The controversy over breastfeeding in public weirds me out a little. Of course I'm for it--do we really want to make women feed their babies in gross bathrooms, or impede women with babies from leaving the house?--but I'm also bothered by the idea that exposing breasts is only okay if they're doing something "useful." Why does my body require an excuse? Why can't "it's nice out and it's my day off" be just as much of a reason?
In fact, how about "I don't have to give you a reason, it's my body"?
To be honest I'm not entirely sure about public genital exposure, I'm for it in the long run but I don't think society's quite ready to be mature about issues like boners and bus-seat hygiene, but I am 100% for the decriminalization and destigmatization of the female chest. If you want to mark out one little patch of my body and say "this bit is naughty, it's only for sex and the rest of the time you have to act like it doesn't exist," that's a little annoying, but extending that rule to a large nongenital area that men don't have to hide is sexist and stupid.
Men get turned on by tits? Yeah, and I get turned on by pecs. I've learned not to make my arousal someone else's problem, and I think most men can do the same--the ones who can't are already harassing women anyway. More importantly, I should have the right to take my chances. If your concern is safety, I think we should make it illegal to assault a topless woman.
Women will be pressured to go topless? Women who walk around in long skirts or headscarves really don't get that much guff about how they could be in tank tops, and on European beaches plenty of women still wear swimsuit tops.
Breasts are offensive to some people? That's their problem. There's no right not to be offended--if Nazi t-shirts are legal (and I agree they should be, even though I'm infuriated by the sight), so should be titties.
What about the children? They don't have to deal with arousal or cultural baggage, they'll get used to it faster than anyone. And if you want to keep kids from getting weird ideas from porn, demystifying the female body--yeah, sometimes people are shaped like this, no big deal--goes a long way toward that goal. It'd probably do adults some good on that front too.
I suppose a bandeau,or electrical tape if I'm really playing letter-of-the-law, isn't too much hardship, but it really draws attention to the Forbidden Zones in a way that simple toplessness doesn't. It signifies my agreement with the idea that I have a nice upper half--except for the two Horrible Deformities of Horror, of course.
This isn't about public sex or exhibitionism. I don't want to flaunt my breasts or offer them up. What I want is just for my body to be free. When summer comes again, I want to go down to the beach park, lay out a towel by the lakeshore, lie down with a good book, and feel the sun on my skin.