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Hey de Blasio: Leave Times Square (and our nipples) alone!

Written by
Jillian Anthony

Lately there's been a whole lot of hubbub about boobs! At Sunday's Go Topless Day parade, nipples were out and about, soaking in some much-needed sun and doing their part to fight for equality of the sexes. But there's also an ongoing attack against the breasts that have been making regular, legal appearances in Times Square. Mayor de Blasio is worried about women known as desnudas (or naked in Spanish), who hang out—completely legally—with painted breasts and accept money from the many men and women giddy to pose with them. De Blasio says that to alleviate this issue, he wants to do away with the Times Square pedestrian square altogether! (Who cares that it cost $55 million to build during the Bloomberg era?)

"The mayor met this week for almost three hours with police and city officials on how to restrict the women’s activities before deciding more study was needed," the New York Times reports. "On Thursday, he announced that he had formed a task force of city officials, local politicians and business leaders and gave it until Oct. 1 to come up with strategies." Even Governor Cuomo has called for these women to be removed. SOMEBODY STOP THESE BREASTS!!! They are running amok and tainting our fair city!

Here's the thing about breasts: They are functional body parts that do incredible things like sustain human life. What they are NOT is inherently sexual; instead, society has constructed the notion that breasts are provocative and dangerous and should be covered up (much like the rest of women's bodies). Men can roam the streets and get on subway cars shirtless, yet our breasts, simply because they may be a bit rounder and have a true purpose in this world, have long been pressured to be hidden away. Though being topless in New York City is 100% legal, it is still illegal to be topless in NYC for commercial purposes, which is what gives these boob-hating politicians the potential legal standing to do away with the desnudas. But, as street performers, they are likely "exempted by the state law and protected by the First Amendment," says the Times.

"We’re about female empowerment, not sexualization of the female body,” Saira Nicole, one of the desnudas, recently told the Daily News. “We are entertainers. People come up to us sometimes and say what we do is disgusting. But what is disgusting about the female body? They shield their kids sometimes, and I think, ‘Kids come from the female body.'”

Let's be clear about what Times Square is: It's one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. It's a place most New Yorkers will walk avenues out of the way to avoid stepping foot in. It's a literal gleaming shrine to consumerism and advertising. Compared to the strip clubs and X-rated movie theaters of its past, it's pretty damn tame. Sure, children visit Times Square, but I am quite certain it is not the children going up to this women to pay them for a chance to pose next to their nipples painted with a heart colored like the American flag. Aggressive panhandling and demented-looking Mickey Mouses demanding more money for photographs isn't a great look for this city, but there are many more important problems for the mayor and the NYPD to pour their resources into than taking nipples off the street. Plus, the square was built in 2009 in part to protect pedestrians in a high traffic area (Vision Zero, anyone?). “Sure, let’s tear up Broadway,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, told the Times. “We can’t govern, manage or police our public spaces so we should just tear them up. That’s not a solution. It’s a surrender.” How about we surrender to freeing the nipple instead?

"A woman's body is always going to be commercialized," Nicole, the desnuda, told Gothamist. "But as soon as a woman takes control and says I'm going to commercialize myself, that's a problem." Damn straight, Nicole.

You know, it's funny, but I don't remember the police being called in to try to subdue the practices of the shirtless Naked Cowboy, nor did de Blasio threaten to shut down the pedestrian plaza when overgrown man puppets like Elmo and Spiderman were slinging racial slurs at tourists or groping women. We wouldn't want a little crime to threaten the pristine character of Times Square! But there better not be any naked breasts—they may be legal, but keep those puppies tucked away for only your husbands or babies to see, ladies. Oh, and don't breastfeed in public either—it's disgusting when your infant is hungry and you are trying to attend to his or her basic needs! Have some decency!

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