The city’s sports and recreation committee voted on Wednesday against a motion entitled: “Women with two-piece swimsuits ought to wear a top piece”.
The committee eventually settled on the wording that “everybody should wear bathing suits” at Malmö pools but there is no requirement for women to cover their breasts.
The city considered a vote to be necessary after several visits by the feminist Bara Bröst (Just Breasts/Bare Breasts) network to Malmö’s pools met with widely varying reactions.
The breast issue has proved divisive, with political wranglings leading to the question being struck off the agenda at an earlier meeting in April.
These political cleavages remained on view right up until Wednesday’s meetings with disagreements on both the left and right sides.
But eventually the committee overcame its misgivings and the final decision was unanimous.
“I’m satisfied with the decision,” Bengt Forsberg, chair of the sports and recreation committee on recreation, told The Local.
“Everyone is required to have a swimsuit when visiting the city’s indoor pools and if it doesn’t cover the upper body, that’s OK too.”
According to Forsberg, some on the council had lobbied for wording which would have required women to keep their nipples covered, but Forsberg explained that attempting to enforce such a rule would have been too complicated.
“We don’t define what bathing suits men should wear so it doesn’t make much sense to do it for women. And besides, it’s not unusual for men to have large breasts that resemble women’s breasts,” he said.
The Social Democrat politician feels the entire issue has been overblown.
“This is really not that big a problem,” he said.
“But women from the Bara Bröst network pushed the issue.
“It’s not really the way I would have wanted it, but you don’t always get what you want in life.”
The Bara Bröst network swept to prominence in late 2007 after two bare-breasted young women were called ashore by a lifeguard at a swimming pool in Uppsala. When they refused to cover up, they were asked to leave the premises.
Speaking to The Local at the time, Ragnhild Karlsson, 22, explained the womens’ motives for swimming without bikini tops.
“It’s a question of equality. I think it’s a problem that women are sexualized in this way. If women are forced to wear a top, shouldn’t men also have to?”
Outraged by what they regarded as discrimination, a group of women in southern Sweden made a show of solidarity by establishing the network, whose name translates as both “bare breasts” and “just breasts”.