Rally for Gender Equality in Carbondale

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By Loreto Cruz III

CARBONDALE -- A group of men and women are pushing for equal rights when it comes to covering up in public.

More than a dozen protesters took a stand on Sunday to fight in what they say is a case of women's rights. "Go Topless Day" is a day founded in 2007.

Carbondale's protest is the first demonstration of its kind in southern Illinois. The goal is to give women the same freedoms available to men.

"If I had a man right next me that's topless, and I'm topless, I go to jail!" said protester Kimberly Ingoldsby. "I'm persecuted and put down just because I'm a woman. We don't want that anymore."

"I think it's a stupid idea, what they're doing," said Edna Estes. Estes was walking through the Carbondale strip during the demonstration. "I'm not gonna have my little kid or grandchild out here to look at that. I'm gonna teach them different." 

On a hot day, Ingoldsby said she wouldn't normally decide against wearing a shirt. However, she claims she deserves the right.

Protesters argued that the United States is home to a tradition of social stigma on the issue, and they're confident such a thing can be changed.

"There's only a handful of societies in this world that view breasts as taboo," said Keri Hartleb, another protester. "There's even fewer than that who tell women to cover up, even just to breastfeed. Sadly, America is one of those that fits into both categories" 

"Our effort not only goes for women who choose to express their sexuality by showing their chest," said Hartleb. "But it also goes for women who are afraid to breastfeed in public because of the ridicule that they may recieve."

"Go Topless" has a petition circulating the web.

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