Last night I watched the livestream of the city council meeting to address the public nudity ordinance at hand. This was brought to attention by Fort Collins resident, Brittiany Hoagland, whose intention was to “decriminalize” breasts through her Free The Nipple and Go Topless Fort Collins campaigns that we saw back in August.
On one hand, the goal of changing the ordinance was to create gender equality and reduce sexual stigmas of female breasts. I think those are two separate issues, however.
On the other hand, City Council saw the need for a better defined version of what an exposed breast is so that law enforcement could appropriately ticket for public indecency with a $250 fine (for first offence). Before the meeting, it was defined as “breast” which could include cleavage and side-boob, and even though breastfeeding is protected (as it very well should be), apparently that needed to be clarified in exemptions. The City of Loveland has their nudity ordinance defined as anything below the nipple and includes a lewdness intent. So, the City of Fort Collins saw the need for an update and clarification, and that’s why we had to have the ordinance on the agenda last night.
But of course, this wasn’t communicated very clearly by the City when the petition was rolled out for public feedback, nor was that even mentioned by The Coloradoan in their reporting (shocker), so everything was about the sky falling because “FORT COLLINS IS GOING TO BE A TOPLESS STRIP CLUB CITY!” (actual comment by council member Ray Martinez – again, not shocking). And everyone kept yelling “WHY ARE WE FOCUSING ON THIS ISSUE!? There are better things we need to fix!”
Well, now you have your answer. And it wasn’t dumb that it was on the agenda because it needed to be clarified. What was dumb were the anti-nudity comments that followed during public comment.
Now, each and every time I watch a city council meeting, and I watch a number of them throughout the year, I’m often reminded of how it’s almost exactly like an episode of Parks and Recreation – Fort Collins style. Sometimes it ends up being an entertaining train wreck because you can’t believe some of these people are our neighbors. Entertaining in the harmless, “Oh my god, you have too much time on your hands” way. Then sometimes we get a controversial ordinance or amendment on the agenda and Fort Collins’ true colors shine. And boy, are we UGLY.
When the poll results were shared in the presentation before the floor was open to public comment, it showed that there was about a 60/40 split on the issue, with 60% being in favor of people keeping their shirts on. The poll results were also adjusted by removing multiple votes from the same IP address. So, if you had a household of more than one adult voting on the issue, then only one of you counted. Not exactly accurate nor fair, if you ask me.
When it came to the public comments, there was an overwhelming number people voicing their support of a strict-nudity ordinance compared to a handful of brave souls who stood up in support of women being free to bare all. I’m sure that was intimidating, and I wouldn’t doubt that’s why a lot of people didn’t show up to voice their pro-topless support. It became downright disgusting when anti-nudity people stood to give their reasons on why women need to keep their shirts on.
One guy said that if women go topless, it will be more difficult to stay faithful to his wife.
Another guy said it would endanger the pedestrians on the street because distracted drivers gawking at boobs would run them over (he wasn’t joking, and made sure to clarify that).
A female nurse who claimed to spend extensive time researching statistics said that topless women would see increased danger of contracting STD’s, getting abortions, and becoming victims of sexual assault. A REGISTERED NURSE SAID THIS. Somehow the cotton covering my nipples is a magic layer of protection for all things bad. Do you know who else thinks that way? Mormons with their “magic underwear” temple garments. And I can say that because I used to be Mormon.
And let’s not forget about the guy who brought up the Nazis and their thoughts of how nakedness violates Nature’s Law. Yeah, someone brought up the Nazis in support of modesty in this conversation.
Then there were plenty of people, male and female, who pretty much said that modesty is a moral obligation because Jesus said so. Highlighting the not-so-shocking fact that our community likes to force people to abide by Christian dogma, despite the fact that there are non-Christian community members.
And finally, there were the body shamers who said that the sight of a naked person was traumatizing because they won’t look like runway models and celebrities, hindering their enjoyment of living in Fort Collins. Apparently less-than-perfect tits require eyebleach.
You can read more blow-by-blow updates from Colorado AP reporter, Kristen Wyatt on twitter, who did a pretty great job of highlighting the complete insanity coming from our community.
If you think Fort Collins is highly educated and progressive, you are sorely mistaken. Last night’s comments made it clear that not only are we a conservative city to the point of nearly puritanical philosophy, but it was downright disgusting on how many people feel that women are responsible for other people’s arousal AND behavior during arousal. That somehow men aren’t responsible for their actions when they see boobs, and our children will be traumatized from nipples and areolas. I don’t get on the feminist soapbox often, but after last night, I was excruciatingly disappointed in our community.
I’m the mother of two boys, and just like every other mother, I want my kids to respect women. The oversaturation of misogynistic bro-culture is more than just concerning, and I consistently think about ways of how to teach them to be respectable men in the world. First, they have a great father as an example. But, never, ever will I tell them that other people’s modesty is what will keep them civilized, much like the comments that came from the religious extremists in the meeting. That if a woman’s skirt is too short, she was asking to be raped. That if a girl’s ass-cheeks are hanging out of her shorts, that gives them permission to slap it.
This is the type of victim blaming that came from the community comments last night – that people would be tempted to touch nipples, and become unfaithful to their spouses.
WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN THAT IS OK AND NOT OK? How come you’re not teaching your boys that they are responsible for themselves and their actions!? Why is it a woman’s fault for “tempting” them?
Why are we teaching our girls that if you’re a woman, you’re not respecting yourself if you’re naked? To bring Mormon culture back into this, there’s the joke about “porn shoulders” because it’s immodest to wear spaghetti straps. How many of you embrace that type of modesty in Fort Collins? I’m sure if you’re not Mormon, you’d find that a little extreme. Last night my husband made the joke that we might as well be wearing bukas around here. You know, it’s true. This has nothing to do with the sight of boobs. It has everything to do with controlling what women do and do not do, what we wear and do not wear, because some people (men and women) can’t deal with their own shit.
I was for the acceptance of toplessness, not because I was gunning to run around without a shirt in Old Town Square. I did think that it would be pretty damn nice to have a nude beach at Horsetooth, or to have the option to be topless on a boat or cove. I enjoy a topless cup of morning coffee while I’m camping every now and then. It does indeed feel freeing!
But now, now I’m more for toplessness because of the principle thanks to the comments from our community.
Fort Collins, last night you were ugly. Uglier than the saggy breasts, overweight guts, moobs, and cellulite that you were all ranting about. It didn’t take the approval of public nudity to show that. All it took was your voice to show what you’re like on the inside.