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A Woman is Being Charged with Lewdness for Going Topless in Front of Her Stepkids

Source Tilli Buchanan and her husband were sweaty and itchy after spending the day installing insulation in their Utah garage, so they stripped off their long-sleeved shirts to cool down, according to her attorneys.

More than a year later -- though that timeline is in some dispute -- Buchanan, 27, of West Valley City, finds herself in court, fighting lewdness charges filed against her in February because her young stepchildren saw her topless.

If convicted of the three Class A misdemeanor charges against her, Buchanan could serve jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender for the next decade, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Her husband, who was also shirtless, has not been charged with a crime. ...

Buchanan, who is also being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, was in court for a hearing on Tuesday, at which time her attorneys argued that Utah’s lewdness act is unconstitutional because it treats men and women differently.

 “What’s important to look at, to see, when you look at the statute, is there’s part of it that says this part of a woman is found inherently obscene and this part of a man isn’t,” ACLU attorney Leah Farrell told reporters after the hearing. “And that really sets up an unequal, unfair dichotomy.”

First things first. As far as the argument that Tilli Buchanan and her husband shouldn't be treated any differently for going Shirtless O'Clock in front of the kids, I'll refer you to my favorite scholarly article on the subject. It was written in February when some people were trying to draw a moral equivalency between Adam Levine flashing his nipples at a Super Bowl halftime show with Janet Jackson doing it. The piece was written by noted female and presumed breast owner (Note: I don't check out co-workers) Liz Gonzalez:

Read it for yourself. But in essence Liz says there IS a difference. A huge one. It's nature. And she also calls Adam Levine "a douchebag" and ends it "Fuck that guy." Which is why she's my kind of social commenter.

As for the rest of this story, I'll concede that it's ridiculous for Tilli Buchanan to be facing jail time and life on a Sex Offender registry. Even if Utah has completely wiped out crime and all the prisons are empty and they need bodies in there just to keep up appearances and she'll be on the same low-level offender registry as guys who get caught peeing in public (no joke; they do have a registry for that in my state), that seems like an over-reaction to me. 

But that said, I agree that what she did was wrong. Dead wrong. I admit I'm bringing my own prejudices to this matter, same as anyone. I was raised by the most caring, giving and kind woman in the world. My sainted mom was old school Irish Catholic. As such, as I've said before, she raised me to believe that all people had basic needs, wants, desires, bodily functions and private body parts. All of which should be treated with equal amount of shame and embarrassment. 

You know how I know she was a wonderful mother? Because she never went around the house topless. I'd add "PERIOD" at the end of that except I'm embarrassed about those, too. I think I went from my birth to her sad death without ever seeing a nipple that wasn't rubber on the end of a bottle of formula. Which is something I'm eternally grateful for. That kept me normal, well adjusted and blissfully out of the therapy I would've needed if my mom had gone Gun's Out around the house. And the Buchanan children deserved that same consideration. But now their chance has been blown, thanks to their step mom.

This is a situation that could've easily been avoided. If you're doing a hot, dusty project, throw on some t-shirt you don't care about. That's why every homeowner hangs onto the crappy ones you get free with a purchase or old ones from that Walk-for-Hunger you did five years ago. If Tilli needed to take off her bra, fine. More power to her. Swing low, sweet chariots and all that.

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But don't go around asking your husband's children to accept seeing your bewbs around the house, regardless of how old they are. Again, that doesn't mean she should be locked up. But there's got to be a happy medium between sentencing someone to prison and saying what they did is perfectly OK. Maybe she could get off with a formal reprimand or wearing a Scarlet "B" on her chest for a week or so. Half naked stepmoms might sound OK to the Utah chapter of the ACLU or on PornHub. But in real life, it's just wrong. 

As that other great social commenter Jerry Seinfeld put it, there's the Good Naked, then there's the Bad Naked.

And I know which one this is. Thanks eternally for raising me to be slightly repressed, Mom.