I just read about the sad case of Tilli Buchanan, a 27 year old stepmother of three who was charged with three counts of lewdness involving a child. Back in 2017, Buchanan and her husband were doing hot, dusty work in the garage of their Utah home. Because the two were uncomfortable as they installed drywall, Ms. Buchanan and her husband decided to strip down to their underwear. Ms. Buchanan also removed her bra, and was later caught topless by her three stepchildren, who were 13, 10, and 9 years old at the time.
About a year after the topless incident, the children’s biological mother was talking to detectives about unrelated allegations of sexual abuse involving the children when she told the detectives about her kids seeing their stepmother topless. After speaking to the children’s mother, the detectives decided that a sex crime might have been committed. In early 2019, Ms. Buchanan was charged with three counts of lewdness involving a child. If she is convicted, she could spend ten years on the sex offender registry and up to a year in jail. Ms. Buchanan’s husband, however, has not been charged with anything, even though he, too, was topless in front of children. In Utah, men’s breasts aren’t considered “lewd”.
It’s hard to believe that in 2020, people are still sexualizing a part of the female anatomy that has a completely non-sexual function. Breasts are for feeding babies. While breasts can certainly be erotic to men and erogenous to women, they aren’t primarily intended to do anything other than nourish offspring. Many people find feet erotic and sexy, but people are still allowed to walk around with bare feet without fear of reprisal. What makes female breasts any different than feet, which can be sexy to some folks, but have a completely non-sexual purpose?
Furthermore, it’s not like Ms. Buchanan was prancing down the street, flashing her tits to everyone, nor did the children witness her in a sexual activity with their father. She was in her own home doing hot, nasty, dusty, dirty drywall installation. She took off her top and her bra. For this, she should be banned from being around children for the next ten years, including her own stepchildren?
I’m sure readers can already tell what I think of this case. I think it’s ridiculous. However, given that it takes place in Utah, and involves people in a child custody situation, I’m not surprised that someone got arrested. I don’t know anything about the mother of Tilli Buchanan’s stepchildren, but having been a “stepmother” myself, I do know about the crazy shit that can come up in the wake of divorce and child custody situations. And given that my husband’s ex wife got their children converted to Mormonism, and Utah is the LDS mecca of the world, I know that when it comes to the presentation of female boobs, Utah mores are probably more conservative than most. I would not be surprised if the LDS church has something to do with this case… either directly, or simply because it’s happening in a state where so many people are practicing Mormons.
Judge Kara Pettit of the Third Judicial District Court of Salt Lake County has rejected a challenge to the charges against Buchanan. Although Ms. Buchanan’s lawyers have argued that Utah’s law forbidding exposure of “the female breast below the top of the areola,” was unconstitutional, Petit wrote that “The Court finds the government has an important interest in enacting laws to protect the health, safety, welfare, and morality of children, and to prevent them from being exposed to lewdness.” Judge Pettit also stated that she concurred with prosecutors’ argument that the law’s description of female breasts as lewd “reflects contemporary community standards as to what constitutes nudity.” Yeah, I get it. It’s Utah.
But… babies and young children see female breasts all the time when it’s time to eat, especially in Utah, where people have big families and breastfeeding is highly encouraged for health and economic reasons. What is so “lewd” about children seeing a grown woman, topless in her own home, installing drywall? There was nothing sexual about what Ms. Buchanan was doing. Would Judge Pettit also see breastfeeding children as “lewd” behavior? Children get a lot more up close and personal with female breasts during that activity, don’t they? And women’s breasts are typically, but not always, fuller than men’s are, but basically constructed the same way. Would it still be considered “lewd” if a breast cancer patient publicly displayed her flat chest after a total mastectomy? I’ve seen photos of women who have had their breasts removed and didn’t get reconstruction done. Their chests, post surgery, basically look much like that of males, except for the scarring. Should they be arrested simply for being female, even though they’ve had those scandalous bags of fat and tissue removed from their chests? Should children think of the women as “lewd”, simply because they’re female and showing a part of their bodies that mainly men have decided are “sexy”?
Reading about these cases make me glad to be in Germany, where nudity is not illegal. I’ve been to many textile free spas here, and some people do bring their children to them. Kids in Germany occasionally see grown people naked and it’s no big deal. Because simply being naked isn’t necessarily “sexual”. Everyone is born naked. It’s the way God made us. It’s when grown people start engaging in sexual activity in front of kids or involving them in the activities that nudity starts to become “lewd”. But a person can also be lewd while fully clothed. I would be much more outraged by fully clothed people engaging in frankly sexual activities in front of children than I would in a case like Tilli Buchanan’s. She was simply hot and uncomfortable, not engaging in sexual activities… and again, she was in her own home, which should be considered a private domain.
Tilli Buchanan’s lawyers have said they would be appealing Judge Pettit’s decision. I hope the next judge has a bit more common sense regarding this issue. Women’s breasts are fascinating to many men, but that’s really on the men, isn’t it? Why should Tilli Buchanan face criminal charges for doing the same thing her husband did, especially in her own home, in front of family? What a waste of time and resources this case is.