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Women set to go topless in downtown Asheville. Their message is serious, they say has scheduled a Topless Rally for 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 26 at Pack Square in the heart of Asheville’s downtown. has scheduled a Topless Rally for 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 26 at Pack Square in the heart of Asheville’s downtown. Screen grab of WLOS Twitter post

If men are allowed to be topless in public, women “should have the same constitutional right,” says on its website.

“Or else, men should have to wear something to hide their chests,” says.

For the ninth straight year, the group is planning a Go Topless Rally in Asheville on national Women’s Equality Day, Aug. 26.

The rally is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. at Pack Square in the heart of downtown, according to the group’s Facebook page.

The words “go topless” seem to still remain taboo in society, however.

An Observer reporter was greeted with this message when trying to access the group’s website on a company computer in the Charlotte newsroom to report this story on Wednesday night:

“Web Page Blocked!,” the message read. “You have tried to access a website which is in violation of your internet usage policy.”

40 years ago, Batgirl fought for equal pay for equal work, a fight that persists today. While the wage gap has closed slightly, women still earn 78 percent of what men earn, on average. And for women of color the gap is even wider.

Women’s Equality Day “commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting the right to vote to women,” according to the National Women’s History Project website.

Congress designated Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day in 1971, the National Women’s History Project website says. The site offers a multitude of ways to mark the day, but none include being topless.

“We live in a country that says it is all right for me to carry my gun in public, but my breasts are an offense,” spokesperson LaDonna Allison told Asheville ABC-TV affiliate WLOS.

Yet the rally has drawn some opponents over the years.

Before the 2013 rally, Asheville City Council urged the public not to attend, although the council acknowledged that the women had every right to go topless, WLOS reported at the time.

A woman interviewed by the station in 2013 said she couldn’t support the rally, as Asheville “is a family kind of a place, now.”

Participants, however, said the issue is equal rights.

“I’m a cancer survivor, and I went through a lot,” one of six participants at the 2016 rally told WLOS. “And I ought to be able to make the choices on what I wear, not men in suits and ties.”

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067