The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society


When I was a young sprout of a child, I remember asking my mom why it was okay for my dad to take off his shirt and work in the back yard, but I had to be stuck in my sweaty tee. She explained that in some countries it was okay, but here it wasn’t. Pouting, I wished I lived in those countries that I’d seen in my grandfather’s National Geographic. And up until recently, I hadn’t realized that my childhood dreams had come true: in 1992, the law that prohibited breast-barring was overturned. I’d check to make sure your state is in on the chest crusade before whipping off your shirt and running Baywatch-style down the street, but it is apparently legal in many places.

This ground-breaking realization has inspired the bold and inspiring “Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society,” in New York, which is admittedly a mouthful considering most people who run into them in Central Park are probably left speechless. These brave ladies brazenly show off their racks in the name of boobs and books, standing by their mission to “make reading sexy.” Their website, which can definitely be categorized as not safe for work, documents their topless antics around the city— smearing sunscreen over themselves on sunny days (making puns about “red breast” sightings), and running for cover in the rain.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for these women, but now is time for the conflicting opinion. Looking at their website, you get the feeling that it’s not so much about reading. It’s all about being topless, even the blog entries. There are no places for their busty members to post book reviews or suggested reading, all it talks about is the feeling of being topless outside, if there’s even text to an entry. It’s mostly photos. I’m all for appreciation and positive body image, though it comes across as almost more of a spectacle than the former. But what’s wrong with that? They’re doing something radical and beautiful. It’s just more an exploration of new social norms than a book club. Is it too public? I hate to say it, but women wear more in the Red Light District. Would you bring your six-year-old son to Amsterdam and let him play Frisbee in the heart of the world’s biggest sexual neighborhood? Then again, if kids are desensitized from a young age, it isn’t such a big deal, right? Conundrum!  

There are also no photos of men on their site. I could make a stereotypical joking comment about men and literacy but in all seriousness: I thought this was co-ed? I can’t imagine a guy would be scared away by the sight of nipples, but even if they don’t have any male members, they should talk some of their guy friends into coming for encouragement purposes, and so they come across as true to their name. And though it’s great to be proud of your body, if a guy was proud of his penis and was legally allowed shared it with the world, it would take some time to get used to. True, it’s not fair that women are naturally blessed with fun bits above and below the belt, but it’s another thing to consider. It’s like my elementary school teacher said: “Just because you’re proud of something doesn’t mean you have to be a show-off.”

I have no right to interfere with whatever other people want to do, and I know if I was in New York I’d be right there in the park getting grass stains where I’ve never gotten grass stains before. It’s such an interesting topic and a new social concept that we have to wrap our heads around, and I have to play a little devil’s advocate. Is the US ready for a close-up in National Geographic? Opinions?

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