• Thu, Aug 2 2012

Nude Activist Says Topless Yoga Is A Civil Right. Sorry; It’s Not.

Perhaps you’ve heard that in New York City it’s perfectly legal to run around town topless (you know, so all the creepy guys can ogle over your bare breasts and get pics on their iPhones to send to all their creepy friends). Well, that doesn’t seem to bother topless activist Moira Johnston who is hell-bent on making a statement in yoga class, of all places. Only problem is, yoga studios keep banning her topless self. She claims this violates her civil rights, but it really violates the rights of her classmates.

Johnston wants to know: if guys can go topless in yoga class, why can’t women?  It’s an interesting point and we applaud her for bravely standing up for what she believes. But in yoga class? Where most of us already have enough trouble staying focused on our mats? Where this look-at-me culture in yoga today is already messing with our zen?

Yep. Ever since January when Johnston was booted out of several classes for bearing her chest, she’s filed a total of 13 complaints with the New York State Division of Human Rights against yoga studios. To her, this is a matter of a civil rights violation. But is it really?

These yoga studios are private businesses, meaning they can require everyone to wear full-length snowsuits if they want. It may be the law that women in NYC have the right to go topless, but come on, use some discretion. Yoga is not a place to make a statement about your breasts or equal rights. It’s a place to relax and feel comfortable in your surroundings–not make others uncomfortable. Cell phones are banned from class because they are distracting, and topless women are equally as distracting to their fellow yogis.

But Johnston sees it quite the opposite way:

The most ironic thing is that this is the yoga community, and we’re supposed to be transcending gender and celebrating equality. I would have thought that this community would embrace it even if it wasn’t legal.

Sounds like she’s just trying to make a point. What does topless yoga really prove anyway?

Tell us what you think?

Photo: yogadork.com

 

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  • Kate

    considering the ACTUAL oppression and inequality that many women have to deal with, this lady needs to get over it, quit trying to flaunt her ta-tas, and try to make an actual difference somewhere else where it actually matters. the big deal she is making about this is a slap in the face to women who are really being oppressed.

    • Amanda

      So just because there is further oppression going on it’s a “slap in the face to women who are really being oppressed”? Because doing something small to stop oppression in general is useless? Slavery in America would have taken a lot longer to stop if people didn’t protest at small things, segregated schools, different drinking fountains, et cetera. You’re out of your mind if you think protesting an obvious difference in equality is a “slap in the face” to women. Oppression is oppression, there isn’t a scale that qualifies someone as “really oppressed” or not. Fighting for equality is not flaunting tits, it’s fighting to get something accepted that should have been recognized long ago.

  • hypatia

    If men are allowed to go topless, women should be allowed to go topless. Don’t want women baring their breasts? Tell the men to cover up.

    • Gabbs

      Men do yoga topless in public precisely because theres nothing to cover. Bra was invented for a reason..women have breasts. Men dont. Having the same rights and being treated right doesnt mean our bodies are the same. And except from tribal societies in Africa, and some tropical jungles, in our society breasts at least partially covered is whats considered acceptable, specially in an environment where you want to respect others concentration efforts, such as a yoga class.

  • Ester C

    Civil rights means equal treatment for all, including in businesses. Privileges have to apply to all, not one class or the other on the basis of a person’s sex.

  • kayileyr

    I’m looking for some VERY open-minded colleges with a curriculum and an attitude more apealing to ME.http://www.zimbio.com/Health/articles/9A3bXrOC5L8/SlimBlast+Weight+Loss+Pills+Review+Buy+Slim

  • Danielle

    Personally I don’t give a rats ass if women want to practice yoga topless. And it wouldn’t offend me if I was in a class with anyone who practiced that way. I think Americans are way too oversensitive about public displays of bare tits. But, I’m pretty sure you can’t tell a business owner how to run their business. Some businesses have a no hat rule, others have a no shorts rule, some have a jacket and tie rule etc you get the point.

