Charleston Mayor Jones Will "Accomodate" Free the Nip Rally Planned Saturday for Charleston

Updated 5 years ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Charleston Mayor Jones Will  "Accomodate" Free the Nip Rally Planned Saturday for Charleston

The 'topfree' movement has arrived in West Virginia. After equality protests in many larger cities across the United States (and elsewhere), a "Free the Nip Top Freedom " rally will be held Saturday, June 24 from 5-6 p.m. at Summers Street or Court Street and march to Haddad Riverfront Park.

Organizers Kearston Sapphire Jackson and Sarah Starks invite male and female supporters of equality to join the march.They will join others to protest that women and girls must wear bras and shirts lest other people be offended, the Charleston Gazette reported.

The Free the Nip Top Freedom WV Facebook page has about 80 individuals listed as attending the rally. Attendees do NOT have to be topless -- they can wear a bikini top, chest art, or clothing, including males.

Ms. Jackson wrote on the FB page, that "our numbers on attendance are going up, and so are the amount of posts in this event. I just would like to make a reminder of the art build."  The preparatory meeting will be Wednesday, June 23 from 6-9 p.m. at 520 Kanawha Blvd. W. "We will need posters, markers, paints, paint brushes, stencils, card stock or cardboard to make stencils."

WV filmmaker Curtis Feedzille will produce a documentary of the event. He indicated up front that he will respect the right of protestors to choose whether or not to be filmed. 

"My ragtag crew, and I will me interviewing people from the rally getting their thoughts, and opinions about it. showing off any cool body painting, and other info about the movement, editing it all with music, and other production value to make a good little documentary of the rally!"

Ms. Starks added that Charleston Mayor Danny Jones will accommodate the rally, which occurs during the Festivall (but is not part of) celebration.

"Jones assured me the city will be accommodating us. He implied that female toplessness is against a city ordinance, but could not name the ordinance. He said he would accommodate us regardless."

She continued, "We're glad to have the support of the city. I never thought my first conversation with the mayor would be about breasts."

The FB web site has the WV statute for indecent exposure posted.


The use of the term "free the nipple" originated with the release of a movie documentary of the same name. Based on true events the 2014 film details how an army of passionate women launch a "revolution" to decriminalize toplessness. Backed by First Amendment lawyers, graffiti installations, and national publicity stunts, they  invade New York City to protest censorship hypocrisies and promote gender equality legally and culturally in the U.S.

Leslie Towner, a WVU professor of social work who focuses on women's equality explained in a Charleston Gazette interview that "if other people are uncomfortable, that's social and that's cultural." Emphasizing a historic context, Towner alluded to the sexuality of legs which "get us around."


Towner told the Gazette that come to Morgantown on a Friday or Saturday night and a lot "more breasts are on display than in a mother's [nursing children] group."

Left unsaid, for women, until World War II and the war materials rationing and shortages, it was not proper to appear bare legged in public. Women would draw black lines on the back of their legs to simulate stockings. At one point, churches told attendees that it was proper for women to come not wearing hose. Today, all but the most conservative work places and events welcome bare legs which women have opted for instead of sweaty, uncomfortable stockings.

(Note: NYC allows women to go topless legally as a matter of gender equality. The ruling comes from court cases.)

Public nudity has often been used to attract attention to a cause, whether anti-war or protesting use of animal fur or an equality demonstration to like men sun bathe without a top. Femen has received much media attention in Europe/Asia protesting at international diplomacy styled events. The Top Free Equal Rights Association (TERA) based in Canada aims to inform and educate the public about topfreedom, and to change laws against topfreedom in North American jurisdictions. GoTopless goes further and organizes demonstrations to protest against the legal and public attitude to the inequality.

The FB website has resulted in a bevy of comments from men and women.

While Huntington has not ventured into topfree "protests," Huntington on Saturday hosted its first  LGBT picnic in Ritter Park.  Both cities have held variations of the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event in which men and women don high heels to show solidarity for women. (Although thought of as career and sexual 'power pumps' for women, historically in Europe noblemen first wore heeled shoes for easier horse back riding.)

Some women have essentially condemned the "free the nip..." rally with expressions of "nasty," "godlessness, " by expressing shock of seeing a woman nurse openly in public and others  question the value of showing off breasts for this type of protest.

Others have been enthusiastic, including a request for car pools from Pennsylvania.

Starks, for instance, wrote:

"I've been hooted & hollered at by men in the past & that makes me very uncomfortable & has even made me SCARED.
But I will never judge a man for having natural feelings & being appropriate about those feelings. It's about respecting women, & respecting their bodies. I hate that women are treated like sexual objects & I hate that men are treated like sexual predators," she said. 

Natalie Myers wrote, "Don't you dare paint them. Be proud don't cover with paint be free.

Joel Thompson, a former D.J. and Kenova resident, indicated that his wife in mid May had commented that she wished it was possible to join him bare chested on the sunny front porch. Both he and his wife plan on attending.

Thompson said, "Breasts should be normalized for both genders equally. This is a positive first step toward de-sexualizing them."

One FestivALL participant emphasized that the rally endorses free expression and art and belongs to FestivALL:

"How can it be interupting? Isn't the point to highlight the human form as art and the fact that protest is basically an art of its own, albeit lost largely to violence and "conspiracy shaming"? I say let people choose..."

Some participants have criticized the "paint" option as defeating the topless purpose. The organizers , however, consider this artistic expression as a way for some shy folks to "ease" into the option.

Still, Candi Blake wrote:

"Society will not or can not accept this. Why they can't simply baffles me. Every other country in this world doesn't have a problem with bare chested women but for some reason in America it's a no-no. Everyone has a right to their own opinions and that's ok however just because your opinion doesn't match up with others doesn't mean that their opinion is the only right one. That's what makes a democracy work. It'll take years before society is ready to accept this but one day it will be the norm..."

For those likely to be offended, one organizer said, "Don't look..."

(Editor's Note: Although certain other countries, particularly Europe, condone bare breasts at beaches, many others do not. Still, those in Europe criticize the U.S. for its permissive attitudes on guns and violence. While an intimate motion picture sex scene would be accepted in Europe, it would be likely 'censored' here (at least in the 40s and 50s and 60s). Extreme violence of American filmmakers is perceived as 'obscene' in some European countries.)