A group of women will risk a citation on Aug. 23 when they march topless along the Venice Beach boardwalk. The march is part of an annual call for equal rights for women who want to go bare-breasted in public.
Topless women, joined by shirtless men, will walk from the northern end of Ocean Front Walk to the center of the boardwalk at Windward Circle, where a rally will be held urging lawmakers to allow women to go topless.
Lara Terstenjak is the head of the Los Angeles branch of GoTopless, the organization sponsoring the march, she says the movement plans to push further afield than just Venice, “We’re working toward freeing women’s nipples and obtaining equal gender topless rights that are enforced worldwide.”
In May supporters of Free the Nipple LA hit the sand, topless, at Venice Beach in a stand for gender equality. While the protest took the form of a relaxed day at the beach, eventually LAPD Mounted Unit did arrive on the scene and women exposing nipples where asked to cover up, or risk a citation.
“There was a guy there and when they told us we had to cover up one of the police officers said to him “Well you don’t have to cover your nipples” and I was like, that’s the point that we’re going for…” said Ali Marsh, activist for Free the Nipple LA.
Currently it is illegal for any female over the age of 10 years old to go bare-breasted in public.
In a 12-2 vote on April 21st this year, the Venice Neighborhood Council said it “supports women being afforded the same rights as men to sunbathe topless.”
Terstenjak noted that the while Venice Neighborhood Council approved the resolution in support of women going topless, such a change would require action by the city and the county.
“The Venice Neighborhood Council’s approval is a hopeful step forward after our eight years of activism on Venice Beach,” Terstenjak said. “Now it’s time for the city and county to follow up by making equal gender topless rights a priority.” said Terstenjak
“While I appreciate the idea and find it interesting, right now my priorities for Venice are increasing public safety and housing the homeless,” LA City Councilman Mike Bonin said in a statement.