• Thu, Jun 21 2012

Post-Mastectomy Woman Banned From Swimming Topless By Discriminatory Parks Dept.

The Seattle Parks and Recreation is refusing to let a breast cancer survivor swim topless in the city’s public pool–even though she has no breasts, she considers herself androgynous, and the city allows public nudity. It’s really a form of discrimination at its finest, proving once again, that our society is just overly obsessed with breasts–and doesn’t have a clue how to deal with women who don’t have them.

As The Stranger reported this week, flat-chested Jodi Jaecks who underwent a double mastectomy without opting for reconstructive surgery, was prohibited from swimming topless in the Seattle’s public pool without “gender appropriate swimwear.” The 45-year-old says she wasn’t really asking for permission, she was merely being respectful and letting the pool employee know that she would be swimming topless.

Why? Jaecks explained that when she wears a post-mastectomy swimsuit, she experiences burning, intense nerve pain across her scarred chest. Nevertheless, she was told that she must cover up her chest so she wouldn’t offend anyone at this “family facility” who insists that Jaecks was merely trying to be shocking.

Parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter believes this is more about getting attention than human rights:

She made it clear she wanted to show her scars as a ‘badge of courage’ and wanted to use the pool to spread her message.

But Jaecks doesn’t agree. She is a lesbian who considers herself ”pretty androgynous” and makes a good point by asking how the rules apply to transgender swimmers. Because, what would happen if a male who was dressing as a female wanted to swim topless? Or a woman who was dressing as a man?

Potter explained that the answer would be simple:

A transsexual would wear a bathing suit of the gender he or she is at the time of using a pool.

So does that mean if Jaecks referred to herself as a dude, she would then be allowed to swim topless?

To add insult to injury, nudity is legal in Seattle. Assuming, of course, that it’s not ”accompanied by behavior that causes a reasonable person affront or alarm,” according to Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department.

Not only that, but this so-called family pool is sending the wrong message to kids and families–like, a woman should be ashamed of her breastless body and cover up so she doesn’t offend anyone.

How about encouraging women to love their post-cancer bodies and be proud of the strength, courage and power that they had in their cancer battle? I think she looks beautiful.

Tell us what you think.

Photo: thestranger.com

UPDATE: The city of Seattle’s parks department has now agreed to allow Jaecks to swim topless–assuming she complies with a certain rule. Take a look at our updated post here.

 

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  • JBenn73

    I would never want to sound disrespectful regarding a cancer survivor, their journey or outcome. However in this setting, I would myself feel uncomfortable if I were to be at this facility with my husband and son and seen this woman in this situation. If you are more comfortable not wearing a shirt at home or in your own personal area, that is understandable, seeing you experience pain at times. However sometimes we have to show respect to other people and their families when we are in public. I believe the organization is looking out for the families and is correct by asking her to cover her top.

    • Deborah Dunham

      If people are “uncomfortable” by seeing this woman, then that’s their problem–not hers. You say that she needs to show respect for others and cover up, but how about people showing respect to her? Just because her body is different, doesn’t mean she needs to cover it up. Would you ask an amputee to cover their remaining leg or arm stump? Of course not. So why is this any different?

    • Nancy

      Great answer Deborah! Yeah, the thing that cinches it for me is that nudity is legal there. If it wasn’t, then I’d be more inclined to agree with the pool, though maybe not. But since it’s legal anyway, it seems pretty clear cut. I can’t believe the pool people are claiming they won’t let her because she’s just doing it for attention, that is the stupidest reason ever; even if that’s true you can’t ban someone from swimming at a public pool just for bragging about something.

  • Saundra

    This is a catch 22 situation, for several reasons. The pool said she was using this as a “public” staging ground for her pride in her survival. Can you really blame her for wanting to show her strength. She herself classifies herself (even pre-surgery) as androgynous. That being said, if the facility is considered “family” in nature, I do think the pool is fair in asking that she cover up. With public nudity “legal”, I’m sure their are many other places she can show her pride in her survival, and should loudly do so, in a more appropriate environment.

  • Mon

    If she swam at my pool and my son asked questions, I’d simply answer them. As for my husband, he’s grown up enough to be able to figure out what happened…

  • Hannah Beth

    What would Leslie Knope do?

  • Nat Brouse

    Well, I hope they go around to all the topless men who have tattoos or are in peak shape and tell them to cover up because their “showing off” is offensive to families.

