The Herald reported today that the Auckland City Council has given a licence to this pre-Erotica show event, featured female porno stars, topless on motorbikes in a parade down Queen Street, the main street of Auckland.

Is this a feminist event? Will you be taking the whole family his year? What does it say about our city?



  1. James (Jalil) 213

    There is also half naked males which many females go there to see, just thought that I should point that out since this event by some people is only regarded as a male thing…Don’t think it is a feminist movement
    since many feminists do not like the idea but it is definately not a religious or cultural movement for sure…I do know that it is a personal choice to go or not and that either choice should be respected…In terms of taking family I think common sense prevails just like regulating what your kids should or should not see on television…My personal opinion is that this prade or erotica show is not to devalue women or objectify them…I think that is old school…The prade is to celebrate adulthood something that is been taboo for thousands of years in societies…Everyday more and more people are acknowledging equality between men and women, and surely this prade is not going to reverse that success and is only going to highlight and celebrate our freedom to choose regardless of your gender…

    also check this out…might be relevant

  2. Hazel -213

    I agree that being able to celebrate sexuality is important. However I don’t think this parade is celebrating adulthood or free sexual expression. I think it is celebrating a very narrow form of commodified sexuality. A form that tends to degrade women and turn them into sexual objects (and men objectifying themselves also doesn’t make me feel better about it). I feel sad that this kind of sales pitch to get people to go to an expo and spend lots of money is used as an example of free sexuality and an example of women’s sexuality.

  3. tania

    I agree with Hazel: Boobs on Bikes promotes (both normatively and for profit) a very narrow form of sexuality that is alien to many and which relies on narratives of male dominance and the dehumanising objectification of women’s body parts.

    An open parade down one of Auckland’s most prominent streets, during lunch hour, doesn’t actually allow all parties to freely choose whether to see this parade or not. What about the people who must traverse Queen St at this time in order to carry out their jobs, buy their lunch, visit the bank or the chemist; the female office workers who at least indirectly witness the staging of this parade and also have to contend with male co-workers who return to work after having watched it go by; or people like my mother who was unwittingly driving in the vicinity last year and was harassed by men jeering at her through the car window?! And, you can bet there will be an item on the six o’clock news about it, impacting on an even wider audience.

    I am distressed that the parade has been sanctioned this year by the Council (is this a cynical response to organiser Steve Crowe’s support in the polls?) and am sadly doubtful that a feminist protest against this is imminent. What does THAT say about our city too??


  4. James (Jalil) 213

    well fair enough…But keep in mind that your argument is very similar to some people’s argument (I am not going to say who) against homosexuals and how they shouldn’t be represented in media or should not be allowed to be intimate with each other in the public because they are seen as the people who devalue family and could spread homophobia in society and could give our kids a wrong picture of what a real family is…My mate, coming from a catholic background, is very critical of homosexuality. once i asked him whether he had talked or interviewed a homosexual about why they do what they do, and he said no and i said there you go that is your problem right there, you haven’t got all the facts right because you just listen to what your people say, it’s like being a judge and passing a verdict based on hearing the story from one party only….Now this is the story here, why doesn’t anybody invite someone who is involved in organising the erotica show to come and talk to us in the class so we can also ask them questions…I mean surely if we could invite Tayyibah Taylor to our class to tell us her side of the story, why can’t we invite someone from erotica show to come talk to us and tell us their side of the story since it seems the show is a social as well as a political matter…

  5. Tania

    I don’t really object to the Boobs on Bikes parade because I think it’s a risque/abnormal form of sexual expression that devalues the family or gives the wrong message to kids. I wouldn’t like my young daughters to see it, but not because i think it would make them question the role of the family.

    My main problem with this (pornographic) parade is that it promotes the objectification and subservience of women – in other words it helps to produce unequal power relations between men and women ( and as such i think my view on this parade has got very little in common with homophobic reactions to the public display of homosexual love). But, I take your point about it being a good idea to hear the views of erotica expo organisers. There is the view that having the opportunity to express one’s sexuality openly is empowering – what do others think?


  6. Morgan

    (I’m not in a position to comment on how the parade might objectify women, but I do have a couple of thoughts on this.)

    I don’t think Boobs on Bikes is anywhere near gay folk kissing or holding hands on the acceptable-in-public continuum. Perhaps you could call it a cynical, shallow, tiny, drab, and unentertaining version of the Hero Parade though.

