Gender Inequality in Modesty Laws


Written by Joseph Dunsay. After earning a Masters of Science in Ecology and Evolution, Joseph Dunsay became a science writer for international audiences. Find more Jewrotica writing by Joseph here.

Rated PG-13Judaism has different modesty standards for men’s and women’s clothing. Head coverings for married women can symbolize a commitment to Orthodox Judaism. One married Jewish woman had a complicated long-term relationship with her head coverings. When it is all said and done, a Jewish woman can choose to cover her hair or not without facing legal repercussions for her decision. She can also wear trousers without ending up in court, unlike the women of Sudan. But the freedom to bare what men bare does not apply to her breasts if she is in the Midwest. A federal court in America upheld Chicago’s ban on topless women, despite the gender inequality in the law.

The court reasoned that it was fair to treat women’s breasts differently from men’s breasts, because women’s breasts are erotic and men’s breasts are not, but scientific research challenges this dichotomy. Brain scans of women showed that the same brain regions activated when they stimulated their nipples, clitorises, and vaginas. However, these brain regions also lit up when men stimulated their own nipples during the study.

An article about men’s attraction to breasts mentioned that about 4 out of 5 female undergraduates and half of male undergraduates in the UK became sexually aroused when their nipples were stimulated. The article gave several biological explanations for why men are sexually attracted to women’s breasts, and suggested a role for culture too. It cited a 1951 survey of 191 cultures which found that men considered women’s breasts to be sexually alluring in only 13 of those cultures.

Therefore, a judge cannot say that an American man’s fondness for a woman’s breasts is an inherent property of her chest. His erection is arguably a result of the nature and nurture that shaped his mind. Given the sexual nature of many men’s breasts and the diverse reactions men have to women’s breasts, it is unfair to blame women for the arousal men feel when a woman goes topless. After all, American cities aren’t arresting people for going barefoot. It is time to make the law gender neutral by giving women the freedom to toss off their shirts or tip off their hats if that is how they want to express themselves.

After earning a Masters of Science in Ecology and Evolution, Joseph Dunsay became a science writer for international audiences. His LGBT erotic e-book launched in the summer of 2015.