When most people see Moira Johnston walking through the streets of New York, they probably aren't thinking "freedom fighter," they're thinking, "That woman's topless."
But to Johnston, politics and breasts go hand in hand -- although, truth be told, one is more preferable to actually hold.
The 29-year-old topless dancer from Philadelphia may be baring her breasts for money at night, but during daylight hours, she lets people view them free of charge in order to make a point about true equality.
“I want women to know their rights and to give them the courage to go topless too,” she told The Daily Beast. “It’s not that I want everyone to take off their shirt, but I’m supporting a woman’s choice to do it and think every woman should do it on her own terms.”
Johnston didn't start out to being a bare breast activist. That role was thrust on her in January when, during a yoga class, she took her top off in class.
Some of the other yogis complained about her bare breasts and Johnston thought it unfair that guys are allowed to walk around shirtless while women have to keep their boobs covered.
Since May, Johnston has been seen strolling around New York topless as a part of a Kickstarter campaign to protest society's notions that breasts need to be covered up and also to remind other women that, under New York law, they have the right to bare their chests, just like men.
But many people are unaware of Johnston's rights to go topless -- including the New York Police Department, which arrested her in May.
Johnston said she was detained in handcuffs and forcibly had her shirt put over her breasts after people complained she was topless near a children's playground.
In the end, cops didn't charge her, according to The Globe And Mail.
“[The officer] said it could be considered endangering the children,” she told The Daily Beast.
Johnston may be fighting the good fight for every woman who wants to walk around topless, but some ladies are saying "Thanks, but no thanks," such as blogger Katie Ligon.
"You’re fighting for a right that everyone knows they have," Ligon wrote. "This right isn’t exercised often because, well, it’s kind of creepy. What is the point you’re trying to make here, topless lady? I can let my boobs hang low for everyone to see, just like a man? But I rarely see men walking around topless, and I think it has something to do with the fact that it would be weird."
There is strength in numbers and Johnston's cause, if not her breasts, will soon be getting much needed support on August 26, which will mark the fifth annual Go Topless Day, a yearly event where women in 22 cities around the world are encouraged to remove their tops in the name of justice while men are encouraged to protest the hypocrisy by wearing bras or bikini tops.
One of the men who plans to wear a bra in the name of civil rights is Ricky Roehr, a musician living in Las Vegas, who thinks the event will serve as a reality check.
"The very fact that guys are obsessing over boobs as sexual is exactly why we need to change the laws," Roehr told The Huffington Post last year. "Making something forbidden or taboo just makes people obsess over it."
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