Under current New Hampshire state law, both men and women may expose their nipples as they so please. Some Republicans want to change that. A recently proposed bill, sponsored exclusively by Republican men, would make it illegal for a woman to “purposely expos[e] the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts in a public place.” (The bill makes an exception for breastfeeding.) Men would still be permitted to expose their nipples in public with impunity.
New Hampshire state Rep. Amanda Bouldin was infuriated that a party whose platform praises “freedom” and “limited government” would attempt to police women’s bodies this blatantly. So she wrote a brief Facebook post criticizing the bill as a sexist betrayal of the GOP’s purported “smaller government” principles. Her colleague, Republican Rep. Josh Moore, promptly responded, providing a wonderfully succinct example of the kind of misogyny Bouldin was castigating:
Another colleague, Republican Rep. Al Baldasaro, quickly jumped in to harass Bouldin about her own breasts:
I spoke with Bouldin about these unapologetically misogynistic attacks on Wednesday while she and her daughter scraped ice off her car windshield.
“The idea that a man can be topless because his nipples aren’t sexual is bizarre,” Bouldin told me:
I certainly find men’s nipples sexual! If men being topless wasn’t sexual, they’d have to take off their pants to attract any women. We know that topless men are sexual. But apparently only topless men are allowed to display their sexuality. Women are not.
Bouldin was unfazed by her colleagues’ harassment and plans to fight the bill in 2016. She sees the battle as a feminist issue.
“We shouldn’t be introducing new legislation that only applies to women,” she said. “If we had any laws that started with the sentence ‘women should not,’ they should have been repealed by now.”