Nantucket residents vote to allow topless beaches

Nantucket residents vote to allow topless beaches

Nantucket is one step closer to opening up all the beaches on the tiny Massachusetts island to topless bathers.

Residents voted 327-242 at the annual town meeting Tuesday night to pass the Gender Equality on Beaches bylaw amendment that will allow beach bums to go topless, the Boston Globe reported.

“We did it, we made it!” sex educator Dorothy Stover who proposed the amendment, said on Instagram after the victory, though she noted the measure must still be approved by the state attorney general’s office before it becomes law.

“Being topless is not being nude,” Stover said at the meeting. “This bylaw would not make beaches nude beaches. This bylaw would allow tops to be optional for anyone that chooses to be topless.”

The amendment states that “in order to promote equality for all persons, any person shall be allowed to be topless on any public or private beach within the Town of Nantucket.”

Stover, who runs the online Nantucket Love School, argued for the measure by citing the history of allowing men to go topless at the beach almost 90 years ago, the human anatomy and other places that allow people to go topless on public beaches.

Dorothy Stover
Dorothy Stover proposed the amendment.
Facebook / Dorothy Stover

She also clarified the definitions of topless and nudity by explaining that the former means wearing nothing on the upper body and the latter refers to showing genitals, pubic areas and buttocks.

One woman at the meeting said that “Nantucket women have always practiced and lived gender equality. Now I may not choose to go topless … but I think other people should have that choice … I would suggest that we vote for this so that we have choice.”

But a man said that “speaking as a father, I just feel as though this is opening a can of worms, for which we may not be able to control,” the news outlet reported.

Stover recently described how she came up with her plan in November.

Beachgoers on Nantucket Island in Nantucket, MA
Residents voted 327-242 at the annual town meeting Tuesday night to pass the Gender Equality on Beaches bylaw amendment.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

“This past summer, I was at the beach and I wanted to lay out topless,” the 40-year-old recalled. “And I thought, ‘why can’t I do that?’”

In a recent profile for the Nantucket Current about the campaign, Stover explained that topless beaches are a way of life in other countries.

“In Europe, it’s completely normal to be topless, you don’t even think about it,” Stover said.

“I’ve had more support than I thought I would. It’s been surprising seeing who supports it and who is pushing back. They say women’s breasts are sexual, and I said no, they’re sexualized, not sexual,” she said.

“We have the exact same makeup — men have mammary glands and nipples — and so I started reaching more into it and men can go topless but we can’t,” Stover continued.

“It blew my mind that we’re still in this space. But it’s turned into an equity issue, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks this,” she added.

Stover also explained to the Cape Cod Times that the law currently in place that only allows males to be topless is a “really antiquated” idea and breeds on “inequality.”

“Some men have bigger breasts than I do,” she quipped.

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