Protesters and onlookers turned up in their hundreds yesterday afternoon, in front of one of Buenos Aires’ most important (and ironically phallic) landmarks for a demonstration designed to promote and regain women’s ‘sovereignty over their own bodies’.

The topless protest, or tetazo, was a reaction to an incident that took place on January 28th in Necochea, where three women, sunbathing topless on a beach, were forced by police to cover their breasts. Police intervention came after fellow beachgoers made complaints, accusing the women of public indecency.

Yesterday’s event, organized by Agitaciones Contra El Acoso Callejero, saw women cast aside their tops and bras and descend on the area surrounding the obelisk. Homemade signs and bare chests bore a range of feminist statements.

Sovereignty for women's bodies Photo via Infobae

The provinces of La Plata and Rosario stood in solidarity, holding their own tetazos yesterday. The Facebook event for the La Plata affair went with the catchy, ‘TETAS SI, TETAS NO, ESO LO DECIDO YO!‘ Essentially, ‘Boobs, yes, boobs, no, that’s for me to decide.’ Yes — it sounds better in Spanish. It also included an extract from an article by Pabla Perez, from the website Ginecosofia, which promotes sexual education, self-care and self-discovery.

Meanwhile, we’re keeping our eyes peeled for next Tuesday, when a reactionary chotazo, will supposedly be held in the same site. The description for the event didn’t go into too many specifics, but the Valentine’s day treat was setup to give groups of very angry sounding men the chance to fight for their right to show the body parts they choose too. The chotazo, if it goes ahead, will see men dropping the bottom halves of their bikinis, so to speak. Though the exact objective of the protest is still hard to pinpoint.

As with any protest, the public didn’t pass up on the opportunity to display their wit and sarcasm. Humorist and artist, El Niño Rodriguez tweeted the following cartoon to his fourteen thousand followers…

El Niño Rodriguez satirizes the beach incident Photo via Twitter
El Niño Rodriguez satirizes the beach incident
Photo via Twitter

 

Another protester gave us this piece of advice: ‘If they harass you in the street or rape you, get your breasts out – then the police will come’.

Friendly advice from one protester Photo via Infonews
Friendly advice from one protester
Photo via Infonews

 

Furthermore, the protest sparked an interesting discussion into the male gaze, and the reclaiming of bodies that have become packaged as objects of male sexual desire. The description of the La Plata event, published via Facebook, criticised a society which allows women’s breasts to be ’used and abused by the patriarchy how and where they like’.

Protesters sought to free their bodies from the patriarchal prescriptions of what they should look like and what should be done with them. As such, one sign read ‘people feel uncomfortable with sexuality which isn’t for male consumption’, and chants of ‘afuera macho afuera’, or ‘out, men, out’ were heard during yesterday’s protest. Grace Brounosti Piquet, speaking to La Nación, said ‘it’s very telling that we organize a tetazo and the first ones to arrive are men, not to support the cause, but to stand and stare. That says a lot about our society’.

Claudia Laudano captures the male gaze in action at the protest in La Plata Photo via Facebook
Claudia Laudano captures the male gaze in action at the protest in La Plata
Photo via Facebook

 

However, the legitimacy of these chants was called into question. ‘You can’t hold an event in a public space, and then kick people out’, one male attendee protested.

It is not only women up and down the country who have come out in support of the three beachgoers though; men showed up to attend the protest, some bikini-clad and others bearing supportive slogans on their own bare chests, and last week judge Mario Juliano, ruled that topless sunbathing was not a violation of the law. He wrote, ‘I am in favor of women who have decided to uncover their breasts, in the same way that I support the demonstrations, tetazos, that will take place in the coming days’.

'Why can I go topless and not them?' male protesters' signs read. Photo via Infobae
‘Why can I go topless and not them?’ male protesters’ signs read.
Photo via Infobae