Nantucket, Massachusetts has voted to legalize topless beaches. This resolution comes as part of the Gender Equality on Beaches bylaw amendment.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey approved the new bylaw, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that allows all beachgoers to go topless on Nantucket beaches. Healey acknowledges that the decision might be controversial, but does not conflict directly with any state laws.
This proposal is part of a larger “Free the Nipple” movement, promoting gender equality in public places. According to the advocacy group GoTopless, only three states have laws that explicitly ban women going topless. Under the previous law on Nantucket, women could be fined $300 and faced a penalty of up to three years in prison if caught topless on the island.
Dorothy Stover, a sex educator, and resident of Nantucket drafted the proposal. Stover told the Nantucket Current that her goal was not to break a theory that women’s breasts are inherently sexual. Instead, Stover’s goal was to show that this theory only exists due to societal sexualization. “I started to look around the beach and I noted that many men had larger breasts than I do.”
The new bylaw applies to people of all genders on Nantucket Beaches. Other beaches on Cape Cod and Islands region have designated sections for nude sunbathing. Beaches, like Lucy Vincent Beach on Martha’s Vineyard, only allow it a certain distance from the beach entrance.