Late last month, three women decided to sunbathe topless on a public beach in Necochea, Argentina, a seaside town located in the southwest of Buenos Aires Province. As a result, the women soon found themselves at the center of a national scandal that quickly spun out of control.
According to reports by eyewitnesses, a few tourists felt uncomfortable at the sight of exposed breasts and reported the nudity to police, who soon arrived on the scene, and asked the women to cover up. When they refused, the officers proceeded to remove them from the beach. It turned out to be quite an ordeal, and 20 cops were involved, before it was over.
The scandal became a national story after video footage found its way online:
Following the police action, which critics say was excessive, Facebook users called for a massive tetazo (a form of protest in which many of the participants will show their breasts) at the Obelisk of Buenos Aires. Groups in other cities have joined this campaign, as well.
Charges against the three women in Necochea were eventually dismissed under the argument that toplessness is not illegal. During the opinion storm caused by the news, correctional judge Mario Juliano took the chance to petition the provincial legislature for a modification of the Code of Misdemeanors used as a legal backing by the police during the intervention. The judge argued that the Code is a relic of the 1970s and that it could be seen as a heritage of the country's dictatorial regimes that use force to exercise control.
Judge Juliano's initiative has its opponents, judging by the many angry comments on social media.
With tens of thousands of engagements on Twitter, the following post by Pictoline demonstrates how provocative feminist approaches to the issue of naked breasts have become:
Tres mujeres fueron expulsadas de una playa en Argentina por estar topless y vuelve la pregunta:
¿Por qué los hombres sí y las mujeres no? pic.twitter.com/UCjFn5Q1xx
— pictoline (@pictoline) 2 de febrero de 2017
Three women were expelled by 20 police agents from a beach in Argentina for being “indecent.”
“Go away, immodest woman.” “But he's also got his nipples uncovered.” “It's not the same.”
The debate returns: Why can men do it and women can't? What's the difference? The answer: there is no difference. The difference comes from a society that for thousands of years has sexualized women's breasts. “Don't incite him.” “Respect her.”
Three women were expelled from a beach in Argentina for going topless, which begs the question:
Why do men get to, but not women?
Below, you'll find a few of the tweets and memes about the incident from different points of view, and see how they're connected to gender equality and gender violence:
— Barbara Martinez (@barbarammzz) 3 de febrero de 2017
When you can go to prison for doing exactly what a man does, there is no equality.
— Barbara Martinez (@barbarammzz) Feburary 3rd, 2017
Las feministas prohíben concursos de belleza de Reef pero impulsan #tetazo. Pareciera q lo q de verdad les molesta son las minas lindas.
— Agustín Laje (@AgustinLaje) 1 de febrero de 2017
Feminists ban the Miss Reef beauty contests but push the #tetazo [showing their naked breasts as a protest]. It seems as if what really bothers them are pretty girls.
— Agustín Laje (@AgustinLaje) Februrary 1st, 2017
Ser feminista es mucho más que mostrar las tetas, queridas. Simone de Beauvoir debe estar revolcándose en su tumba. #Tetazo
— ArabellaOH! (@AdriGeorgieff) 31 de enero de 2017
Being a feminist is much more than showing them your tits, sweethearts. Simone de Beauvoir must be rolling in her grave. #Tetazo
— ArabellaOH! (@AdriGeorgieff) January 31st, 2017
— MarchadlasPutas Ros (@MarchaPutasRos) 31 de enero de 2017
— MarchadlasPutas Ros (@MarchaPutasRos) January 31st, 2017
Radio announcer Oscar Choy from Radio Rivadavia AM690 tried to present a more moderate and conciliatory perspective, but still came down against the display of women's breasts in crowded public spaces:
We can reflect…. RESPECTING ONE ANOTHER?
It's not the breasts… it's not the toplessness… it's the attitude!!!!
When you meet in a public place… respect the norms of society. Don't behave like you would at home… or in your swimming pool. For a long time we have been challenging limits, norms, provoking… altering… always going a little bit further.
In going further, we forget the Other. The Other has their space… their way of life… their culture… their beliefs.
We provoke others all the time with whatever we feel like…
The #tetazo demonstrations took place across Argentina on Feb. 7, capturing the attention of the country's news media. Online and elsewhere, the issue continues to generate debate and discussion about women's rights and gender equality.