She has campaigned for topless swimming in Berlin swimming pools, but success has its price: the activist Lotte Mies has also been attacked for it, she even reported a death threat.
"Some wish that I would be raped," she told the German Press Agency. Nevertheless, she plans to continue to campaign for women's rights. "When it gets warmer, we want to start activities such as picnics and hiking trips topless," said the 33-year-old, who is involved in the "Same Breasts for All" initiative.
In December, Lotte Mies tried to swim in an indoor swimming pool in Berlin-Kaulsdorf wearing only swimming trunks. This was denied to her by the staff. She lodged a complaint with the ombudsman of a state authority responsible for equal treatment and against discrimination.
In the meantime, the bathing establishments have made it clear that topless bathing should no longer become a problem for women. It wasn't strictly forbidden anyway. In case of doubt, however, the bathing regulations were interpreted in such a way that "commercial swimwear" means covered female breasts.
On Facebook and Instagram, among other things, Mies received various insulting and malicious comments from men and women. But in addition to negative reactions, she also received a lot of positive feedback. "Many women have written to me who are happy that I'm committed to it because they don't have the courage themselves," she said, referring to the topless bathing.
“The problem of the sexualization of the female body will not go away overnight. That would be utopian,” said Mies. "It's about the signal that you are now behind those affected," says the Berliner, who says she is also writing a book on feminist issues. Some publishers have already shown interest.
Meanwhile, other cities are following suit, such as Cologne (NRW): The Cologne baths, which operate the 13 municipal swimming pools, will also allow women to swim without tops from April 1st. So far, they have to cover their chest when they are in the pool.
"It will be the case in all areas of the Cologne swimming pools that only the primary genitals have to be covered with normal swimwear," spokeswoman Franziska Graalmann told the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger". The company is reacting to a social development that has been emerging for some time.
Another case in Berlin had previously made headlines nationwide: in the summer of 2021, a woman was expelled from a water playground in the Berlin district of Treptow-Köpenick because of her bare upper body. From the ombudsman's point of view, this constituted discrimination. On their recommendation, the water playground supplemented its usage regulations.
However, a lawsuit against the state of Berlin for financial compensation under the Anti-Discrimination Act was unsuccessful at the time. The Berlin Regional Court saw no basis for this in September 2022. According to plaintiff attorney Leonie Thum, an appeal was lodged against the verdict.