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Women Allowed Topless In Pools In Germany For Gender Equality

In the name of equality, toplessness for women in public pools has been authorized in a German city.

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The city of Göttingen in Lower Saxony, central Germany, will be the first in the country to allow the practice of female topless swimming in its indoor and outdoor pools, thanks to a measure aimed at increasing gender equality.

The initiative permitting swimmers to bathe ‘oben-ohne’ (topless) took effect on May 1 as a test limited to weekends and set to expire at the end of August.

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“With this decision, the city becomes a forerunner in the country concerning the debate on equal treatment between the sexes,” write L’Essentiel, “by permitting women to show their bare torso in aquatic leisure establishments such as swimming pools.”

The gender-identity-and-equality debate

A ‘gender identity row’ last year seems to be at the root of the temporary regulation by the city’s sports committee recommending that “all swimmers at indoor and outdoor pools should be allowed to swim topless at weekends.”

The ‘gender row’ happened when a transgender swimmer was asked to cover up at a local pool. “The swimmer protested, however, saying they identified as male. Despite the assertion, the pool authority expelled the individual, who was subsequently banned from the premises,” DW reports.

According to the German news site Spiegel, this is what happened: “A swimming pool in Göttingen threw a person out because they bathed topless. But the person does not see herself as a woman. And now there is a new rule.”

The practice of Freikörperkultur (FKK) — ‘‘free body culture’” —is accepted and extensive in … [+] Germany.

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Limited Equality

With the measure, the city intends to advance the debate on equal treatment for women and men in leisure spaces. The principal questions: Why can men show their naked torso but not women? Why must female bodies always be sexualized?

Other debates have started in Göttingen that relate to the “limited equality” accorded by the new regulation. Women’s right to swim topless is time-limited; only during the weekends and just for a few months, which doesn’t compare with men who can swim, go to parks and sunbathe ‘torso nude’ at any and all times.

Some residents find such limitations deplorable, according to AFP. Officials have explained the new practice should not compromise school swimming lessons, which take place during the week.

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Many of the articles published about the issue point to the fact that Germany has “a tolerance of and, in some cases, a fondness for being ‘textile free,’” as explained by DW. “Whether it’s one of the country’s hundreds of spas and wellness resorts, parks or lakes, many citizens here are known for having no qualms about taking their clothes off.”

An unexpected surprise

Since nudism and the practice of Freikörperkultur — “free body culture” — is accepted and extensive in Germany, what has surprised the local press in Göttingen is the global attention triggered by such a small development.

The Göttingen Tagerblad finds it “amazing” that “this small city in the middle of Germany is suddenly not only in the headlines nationwide, but even internationally. And all that because here, people with breasts could soon be spotted in the swimming pool – exposed!”

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