HARTMAN: A Titular Offense In Berkeley

Ah, Berkeley!  What would we do without you?

A proposal pending before the City Council in what is arguably California’s most ridiculous municipality – and that’s an accomplishment – would create gender equality by allowing women to go topless on the streets.

Yeah.  Well.  Some of you are probably saying, “Woo-hoo!” even though you’re about as likely to set foot in Berkeley and lay eyes on that flagrant boobage as I am to see burqas in Tehran.  But, dudes and uber-liberated or lesbian ladies, seriously?

OK, fine.  Let’s have people of both sexes (and all genders) be free to walk around topless all the time.  Fine by me.  As a libertarian-leaning Republican, I honestly don’t care.  Seriously.  Flap your breasticles in the wind, and it’s no skin off my nose, butt, whatever.  I’m not easily offended.  To frame this as a gender-equality issue, however, is just kind of silly.

We are all born with physical traits that not only define us, but restrict us.  My friend Todd cannot drive a car because of an innate disability that confines him to a wheelchair.  My friend Marshall will be forever “overqualified” for a job at Walgreen’s because of his inborn intellect and education.  I will never be a professional tennis player because of a badly curved spine that came along with being merely alive (and having been born in a military hospital).  As a man, I can wear a skirt if I want but I can’t do so without taking certain steps to protect my junk from injury, mosquitoes, whatever.  My large-breasted sister can’t move about without a bra, lest she injure her back more than three pregnancies already have.  My bald brother has to wear a hat in the sun.

Biology is a thing.

If we accept it, if we accept inborn biology as liberals demand that we do, if we embrace that we are born straight or gay, cis-gendered or transgender – hell, even male or female – we must also accept the limitations that come with such ascribed traits, along with their benefits.  We must also accept that with every ascribed trait there are both benefits and limitations.

I have white privilege.  I have male privilege.  I get that.  Really, I do.  I didn’t choose either, so I can moderate my behavior in sensitivity to both.  I can also, should I choose, walk about shirtless without drawing the attention of the police – not that anyone would enjoy seeing me in such an unclothed state.

If the Berkeley City Council votes to allow women to be shirtless in public, that’s fine. I honestly don’t care.  I’m not likely to ever be there anyway.  If they try to supersede California state obscenity law, however, they may have a costly and time-consuming rumble on their hands – and for what?  Will it be worth the fight?  Will the dozen or so women who actually WANT to walk about bare-chested benefit from this?  Will they feel more “equal?”

If they do, God help them.  There are far more worthy concerns, for them and for all of us.

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