Ordinance Could Lead to Change in Berkeley's Topless Law

A Berkeley city councilman is pushing the city to adopt a new ordinance that would no longer criminalize women for going topless.

"It is nonsensical and sexist that Berkeley criminalizes the display of the female nipple while allowing the display of the male nipple," Councilmember Kriss Worthington's recommendation to the city council reads.

A portion of the East Bay city's municipal code indicates that women can be punished for showing "any portion of the breast at or below the areola" at any point when they are in the public eye, according to the city.

Breastfeeding is exempt from the city's laws. With the said, Worthington finds that if nursing mothers can expose their breasts, every woman should have the same right as well.

"If a woman's nipples are fit to be seen by the most innocent and impressionable portion of the population, babies and toddlers, then it stands to reason that nipples are not inherently sexual and are fit to be seen by the rest of the population, if that woman so chooses," Worthington's recommendation reads.

Worthington believes his proposed ordinance could also prevent any policing confusion in the event when a transgender man who has not undergone chest reconstruction were to go topless.

"By simplifying Berkeley’s law to not outlaw anyone’s nipples, future complications can be avoided before they even arise and grow into complex legal issues," his recommendation read.

Worthington's ordinance is slated to be discussed at a city council meeting on Sept. 12.

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