  • Janet

    It’s obvious that this woman has an agenda that she is trying to push. I can understand why she would not want to wear a post-mastecomy swimsuit but I cannot understand why she would want to go topless. Why not wear a simple full one piece swimsuit? We put our daughters in proper swimsuits when before they reach puberty because they were born a female and out of respect for others….and to train them up in modesty. Regardless of this woman’s sexual orientation and what she “feels” like, she was still born a female.

  • Nat Brouse

    This may sound shocking, and I apologize for any feelings of discomfort, but maybe her agenda is to go swimming. I know, I know. That’s pretty darned radical. I’m shocked and horrified, myself.

    • Gin Lomax

      *gasp* How dare you? Surely no activity in this world of ours is simply an activity! Everything we do simply MUST intend to enforce social norms or challenge them. No other motive exists!

  • scallywag

    Which begs the question how ready are we as a society to be exposed to images that may not be that palatable? Then again if one regards what takes place in popular culture today one could argue what passes as sweet, innocent and entertaining can in and of itself be quite vulgar, discriminatory and even promoting false notions. After all a cursory regard of almost any billboard these days shows half naked emaciated woman that one can cheer for. So women with cancer don’t count?

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2012/06/breastless-cancer-survivor-forbidden-from-swimming-topless-at-public-pool/

  • FS

    I had testicular cancer and I had one of my testicles surgically removed. I am now going to wear nothing when I go swim to display my courage… wooo hooooo..

    For christ sake, go get a normal female swim suit… and swim like everyone else! after having cancer… she still doesn’t realize how lucky it is to be normal like everyone else…

  • lisa

    If the rules at that pool are that all women wear swimming suit tops, then that settles it. The author twisted around the answer to the trans question, if a woman is dressing as a man she is still a woman and would follow those rules. Some things are so simple . . . And does this woman ever wear shirts? Wear a little tshirt or tank to swim in, i assume normal shirts don’t cause her pain?

  • tracy hamilton

    I believe that this woman, is brave and courageous to do so, maybe the idea of ridicule came through her mind when she thought about putting on a “Female” bathing suit because people may assume her gender role, and because she is androgynous, most of societies assumptions would be “why is that man wearing a womans bathing suit.” so before society decided to judge here without knowing here story, she decided to inform the public pool attendant that she would be swimming topless…and honestly not sure why it matters she’s a lesbian, who cares, she is a surviver of breast cancer, she is a human being that beat the odds…why should she have to explain herself, cause she’s a lesbian, or because now your confused about her gender! grow up society it’s not all about you! put yourself in her shoes, being a female, with boobs, no ridicule there, but being a survivor of cancer who now has no boobs, we have issues! wtf is this world coming too! i’m swimming in seattle public pool with no top on…oh and i have my breasts still…thanks society for showing us once again the lack of compassion, for your fellow humans!

  • Robin MacDonald

    Its difficult to comment on this because if the staff at the pool have provided grounds for not allowing her to go topless it certainly is not clear from reading the story twice why they told her she had to wear a top. Young children are very accepting of other people and adults are likely to pretend not to notice or pretend to be invisible whenever something shocking occurs in public. It is likely if they just let her swim, really nothing at all would happen, especially since she would be underwater the whole time. I would have to say just let her have her day and people will just ignore her anyway.

    If I showed up at the pool in a woman’s bathing suit and a big wig what do you think would happen? People are too shy in public to even do or say anything. I bet they would do nothing. Especially if they imagine I am doing it for attention even more reason for them to pretend not to notice.

    I would say let her have her freedom at the pool and everyone will be over it in a week.

    Why should she have to wear a shirt just because somebody doesn’t want to have a conversation about cancer with their own kid?

  • Haneen

    I think it’s basic decency to cover up your sexual/ private parts in public. People who like to be naked should do so in the privacy of their own homes, and shut the blinds, please! Why should the rest of us have to act robotically, pretending that “we can’t see” those breasts, or else stare and point at them and make the naked person uncomfortable. Just put some decent clothes/ swimsuits on! There’s more freedom in simply being decently dressed. Then everyone can just get on with the job of swimming!

    • cecilia

      ” Jaecks explained that when she wears a post-mastectomy swimsuit, she experiences burning, intense nerve pain across her scarred chest.”

      So she has to be in Pain just because YOU can’t deal with seeing her scars??? Gee, that’s really kind.

    • Amber Thompson

      Breats are not sexual organs, their only purpose is to feed babies.

    • Sarah

      “Why should the rest of us have to act robotically, pretending that “we can’t see” those breasts, or else stare and point at them and make the naked person uncomfortable”

      You can’t see her breasts – she doesn’t have any. So if your argument is, you don’t know how to act around someone with a disability or disfigurement, then I believe it is YOU who needs to stay home with your blinds drawn.

