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September 8, 2008 | by  | in Features |
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Boobs on Bikes

“I was expecting it to be a bit bigger. The bikes were pretty good actually, maybe even better than the women,” Kevin, Auckland
As defined by my good friend Wikipedia: “Boobs on Bikes is a mostly annual parade of semi-nude porn stars riding on motorcycles through large New Zealand cities”

This year, I unwittingly attended the Boobs on Bikes parade in Auckland. Not wanting to expose ourselves as the clueless tourists we were, my partner and I chose not to ask any of the hundreds of people crowding around Queen Street what they were waiting for, instead we joined the crowd with cameras at the ready.

Through the middle of the crowd came a group of protestors, holding a huge banner which read “Pornography fuels sexual violence against women and children”.

“It’s so great that all of these people are out here to see an antipornography protest” I thought, foolishly, filled with momentary idealism. And I became aware of my mistake very quickly. The protestors were surrounded by booing and jeering. Beside me a lanky, unshaven youth screamed “What about my rights?!” While his friend joined in with comments such as “I love the titties,” and detailed explanations of the acts he would like to perform upon them.

Then we saw the cars filled with topless women.

The Boobs on Bikes parade has been surrounded by controversy since it first graced our streets, controversy which seems to have only heightened its popularity. It has been described in a ridiculously large number of ways, ranging from ‘freedom of expression’ to a ‘shameful event’.

The fact of the matter is it is legal in New Zealand for women to be topless in public. Whether the Boobs on Bikes parade should be allowed to continue is a purely moral debate, but certainly not one without consequence.

Why is it a problem for women to bare themselves in public? New Zealand is a young, liberal country, right? They chose to do it, and the sex industry is their livelihood – why shouldn’t they promote it? Sure, it’s a little tasteless. But where’s the harm in handing out business cards from ‘Strippers R Us’ to potential customers? If you don’t like it, you can look away. Seeing a bared breast never killed anyone.

3news.co.nz has been kind enough to provide 7 minutes of ‘extended footage’ from this year’s parade, so that even those who missed it can watch the spectacle through a zoom lens. That footage shows a woman with her son – who looks to be no more than four years old – watching the parade. It is highly likely that the sight of bared breasts did not in fact kill the boy, but that isn’t the issue here. What we should be concerned about is how that boy is going to learn to view women.

This parade is not about women expressing their freedom. By baring their chests they are not succeeding in showing that they are equal to men, and they are certainly not merely taking part in ‘harmless promotion’. What we are seeing in Boobs on Bikes is women being objectified, in the most archaic, blatant way possible. The women on those bikes were not cheered on as respected human beings, but as objects of sexual gratification. When we allow women to be degraded in such a way in the busiest street of our largest city, we make it normalised behaviour. Women who speak up against it are called prudes and bigots. Let me turn to a comment left on the Unitec Student’s Association website:

“I can almost guarantee the females protesting will be very average looking as they can’t handle blokes giving such good looking females all the attention!” – Hamish.

Sadly, this is an honest view, expressed by far too many people. People like Hamish actually believe that the only goal women have or ever should have is to gain male attention by looking attractive. And with spectacles like Boobs on Bikes reaffirming those beliefs, what’s to convince them otherwise?

Kevin from Auckland gave an equally damaging view:

“I was expecting it to be a bit bigger. The bikes were pretty good actually, maybe even better than the women,” he said.

Kevin’s comment quite simply spells out the objectification inherent in this event. The bikes, human creations, hunks of steel and oil, may even be BETTER than the women to Kevin. Kevin certainly doesn’t see women as people, they are not human beings with thoughts or feelings or opinions, they are objects which can be quite casually compared to automobiles. And not only compared, but compared negatively.

However, we need not despair. Though the quotes I have given are quite simply disgusting in their consideration of women, the vast majority spread across the internet were from those who disagree with the event. For those who can see the bigger picture. Boobs on Bikes is not harmless fun, and like the entire porn industry it promotes objectification of women. The treatment of women as objects does lead to abuse, it leads to rape, it leads to sexism and inequality in homes and the workplace.

And now attempts are being made to bring this event to Wellington. ‘Porn King’ Steve Crow has made claims that a Wellington Parade is planned for November, but it has not yet been confirmed. If we allow this degrading display of the female body for purely sexual purposes to be made on the streets of our Capital city, we take a hugely damaging backwards step in the battle for gender equality.

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Comments (44)

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  1. The ghost of NZ feminism says:

    I wonder if getting the vote before anyone else and having a female prime minister has made NZ women not give a shit about their rights?

    There were actually young women I spoke to who thought the parade was “fun”.

    Who needs men to objectify us when we objectify ourselves?

  2. The Spirit of New Zealand Feminism says:

    I got an erection.

  3. derekguy says:

    I see no problem with Boobs on Bikes, the women being objectified are the ones who want the attention, their job in the sex industry relies on it. It is their choice and we’d be impinging on their right to personal freedom if we tried to restrict them. Remember that to guarantee a right to freedom of expression is to specifically guarantee someone’s right to express what we do not want to see.

    If all women in NZ believe that they are being objectified by this parade then they are wrong. They wish.

    “What we should be concerned about is how that boy is going to learn to view women.” This boy will grow up and view women in the same way as most other males. If he chooses to view them in a objectifying, demeaning manner he’ll probably find himself sharply rebuked by the women he expresses interest in which is the way it should be. How this boy views women is completely up to him and seeing a bared breast can’t affect his free will to act in the correct way.

