Up until the mid 1930’s it was illegal to publicly flaunt the male nipple in public.
Men were forced to wear nipple-covering swimsuits prior to 1936, when it became legal to expose nipples in New York state.
In the early 1930’s, a group of men gathered on Coney Island to fight for their right to swim and sunbathe in shirtless swim trunks.
In 1935, another group of brave male protesters got themselves arrested in Atlantic City for hitting the beach while baring their torsos.
Then in 1936, these men legally gained the right to show their nipples in public, laying the foundation for existing New York state laws that allow women to be topless wherever a man is legally allowed to be, Yahoo reports.
Today, women can still be charged with public indecency, disturbing the peace, or lewd behavior for going topless.
Louisiana specifies that “female breast nipples in any public place or place open to the public view with the intent of arousing sexual desire or which appeals to prurient interest or is patently offensive” can receive up to three-years in jail for a first-time offense and a $2500 fine.
Women in Delaware can be arrested if they expose their breasts “under circumstances that she knows her conduct will likely cause affront or alarm.” In Arizona, a woman can be arrested for indecent exposure if she exposes the areola or nipple of her breast if someone else is present.
Today, the #FreeTheNipple movement is gaining momentum, fighting a similar fight that men waged in the 1930’s to liberate their nips. The movement has garnered support from Miley Cyrus, Lena Dunham, and Rumer Willis, among other celebrities.
Watch Mic.com’s video profiling the #FreeTheNipple movement: