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