently in cases where the discrimination is based on real differences between men and women. Instead, they insisted against the facts that men and women were NOT being treated differently under this law because “traditional understanding” and “conventions of our society” and stuff. Part of the problem is the law referring to “nipples” rather than boobs. I’m guessing the authors of the law despaired of their ability to define what a “boob” is.

  15. To the dissenting judges

    If I, or many men, particularly of a certain age, wore a bikini thong, I would be illegal, as it would NOT cover everything

  16. But. But. The government of New Hampshire is pretty much all Democrats. Why do they allow this sexist, genderist bigotry to exist?

  17. . This is a dumb argument.

    The prohibition is not against exposing nipples. It is against exposing naughty bits.

    Naughty bits differ based on a couple of criteria. Chief among those is gender, but also age. If you are under 2, you can pretty much get away with exposing all of your bits in many situations. From 2 to 4 or so, girls and boys both can go topless without risking offense. And of course for adults, both genders cannot expose the naughty bits below the waist and women have naughty bits on their chest.

    You can argue that we should not view boobs as naughty bits if you want, but you are not likely to get much purchase on that idea.

    One could make a completely separate argument about whether or not nude beaches should be allowed, or whether nudity in other locations is acceptable, but claiming it is gender discrimination to proclaim that women and men have different naughty bits is just plain stupid.

    1. On the other side, in support of the topless yoga arguments I will note that the definition of what is a naughty bit has changed quite a bit over time. Witness the thong bikini. I daresay that would have gotten you arrested in the 1960s. Definitely in years prior to that.

      So perhaps we will move towards an acceptance of topless women on the beach before too long. One can always dream,….

      1. Be careful what you wish for. There will be 10 old hags for every young thing. Not inviting at all.

        1. Women are subjected to the display of non-obese, 239-pound men and seem to survive.

          America and its citizens are tougher than stale-thinking, change-fearing people claim to believe.

  18. Buttocks are procreative?

    1. They’re advertising for procreative activity. So are boobs.

    2. See “secondary sex characteristics”.

      1. So are beards. Guys don’t have to hide them, and with the WWI generation being gone and modern clippers inexpensively available to all, beards are an acceptable fashion statement. So, why not female breasts?

        Besides, take a look at many of the depictions of France as a woman – there is almost always one breast exposed. Of course, that is France, but I’m sure we all recall the National Geographic articles of yore about various African tribes. The American restrictions against exposed adult breasts and chests are no less sexually discriminatory that some Moslem groups insisting on women covering their hair – both grew out of a sensible protective clothing in pre-industrial societies (cold northern Europe and brutal desert sun), but both have long outlived any usefulness and remain only because of tradition. Time to retire them!

  19. If the women had won I bet the courts would be flooded with sexual harassment cases. Men on the beach will leer at the women, do some wolf calls and maybe snap a few pics.

    1. It is likely that these women are part of the quixotic attempt to make female breasts non, er, titillating.

      1. You’re not allowed to be titillated by them without enthusiastic consent.

  20. Adam Levine rushed some blood into this controversy with his topless half-time show at the Super Bowl. If Adam became unhappy with his male gender identification and announced he would henceforth be Eve Levine, it seems to me that his nipple exposure would instantly be illegal. It doesn’t take hormones or breast implants or anything, because size is not the emerging legal standard for female identity.

    The only thing that matters is that Eve thinks she is female and is exposing herself. It is an expansion of intent doctrine.

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