In their continuing efforts to make Ocean City more “family friendly,” officials there are going after what’s arguably the most family friendly body part of all: breasts — specifically those of the female variety.
Council members gathered Saturday to pass an “emergency” ordinance (The boobies are coming! The boobies are coming!) banning women from baring their chests on public beaches after one women said she’d like to.
“There is no constitutional right for an individual to appear in public nude or in a state of nudity,” the ordinance states, offering up this nugget of wisdom: The “equal protection clause does not demand that things that are different in fact be treated the same in law, nor that a government pretend there are no physiological differences between men and women.”
Well, duh. Men are often taller. Their breasts, however, are remarkably similar (if frequently furrier). But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what Johns Hopkins Medicine had to say: “The structure of the male breast is nearly identical to that of the female breast, except that the male breast tissue lacks the specialized lobules, as there is no physiologic need for milk production by the male breast.”
In other words, the main difference is in the duct work. (Note to Hopkins: We know a few sleep-deprived moms who might beg to differ on the need for milk production in their partners.) Both sexes typically have nipples and fibrous fatty areas of varying sizes above their mid sections. It’s fairly safe to say that the Ocean City Council is not particularly concerned about what’s on the inside of that tissue, however. In fact, their concern is so far outside, it’s not even really about the body part, but the perception of it.
Female breasts are so sexualized in our society that it’s not just straight men who are obsessed with them — many women are too, fretting over their size, shape and general attractiveness. To avoid emotional discomfort, then, breasts must only be bared behind closed doors, according to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, who declared in a statement to media that he and the City Council “are unanimously opposed to women being topless on our beach or in any public area.”
He added “Ocean City is a family resort, and we intend to do whatever is within our ability to also protect the rights of those families that visit us each year.”
He’s apparently forgotten that the main function of the female breast is to provide a source of nutrition for babies. If that’s not family friendly, we don’t know what is.
We can understand the “no profanity” signs that went up in Ocean City in 2014, followed by the smoking restrictions in 2015, and last year’s ban against hoverboards on the boardwalk. But was an emergency ordinance requiring women to wear tops really necessary to “protect” the safety and sensibility — “the rights” — of visitors and residents? Was this really a thing?
Ocean City Beach Patrol Captain Butch Arbin told The Dispatch newspaper that he’s only seen a handful of instances of toplessness in his four decades on the job, and “in 99 percent of the cases, it was a foreign visitor who just didn’t know and was happy to comply” when asked to cover up.
This all came about because Maryland resident Chelsea Covington — who, rather reasonably, advocates “normalizing female bare-chestedness” — last year asked the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s office to ask the Maryland Attorney General’s office whether it was legal for women to be bare chested in places where men are. No opinion had been issued at the start of this year’s beach season, so Captain Arbin’s patrol was directed to look the other way if any incidents arose, leading to last weekend’s “emergency” meeting.
Ms. Covington’s boobs are readily visible on her blog (which includes a shot taken Friday in Ocean City); they’re nothing to fear.
We would respectfully suggest that if Mayor Meehan and the Ocean City Council members are really concerned about equal protection and “those families that visit” each year, they would hold an emergency meeting this weekend to urge everyone to cover up — men too. Sun damage is no joke.
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