Get Your Boobs Out For The Cause: The French Supreme Court Is Freeing The Nipple (But For Woke Women Only)

It all started with a feminist charged with public indecency for staging a topless protest…

Iana Zhdanova

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

The French supreme court has ruled that women can display their breasts in public as long as their ‘behaviour was incorporated into an act of political protest’. It comes after a Ukrainian feminist who staged a topless protest in Paris was charged with ‘sexual exhibition’ – similar to public indecency in the UK.

Iana Zhdanova, 32, stabbed a waxwork of President Putin at a French museum in 2014 while topless with the words ‘Kill Putin’ written on her chest. A member of the feminist Femen movement, she was arrested and charged with vandalism alongside her sexual exhibition charge – which carries a one-year prison sentence.

After being prosecuted by Paris authorities, she told journalists she was surprised such a liberal country would prosecute for public indecency, saying ‘even in my home country, they haven’t gone down that road.’

Iana Zhdanova
©Getty Images

Taking her case all the way to the supreme court in France, she won when the court decided to throw out her prosecution and ruled that it is legal for women to show their breasts in public – although only when it’s part of a ‘political protest’ of course.

Her lawyer, Marie Dose, has since argued that the judges should’ve gone further and ruled women could go topless in all circumstances, saying ‘who decides that a woman’s chest is more sexual than a man’s?’.

In Britain, nude protests made the news in 2016 when Cambridge academic Victoria Bateman taught an economics lecture completely naked with the words ‘Brexit leaves Britain naked’ written on her chest and stomach.

There are two nudity-related offences under UK law: outraging public decency and indecent exposure. Outraging public decency makes it illegal to perform actions or displays in public that are of ‘such lewd character as to outrage public decency’ - where two or more people could see the act.

Indecent exposure means you cannot ‘intentionally expose genitals or intend for someone to be alarmed or distressed by your appearance’. So essentially, you can be topless in public in the UK as long as you’re not intentionally causing others distress i.e. flashing someone or being ‘disorderly’ towards others.

Nude protests for the win, then? If the French supreme court is freeing the nipple for the cause, maybe we all should.

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