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Father calls the police on woman swimming topless in river in order to "protect" his children

Emmie Tyson is a Washington State topless activist in her twenties. She shares this story about her life-long activism starting when she was 7. Recently, on July 9, a father called the police on her for swimming topless in a river because he wanted to protect his children playing on the river bank.

I identify as gender-fluid, but embrace my female body. My physical body doesn’t define my gender.

All my life I have felt somewhat disappointed by what I could and could not do as a woman. When I was a kid I dreamed of being a Boy Scout. All my friends were Boy Scouts and I wanted to join them on their adventures. Unfortunately, I could not join them. I was confused. Why couldn’t I join my friends? Why was I being excluded because of something I was born with and could not change? Eventually I accepted it and moved on. 

 One day, my father took me to the YMCA pool. I was about 7 years old and I loved swimming. The pool wasn’t in our town, so I didn’t get to go too often. When I got into the changing room I realized I forgot my swimsuit top back at the house. There was no time to drive back and grab it because open swim was coming to a close. My dad and I politely asked the lifeguard if I could wear some of my street clothes into the pool. He explained how only swimwear was allowed. We then asked if I could just go shirtless. I had no breasts, and if my hair was shorter I could have been easily mistaken for a little boy. He objected and said that it would not be appropriate. I went home without going swimming that day.

I asked my mom and dad numerous times why I couldn’t go swimming without a top when the boys could. Nothing they said made any sense, and it still doesn’t.

 Last year I started getting interested in being involved in the topless rights movement. Being gender-fluid; some days I just don’t feel like a woman, but I embrace my body. I am treated with more respect and equality on my more masculine days. Being topless doesn’t feel wrong at all. It feels natural. All the boys were doing it, why can’t I? I can’t change the body I was born with, besides, women are beautiful.

Then, on July 9, 2015 in Snohomish WA, at 9:45 pm, I almost got charged with a crime for going topless. It was dusk when my friends and I decided to go swimming. Out of respect I asked the people around me if they minded me going topless, and nobody minded except one man. He said that he didn’t want his children "exposed to it". I walked down the river until I was out of sight of his children. I took my shirt off once I was fully submerged in the water. I had my back facing the side of the river he was on the whole time. I made sure not to let his children see, and they paid no attention to me. Once it was dark and they were leaving, I swam closer to their side of the river. About five minutes later there was a police officer on shore shining a light in my face. He asked me to come to shore and put a shirt on. He explained to me that the man contacted the police. The man claimed he “saw everything” and wanted to protect his children. The whole evening I was at least 100 yards away, underwater, with my back turned towards them, and it was almost completely dark out.

 Although I had witnesses, the man almost pressed charges on me. I just wanted to feel like an equal. I wasn’t attacking his family, I was just enjoying the same rights that men have. It felt terrible knowing that I could be arrested for something on my body that I did not choose to have. I could be arrested for having something that 51% of our population has. Men have nipples, and some even have breasts! Men don’t ever have to worry about being put in jail for showing their chest off. They don’t have to worry about being constantly sexualized by the media. 

 If we only see topless females in porn, then of course female breasts will be sexualized. I would feel less dysphonic in my own body if I had the same treatment as men. I’ll take the good and the bad.


I just want to be equal.

Emmie is organizing a GoTopless Day event in Snohomish on Aug 23rd.

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Healing the brain from shame and guilt with Sensual Meditation: PART 2 of our interview with Dr. Marcus Wenner

In part 1 of our interview with Dr. Marcus Wenner, we learned how anti-topless laws can harm the brain. The good news is that we can undo that damage by practicing the techniques Spiritual Leader, Rael who inspired the founding of GoTopless, describes in his book Sensual Meditation.  In part 2, Dr. Marcus Wenner explains how.


What is Sensual Meditation?

Dr. Wenner:

Sensual Meditation is a meditation technique from spiritual leader Rael that teaches "the awakening of the mind through the awakening of the body."


Could you give us a practical example of how it works?

Dr. Wenner:

A simple way to illustrate this concept of mind-body connection is to imagine a depressed person walking in the street. She might be stooped over, a sad expression on her face. One approach would be to suggest she alters her posture, to stand tall, to smile. Changing body posture and facial expression will alter the brain chemistry and help change the way that person feels.


How would Sensual Meditation techniques be used to rewire one's brain for body acceptance and empowerment? 

Dr. Wenner:

Rael’s Sensual Meditation book is the ultimate guide for human happiness because it does more than explain the indispensable and pleasurable sensory wiring between our minds and body parts.For example, one of the meditations consists of sending love to every part of the body. This act of feeling love reinforces the neural connections between each part of the body with its corresponding brain site, and so develops and maintains that part of the brain, waking it up from atrophy if it has been neglected in the past, and which then returns the compliment and develops the health and sensitivity back to that part of the body. It also introduces another dimension: infinity. Opening the mind to this concept allows human beings to absolutely thrive!

Since we’ve been speaking about breasts, let's take that body part as an example:

The Sensual Meditation technique will help our brains connect with our breasts. With a little practice, we’ll be able to feel the skin of our breasts, and all our breast tissue will tingle just by thinking about it. That connection will bring us immense joy. In time, it will help us wipe away any feelings of body shame. It will rewire our brains for health.

But the meditation goes a step further. Our breasts, and our brains too, for that matter, are composed of cells, atoms and tiny particles that go down in size all the way to the infinitely small. So when we feel your breasts and entire body with our mind and senses, we’re actually tuning into infinity. We’re tuning into both the infinitely small and the infinitely large, and that's a bath you definitely don't want to miss!


