8-14 Macdonell Street,
It’s true of humankind and the gods as well: no matter how much is revealed, even more is concealed. Therefore we can never be sure of what we think we know. We can never know the mind of God, and we can never be sure that we even know ourselves, not to mention our fellows. Concealment is even more a part of our character as a species than revelation, or exposure is. Therefore the argument currently being made that respect for women is augmented by covering their bodies - at least their breasts, which is the point of issue in the face of the planned August 28th women’s topless event in St. George’s Square - has an advantage over the opposite position, that the freedom to do so is empowering and nurtures respect for women in society. This latter argument is powerful and seductive, especially when delivered by committed, articulate women (with a fetish for toplessness). Still, I am less concerned with the morality of it than with the esthetics of it. But we will, won’t we?
Who we are is more a fiction than a matter of bare facts or skin. Just as we use language less as a means of information exchange than as a decoration for our lives, we do the same with our clothing and other bodily decoration - hair style, paint, jewelry and tattoos. We are not expressing who we are so much as who we think we are, or want to be. So baring one’s body, partially or completely, is less an empowering affirmation of our identity than a compromise of it, because our true identity remains beyond everyone’s ken - even our own.
It is in private, not in public, that we are most authentically human. But none of that means that the Breast Festival should not go ahead. This is an event that tests our liberty and although excessive freedom and a culture of celebrity threatens our privacy, maximum leeway to err - a measure of our liberty - is absolutely essential to authentic humanity.
But I could be wrong.