Montreal World Naked Bike Ride and GoTopless events: Social nudism a lost cause?

An item (which I wrote) for my paper the other day about the postponement of today’s World Naked Bike Ride in Montreal because of rain drew many readers’ responses.

And as the title of this post suggests, the responses by readers show naturists have a long way to go before society will accept social nudism — if it will ever be accepted at all, which I doubt.

As you probably know, World Naked Bike Rides are international clothing-optional events that, in short, encourage cycling, promote environmentalism and address body image issues, with emphasis on environmentalism in the form of clean air.

I don’t think may people would take issue with environmentalism and cycling: in Montreal, more that 1 million people cycle regularly, according to a recent study, and the city is making great strides with the addition of cycling lanes and paths.

But many of the readers’ responses to the brief item in the paper were clearly negative about nude cycling. Many joked about it, some voiced disgust, and others wondered why anyone would cycle naked, for heaven’s sake. At least one worried their children might be traumatized if they saw naked cyclists. Only a few readers showed support.

What their responses said to me, essentially, is that social nudism is very much a taboo, and the vast majority of people would not want it to be part of daily life in Montreal (and, no doubt, other cities).

I saw similar negativity expressed about the Montreal edition of the GoTopless Day events. The GoTopless movement holds events around the world each summer promoting equality for women, i.e. giving us the same rights men have to bare their chests in public.

Surprisingly, I’ve heard some women say they don’t want that particular equal right because they would never bare their breasts in public and they don’t think other women should be allowed to, either. No matter that no one is telling them that, if allowed to, they don’t actually have to go topless in public. They are opposed to the right.

Both the World Naked Bike Ride and GoTopless Day (in August) are legal protest rallies — with permission granted in advance by authorities. There are two editions of the bike rides in Montreal, one during the day, one at night — both held in the heart of the city. The GoTopless event is held at a popular gathering spot on Mount Royal, where it has less public visibility (I’m not sure why that location was chosen as opposed to a more visible march through the streets of downtown Montreal.).

The events get limited media coverage, and that is sometimes lighthearted (to put it politely). In other words, they are not major news stories — and few in the public take them seriously.

Which is probably a real drag for all the social nudists/naturists out there who see these demonstrations as a chance to speak out against the textile world with all its taboos, and to raise some body awareness that, essentially, de-sexualizes our bodies — because as any naturist will tell you, it doesn’t take long before you don’t even notice what were once deemed private parts when you are in social nudism settings.

— Jillian

12 thoughts on “Montreal World Naked Bike Ride and GoTopless events: Social nudism a lost cause?

  1. Not much too say, Jillian. This will never change, always be a joke by the uptight. always the gawkers, always the critics about a certain person’s body type. Sometimes I wonder if these people ever look at their own full image in a mirror while nude, are they uncomfortable changing in front of their partners.

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  2. As nudists/naturists it is far too easy for us to forget how we appear to the Textile public. Aside from religion-based aversion, they think we’re some sort of weirdos at best. Who in their right mind would want to be seen naked by ANYONE, let alone strangers?

    It does no good to tell these folks that if only they tried it, they’d like it. All they see is a bunch of silly people acting inappropriately. We do not fit the social norm and therefore are a threat.

    This won’t change soon, if ever, though outright sexual behavior is becoming more acceptable. To the mainstream, nudity combined with sex is ‘normal’ and much easier to digest than the concept that the two can coexist independently. Therefore, there MUST be an element of sexuality in anything involving nudity, including events such as the Bike Ride.

    So there you have it: The Bike Ride is a bunch of naked freaks mixed with sex maniacs parading around in front of our children! Oh my!

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  3. I’m not sure I understand why the general public has to take World Naked Bike Ride Day so damn seriously. So pardon me if I consider the downside of cycling completely naked. Like how uncomfortable it must be on the parts in contact with the seat. Or if you fall, how much more skin is vulnerable to “road raspberries.”

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    1. Clothes really protect you very little from road rash, and not at all from more serious injuries. I’ve done the WNBR in Denver. Yes, there is always protection between the seat and your seat. I simply wrapped a towel around the saddle. — And to answer a commonly asked question, riding nude is extremely comfortable. Any clothing binds our penises and testicles while riding, and to be free from that binding actually reduces the chance of injury to our testicles. If I could, I would always ride in the nude.

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  4. Well, the Bostonians were hardier souls on Saturday evening and held their ride with almost 120 participants, rain and 15c temps be damned! Certainly down from the near 300 riders last year, when they had perfect weather, but not bad at all. http://www.boston.com/culture/lifestyle/2016/07/10/hundreds-naked-bike-riders-made-way-boston-saturday-night

    I have to say, I don’t think events like this really do much for the cause of nudism/naturism, other than for maybe a few first-timers who become converts to true naturism. These are more of an exhibitionist activity, a lot of people who are doing it as a annual novelty, and for the cause of less oil dependency and better bike safety, but the nudity is for the purpose of attracting attention, not to furthering naturism.

    There was a recent story in the news in Vermont of a guy walking around downtown Burlington wearing only socks and sneakers, which is perfectly legal there, although quite rare. I don’t think this type of endeavor does much to help further naturism, either. It draws negative opinions and a few comments from others who find it curious, but generates little meaningful discussion (especially when this unclothed guy declined to be interviewed.) He probably did more harm than good for greater acceptance of public nudity.

    The Go Topless events are more positive, although not particularly significant, and may actually backfire, if not coupled with serious advocacy with policy-makers to persuade a change in laws. I’m not sure how women gained top-freedom in New York State, but I bet it had more to do with quiet discussions than with attention-grabbing public displays of breasts, (although they did have that there, too.)

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  5. Yes:
    There are children about. We dare not let them learn the truth because it distresses their parents.
    Distressing parents is a crime, mostly because it contributes to the kids’ confusion.

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