  4. chris says:

    i have a problem with people who deliver a one sided view and shove propaganda everywhere. this person was full of herself. i had so much to say against what she wrote, and still do.
    i also dont support womens rights, that implies women deserve more rights than men. i support rights and equity for everybody. i treat people fairly and expect them to treat me the damn same.
    …anyway, this is old news, so mih.

  5. Tania Mead says:

    Actually, chris, if you had paid attention in history class you might a) know what ‘propaganda’ actually means and b) understand that the women’s rights movement was a reaction to society that quite vehemently deined equity to women. I don’t think Kathleeen stated anywhere in this article that women deserve any more rights than any other societal grouping. ‘Women’s rights’ doesn’t imply favouritism anymore than the civil rights movement did in attempting to establishing equality for those excluded from basic rights on account of their race.

  6. Mr Magoo says:

    Women’s rights means equity between men and women, dickhead. You know, like equal pay?

  7. Mr Magoo says:

    That was to chris, not Tania. Love your work Tania.

  8. Tania Mead says:

    Oohh, flatterer.

  9. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    Chris has a small penis.

  10. Allan says:

    “Kevin’s comment quite simply spells out the objectification inherent in this event.”

    Poor Kevin. Maybe he just wanted to see a Harley or two?

  11. chris says:

    somchai has a fat smelly vagina

  12. chris says:

    i figured i might as well say, its my interpretation that made me say it was propaganda. and i said it because when i read the article i expected it to be fair journalism, not a one sided essay. so so don’t gimme that history bullshit.

    now i never said women’s rights wasn’t about equity. in my opinion thats what it used to be. but too often i’m seeing people taking advantage of other people, for instance a girl taking advantage of the fact that “guys arent supposed to hit girls” and hitting a guy quite forcefully and repeatedly, which is my prime example in this case and is what lead me to claim that this idea of rights seemed to be twisted from equity into an opportunity. which is why i said i support rights and equity for everybody.

    also if you want to continue going on about women’s rights please go do it in, say, iran. i think you know why.

    i shouldnt have expected (very many) constructive remarks as responses to my posts. (e.g. some somchai munter) but what could you expect from a bunch of fucking internet trolls.

    now run along. don’t forget to vote…… but not for the workers party.

  13. chris says:

    one last thing. i find it interesting how she never mentioned the man who ran up behind the women on the bikes, calling them sluts and whores, and punching one of them. in my final say i want you to know i thought that was completely disgraceful.

  14. junk yard dog says:

    big chris making posts on the internet

  15. wackyjack says:

    junkyarddog – as if a commoner like you has anything worthwhile to say. go join the workers party.

  16. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    Poor Chris. He just wants to hit ladies with his tiny penis.

  17. chris says:

    as if you know shit all, you fuckin trash. how can you make a call like that when you dont even know who i am. your probably just some worthless jobless trash who’s below me.

  18. chris says:

    and i’ve never hit a girl with anything. but if you want me to i’ll hit you with a rfucking machete you filthy sack of pus. i’m at uni if you wanna find me, cunt

  19. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    Shows how much you know CHRIS. I’m the incumbent prime minister of Thailand you bitch.

  20. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    Fine get naked and I’ll be there in 20 minutes.

  21. chris says:

    people like you dont deserve life. you dont even try to listen or understand what someone has been led to believe. i want to teach you not to fuck with people the hard way. fuckin immigrant.

  22. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    I’m not an immigrant. I own you! I am the incumbent prime minister of Thailand. Pussy.

  23. chris says:

    end of cotton foyer, you unforsaken piece of shit.

  24. chris says:

    i’m waiting cunt. i’m gonna slit your throat with a kmnife faggit.
    you dont turn up you’ll be the one whos pussy, faggit.

  25. wackyjack says:

    oi, you, stop egging him on! both of you shut the fuck up! this thread is way old and you both have shit for brains! especially you, prime minitster!

  26. jonno2 says:

    chris.. mate.. nevr thought you had it in you.. you are real tough!

    Go Chris, go!

  27. chris says:

    i gave it half an hour and he never showed up

  28. jonno2 says:

    He did have a long way to travel though…

  29. Michael Oliver says:

    lmao what is this garbage?

  30. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    I have vanquished the tiny beast. He did not put up a good fight. He lied about his size.

  31. chris says:

    fuckin retard. you never even came.

  32. chris says:

    pussy.

  33. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    i’m sorry chris, it is i who has a tiny penis. i got genital herpes a couple of days ago.

  34. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    i like to think i’m bigger than a pencil.

  35. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    You are not Somchai Wongsawat. The people know. You will pay for your blasphemy little man.

  36. Somchai Wongsawat says:

    Chris, I love you and your penis.

  37. Peter Manglethwaite says:

    After this beautiful reconciliation, the two adversaries embraced a hearty embrace and went their seperate ways. Chris back to his cave. Somchai back to his donkey.

    For the record. Neither of them showed up. I was there. Also naked. Waiting. Just behind the door to CO112… I’m still there… waiting…. Hoping some one will come along and give me a blanket. It’s bloody cold standing here naked holding a laptop.

  38. Wee Hamish says:

    “i’ll hit you with a rfucking machete you filthy sack of pus”

  39. Wee Hamish says:

    rfucking machete

  40. Just because Somchai has herpes doesn’t make him a filthy sack of pus.

    More like a filthy sack of virus.

  41. Wee Hamish says:

    rfucking machete
    rfucking machete

  42. Victoria Vice Chancellor says:

    Haha gooks on bikes!!!

  43. Wee Hamish says:

    do POW’s dream of electric gooks?

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