What specific meditations would you recommend for our GoTopless readers?

Dr. Wenner:

Using Rael’s Sensual Meditation book as a guide, I suggest:

Meditation #1: Tuning to Infinity and Meditation #5: Discovering Our Body.

GoTopless:  Thank you for all this wonderful information!

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Indecency laws (anti-topless laws) harm brains of women and girls: Interview with neuroscientist Dr. Marcus Wenner- Part one

Photo: Mother and Child Sunset Silhouette, courtesy of photographer Vince Cavataio

Today, with new advances in neurosciences, we can clearly map every part of the brain, showing how every inch of the body is intrinsically connected to neurons in the mind. Science points to the fact that the body and the brain are actually one: an undivided, indivisible entity. So what happens to individuals' brains when society imposes indecency laws upon them, shaming and banning some of their body parts in public?

That is what GoTopless is trying to determine by examining cases of women and girls whose breasts and nipples have been criminalized.

With that in mind, GoTopless interviewed Dr. Marcus Wenner, a neuroscientist in the United Kingdom and a teacher of the meditation practice called Sensual Meditation, which was developed by spiritual leader Rael who inspired the foundation of GoTopless in 2007.

Part 1 of the interview that follows addresses how current indecency laws (anti-topless laws) harm brain pathways in women and girls. Part 2 offers techniques from Sensual Meditation to heal brains that have been adversely affected by shame and guilt.

How anti-topless laws harm female brains: PART 1 of our interview with Dr. Marcus Wenner

Dr. Marcus Wenner, Neuroscientist


What happens in female brains when so-called “laws of indecency”, such as anti-topless laws, are imposed on women and girls?

 Dr. Wenner:

Yes, as you mentioned, every part of our body is connected to a part of our brain via nerve pathways, peptides and hormones. Everyone knows, for example, that if you touch your little toe there is a part of the brain corresponding to that little toe that lights up. But what people don’t realize is that just thinking of that little toe also lights up that brain part. And what’s more, the way we think about that toe affects that brain part too. So the way we view our body has a direct impact on our brain.

Studies show that if you cover your eyes for a certain amount of time, the neurons in the visual cortex will begin to atrophy because they’re not being used and you will slowly go blind. Every brain circuit needs to be stimulated or it will die, especially in the young. Use it or lose it. The brain is very efficient at getting rid of unused brain circuits, and it’s the same when not using other parts of the body, or when not using other senses, such as hearing, smell, touch, etc. And it’s also the same when liking or disliking a part of one’s body, or feeling shame or guilt about it.

You see, there are parts of our brain which are active in maintaining our sense of self, telling us, “This is my body,” so the act of denying a part of our body is a bit like disinheriting a member of our family. It also takes energy to maintain the separation, since brain circuits are mobilized to stop thinking of the denied part as a valid part of the self. That is too wasteful for the efficient brain, so it ends up just killing those circuits. 

And when we are taught to feel guilty about exposing our breasts, we are not only killing the part of the brain connected to and representing our breasts, but experience a detrimental rebound effect on the breasts themselves. That’s because the breasts need to be maintained by the brain.

Humans are designed to enjoy expressing themselves in many ways: in the way we speak to others, expressing our emotions; in the way we act, such as helping other people; in singing, cooking, dancing, and of course in simply being beautiful. To prevent someone from expressing their natural beauty is just like preventing them from expressing their emotions. It’s like repressing freedom of speech. All sorts of mental imbalances occur when we repress our emotions, and all sorts of mental imbalances also occur when we repress parts of our bodies. 

In the case of anti-gotopless laws, which today are inflicted solely on women, the problem is compounded, since the female brain also perceives this as unfair treatment to her gender. To compensate for this paradoxical command, which goes against one’s person, the brain goes into rationalization mode: "I’m a good girl if I cover my breasts. Therefore, any girl who doesn’t obey this rule must be bad, and she is therefore a whore.” 

Research shows that the more effort we put into repressing a natural part of ourselves, such as refraining from freely exposing one’s breasts, the more anger and aggression we will have when we see someone else disobeying our rules. The people most vocal against freedom are those who are most hung up about it: they would really like to do it themselves but cannot allow themselves.  


How can the GoTopless campaign bring change to the female mindset?

Dr. Wenner:

Teaching little girls, such as the 8-year-old girl at a swimming pool in Gwelph, Ontario, a few weeks ago, that they should cover up their breasts is actually damaging their brains. It paralyzes and kills off certain brain circuits, which is definitely child abuse. And if you think about it, it amounts to a form of lobotomy. Fortunately, the brain is fairly plastic, so with time it can be restructured. GoTopless campaigns can help with this healing of the brain.

Since undoing the wiring dictated by indecency laws is a neurological process, it can be accomplished by exposing someone to the stimuli that was once taboo, but this should be done only if that’s what she wants. Forcing a woman to be topless would have the same effect on the brain as forbidding her from doing it. Free choice is crucial for sound human development. 

Some minds bounce back rather quickly; others take more time. And there’s a portion of the population that will never be able to completely embrace the previously alienated body parts. That group may continue to inflict guilt upon others as a coping mechanism. A good piece of advice for parents is to practice empowerment of all body parts at the youngest possible age. It’s much trickier to have to backtrack later; it isn’t easy to remove shame from the brain.

PART 2 of our interview with Dr. Marcus Wenner: Healing the brain from shame and guilt with Sensual Meditation


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