Why she stripped: Molly Sara Rosch on her role in the anti-topless protest

Why she stripped: Molly Sara Rosch on her role in the anti-topless protest-attachment0

“Like I always say: In Asheville, there’s no such thing as just a cup of coffee,” says Molly Sara Rosch. If you’re regularly downtown, you may have seen Rosch around. She’s hard to miss, often wearing just a bra in hot weather — a personal statement, more-or-less — while hanging out at places like Izzy’s Coffee Den. On Sunday, Aug. 28, she was doing exactly that, when an friend mentioned something he thought relevant.

“He said that Carl Mumpower was protesting boobs with a bunch of preachers.”

“I was kind of just upset in general about the bizarreness of that,” Rosch says. So, she decided to check it out.

That protest — the “Asheville Rally to Protect Our Children from Abuse” — was organized by former Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower and former Buncombe County Republican Party Chair Chad Nesbitt. The protest was a response to the previous Sunday’s GoTopless rally, which advocated that women have the same rights as men when it comes to what parts of their bodies can be exposed in public.

The “anti-topless” protest was, by most accounts, relatively small and quiet in comparison to its inciting predecessor, the GoTopless event. Instead of a lively crowd of well over a thousand chanting, drumming and gawking, with some of them revealing their flesh and most generally celebrating, this Sunday there were a couple dozen folks, mostly dressed in church clothes, holding signs and praying. As Rosch recalls it, the rally was “the lamest protest ever.”

“All I saw was lots of really bad polyester suits, a few bored people smoking cigarettes and someone rambling on a microphone,” Rosch says. “But I at least wanted to see what was up with these people.”

But she adds that one “wizened, old church lady,” who commenced yelling at the newly arrived Rosch about having “no shame” — presumably mistaking her for a pro-topless activist, given her attire — did provoke Rosch to cross the line from observer to participant.

“I walk up, and this woman is assuming that just because I don’t have shirt on that I’m affiliated with the counterprotesters,” Rosch recalls. “I was met with some really odd hostility. I realized that these shenanigans might actually change things, and that I might not actually be able to walk around with just a bra on.”

So — Rosch took her bra off. But now firmly associated with the pro-topless counterprotesters, the exchanges with some of the anti-topless protestors became more heated. From there, things escalated quickly, with one of the anti-topless protesters trying to cover her up with his jacket.

Although she didn’t realize it at the time, Mumpower’s protest was already being counterprotested by local GoTopless organizer Livienne Love. Rosch says she doesn’t know Love, and knows very little about the GoTopless group’s platform. By the time she met Love and the other counterprotesters from GoTopless, Rosch says she was already being interviewed by members of the media.

“[Love] didn’t come near me until I was already on camera,” Rosch claims. “I think I stole her press. I didn’t realize I was crashing someone else’s protest.”

And the more Love began to talk, the less comfortable Rosch started to feel being associated with her.

“I realized that the topless lady was really odd,” she says. “I didn’t really agree with either side.”

Things might have de-escalated from there, but, as things happen, another anti-topless protester’s taunt got under Rosch’s skin, she says. As she recalls it, a woman called out to her and said, “You filthy Pagan animals ain’t fit for clothes anyway.”

Rosch’s response? “I dropped my skirt. I pretty much flashed this lady. It was kind of like, ‘If I’m an animal, I don’t need clothes.’”

In that moment, Rosch says she knew she was going to jail. “At that point, I was ready to kill that lady. I needed to be protected and served to jail.”

And here is where a key element of the story comes into play: By her own admission, Rosch has a long history of mental illness. In fact, she describes herself as being “severely mentally ill,” and adds that she “should not have been allowed to have been egged on like that.”

In talking with Rosch, she seems to have very little to say about the overall topic of bared female breasts in public areas. She seems ambivalent about the GoTopless group’s agenda, as well as somewhat sympathetic to the idea of respecting “other people’s boundaries” when it comes to what one wears. And while she does have some problem with how she was treated once she was in custody — largely relating to her being mentally ill, and how that was dealt with in her short incarceration — she seems to think the arrest itself was valid.

“The police were just trying to keep the peace,” she says.

Photo provided by Max Cooper at A Dark Topography.

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40 thoughts on “Why she stripped: Molly Sara Rosch on her role in the anti-topless protest

  1. Jon Elliston

    Thanks for this excellent report about the motivations of this protest participant, Steve and Xpress. It’s great to get the nuances and details from a real person amidst a spectacle that has clearly polarized the community. Granted, the spectacle has been great fodder for laughs and jibes, but hearing unvarnished accounts from protagonists like this one reminds me that this is a story about real people and real issues.

  2. Everett Lail

    The old guys Carl Mumpower and his friends are looking for free votes because they are both x-members of city council…That means they were voted out of the city…Why would we vote them in now? They caused the city to spend thousands of dollars for protection for the anti toppless rally. They caused this money to be spent. What a waste of city money…for something that is not against the law in NC…Why don’t they spend their own money with legislators trying to change the law?

  3. Jill

    The women (Liv and group) who started this are members of the Raelian Cult. They used women’s breasts as a clever distraction to hide their underlying cult activities. Check out this video, link and information.

    What’s behind Go Topless:
    http://www.wlos.com/shared/newsroom/top_stori...

    Raelism is a cult/church…

    Sex used to recruit Raelians (The Edmonton Sun)
    http://www.rickross.com/reference/raelians/ra...

    From Wikipedia
    Raëlism (or the Raëlian Church) is a UFO religion that was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël.

    The Raelian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim. Members of this species appeared human and when having personal contacts with the descendants of the humans they made, they were mistaken for angels, cherubim or gods.
    Sexuality is an important part of the Raëlian doctrine. The Raëlian Church has attracted some of its priests and bishops from other religions despite having liberal views of sexuality

  4. The Trolls Troll

    “this is a story about real people and real issues.”