    After all, Hero included bare breasts, bare bums, and scantily clad people of all genders making a far greater spectacle of themselves than the unimaginative boobs on bikes could ever manage. Of course, Hero was at night, so that criticism stands. And while you could argue that Hero was promoting an agenda, it wasn’t exclusively about promoting one man’s business interests.

    So, is it just about motives? Do we test everything for ‘righteousness’? The Santa Parade down Queen St very conveniently gathered a lot of children and their parents in close proximity to Farmers. Cynical marketing focused with laser-like precision on the minds of children? Religious festivals co-opted by commercial interests? Or an entertaining day out for the kids?

    It’s just a hunch, but my feeling is that a more liberal society, that values free expression and doesn’t fear its own various sexualities, is likely to be healthier and more open than one that takes the opposite position. Indeed, if we had more public displays of various sexualities, perhaps it would eventually help the sweaty men grow up a bit? (This last bit is probably overly optimistic for our society as it stands, but might be true over a long term.)

    If it is an empowering event, who is it empowering? Surgically altered pornstars? One rich white man? Men that like porn a bit too much? Maybe, certainly, and yes.

    So what if it does? Do we think we have a right to never be annoyed or offended by anything, ever? My answer is no, we don’t have that right. That way lies bigotry and intolerance.

    (It’s a shame that it’s Steve Crowe and a bunch of porn folk, rather than a more general open event celebrating sexuality – perhaps like Hero, but with more ‘straight’ folk in the mix. I’m in a bit of a bind, because I don’t particularly like Crowe, and won’t fight for him, but I would be disappointed to live in a city that was too grey and wowserish to be tolerant of diversity, as gross as it might sometimes be.)

  7. Jane

    Yes it is odd the way that a sexual display in the street that more people in New Zealand use than any other is sanctioned. If a person was flashing their body parts at people in a park that would be considered inappropriate, or if you walked around uni or your work place with no pants on or no top on. I don’t think you can compare sexual display to unwilling recipients(i.e. the people who don’t want the sort of sexuality that the boobs on biles promotes) to a gay couple kissing or hugging in public in the same way that straight couples do. Furthermore, I really don’t think that anyone can say that pornography is a sort of marginalised fringe activity, I think it is a kind of prositution that is hugely influential to how women and men are seen and to how people see their sexuality and express it. It is a male dominated realm, where male norms and interests prevail and women service those demands from the market/directors etc. Pornography is a massive industry and I think it would be a very naive person who thought that it has no impact on relations between women and men, and no impact on sexuality. Commodified sexuality to me isn’t really genuine sexual freedom, to me paying someone for sexual gratification is a form of coercion. I think the line that ‘sexuality has been taboo for thousands of years in societies’ isn’t actually accurate, societies have differed widely in their sexual mores depending on a big range of factors. Usually when people say that they are referring to the old ‘judeo christian morality’ chesnut. I think our society now is obsessed with sex, and in particular commercialised, visually oriented sexuality that is on billboards all over town, seemingly every advertisement on television etc. etc.

  8. Melissa (213)

    Even the name of the parade is objectifying. “Boobs on bikes.” Thanks, Steve Crow, for once again reducing women to bits-and-pieces.

    I don’t think that this is a feminist event at all.

    A little research will tell anyone that the sex industry, as it currently stands, is immensly damaging to a huge amount of people (both women and men, but largely women).

    It really bugs me that some people will argue until they’re blue in the face about “freedom of expression” and “empowerment” and “freedom of sexuality” with regards to the sex industry without bothering to learn anything about the industry they’re defending.

    Empowerment and exploitation are mutually exclusive, no?

    (As an aside, I’ve just been at the New Zealand Herald’s website reading readers’ comments about Kevin Rudd’s strip club visit – it makes for depressing reading).

  9. jtrue Post author

    Its so great so many of you have wanted to comment on this event, which I find disturbing.

    I thought I’d let you know that perhaps because are debating “sex” we have attracted some spam from the sort of sources that are among the most visited sites etc on the internet.

