Nowadays, exposing your breasts in public is indecent - even feeding a baby in public causes a controversial reaction, from indignation to confusion. However, the fair sex did not always cover their breasts with clothes - and they began to do this mainly because of religious considerations and patriarchal social attitudes.
Some African tribes still walk with bare breasts. In the Mursi tribe, women's daily wear consists of a rough goatskin skirt. However, a topless walk does not cause any problems: Mursi's breasts are not considered an intimate part of the body.
The ancient Egyptians were not ashamed of nakedness. Writes about this with reference to Egyptologists Barbara Cartland in the book "Woman in the world of men." In ancient Egypt, it was customary to work naked. And an important part of the ritual in honor of the goddess of love and beauty Hathor was considered "exposing her breasts and exposing them to the admiring audience."
Uncovered female breasts can also be seen in other cultures - for example, on the walls of temples from the times of Ancient India. However, the Indologist and Candidate of Philological Sciences Natalya Vishnevskaya explained that one should not draw a conclusion about the free morals of the ancient Indians. The point is that, according to their religious beliefs, sex is one of the ways to merge with God. This is a kind of sacred ritual, therefore, on the walls of the temples, naked men and women were depicted as participants in a sacred action. “In everyday life, Indians have always been very chaste, ” Vishnevskaya emphasized.
The same can be said for the ancient Greeks. "Nudity" was welcomed only in art and religious rituals. But in reality, the Greek Aphrodites dressed very modestly and restrained. Ethical norms required covering the body first with a linen or woolen chiton, and then with a peplos, similar to a long vest.
The requirement to cover a woman's body is associated with the powerlessness of married Greek women. Women in Greek society were secondary. Plato writes about this in the "Feast" dialogue, explaining that female love is important exclusively for the birth of children, while male love is spiritual and truly deep.
Greek women could not leave the house without the permission of their husbands, lived in the female half of the house and were completely cut off from public life. Already in ancient Greece, a woman was considered the property of her husband.
With the advent of Christianity, nothing changed: nudity was still considered shameful and not chaste for women. St. Augustine asserts, following Plato, that the fair sex is needed only for the birth of children, and in intelligence and moral qualities they are noticeably inferior to the sons of Adam.
In addition, the Church Fathers argue that it is imperative to cover all parts of the body associated with childbirth, that is, the breast and genitals, since the birth of a baby is sacred. Men don’t feed, so they don’t need to cover their torso.
Islam, as one of the Abrahamic religions, along with Christianity, inherits the tradition of treating women as the "second sex" and property of the husband. Therefore, in the Islamic tradition, it is also prescribed to hide the naked female body and even the face.
Naked breasts are still taboo today. In 2016, feminists around the world held a protest called #FreeTheNipple. The girls published their photos with bare breasts in order to lift the ban on censoring female nipples in films and the media. And in 2014, one of the activists of the Ukrainian movement Femen appeared topless in the Vatican. On her chest was written "God is also a woman."
However, despite the outrage of feminists, due to centuries-old tradition, the female body is still perceived primarily as a sexual object. Therefore, the public nudity of a woman is considered a provocation and a reason for massive victim-blaming. So while the right to go topless on the streets is still an unattainable dream for girls.