Why I Oppose the Asbury Park Topless Beach Proposal

FOR DOWNLOAD MORE GALLERY It seems at first contradictory that a nudist would have a problem with a legal topless beach.

But the proposed topless section at a beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey, is on the table for all the wrong reasons.

First, the idea is from a local woman named Reggie Flimlin who owns Yoga Basin, and is quoted as making this astounding statement: "I just thought it would be appropriate for Asbury Park, given how open and accepting we are, to celebrate women's rights in a particular area on the beach." She also stated that "currently men are topless and women should have the same right."

That would be like leaders of the Civil Rights movement in the sixties advocating "coloreds only" bathrooms and drinking fountains. One cannot "celebrate" any right by advocating segregation. Either the right exists, or it doesn't.

Secondly, the topless beach is heralded as being a boost to tourism. This I simply do not understand. Are they proposing to use exposed female breasts as an attraction, like they do at the topless pools in Las Vegas? Are they hoping to draw in more women who want to sunbathe topless, or more men who want to look at them?

Third, this effort totally undermines the women's topfree movement, which advocates equality between the sexes when it comes to taking off one's shirt in public. By creating a "topless" zone on a beach through legislation, this takes away a woman's right to be topfree anywhere except the designated area, sort of like an outdoor strip club. While topfree activists like Andrea Simoneau and so many others are trying hard to take back their female breasts from male ownership and sexualization, a topless beach only serves to further perpetuate the myth that a woman's body from the waist up is somehow lewd and a danger to children and society in general.

Dr. Paul Rapoport of TERA has posted the following statement: "A specific area set aside by any government where women may be topfree is just another means to control them and deny them equality with men. There must be no legislated topfree beach in New Jersey. If women decide to congregate topfree voluntarily in one or more places, that's another matter. They must be lawfully free to be topfree just about anywhere, not in some legislated ghetto --- beach or other."

I was stunned when AANR decided to jump on the Asbury Park bandwagon by offering support for this ill-conceived topless beach proposal.
On Tuesday, the American Association for Nude Recreation sent a detailed letter of support backed by statistics and information in credible publications such Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today to the city of Asbury Park, New Jersey. The city is considering designating a portion of the Asbury Park beachfront as “topless optional.” The package sent by AANR showed the benefits of European-style sunbathing in regard to tourism dollars and community acceptance and was sent by e-mail, fax and Federal Express.

AANR also included a small donation to the city’s Parks and Recreation summer project fund. City officials will meet on July 7 to further discuss the top-free proposal.
This is not a nude beach proposal. This is a proposal to treat women as second-class citizens simply because of the physical makeup of their bodies. AANR should immediately withdraw its support of this topless beach and advocate a woman's right to be topfree anywhere men enjoy the same right.

It has taken years for most states to recognize a woman's right to breastfeed a child in public, and it will take more time to decriminalize women's breasts for other non-sexual activities, such as sunbathing, or merely trying to keep cool on a hot day.

As far as I can determine, while there are legal nude beaches in America, there are no legal "topless" beaches such as the one being proposed. South Beach in Miami has long been unofficially topfree, but this has happened over time due to many less-inhibited European tourists frequenting the area.

Those who view this Asbury Park proposal as a "stepping stone" to a nude beach are pretty naive. Unlike Florida, which has the most nudists per capita in the United States and has 1800 miles of coastline, New Jersey already has Gunnison Beach and only 127 miles of coastline. Other than Friends of Gunnison Beach, I am not aware of any active movements in New Jersey to create a new nude beach. I am also unaware of any groups actively pushing for a "topless beach". This Asbury Park proposal does not come from any grassroots efforts, but from an idea of one businessperson looking to boost tourism.

And unlike Gunnison, which is a half-mile walk from the nearest parking lot and pretty remote, the Asbury Park beach will be overlooked by a high rise for senior citizens.

The city council will take up the matter on Wednesday, July 7. It is likely that there will be some heated discussion, especially from people who oppose the beach idea. One thing politicians don't like is controversy, so unless there is overwhelming support for this idea, the project will likely never get off the ground. It could be that AANR is banking on the beach's failure, using this news story merely as a means to achieve some cheap publicity.

Finding a silver lining in this whole mess is difficult, but one could say that the proposal for the topless beach. albeit ill-conceived and flawed, is a further indication that society is softening on nudity.

But the bottom line is that when it comes to freedom, men and women must be treated equally. Organizations like AANR who stray from this basic idea in the interest of sensationalist publicity should know better than to support regressive legislation.

I urge all readers to write to AANR and let them know how you feel about this issue. The future of nudism and naturism is in YOUR hands. FOR WATCH MORE VIDEO