You might be surprised on the beach at glorious Ocean City, Maryland this summer.
The Beach Patrol lifeguards, in the absence of a (requested) formal opinion from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office on the legality of women sunbathing and ocean-swimming topless in the same areas as unshirted males, are going to look the other way, so to speak, in case of women on the beach without topcover.
Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby (doesn't that sound like someone from "Matlock"?) asked for legal guidance, and as of this writing, Beau hasn't heard Diddley.
A woman named Chelsea Covington, who is from Maryland's Eastern Shore, is a nationally-known figure in the fight for "topfreedom." It's her mission is to normalize female bare-chestedness, and she is pushing for the right of women to skip wearing tops on the beach.
"At its core, the topfreedom movement is about equality under the law," she told a Salisbury (MD) television station.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan told WBOC, the Salisbury station, "We are waiting for that opinion. We understand Ms Covington's desire to be treated fairly under the Equal Protection Law but at the same time we hope to be able to protect the rights of the thousands of families that visit our beach every year. "
Covington expects an opinion in three to nine months, and hopes that equality will win the day.
"Maryland's constitution and high court afford the highest guarantee of gender equality in the country with a clearly established 'absolute prohibition' standard against gender classification," she says. "Which means there exists no justification for treating genders differently when making or enforcing law, at the state or local level."
As is so often the case, there are two good sides to this, no two ways about it. On the one hand (yes, let's just talk about "hands" here) there is no reason to treat males and females differently. We all have a body.
On the other hand, some of us have adolescent males (of all ages) on the beach with us. So there's that.
Various beaches in other states have set aside secluded lagoons (I think I'll open a Polynesian bar and call it The Secluded Lagoon) for topless enjoyment.
For now, as Ocean City awaits the Solomonic wisdom, which will please exactly half of the population, it will be interesting to see who is emboldened to seek a full upper-body tan.
They will likely not be the only ones turning red.
Some people feel OK about parading around in less clothing than others wear.
And some people need mirrors.