Can women go topless in public spaces in Oklahoma?
A recent court decision suggests the answer is yes, but it’s a bit complicated.
After Fort Collins, Colorado passed an ordinance banning women from going topless, an appeals court ruled earlier this year that the ruling was unconstitutional. Women could wear (or not wear) whatever they damn well wanted, and if men were allowed to not wear shirts in certain public spaces, women couldn’t be punished for doing the same thing. This week, Fort Collins officials said they would accept the decision, which means the appeals court ruling stands. That also means such topless bans are effectively forbidden everywhere covered by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, including Oklahoma and several .
One lawyer says that’s not entirely true, though. Because state law prohibits female toplessness, cops could still arrest women who aren’t wearing tops, but those women could then point to the 10th Circuit’s decision in their defense. (Legally speaking, the local bans are now unenforceable.) Also, if women are presenting their breasts in a sexual way, they could still be arrested for “outraging public decency or indecent exposure.” (The same law enforcement official who said that also suggested topless women should be blamed if men sexually assaulted them. Yikes.)
I bring all this up because Oklahoma Republican State Rep. Jim Olsen chimed in on this issue over the weekend, insisting that toplessness was still prohibited throughout the state. His post included the phrase “silly woman” twice — referring to any woman who wanted to go topless — and argued that cops should continue arresting women who commit such “reprehensible conduct.”
The comment thread is full of people pointing out the absurdity of a lawmaker pretending this is a serious problem and Olsen chiming in to insist women covering themselves up is biblical and therefore good.
Whenever Republicans are defending the word “harlot,” you know they never should’ve been in public office…
Olsen, by the way, only won his seat with a very narrow majority in 2018. He’s beatable with the right candidate and voters who give a damn about their state representatives.
(Featured screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Emily for the link)