Franklin Countys First News

Topless woman downtown causes a stir; her march is coming

FARMINGTON - A topless woman standing on the corner of Main and Broadway Saturday morning brought several complaints to the Franklin County dispatch center and more to town and state officials.

Farmington Police Department Officers Bill Tanner and Kim Bates responded to the first complaint at 11:22 a.m. On arrival they found Andrea Simoneau, a University of Maine at Farmington history major, topless and handing out flyers advertising an upcoming topless march from 1 to 2 p.m. on April 30 at Meetinghouse Park on Main Street. According to Tanner's report, several pedestrians stopped and looked at the woman, with many taking flyers from her.

"A lot of people were supportive," Simoneau said. "And some weren't." She credits Officers Tanner and Bates with helping those who weren't so supportive in clarifying that it's legal in Maine for women to go bare chested in public.

"The Farmington police were my greatest ally, backing me up a couple  of times," she said.   

The officers did advise  Simoneau that if rubber necking causes an accident because of the unusual sight, she may be held accountable. 

"I would put my shirt back on if I thought someone might get hurt. I don't want anyone to get hurt," she said.

In Portland on April 3, a topless march of between 20 to 30 people was held to protest society's gender bias that holds men can take their shirts off in public but women can't. Simoneau of Brooks, Maine, said she participated in that march and was inspired by it to organize a march in Farmington. She plans to advertise her April 30 march again on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.

She believes her handing out flyers and marching topless will help break the social taboo that women have to keep their shirts on in public and men don't. It's an important message for all those who oppose it, she said, "it's doing something good for them and for future generations."  

After an hour and half of handing out flyers on Saturday, Simoneau left, but the incident continues to be the talk of the town. Selectmen have received complaints and calls to action, according to Town Manager Richard Davis, who fielded one complaint first thing this morning.

"No laws were broken," Davis said. "There's nothing selectmen can do; it shouldn't be a matter for them." Instead he advises people to call their local state legislator if they want to get a law on the books prohibiting topless women in public places.

Lots of people have taken that advice, because State Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, said as of Sunday night, he'd fielded 30 calls so far from people complaining of a topless woman on Main Street.

Davis said a march held at Meetinghouse Park wouldn't need a permit approved by selectmen, as some events require, because the event would not be using any facilities and would not be occurring over a sustained period of time. Freedom of assembly in a public place is a guarantee of the U.S. Constitution, he noted.

"Some of those opposed said they had a moral objection to it, after they were told no law had been broken," Simoneau said. In the end she hopes her political activism will help those who have a moral issue with it to ask themselves why and give more women who want to take their shirts off, the freedom to do so without objection.

She believes, so far, she has 15 people signed up to march with her on April 30.

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116 Responses »

  1. These women are just looking for attention. Way way too much time on thier hands...................I bet most of these women are unhappy and mean as a snake. Yep, these women are "helping future generations"...................just what we need..........

  2. Someone should offer an open invitation for breast cancer survivors to join them. Maybe nursing moms and their babies too. If the message is that breasts are not simply objects of lust that should remain covered in public, why not make some effort to show what other function they serve as well as show that women are still themselves no matter what terrible things have happened to their breasts? I'd think that would be a more worthwhile message than just walking around topless.

  3. You go girl! It's time to end ALL double standards concerning men vs. women. And I agree with Nancy, the female breast serves a purpose, and that purpose is NOT just a sexual focal point. Steve Whittier should not be making personal remarks like "these women are unhappy and mean as a snake". Do you even know any of the women who support this cause? People are people, regardless of the size of there pectoral /mammary body parts.

  4. This is absolutely shameful and totally inappropriate behavior. To me this is nothing less than pornagraphic and should be illegal. Stores are required to put brown wrappers on nude magazines so that innocent children and people who do not want to be subjected to the nudity are spared. To allow women to walk around topless violates my rights and the rights of all others who do not want to see such trash. Andrea Simoneau was quoted as staying that she would put her shirt back on if she thought someone might get hurt -- well what about someone's purity getting hurt? Innocent children and God fearing people who don't subject themselves to such things are going to be hurt by this protest and it should be stopped!

