We’ve always known we were in the right, that women in New York have the legal right to bare their breasts anywhere a man can—but we’ve also always had the sneaking suspicion that not every police officer in the city knew that that was the law. Happily, as reported the other day in the New York Times (and elsewhere), the NYPD held 10 days of briefings for every cop in the city which seem to have boiled down to this: Don’t hassle women for being topless. They aren’t doing anything wrong.
So when the temperature hit 80 degrees yesterday and nine or ten of us decided shirtless was how we wanted to be and Central Park was where we felt like doing it, we were curious to see whether the lessons had sunk in. We had our chance to find out when a cop car pulled over beside us and two of New York’s Finest came over for a chat.
“You aren’t doing anything wrong,” they volunteered. Then they stood there a little awkwardly. “Has anyone bothered you?” No, we said. No one has said anything, except for this one elderly woman who stopped by with her poodle, just to say how happy we were making her.
“Was the poodle topless?” asked one of the cops.
Yes, we said. The poodle was topless.
It was a surreal encounter. Do cops go up to people crossing at the light and say, “You’re not jaywalking, ma’am, no laws being broken here”?
But we can hardly complain about the encounter. People are learning. The world is changing. And if it hadn’t been for that cheering encounter, who knows, maybe we wouldn’t have been quite bold enough to stroll the entire width of the park proudly topless.
And to the one growly woman who muttered as she passed us, “There are children here!” we respectfully reply: Yes, there are. And maybe they’ll grow up healthier for it.