Hear ye, hear ye, women of Seattle: Since writing a few weeks ago that going topless in Seattle isn't a crime (in and of itself), I've been contacted by a few women who claim they've been harassed by Seattle police for appearing topless in public, most notably while sunbathing at Dykiki beach.
Seattle doesn't have its own indecent exposure law—police enforce state policy. Here's a handy explanation of the state law, courtesy of SPD's own blog:
Washington’s indecent exposure law makes it a misdemeanor to “make any open and obscene exposure of his or her person or the person of another knowing that such conduct is likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm.” In other words, there must be lewd or obscene behavior for an officer to take action. In order for the police to make an arrest, we must have witnesses currently in the public place where the nudity is occurring who must make a complaint. These witnesses must be willing to appear in court. Also in order to prosecute, the burden is on the government to prove that the offender was knowingly aware that their conduct created alarm and offense of others.
Obviously, there are plenty of people willing to be both naked and obscene in public at the same time. I'm not talking about those people. I'm addressing all the salt-of-the-earth nudists out there, the women who simply want to strip off their top and work on their farmer's tan from time to time. The long and short for these women is: Exposing your breasts isn't obscene unless you also happen to be gyrating on a mechanical bull or milking yourself (for fun, not babies) or something.
NSFW image and business card after the jump...
- Free and breezy feels so fine...
However! Police and normal folk alike can be unreasonable dicks when it comes to women and the daily choices they make with their bodies. And, frankly, no one likes arguing (least of all with cops) whilst topless. It feels a little too vulnerable. So, here's a handy business-card (YAY4BOOBS.pdf), courtesy of me and the perennially awesome Mary Traverse, that you can print out and slip into your wallet to flash at anyone who hassles you.