  5. Jess G sorry about making "personel remarkes" Gee wizz Jess....theres nothing "personel" about a woman running up and down the street with her boobs bouncing around? These women are show boats, wanting the way... "you go girl" is getting old ....just like "hear me roar"!!! another great saying.......................

  6. I have to say, though, her facebook page is certainly filled with profanity. Obviously she isn't an English major!!

  7. Nancy Townsend Johnson = Brilliant!

  8. I think Nancy Townsend Johnson makes a great point...if breast cancer survivors/nursing mothers participated it will certainly help validate the for one's purity getting hurt... stay home, turn the other cheek...judge not .....

  9. no double standard? I Agree! All you women who want to join the army, you should have to do as many pushups as the guys! And we'll split the check on our date... maybe once in a while you can open the door for me? Really though, is there nothing better you could be doing with your time ladies?? How many people were murdered by drunk drivers last week, and you want to march for something that doesn't break any laws? And by the way, given the percentage of fat people in this country these days, maybe we could make it a law that neither guy nor gal can take off their shirts in public. If i wanna see rolls, i'll go to a bakery.

  10. I don't think I have a lot of hang-ups with skin but this is wrongheaded. A man would look like an idiot strutting down Main St. with his shirt off in April (or really anytime). I'm sure this gal did, too. Why not hand out flyers at the beach when it's warm? Or just go topless at the beach and *not* hand out flyers? The fact is is that there is no double standard. Our laws allow for men and women to be topless. To expect men who are biologically wired to notice breasts to NOT notice breasts is just stupid. The differences between the sexes are supposed to be noticeable and attractive to the opposite sex.

    If you want to get mad about something, get mad that women are sometimes scorned for nursing their hungry babies in public. This would actually help future generations. Though, there again, I never had a problem breastfeeding in Farmington. Breasts do attract mates and do feed babies. Both purposes are natural and good.

  11. Topless women (of all shapes and sizes) in public....................please nooooooooo, this worse then finding out there's no Santa Claus or that the Easter Bunny is really your mother............ crazy stuff like this might even put the Push-up brassiere people out of business.

  12. Kick the march up a notch and include open carry firearms. And have everyone carry a bible in a brown paper bag.. God bless the United States of America.

  13. Well, Farmington can display something other than earmuffs. Women have been held back from public demonstration of their rights. It is about time and please don't take it too seriously. I bet you one thing, the high society (so-called) gentlemen will gather for the "SHOW". For those who are offended, let the editors know of your concern and then turn the other cheek.

  14. It is not possible for women to be equal to men by going topless. Women have breasts; men do not. A woman's going topless only makes her a starved-for-attention exhibitionist.

    Can Farmington pass a local ordinance (or law) in the next couple weeks prohibiting breast baring?
    Topless women in public are offensive. (For that matter, I think men should keep their shirts on in public.) Breasts are sexual as well as functional for breast feeding a baby. They should stay that way.
    Downtown businesses should complain.

  15. A human being in one piece is not obscene, pornographic or anything but beautiful. It's when that body is dismembered in the name of oil, religion, or political power that it becomes obscene. Politicians from Farmington to Augusta to Washington have more important things to tend to than enforcing the morals of a specific church.

  16. On an academic level, this all comes down to whether or not you view women's breasts as sexual objects, or part of their non-sexualized body. The law in Maine is ambivalent on this: women baring their breasts does not count as indecent exposure (therefore by law breasts are not a sexual object), but touching a woman's breasts without her consent is sexual harassment or assault (which indicates that this law views women's breasts as a sexual object).
    I know this woman, and count her as a friend. And I'll be joining her on her march. Because of my religious beliefs I won't be topless, but I see no reason to deny a woman the right to show a part of her body that Maine law does not currently specifically classify as indecent.

  17. I will repeat Jess G.~ YOU GO GIRL!!! Guess what everyone? It's not illegal and it has already happened in Portland so suck it up!!!! If a woman wants to take her shirt off, she has as much a right as a man. As soon as the sun is shining and the snow is gone, I see a topless man nearly every day in Farmington, there is no reason that we can't be seeing topless women as well. THE WHOLE POINT is that women not being allowed to go topless is an inhibiting social stigma, NOT A LAW, and women should not be embarassed or ashamed in any way about exposing their breasts! All of these hateful comments will only get everyone more fired up.
    Andrea was topless when handing out fliers to RAISE AWARENESS about this march, and what other way could have possibly been more effective? As a young person of this controversial generation, I can say that we want EQUALITY FOR ALL! The only way for this to happen is to constantly be pushing boundaries, holding protests and marches against what we believe is wrong or for what should be right, and to always be raising awareness and challenging people's judgemental views. Once again, awesome job Andrea! The judgemental views are exposed, and more fuel has been added to the fire to change these horrible self-hating and self-disrespecting views.