    What, pray tell, are the real issues in this story? This whole sideshow has been a non-story since day 1, and I wish the media would move on and find something else to cover. But then again, clicks = $.

  5. LamontCranston

    Who would have thought: Aliens, and breasts Mumpower and Nesbitt, and cults…..

    Who ever came with the statement
    “Keep Asheville Weird” wasn’t to far off the mark. I’d prefer to think that if you’re to weird for Asheville, you’re just to weird.

    That’s why we like it here: Never a dull moment.

  6. Ken Hanke

    I suppose it could be argued that mental illness is a “real issue” in this story.

    Yes, but whose?

  7. Barry Summers

    The old guys Carl Mumpower and his friends are looking for free votes because they are both x-members of city council

    You’re not referring to Chad or Don Yelton, are you? Neither of them have ever been on City Council. Chad doesn’t even live in Asheville, despite the fact that he always opens his gripes with, “As a resident of Asheville, blah blah”.

  8. Barry Summers

    “The police were just trying to keep the peace,” she says.

    Among other things. As I walked up to mention something to a pair of officers after Ms. Rosch was put in the car, I overheard one of them saying to the other:

    “…damn, she was fine, too.”

  9. I thought the ideas behind the AVL topless protest were right, important, and worth pursuing (not as much as jobs, or the war, or a dozen other things, but not everything worth pursuing is) before I found out about the Raelian connection. Their connection does nothing to change my mind out it.
    People should be careful about dismissing otherwise worthy ideas because the originate from, albeit extremely, wacky sources. Many religions and philosophies simply do not stand up to such scrutiny.

  10. WitchDoctor

    Aliens, boobs and racecars, now there’s a cult I can get behind.

    I actually read a little of the Raelian’s stuff and, unfortunately for the Christians, their explanation seems a bit more plausible.

  11. mungo

    Who even cares why she did it…

    All the lonely people
    Where do they all come from ?
    All the lonely people
    Where do they all belong ?

  12. Jamie

    “What, pray tell, are the real issues in this story?”

    Thank you. I am so tired of hearing about this story. There was nothing to rally against in the first place..it was legal to be a topless lady in public. To me, as a woman, I find it ridiculous and just a ploy to get attention, which they got plenty of rather they wanted negative attention or not..they got it. Put your droopy boobs back under your bra and move on to some other fight that is more worth your time. There are plenty out there that need some attention. Your breasts will thank you.

  13. Jack

    Maybe Livienne Love is her extraterrestrial cult name…

    The Raelian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim. Members of this species appeared human and when having personal contacts with the descendants of the humans they made, they were mistaken for angels, cherubim or gods.
    Sexuality is an important part of the Raëlian doctrine. The Raëlian Church has attracted some of its priests and bishops from other religions despite having liberal views of sexuality.

    http://www.wlos.com/shared/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wlos_vid_5298.shtml

  14. bill smith

    I’d like to ditto Jon’s comments. This was a well-written, careful examination of nuances. I have come to expect far less from the Xpress. Thanks Steve!

  15. Bjorn

    If only someone thought to alert a local flash mob, perhaps all this could’ve been avoided with a well timed song & dance number. Reading all this has got me rather heated up, if I wasn’t in my birthday suit as I type, I’d have to to quickly strip myself being the filthy pagan animal I am.

  16. Barry Summers

    Just don’t go outside in a “discernibly turgid state”, even with pants on. The NC statute cited by Mumbitt makes that illegal.

  17. OMG…Barry you brought the subject of turger pressure up. What next, all plants, trees and shrubs in a state of turgidity are symbolic of what, …erections?

    Mumbitt: from the ridiculous to the absurd.

  18. Barry Summers

    I didn’t really ‘bring it up’ as you put it. It’s right there in the law Mumbitt ‘brought up’. (‘Mumbitt’ is good, but I long for the days of Joe Dunn, when we called them Dumpower).

    Read your Bible, Ms. Women, in their corruption, are the invitation to sin. Those holy rollers (sitting under the utterly non-phallic Vance Monument), watching Ms. Rosch run around naked with their protest signs pressed firmly over their laps, were in danger of being arrested along with her through no fault of their own.

    I wonder if they were thinking of Jack Nicholson’s rant from The Witches of Eastwick?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVW_6pK93n0&feature=player_detailpage#t=164s

  19. Barry Summers

    Yep, we gotta punish wimmin for giving Adam that apple, and we gotta punish trees for spewing out that dang apple in the first place.

  20. Dang, now this is why I appreciate this place. Who knew the cute little “Merkins” were a trend.

    Merkins are certainly worthy of Asheville StreetStyle inclusion.

    And don’t be jokin about the Merkin.

  21. Ken Hanke

    You could put all these little genital toupees in a barrel and then you’d have a firkin of merkins.

  22. Barry Summers

    How our values are slipping in this society. Why I remember, oh just yesterday, when the mixed-company polite definition for merkin was ‘pubic wig’. Now, along comes Mr. Fast-n-Loose Locker Room Pottymouth Hanke with his ‘genital toupees’…

    He probably smokes rag and dances on Sunday.

  23. artsy57

    Gratitude to all for supportive comments or for at least making an effort at community. Yes I raised Molly to view clear-cutting and bombs falling as the true pornography. Someone called my Quaker girl a filthy pagan ? Big deal. It’s a whole lot worse to be a creative person without the focus to be productive. Yes indeed, it will make a person severely mentally ill. So yes, it’s time we all got a life as stated above. Thanks also to Jeff for publishing her side. Peace, Denise Ostler

  24. mtndow

    When Molly got arrested I was concerned for her, her Family and friends. The next morning I realized
    Our Little Molly is an American Hero…

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