  • Emma

    Kind of reminds me of this… http://fumaga.com/i/Louis-CK-on-gay-marriage.png

    Also, I still don’t understand how this is indecent. What should she be covering up in modesty? SHE HAS NO BREASTS. Really, what is the practicality of wearing a swimsuit top if there is nothing there? And if your kid asks about it? “It’s your shitty kid, you fuckin’ tell ‘em.”

  • Amber Thompson

    “A transsexual would wear a bathing suit of the gender he or she is
    at the time of using a pool. ”

    That means a M2F transexual with breasts, could swim topless.

  • Justina

    that is not about scars or because she is doing that to get “attention” … i m sure this swimming pool would allow a person with physical disability to come, or a person who i.e. has scars on body from a car accident. and i am sure that they allow women with breast implants to swim there, or tattoos. Or overweight males whose breast are quite big. It is because she is a woman who decided not to reconstruct her breast’s and in our breasts obsessed world it is more threatening than nudity.

  • Philip Nelson

    It’s really sad what she has been through but it sounds like she is being a bit selfish..

  • kultzy

    I believe this woman likely would not wear a regular woman’s bathing suit if she had breasts. And this is fine. She no longer has breasts and sees no need to cover them up anymore. She claims to be androgynous and it seems she prefers to be this way. And that is ok. As nudity is legal where she lives, she should be allowed to go topless at the pool. She has a lot of courage. I have also had a mastectomy, and I would feel very, very uncomfortable going topless. I prefer to use a prosthetic and wear a woman’s suit. That is my choice. I’m not really sure if the pain has anything to do with it though. The area is numb, there is usually no feeling. I applaud her for her choice! There should be no shame in losing your breasts. And this woman feels ok with it and that is an inspiration. She is very happy with who she is. I hope she continues on with good health and swims her strength back!

  • gotopless.org

    Thank you for telling the story of this woman, who has no doubt suffered enough physical and emotional pain without having to also be stigmatized for going topless in public. At GoTopless.org, we understand that the US Constitution offers that same freedom to all women. Indeed, in the name of equal rights, since men are allowed to go topless, so should women! Or, if women are denied that right, then men should be made to cover their chest in public as well. For the fifth year in a row, GoTopless will organize topless rallies throughout the country on Aug 26, in honor of Women’s Equality Day.

  • Sydney Alfeld

    I can understand both sides of this argument- this does not mean that I agree with both, but I get it.

  • Angry Brit

    Haneen, Janet, FS, Lisa and. JBenn- I have a question. Do you suffer from neuropathic pain?

    I do, like Jodi does. Sometimes it feels like someone is slicing into the same area over and over. When I’m wearing clothes and shoes it can feel like they’re made of razor wire. My pain is so extreme I’m on fentanyl permanently. A drug 80x more potent Viaco morphine, and usually reserved for terminal cancer patients.

    You want Jodi to experience that because YOU feel uncomfortable when a cancer survivor isn’t decked in pink ribbons and make up.

    You’re bad. and you should feel bad. Jodi is amazing, you’re bigots and should feel Ashamed. You’d rather someone be tortured by agonising pain than remind you that the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. That’s selfish and evil in the extreme.

  • cg

    Just cover up. This world has too many people who feel entitled to push their agenda or needs on everyone. It’s annoying to have folks use the ‘pity’ angle to get what they want. Everyone has something they are struggling with – they don’t need special attention or rules bent for them or a medal for dealing with it. Move on….

    • Andre

      I agree By cg. I think this has nothing to do with cancer. Is it a coincidence that Jodi is also a transvestite, choosing to dress and look male? Given that fact, and the fact that the media has just ran with this without looking back, Im questioning if the mastectomy in Jodi’s case was her last chance at survival. In fact, is it an assumption by the media that her cancer was breast cancer? Did Jodi say that she had breast cancer in both breasts? Given her motive to be breastless, how do I know what is true? There are many females that, upon rejecting their femininity, cut their breast off. I think she/he is playing the cancer card which is REALLY pathetic in order to advance the gay. There are plenty of Mastectomy survivors, my grandmother one of them, that dont go showing off the area where their breasts used to be! Plus, I call bull on the “oh the top gives me burning sensation”. I would respect Jodi a lot more if she said “I’m of the male gender now and I want to go topless”.

  • Richard

    I think people like CG who say “just cover up” need to learn to read a whole article before commenting. If they did, they’d read this:

    “Jaecks explained that when she wears a post-mastectomy swimsuit, she experiences burning, intense nerve pain across her scarred chest.”

    Or maybe they did read this, but are just so utterly insensitive they don’t care.