  18. AND with the way we see it, it does not take away these children's purity to witness a pair of breasts! Most are breast-fed, are they not? I am pretty sure they already know what they are, it won't be anything shocking to them, and will only become shocking if you, as the parent, put a negative spin on it and tell your child it is wrong to do. If you are telling them it is wrong, however, feel free to tell them also (especially your daughters) that she should be embarassed to see breasts, and should be especially embarassed if anyone were to see hers. I'm sure that will really help her developing, expanding, ever self-conscious mind.

  19. don't have breasts? Men can get breast cancer and when surgury occurs, there is a profound difference in chest appearance. According to the law, indecent exposure occurs by the display of genitals. To be technical, woman could go around naked because their genitals aren't visable because they're inside their body. Stop complaining...if you don't like it don't look. If you're looking look beyond the breasts as sex objects....anyone who says that woman don't have the same right to go topless as men are sexest and represent the disgrace that plagues this country and has since civil war era. Get a grip society, its nature and if you can't appreciate it stay home with the curtains closed. I do respect all views and opinions of this issue, but like Davis said, its and issue the selectman won't take up because it isn't illegal nor should it be. Who are we as society to be the ones to take sokething away from people who aren't breaking the law to begin with.

  20. The more whining I hear about topless women being indecent or immoral, the more likely it is that I will be attending this event. And why is it that anybody who isn't interested in a being a placid little sheep is automatically branded an attention seeker? Finally, to the genius who said men don't have breasts: you fail biology forever.

  21. I think what Andrea is doing is wonderful. Look at the way young girls look at themselves, at the way that they are taught virtually from infancy to loathe the female form. And it's comforting to vilify the media and blame them entirely for girls hating their bodies, but people are calling a girl just standing around with no shirt on indecent. Girls are taught that they have LOTS to be ashamed of, and so they are

  22. Thank goodness they have a law against baring a man's genitals in public......... (at least I hope they do!).

  23. All the laws in this country were based on morals. And by the way, if we are to "judge not" as people have commented, then we might as well get rid of all our courtrooms. God created us and He expects us to act a certain way. I know most of you reading this don't believe that, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. God also made the first clothing for Adam and Eve to wear after the fall....don't take my word for it read it yourself in Genesis 3 :21. If these women are so concerned about being equal with man then why not protest that men shouldn't be allowed to walk around without a shirt. And what about the sexual perverts who will no doubt come out and get their kicks during this protest? Are we not supposed to judge them when they go out and rape some innocent person? Maybe we should just turn the other cheek -- right? This nation and it's way of thinking has gotten way out of control. This is wrong -- period and should not be allowed to take place. If a man decided to drop his pants in public he would be called a pervert and probably arrested, these women are doing nothing less and should be stopped.

  24. I don't really see anything wrong with the idea of walking around topless. But most parents of children do not want their children to see that. I am one of them. I do not like the fact that there was many little children walking around with their parents that day downtown. I don't like my child watch anything on tv with that and do not want them looking at it. It is saying it is alright for young girls to be walking around like that. There is many weirdos out there, and that would put or children at risk. If you want to walk around topless do it in a private place not in public.

  25. How about IGNORING her ?

    That would be a start. Go on your merry way and do your daily stuff, and let her "hang out" and make an absolute idiot of herself. Topless in Farmington...give me a break. That is nice for all the kids to see......

  26. This is no more obscene than those "gray" people shouting that we are all going to hell. That is extremely offensive and scary to adults, let alone children!

  27. I'm a dude, I've got breasts. Any man does, in fact, any man even has the plumbing to support lactation if the proper hormones were administered. Kudos to the free thinking people in this world. Think of the great debate this thoughtful young lady has fostered.

