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Charlotte Gillis is a student and mother of two who happens to be passionate about what she believes in--so much so that she got arrested on April 8 for indecent exposure near the corner of Speedway Boulevard and Stone Avenue. Gillis stood topless to challenge indecent-exposure laws that discriminate against women. She's charged with a misdemeanor classified a sex crime, and she's facing a pretrial hearing on Friday, May 2, at Tucson City Court. To learn more, check out Gillis' MySpace page.

What do you want to see happen when you go to trial?

For the court to rule on (my arrest) as unconstitutional. ... If they (just) dismiss, then I did all of this for nothing. The arrest will be an arrest on my record; even if there isn't a conviction, it's still an arrest, so it still could be a problem for my teaching career. That's neither here nor there. I knew the risks when I did this.

What are you protesting?

The way the indecent-exposure law is written, it says his or her genitals or anus (cannot be exposed), or if a woman exposes the areola or nipple of her breasts, that is against the law ... except for breast-feeding; there is an exception. It is so gender-specific. ... We should have laws that apply to everyone equally; isn't that what equal rights are all about?

Did you go with anyone else to protest?

It was just me. The reason I didn't have anyone with me is I didn't want someone who was going to get mouthy with the police or something like that, or who might have been intoxicated or might have had a police record. And, no, I have never been arrested and never had a traffic violation.

What did you do that day?

I had a sign that I was holding under my breasts that said, "Breasts are not obscene." And then I had another sign I was holding up that said, "Equal rights."

What made you decide to protest?

I talk about this issue all the time ... but I never do anything. Something came up, and I said that "vocalism is not activism." And then I said, "Wait, all I ever do is talk. What have I ever done?"

What happened when you protested?

I understand some calls went out to 911. The complainant is a woman. The victim. It says "victim" on my arrest report. It's a girl.

Does that mean that they had to go through all those 911 complaints and find someone to press charges against you?

I don't know. I'm not sure how that works; all I know is that it says "victim." ... I wonder if she feels victimized and feels like calling 911 every time she sees her breasts in the mirror. And she's younger than me. I think it said she is 24, but it was hard to read the chicken-scratch of the officer. How could a 24-year-old be victimized by a 30-year-old mom's boobs? Hers are probably much nicer than mine.

For people to react to boobs by calling 911 seems a bit much.

I was raised in a very liberal home, and we would go to hot springs and Native American sweats, and nudity was never an issue. I was never taught to be ashamed or told there was anything weird. To me, it's always fascinating. Why would you be offended by boobies? I don't get it. They feed children; they are just there. There's nothing sexual about breasts in my opinion, not any more than a man's chest. It probably boils down to insecurity. ... It's really the only thing I can think of.

After the arrest, were you taken to jail?

I did get taken to jail and was in for 18 hours before being released on my own recognizance. Did you know (the jail is) co-ed? It's called the pit at the Pima County Jail, and it is co-ed. ... It was a little intimidating, but I just kept a positive outlook. I knew I was going to be released. ... I was actually sitting next to a man who beat the crap out of his wife.

The day of your pre-trial hearing (May 2), you're going to have a protest at 8 a.m. that same morning. Only women?

I'm hoping for a large group of people, all people. I don't want this to be a feminist issue. This is a humanist issue.

And women should come with pasties on? Is that what you're hoping for?

However they are comfortable. I don't want to encourage anyone else to get arrested. ... It would be pointless at this time. I already did that. But pasties or T-shirts that say, "Breasts are not obscene," or anything that shows solidarity ... Our breasts are all biologically the same. Don't discriminate because I have a chromosome that is different.


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