    – Jacqui

  10. James (Jalil) 213

    I just refuse to simply believe that these people sit around the table and discuss how to devalue women by organising these events…There’s also an event called feminist porn award which is organised by the same people who organise erotica, I was surprised when i heard about it, and they said their main motive was to show people that there’s bad porn as well as good porn out there that it even promotes gender equality…it was interesting…

    Tania, I didnt say that you object to the Boobs on Bikes parade because it devalues family or so on, the reason that I made that comparison was that I think that you are jumping to conclusions by thinking that you already know what is these people’s intentions when they have a parade like this and all I am saying is that give them a fair chance and hear them out without having made your mind up about this…It is possible that they don’t make porn or organise these shows to just devalue women. I mean it is a possiblity that they are targetting women and their status in our social structure but it is also equally possible that they are just enjoying what they do and there is no politics as such is behind it…Our job is to hear them out as well as other people who oppose them and then make our own individual judgement which could be right or wrong…

    Jane, you misunderstood my point and the point was that once up on a time people thought that homosexuals were homosexuals because it was an illness and when science proved that it wasn’t an illness then people started thinking that homosexuals did what they did to just irritate others and their normal way of life and they also thought that homosexuals simply devalued the family system, People never asked homosexuals this vital question, “why do you do what you do?”, instead they just ran out on the streets and said “stop doing what you do”…Now I do hear you out when you say that pornography is mainly operating to devalue women but I wonder whether you ever bother to stop and ask a pornographer, “why do you what you do?’, without already thinking that you know the answer. and yes my dear friend, sex has been taboo in our past a lot more than not being taboo maybe in a few odd cases, and that is exactly why as you said people are obsessed with sex because this is a new environment and they are not used to it, just like freeing a bird after keeping it in a cage for years, it will go crazy once is freed outside trying to explore everything at once, it is a common psychology. Once we become use to this new environment of sexual freedom then less people obsess about it in media as well as other places…you try to resist it and it will backfire because they will become more determined…

    Melissa, I be more than happy to read the research that you’ve done about this :).

    I am not defending pornography however I am not attacking it either, I only once attended the erotica show and that was year 2004, I was curious to find out what it was about…at least I tried to see it from their point of view for once..

  11. jtrue Post author

    I think there are a lot of inconsistencies in our attitudes and public approaches toward sexuality and sexual expression.

    Let me discuss this from my personal experience as a mother for instance and not my political or feminist analysis, which are another thing:

    1) Children cannot go to the movies and see bare-breasted women unless they are 13 or over. That is our censorship law and practice.
    2) Children can’t see barebreasted women on TV for the most part – that is limited to TV after 8pm and begins with a warning to parents about explicit content.
    3) My 3 year old son playfully got changed into his togs without me noticing next to the learner pool at the Philips Aquatic Centre. I was told to prevent this exposure as it offended adult swimmers in a nearby pool. I was shocked that others were so shocked.
    4) If I happen to be working in Queen Street or shopping and have my children with me they will have no choice but to view the “boob on bikes” parade. If I do know about the parade I could avoid it at great inconvenience. Will that be safe for me and my children?

    Where is the CONSISTENCY in all this — part of my everyday life? I’m CONFUSED. Is New Zealand society confused too?

    – Jacqui

  12. Melissa (213)

    “We talk about ‘adult entertainment’ but the reality is it is mostly men using women to entertain men.”
    Lucinda Marshall

    James – I’m responding to you’re whole reply, not just the part that was directed towards me, so forgive me if this comment seems a little disjointed 🙂

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that the parade is the result of a bunch of people sitting around a table, plotting to degrade women! I doubt that there are many, even amongst the most misogynistic of pornographers, who actively seek to degrade women. It’s about patriarchy.

    It’s a matter of conditioning, it’s a matter of ignoring unequal power structures, it’s a matter of failure to comprehend, it’s about sexual politics, it’s about defining the female body as just another thing to be used, it’s about the male gaze and it’s invisibility to mainstream eyes, it’s about who’s holding the cameras, who’s making the decisions, who’s acting and who’s being acted upon. This isn’t just about a number of individuals, it’s about the ideology underlying the actions, decisions and beliefs of those individuals.

    A ‘Feminist Porn’ award coming from the Erotica crowd seems a bit like putting a band-aid on an open wound to me.

    There is no such thing as an apolitical act. Everything has a history, everything has a context. Boobs on Bikes is no different.

    Sexual freedom for whom? I completely reject the notion that we are currently living in a sexually free society. For example, just because I can, in theory, fuck whomever I want doesn’t mean that I won’t be called a slut for doing so (a gendered label that is never, ever applied to men). On the flip side, just because I can chose not to have sex if I don’t want to (shock, horror!) doesn’t mean that I won’t be thought a prude for making that choice. Just because I can flaunt my body and flirt with men if I desire doesn’t mean that a lot of people won’t think that I was “asking for it” if I am sexually assaulted after doing so. Etc etc etc ad goddamn nauseum.

