Topless women a rare sight in city pools

Despite topless swimming in city pool being an “extremely rare” sight, activist argues that protest six years ago was not in vain

When a Copenhagen Post journalist last week wrote a story about how the city was considering topless swimming in its pools, it's fair to say he was like a deer caught in the headlights.

The journalist later realised the 'news' was based on a 2008 article from Politiken newspaper and promptly pulled the story.

Topless swimmining was eventually permitted by the council, however, though the journalist could be forgiven for thinking that bare breasts were still outlawed simply because they are rarely on display.

According to the City Council’s culture and leisure committee, Kultur- og Fritidsforvaltningen, it is “extremely rare” that women choose to exercise their right to swim topless in city pools.

That statement was backed up by metroXpress newspaper, which found that just one out of five swimming pools contacted had experienced topless swimming. At the one pool in question, breasts had only been bared twice.

Read more: Dansk Folkeparti takes control of Copenhagen's culture

Law not in vain
But despite the news, Astrid Vang Hansen, one of the women who jumped into the DGI Byen pool topless back in 2007 to protest the law against topless bathing, argued that the protest was not in vain.

“The action was also about a broader criticism of the view of women in society, and it was a success that the council allowed it, because in Sweden the activists were kicked out of the pools by guards when they tried something similar,” Hansen, now a 26-year-old student, told metroXpress.

Hansen said that it is about equality and women’s rights and that the media interest in the subject proves that.

“It is viewed as completely normal when men are bare-chested in swimming pools, but when we swam topless, there were a lot of photographers snapping photos,” Hansen said. “That the media continues to focus on the issue after so many years shows that there are still some challenges, equality wise.”

In related news, Carl Christian Ebbesen (DF), the city’s newly elected deputy mayor for culture and leisure, revealed that he plans stop catering to religious groups by ending gender segregation in swimming pools in Copenhagen.