Breast Cancer Survivor Wins Battle to Swim Topless in Public Pool

The Seattle case in which a breast cancer survivor won the case against the Municipal’s laws that govern swimming in public pools is a classical example of how societal norms and regulations meet human rights. It can be assumed that when the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department policy that prohibited women from swimming topless in public pools was not conceived with cancer survivors in mind. However, a double mastectomy woman challenged the applicability of such policy to people who did not have a choice for swimming with tops because of their health status. This paper is an argument to establish a common ground between human rights and by the extension of the women’s right to nudity and the policies that are set to protect social norms and practices.

Most societies have norms that prohibit public exposure of women breasts (Farrell 13). As such, different authorities have come up with policies that prohibit women from going with their chests nude in public even though men can freely do that. The female part of the society has come to accept this social formation and therefore, it is not uncommon to find women in public places swimming with tops while men go bare chests. Some of the reasons cited for this, even by the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, were that they want to protect the children (Vaughn 1). In retrospect, Jaecks believes that children are equally exposed to cancer and therefore, it was wrong to stop cancer survivors enjoying their full public life because of something they did not have control over. As such, the women’s conviction was that loosening such policies could have lowered the fear that is typical of the women with cancer when it comes to mastectomy. Indeed, some of those fears emanate from the public’s concerns about the women breasts.

Ultimately, the argument about the policies that purported to protect children while limiting the woman’s ability to deal with the challenges of cancer, presented by Jaecks, was consequential insofar as the fight against cancer is of great importance. In cases when women with breast cancer fear mastectomy as a factor existing policy, it can be argued that the policies prohibiting exposure of women chests, no matter whether chest has breasts or not, deserve to be repealed. Evidently, Jaecks’ argument for allowing women to go nude in public pools is likely to be valid where there is evidence that many women choose less intrusive treatment of cancer for fear of reprisal and discrimination in public places. Many women struggle with breast cancer treatments, some of which are costly and demanding, in favor of going for mastectomy that can eliminate the cancerous tissues for once (Vaughn 1).

However, the issue of breast cancer and public nudity has continued to attract attention in many parts of the world. There are those who consent that if exposure of women breasts can help to bring awareness to the public, it should be encouraged. Moreover, there are those who put this approach under the question as it overlooks other types of cancer that are equally deadly to humanity. The society is evidently possessed with the breast of women to the point that laws have been formulated and policies have been enacted to guard against nude exposure of women’s parts of body. The Supreme Court in the United States has had to deal with a number of cases that involved the exposure of women, and especially the one of the breasts (Brogdon 3). Indeed, some organizations have been using the breasts of women as tools to collect money for charity work in support of cancer survivors. But what appears clear in this issue is that the Seattle case was premised on a situation where an opponent was remotely challenging the social excitement and fear of the female breasts. Of course, Miss Jaecks has undergone mastectomy and did not have the breasts any longer, but scars. However, a nude exposure in a public pool will definitely ignite the wild imaginations in the minds of public, except for the children whose policies are supposed to protect against such exposure. However, some legitimate reasons have been given elsewhere with the crusaders of nude women who purport to use nude pictures of women for charity matters.

Evidently, the argument of Miss Jaecks presents both the challenge of social norms and the rights of women who are affected with breast cancer to have to bring their plight to the society. The society, on the one hand, wants to preserve the social dignity, prohibiting women exposure of their breasts to the public. However, if it fails to recognize a situation where a woman is forced to have her breasts removed, they will therefore gain the right to expose her bare chest to the public. On the other hand, some women would want to use the public fear of woman breasts as a way to torture the public morality, using women who are affected with breast cancer. Jaecks had a point in prohibiting the exposure of breasts of women, driven by the desire to swim bare chest in a public facility, since she herself had her breasts amputated. However, the extent to which she goes to argue that all women should be allowed to swim bare chests goes against the social norms, thus even those who support such policies cannot explain their origin (Brogdon 3).

Human beings have always found themselves attaching great value to the women breasts in comparison to anything else and an effort to bring this to public undermines the noble courses that the fight against breast cancer has achieved so far (Kozlowski 3). It can be said that a change in the policy that outlaws women swimming bare chests in public pools or rather nude public exposure of breasts will help to bring greater awareness of breast cancer to the public. What Miss Jaecks and her fellow cancer survivors do is fail to recognize the public morals that such policies are safeguarding. Furthermore, they do not have any evidences to show that allowing women to expose themselves to the public will help to bring more awareness about breast cancer to the same public (Steves 3). If anything, there are other serious cases of cancer, like prostate which affect many and one would therefore wonder what men should expose to inform the public about prostate cancer. Evidently, the issue of breast cancer, unlike any other types of cancer, will take the centre stage when it comes to courting controversies, maybe because the breasts themselves are controversial.

The common ground in the above argument is that Jaecks and other breasts cancer survivors have the right to sent a message to the public that, “if our breasts are worth looking at, they're worth saving” (Cochrane 1). Nevertheless, this should not be done with a view of muzzling the public policies that have “protected” the society from moral erosion.  Whether it is a right of women to pose nude in public has been a matter that already reached the highest court in the land and still elicits controversies. Trying to resuscitate an already volatile issue in the public domain is akin to courting vested interests’ controversies. Ultimately, Jaecks in her present condition has a right to swim topless in the public pool as she doesn’t have breasts and again wearing swimming costumes would cause the pain to the scars. Insisting that this is a way to bring the children up being even, considering those who can equally get cancer, is not a bright idea since it can lead to the lack of public knowledge (Steves 4).

The main area of contention between Miss Jaecks and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department seems to lie in the interpretation of the policy. Whereas the department wants to protect children from nude exposure, Jaecks believe that the policy is discriminatory against women, especially those who have undergone mastectomy and would like to enjoy the luxuries of bare chests in public, just like men do. Definitely Jaecks intentions are to bring to the public a sensitive issue that is kept at the hearts of men and women who are suffering from breast cancer. But the act of bringing this awareness to public is amounting to the numerous infringements on the public morale that is esteemed in such a way by the good citizens of Seattle city. I believe that Jaecks would stand to benefit herself and other survivors of breast cancer if she would engage the Seattle Recreational Department in activities that will help to increase the awareness of the public that comes at the recreational parks starting something like a campaign against breast cancer and other types of cancer. Rather than resorting to fight with the recreational department, other women might not have the same luck of media exposure that will make the recreational department to relent on its policies. Ultimately, Jaecks has won against the policy at Seattle but this is only a bitter victory because it will not benefit other breast cancer survivors in the city and elsewhere so that they are allowed to swim bare chests in public pools, as they will need to go through the same procedure of court battles like she underwent (Vaughn 1). It would be noble if Jaecks fought for a different course that would help breast cancer survivors, and will indeed give all cancer survivors the knowledge about breast cancer.

In conclusion, the above case reveals how social norms and practices come into conflict with the law and the human rights. Almost everywhere in the world, societies have a phobia of female breasts. But with diseases like breast cancer, some societies shall forever remain in battle with women breast cancer survivors who want to go nude now that they do not have breasts or retain the traditional practice that once you have been labeled as a woman, the society does not care whether you are a breast cancer survivor with double mastectomy or not, you must cover your chest when you are in public places. Definitely, the ethical question then arises is whether exposure of chests with scars will bring any more awareness about cancer to the public than it is now. Again, such policies were said to protect children from seeing women breasts, when in fact some of those children are still suckling those breasts? Ultimately these are pertinent questions that will help to bring out the puzzle about the public fear of a woman’s nudity.

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