Fort Collins City Council keeps ban on women going topless

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- The Fort Collins City Council voted Tuesday to keep the topless ban for women in place, while adding two exceptions for breastfeeding mothers and girls younger than 10 years old.

What began as an effort from one woman made national headlines. She asked: "If men can go topless, why can't women?"

"It's sexist because it specifically discriminates against female breasts," Brittiany Hoagland said in August.

Supporters joined in.

"Equal but different isn't equal," said one supporter at the packed city council meeting Tuesday night. "Women deserve and should have the right to make decisions concerning their own bodies."

But opponents worried an effort at empowerment could turn into objectification.

"I believe that the exposure of breasts to enhance respect and opportunity will not only miss the mark but will interrupt and abruptly break momentum toward gender equality," another woman said.

Some brought concerns over what they viewed could be a negative economic impact if the ban was lifted.

"This would certainly suppress business in Fort Collins as people will choose to take their business elsewhere," one man said.

Close to 30 people addressed the city council on the controversial issue. In a city-wide survey, 60 percent favored keeping the band in place.

The council had two options: Keep the ordinance in place with the exception of breastfeeding mothers and girls younger than 10, or lift the ban and make it legal for women to go topless in the city.