It’s deeply irritating that every year we are treated to the fiction that the self-indulgent attention-fest that is the Naked Bike Ride is in some way related to environmental politics and road safety.
However, the notion that this year – the centenary year of the first women getting the vote – it’s being described as a tribute to the suffrage movement is a step too far.
Cycling does empower women but, in a male dominated society, few would argue that public nakedness ever could.
The brave campaigners who fought for women’s right to vote were highly disciplined and took no action unless it had a clear political purpose.
In return, they were subject to various physical outrages, including deliberate sexual assault and harassment by their political opponents, including police.
Apart from forcible feeding, it was the form of abuse they most feared.
They would never have done anything which could in any way have been interpreted as sexually aggressive or likely to scandalise, frighten or sexually embarrass anyone, especially children.
The largely male Naked Bike Ride routes itself past areas where there are many children, though it could avoid them.
The use of “clowns” for security purposes seems calculated less to defuse tensions than to attract children.
I continue to wonder what is really behind this event and why on earth we allow it.
Any cyclist who really wants to celebrate the suffragettes should join homelessness charity BHT’s bike ride on Sunday 1 July and fundraise for the suffragette blue plaques at the Clock Tower and elsewhere (contact www.bht.org.uk).
Jean Calder is a campaigner and journalist. For more of her work, click here.
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