It's already been a couple of weekends since I photographed the Go Topless Day march and I'm still mulling over my reaction to it. The Time Out New York article featuring my photos ended up being the most popular TONY article that I've contributed to with more than 5,000 shares. It was also the most divisive, with hundreds of readers calling the participants terrible names and ridiculing their appearance and cause -- namely to encourage women to stand up for their constitutional right to go topless, as well as educate people on the difference between nudity and sexuality.
To be clear, I don't approve of the readers' hateful comments. Their words are ignorant and ugly and made even worse by the casual way they're tossed around. Still, I realize that nudity and sexuality are complicated issues for many people, particularly in the US. Even some of my intelligent, compassionate and highly educated friends had difficulty looking at a parade of topless women without being critical of their appearance or motivation.
Is a public topless march the best vehicle for the group's message? I'm not sure. But it did highlight the stark differences between what is socially acceptable for men and women. I saw many shirtless guys walk through Bryant Park near the marchers. I stopped a few of the guys to ask if they were with the group so I could take their picture. None of them were. But only when I was surrounded by dozens of topless women -- themselves surrounded by hundreds of photographers -- did I think to look twice at the numerous shirtless men who walked in the same park without a second glance.