    Here are some links to people discussing various aspects of the sex industry (I’ve included a bunch of different ones – if there’s one thing it’s important to keep in mind when thinking about oppression it’s that everything is interconnected!)

    (A bit of background, which at first glance might seem unrelated to the topic at hand, but actually cuts right to the heart of it: Do Men Need Prostitution?)

    Interview With ‘Belladonna’ (talking about her career in Porn)
    Dr. Gail Dines (a selection of articles – I particularly recommend ‘Pornography Is A Left Issue”)
    Media reform should include critique of sexual-exploitation media (by Robert Jensen)
    One Angry Girl (“a collection of resources”)
    Dispaches from Girls Gone Wild (by Ariel Levy)
    The Links Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: A Briefing Handbook (from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, an NGO that is, among other things, involved in consulting the United Nations on trafficking and the sex industry)
    Interview With Andrea Dworkin (by Elizabeth Wilson)

    Sorry for taking up so much space everyone!

  13. James (Jalil) 213

    Thanks melissa for the links and info, very useful although there was nothing that I didn’t know about already. I should say that I find sex trafficking very disturbing and have seen several films and documentaries about this, here is a few names: Lilya 4-ever, Svetlana’s Journey, and Trade. Also there was a documentary about sex trafficking in russia and middle east by BBC, can’t remember the name…also check this out ,

    Also this is a summary of debate between two major figures of anti-porn and pro-porn activists, very brief…

    However it’s good to take articles below into consideration as well, hope they useful…they are pro-porn activist and Sex-positive feminism articles,

  14. Tania

    I don’t think motives or intentions (of the organisers of this or any parade) matter nearly so such as outcomes, and the outcomes of pornography on all women are already very clear to me. Thanks Melissa for the excellent links.

    By the way, my husband’s boss sent me an email today – knowing I was upset about this parade – asking me what I was doing today at 12.45 and letting me know that he had room on the back of his vespa scooter. Isn’t he hilarious? I shudder to think how he has behaved towards his female staff today…

    I feel violated by this parade – I know many Auckland women do too – and I feel very let down by my Council. But thanks to everyone for participating in a very interesting debate!


  15. Melissa (213)

    James – Thanks for the links 🙂

    Though, if everything I linked to or said, you know about already, how can you even take the pro-porn point of view seriously?

    I used to be one of the pro- leaning people, then I started doing some reasearch, and started thinking about how it might feel to have all that Stuff acted out on my body, how it might feel to be in that industry, day in, day out, and now, to be honest, I can’t hear a pro-porn/pro-sex industry argument from anyone without wondering what planet that person is living on, because it sure as hell isn’t this one.

    I don’t think that the sex industry is bad per se. I do, however, believe that the industry, as it stands now (just like society in general, as it stands now) is in desperate need of a feminist overhaul!

  16. Mel 213

    It was interesting to hear that the organiser plans to make next years parade into a Mardi Gras event. Now if people weren’t confused enough by seeing some very cold half naked women and men at lunchtime trundelling down Queen St then Mardi Gras will really baffle them especially if it is a short ‘lunchtime’ event. Sexuality should be celebrated as personally I think it may go some way to hepl breaking down barriers in society, but I think there is a time, place and a context to do so. I agree with Jacqui in that society generally is probably confused because we have so many conflicting markers out there as to what is acceptable and what is not.

    Men are told they shouldn’t be objectifying women but at the same time should appreciate and respect the female form however they must do so without sexually denigrating them. Rather than garnering delight from a child’s inhibition, those who find themselves in view of such innocence are made to feel awkward as if society will label them perverted. Advertising is often explictly sexual and while we know this is wrong but sales figures increase regardless. When we are told that we should celebrate sexuality but we don’t know how to do so without offending many sectors of society because either culturally or religiously sex is still a very private thing.

    Yes confusion reigns on many levels…

  17. Tess 3386981

    I attended the boobs on bikes parade last year (I happened upon it by accident, in the starting line behind K Rd! ) I didnt find the womens display of nuidity offensive in any way – they seemed incontrol of their actions, and pretty excited to be taking part. I agree with the comment that it is liberating to display and celebrate your sexuality – however the other side of displaying something is it being viewed, and I found the men watching pretty disgusting. They literally reminded me of carnivores eyeballing their prey.