  28. Townie, I disagree with your comparing woman going topless in public with the "gray people" shouting on the street. I have the choice to not listen to the gray people and my children have no idea what they are talking about if we are just passing by. On the other hand, my children can certainly see a woman exposing herself, even from the car driving by. I am all for equal rights, but that is just indecent! Have some morals! I know for one I will avoid the downtown area any time I fear those woman will be there. I would think the town might want to stop this before it hurts the downtown business area more than it already has been. They can't afford to drive away any more shoppers!

  29. have breasts. Are you fooling yourself into thinking they're the same as women's?

    Why do you suppose 45 out of 50 states bar toplessness? Are 45 states' laws wrong on this issue? I don't think so. It may simply be that 5 states never imagined such a thing needed to be legislated, that it would come to this.

  30. Don't gay women sexualize breasts too? Just reminding people it isn't just men in the crowd doing the ogling at these events. Sometimes gay women are just as much in need of enlightenment.

  31. The whole idea that we have indecent exposure laws to begin with is pathetic it just points out the lack of evolvement and low brow/backward nature of the society in which we live...........granted given the dietary habits/obesity issues of most of our areas inhabitants I for one am really not all to excited about an al la nude dance down Broadway, unless however I have at least spend some quality time at one of our fine drinking establishments. Then hey have at it.

  32. "In Portland on April 3, a topless march of between 20 to 30 people was held to protest society’s gender bias that holds men can take their shirts off in public but women can’t."

    Obviously they can take their shirts off in public, whats the problem?

  33. The problem is that even though it is completely legal for her to do it, she got the cops called on her by a bunch of people because they are so afraid of re-humanizing the female form into a person's body instead of a sexual object.

    The reason no one calls the cops on an obese man without his shirt on isn't because it's not gross looking - which this girls breasts weren't - they don't call the cops because they just think of it as a dude walking around NOT trying to get attention and be a sex object. And this girl had to obviously draw attention to herself as to the statement she was making because without explaining it she probably would have been taken under citizen's arrest by some wing-nut "moralist" who thinks it is their duty to tell other people to be ashamed of their bodies because there are perverts in the world who take advantage of women and their bodies.

    A society of hate and shame is what we need to make illegal. Not the simple act of being human in public.

  34. I know that I like the feeling of the hot sun on my back and my chest during the summer months and I apologize to all of the individuals who have had to see my chest hair as sweat glistens off of it in the sun. But I have never, never, never, never, had someone call the cops on me because it was obscene, pornographic, immoral, or harmful to their children.

    Why is that? My body is still sexual to me, and to my wife, it doesn't cease to be a sexual entity when I am in public, but because I am a man, and not an object (as ALL women are) no one begrudges me the pleasure of walking about topless with my man breasts hanging out.

  35. Hi everyone,

    Boy I love America, where everyone gets to express their opinion. To those who support the march, thank you so much for it. The world needs more freethinking, I agree. To those who disagree, well, this is America and you get to disagree. I would like to reply to Nancy Townsend Johnson and say I think that inviting nursing mothers and breast cancer survivors is a WONDERFUL idea and I will do so posthaste through our Facebook event: Farmington's First Topless March for Gender Equity!

    Again, thank you everyone, agree or disagree, for exercising your right to free speech. My favorite thing about America.

  36. these women have no point...they want attention. its not illegal to walk around without a shirt on, so why protest it?! i think they are absolutly INSAIN and really makin fools out of themselves. as for my children and I, we will be staying away from Farmington that day for certain! my kids, nor I want to see that crap!

  37. In response to the first comment on here, and the many others that may be accusing Andrea of being a woman who is just looking for attention and who has too much time on her hands, I encourage you to actually get to know Andrea. I consider Andrea to be a friend and if these are the choices that she wants to make, then let her make them without trying to name-call or act irrationally.

    It is true that this is extreme behavior for the community that we exist in -- but that doesn't mean it is wrong or inappropriate behavior. The socialization forced upon us may sexualize and misrepresent breasts, but that doesn't mean it is right. It may take some time to get accustomed to the exposure of a woman's breasts, but that's just because of the culture that we live in -- besides, it is easy to be desensitized in the modern era, anyway.

    For all those who feel this conflicts with their morals, take a moment to drop any religious and spiritual affiliations you have and any rationale related to such things, and think at the most basic level of logic and reasoning -- why are we ashamed of ourselves and all of these great gifts life has given us?