  • Joe

    This is a case of correctness that oughtn’t to be such a big deal. Yes, it’s legal for women to be topless in NY everywhere that men can be topless. Yes, it is wrong (and a civil violation) for a business to enforce gender-specific restrictions. Yes, it’s much more comfortable to be topless in many cases, especially when doing Bikram yoga (where the room temperature is kept artificially high to promote muscle flexibility). No, this “issue” does not compare in magnitude to any of the horrid other things that victims of civil rights abuses suffer throughout the world. But just because she’s choosing to take action to support awareness of her cause, it doesn’t mean she’s taking away from any other cause. The fact that she is topless does nothing to stop equal pay acts, or domestic violence legislation initiatives, or attempts to stop warlords from systematically raping and mutilating women… it’s not even related to those things. Let her do her thing (which is perfectly legal), and let’s move on.

  • Felicity Jones @FelicitysBlog

    I’m really disappointed in you, BlissTree, and I was surprised to see a woman discounting this! It IS a civil rights violation. And I’m going to quote a comment I saw on a different article about this: “There are no ‘small issues’ when it comes to gender equality. There are only issues.”
    Of course some might say it’s distracting. When was the last time you saw a woman practicing yoga top-free? Eventually it’ll become normal, and people will get over it. And if you’re going to tell a woman “no it’s distracting,” then you have to uphold the same excuse for men. Simple as that.
    You say that a yoga studio is a place “to relax and feel comfortable.” Yes, exactly, and I feel more comfortable practicing without the restriction of a sports bra + tank top. I want the same right to that comfort as guys have. Why do I have to be making a statement?
    http://nudistnaturistamerica.org

  • Matt

    So…your problem is that her breasts are distracting to your yoga? You can’t focus on your mat when a topless woman is in the same room? Sounds like you’re the one with the problem, not Ms. Johnston.

    I agree that the business owners get to create their own rules. But she’s setting out to make them reconsider the rules. She’s also, I imagine, trying to be a little more comfortable in yoga class.

    Yep, creepy men like to ogle at boobs (as opposed to the rest of us, who try to take subtle glances). Her point, I think, is that women should not let the tastes of creepy men dictate what they should be allowed to do…especially when those creepy men enjoy the right she’s looking to secure for women.

  • Trystan

    We have way too many taboo’s in this country. In most European countries they have nude beaches, or topless beaches. Commercials are the same way. A commercial for a bar of soap openly shows either a man or a women lathering their upper body. No big deal. If she wants to be topless because it is comfortable, on the city street, in a yoga class great. If she wants to go topless on the city street to make a statement that is her right. On the other hand, if she is going topless in Yoga classes to make a statement I find that objectionable. A yoga class is not the place to make political statement. If that is her purpose in the class she is missing the point of yoga.

  • sara

    She should move to Africa. Would blend in perfectly there

  • Alex

    I think the bigger issue here is that there is a cultural stigma against breasts, while none against pecks. I think that the local business should be allowed to accept her or not (legalized mandatory equality has destroyed much more than it has created), however we should work to adjust the social view of breasts. Once that happens, Yoga places will accept her. (I think there’s at least one place that does now.)

    I would have a problem if the police arrest her – and not the topless man beside her – as the justice system shouldn’t address any difference in gender, race, adult age, ect. Private business is, however, private, and subject to the whims of the private owner. Through free market competition, this transforms into the whims of the business’s customers. The business’s policies are just the reflection of the average of society.

  • Erik

    “Yoga is a place to relax and feel comfortable in your surroundings–not make others uncomfortable.”

    Moira IS relaxing and feeling comfortable in her surroundings. The reason she became an activist is because people started hassling her about it. If others are uncomfortable with it then it is THEY and not she who have a problem.

    No other species has these hangups and even humans don’t regarding other species. Babies don’t have them at all until they are brainwashed.

  • Churchhead

    Yoga means Union… of male and female. I also ask the question “Why are breasts distracting? I think the answer is because they are a taboo in the first place. Make Natural Normal for the health and harmony of us all.

  • Don

    Mlk would be disgusted. He fought for civil rights, not stupidity

  • Don

    Mlk would be disgusted. He fought for civil rights, not stupidity

  • http://youngnaturistsamerica.com/ Felicity Jones

    This author appears to have no idea why this would be a civil rights issue. Yes, yoga studios can make common sense rules such as “no smoking” in their studios. The thing is, this type of rule would apply to both MEN and WOMEN. The topless rules are applied to only one gender. You can try to come up with any justification you want – it “distracts people,” women need to wear bras, or whatever – but it is STILL gender discrimination, and it’s illegal.