When we first heard about the NYC-based group calling itself the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, we initially assumed that it involved topless people watching the Tarantino movie outdoors somewhere, in some weird take on the whole ROCKY HORROR phenomenon. We were relieved to learn that the pulp fiction in question is actually, well, pulp fiction (the idea of celebrating Tarantino with female toplessness kind of grossed us out). But we’re still a little uneasy about the whole thing.
Sure, it’s totally awesome that toplessness is an equal opportunity right in New York City. And we’re all for women celebrating their bodies, being comfortable in their own skin, and using that comfort in their own skin to make passersby a tiny bit uncomfortable, just to make a point. The idea behind the group is this: a bunch of women wanted to take advantage of their right to sunbathe topless in the city, but they weren’t comfortable doing it alone. Safety in numbers, they figured. The book part came about because reading wards off annoying strangers (hello fratboy with a camera phone) and gives the sunbathers something to do. And they figured that reading pulp fiction worked with the whole topless thing.
So where’s the “but”? Call us sticks in the mud, but we just find it hard to get excited about female toplessness as “triumphant” and “liberating,” as two of the group’s members described the experience. Okay, okay, it’s probably just a bit of harmless fun and we’re making too big of a deal about what is, essentially, a small group of friends hanging out in parks together. But we’re not sure that any straight guys witnessing the performance would think anything other than “boobies! boobies! boobies!” (The photo above is the only SFW one we could find on their site — for the most part, it seems, they’re not quite so subtle about things.)
Sure, horndog dudes are not necessarily a reason to disband the group. And if the group is there just to have some fun, then fine. But one member told the Village Voice, “I’ve finally found a group of like-minded people who believe in equality. It means there are other people who want to help dismantle the stigma of breasts in public being something ‘dirty.'” We just don’t think that topless sunbathing young hipsters in cool shades is dismantling any kind of stigma at all.