  38. Ok, without giving my opion. I do have a question. If a 15 year old girl wanted to join/support this march would it be allowed? Just wondering? Is there an age limit for equality?

  39. This sort of behavior is really inappropriate in our sagging economy.

  40. My wife had brest reduction several years ago. It's her body, I was fine with it. It left her somewhat scarred, but I don't find her less attractive. If she wanted to march I'd march with her and hold her hand if she wanted me too. There are those who feel very strongly about breast issues and I for one support them whole heartedly.

    This isn't a wet tee shirt contest. There will be no panel of judges judging size and shape or firmness. If your against it don't look. If you don't like the lack of laws, change them. If you want to hold a placard of protest, go right ahead.

    I personally think it's absurd to think Farmington will become a hot bed of bare breasts because someone wants to make a point, or two.

    I also think it's the most natural thing in the world for a woman to breast feed her child and do not find it offensive in any way.

    Some one says look at the ratio of states that don't allow bare breasts vrs those that do. Well look at the number of cultures that find bare breasts perfectly acceptable vrs those who don't. You may come up with entirely different figures.

    Then there are those who bring God into it, as if they have a direct line and clear revelation of God's thoughts on the matter. Well if your going to use the God card, He/She made breasts for a reason and obviously there is more than one way to view the subject. The only thing I am certain of about God, He/She has a sense of humor. I am reminded of that every time I step out of the shower and see myself in the mirror. I feel no need to expose myself in public. That doesn't mean I need to feel guilty if I support someone who does, for whatever reason.

    I imagine if no one shows up on Saturday their may be some baffled tourists that might not get what is going on as they pass through our fair town. So maybe some of us should show our support for those those who wish to be without any, temporarily.

    I remain:

    ok with it ;o)

  41. Is there an age limit for boys to walk around shirtless?

    If you are thinking about the presence of sexual predators in the Farmington downtown, then believe me, they are there: walking the streets, owning the businesses. Do you know if they have a predilection for boys or girls?

    If you thought it was boys, would you tell them not to walk around shirtless, or wear revealing gym shorts and muscle shirts? No, because it is their right to walk freely without modifying their behavior to make them less vulnerable to sexual predators.

    Only girls have to take responsibility for the disgusting, dirt-filled, loathsome, callous, sex offenders that have such a warped sense of control that they feel that they have the right to force themselves on an unwanting child - MALE or FEMALE.

    It is never the victims fault nor the victims responsibility. Sick individuals will act in sick ways regardless of whether girls walk around topless.

    Its more likely that by making girls NOT be ashamed of their bodies and ashamed of being ostracized, they will be stronger mentally and emotionally, and studies of sexual abuse show that sexual predators pick out the individuals (boy, girl, man, woman) that seem to have the least power, least voice, least sense of self-worth, and the most shame.

    If you make a generation of strong, empowered women who don't cower in the corner because they are told they are nothing but sexual objects being trained for a life of submissiveness and self-hatred, they will be more apt to evade the hands of disgusting pray because sexual predators are a fearful and weak plague of the earth that has no strength against anyone with strength.

    Make our girls stand up and say "I am NOT an object for you to exploit!" "I AM a WOMAN, a HUMAN, and my body is my OWN!"

    No one ever debates the ownership of a male body being displayed. It is his choice to do so, and no one warns him that it stops being his own when others are able to view it as well.

    A body is a body. It is human. It is benign. It is sexual. It is spiritual. It is physical. It is your own.

    Please ladies, do with it whatever you choose. I don't need to see your body and enjoy it for me to approve. My approval should mean nothing anyways, since it should never affect your choices as long as you aren't causing any harm.

    PS - Moral harm is not a factor here, or you would tell the cows on the farm what a disgrace they are to the god that created them.

  42. It is interesting how many people have opinions on this topic.

  43. To New Vineyard person.

    Our laws are based on the practicalities of living together as a society. Without them, we would have anarchy. we are not a Christian nation, we are not a nation with a special affiliation to any religion. The founders, many of whom were not Christians but Deists, very wisely decided we were to be a secular nation where all religions might be practiced freely.

