North Carolina state representatives have introduced a bill that would "clarify" state law to specifically prohibit the baring of women's breasts. Women worried about showing too much of their "private area" should use pasties, or perhaps duct tape.
The proposed legislation, House Bill 34, would make it a Class H felony to expose "external organs of sex and of excretion, including the nipple, or any portion of the areola, of the human female breast."
Rep. Rayne Brown (R), who co-sponsored the bill, said that while it may seem frivolous and even funny, "there are communities across this state, there’s local governments across this state, and also local law enforcement for whom this issue is really not a laughing matter," according to WRAL in Raleigh, N.C.
Brown said that she was prompted, in part, by Asheville's second annual topless protest and women's rally this past August. Asheville is around 130 miles from Brown's district, the Associated Press writes.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the event last year drew around a dozen women, who took off their shirts to "promote women's equality."
The AP reports that, depending on the intent of the exposure, women could face up to six months in prison for an errant areola, with "more mundane" exposure resulting in a 30-day sentence. There is an exemption for breastfeeding.
The AP goes on to write that HB 34 would give law enforcement authority to make arrests and would clear up confusion stemming from a 1970 state Court of Appeals ruling, which said the term "private parts," as then specified in state law, did not include breasts.
WRAL writes that Rep. Sarah Stevens (R), who chairs the North Carolina House Judiciary Subcommittee C, downplayed the impact the bill might have, but that committee member Rep. Annie Mobley (D) worried it might penalize women for wearing “questionable fashions."
Rep. Tim Moore, (R), on the other hand, said to WRAL, “You know what they say –- duct tape fixes everything."