    There are laws in which peculiarly Christian mores have been imposed on all people. Gradually, as we mature, oppressive laws like those will be overturned by the courts or voted out by the people. The world will not end. The United States will continue to exist. And conservative preachers will have another cause to use to pry money from their sheep - er, flock.

  44. This is just another selfish act from the spoiled youth of America. She wants attention and that is all. If I had gone through town that day with my children, I would have flipped! We as parents are to protect our children and instill in them morals. Shame on this girl's parents! Why has no one ever done this in Farmington and why do most states have laws against this? Because everyone knows this is wrong, immoral, disgusting,etc. Some are trying to say that a girl is brought up to hate her body...untrue!!! God wants us to keep it covered and act in a manner that won't defile a man's mind. We are to save ourselves for our husbands. This is how a TRUE lady acts. She isn't out on the streets with nothing better to do than to show everyone how morally decrepit she is! It's too bad that we actually would have to make a law concerning this, but so be it! I'd vote for it!!!!

  45. @ ConceredPerson: Children who are sexually abused are much more likely to be abused by someone they already know, who has access to them and is trusted by their caregivers. I wish we wouldn't divert attention away from that reality by redirecting to the mythical weirdos who are going to jump out of the bushes and nab our kids.

    Really, I'd rather see some money and effort put toward education, prevention, and information for children and parents then presume my kid is going to be at risk because they happen to see some breasts. Meanwhile, this is a great opportunity for parents to talk to their kids about bodies and safety and objectivity. Or, if people don't feel comfortable talking to their children, they can opt to stay home or ignore it.

    Seems to me the goal of this event is not to objectify bodies, but rather to celebrate them and assert people's (legal) right to be comfortable how they see fit. I don't see any problem with that.

  46. I'm sure that the lack of a law in Maine prohibiting women from exposing their breasts in public has to do with the fact that past generations of law makers never thought we would fall to such depths, not because they thought women should have the right to do so. Say what you want, but society has definitely not improved for the better when it comes to morality. When right is what is right to you, and nothing really is actually wrong anymore, when everyone has the right to do whatever it is that they want to do, and everyone else just has to take it, why should we be surprised that these things happen? Since a majority of people do take offense at the idea of it being legal for such displays, hopefully we will get a law in place that will make up for people's lack of common sense and dulled sense of morality.

  47. I am certainly glad this is going on while school is in session, and I hope it will truly be over by 2:00, because I can imagine how uncomfortable high school and middle school girls would be to ride through a bunch of exhibitionists with most of their male friends' faces plastered to the bus windows. They would then be forced to ride with these boys for what can be an hour, knowing exactly what they would be thinking about. All this while the schools are trying to make sure the girls' summer shirt straps are wider than 1/4" ...

  48. I am all for equality and all unfortunately the society has not allowed this. However I would like you to think about this.... if an overweight man or woman were walking topless- most of you would be disgusted because you judge. I hope on the day of the march that there are woman of all shapes and sizes- and if you are a bi-stander or supporter of this- be sure not to comment on the ladies that aren't as "fit" as others- that is what makes this turn in to a sexual thing- because we aren't all made equal. if it's not a law? how come magazines with woman bearing there breasts are covered?

  49. One of the topics that keeps coming up in this debate that really gets me is the idea that by exposing girls to this we are fostering their self images, and conversely that telling them to cover their chests in public is going to stunt their growth. Well the way my momma raised me, and the way I intend to raise any girls of my own is that her body is beautiful, and she ought to be proud of it. But being proud of it also means acting like a lady, acting with modesty. There is nothing that I can see that is lady like or modest about parading around with out a top on.

    I'm sure that this protester is a very nice woman, with very good intentions, but I can't agree with this kind of behavior in any woman. It just seems indecent to me. Go topless in your own house if you feel the need, I'm sure no one's husband would mind as long as the blinds were drawn against the neighbors. But not in public, in front of people who don't want to see.

  50. To Tony in Wilton,

    Try explaining any of that when you stand before the Lord of all creation! I'll be keeping you in my prayers. And by the way ~~ this nation was formed on Biblical truths and values and we sure have come a long way haven't we? Saving trees is more important to most people than the lives of unborn babies.... And you are wrong about the world coming to an end. God will put a stop to all this maddness one day and I am sooooo looking forward to His return!