    While I wholeheartedly support women breaking any social and cultural boundaries set in place by men to retain their own dominant role in society, I ultimately think the boobs on bikes is a male fantasy come true – not a display of female sexual liberation. It is not an event that should be on display during a weekday lunchtime in our largest city. It would be more appropriate to be hosted at night time – outside of business hours and away from the busiest street in New Zealand.

  18. moonjoo 213

    Its a free choice as to whether you go and see it or not but the event does degrade women as sexual objects and I think it reinforms the social construction of gender where the female is silently inferior to the male.

  19. Yasmin -213

    I just find it to be a step backwards. I think any women tries her best to reach an equality with her male counterparts, whether it be at home or in the work place. A parade such as the ‘boobs on bikes’ parade just sends us back to a time when we didn’t have a voice and we simply objects to be enjoyed by the male gender. Doesn’t it encourage objectification? It’s got absolutely nothing to do with celebrating the sexuality of the women involved, and more to do feeding the sexual appetites of the men that attend.

  20. James (Jalil) 213

    Yasmin, I think it’s a step backwards if we believe that it is only men who have sexual appetite and only men take interests in these sort of events…don’t you think…

    Some people on this blog are shocked by me taking the pro-porn and feminist pro-porn claims seriously…
    Well let me explain, in any society at any point in history actions taken by people or rulers have had positive as well as negative effects on their future. That is why philosophers are having a difficult time determining what is right and what is not…Porn and the erotica shows are no exception…As I said earlier I acknowledge the bad effects that these shows or porn in general could have on society however I also acknowledge their positive effects.
    In the last 50 years there have been numerous studies conducted on this issue mostly state funded research…It is good to take into consideration that these studies have shown a huge decline in sex crimes in the areas where people had more sexual freedom or expression and reasonable access to porn…This is also significant when you take middle east into consideration and you compare countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia where there is no sexual freedom or no tolerance for shows like erotica to countries like Egypt and Turkey with a more moderate approach…
    If you go to countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia and study the men who marry more than one woman, you will know what I am talking about … Having lived there from the time I was born to the age of 15, and living in New Zealand after that, only I could understand what factors shape and contribute to encouraging men to see women as sexual objects in both societies. You think that socially women are degraded by shows like erotica, think twice about that because some people claim that women socially benefit more from the show than men and if you want to know why they claim that then I seriously recommend you to travel to those countries and observe how socially men and women view each other and what shapes their views and why they view each other the way they do…only then you could take into consideration the possibilities of what erotica or other similar shows could achieve in the long term in terms of sexes and their sexual freedom…
    I see that people say that erotica encourages people to see women as sexual objects, can anybody explain to me what encourages men to see women as a sexual object in those places where there is no erotica at all or pornography for that matter, where there is religion that specifically forbids men from looking at women in a sexual way… How is it that those people see women as sexual objects a lot more than people do in the west…
    That’s right in Middle East men and women are forbidden to look at one another in a sexual way both by religion and law, therefore you think that should put an end to women being seen as sexual objects by men, in reality that is not true, even if men don’t look at other women in a sexual way in the public (trust me they do) they tend to look at their wives as sexual objects in private sphere…in those countries as well as India and Pakistan it is common for men and women to get married specifically for the purpose of having sex because they are forbidden to have sex outside marriage, now could seeing women as sexual objects get any worse than that…

    The point is that when some advertise that porn and erotica show are specifically for men you are running the risk of portraying women as individuals who have no sexual needs or have no need for pleasure, therefore they are only objects with no sexual feelings.
    I think people have always tended to associate sexual pleasure with objectification of one’s gender and that is nothing new… Usually a straight guy who is standing on Queen street watching a topless women is considered to be seeing the woman as a sexual object but I personally think that this is a generalization and a stereotype that people encourage and advertise…Anyone watches ‘sex and the city’? If you haven’t then I recommend you to watch it and then tell me whether those three women view men as sexual objects by fulfuling their sexual apetite…
    I am surprised no one really comments on gay and lesbian parades, who are they portraying as sexual objects??? Their parades are just the same as erotica and even more sexually explicit…They also claim that they are celebrating sexual freedom just as erotica people do…If they are portraying sexual freedom in their prade, why can’t straight people do the same without being accused of things…

    At the end,
    Pay close attention to this quote from the Catechism of Catholic Church:

    “Pornography… offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each another. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants… since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offence.”

    This quote is from the same organization that has just recently paid $600 million dollars in compensation for its priests molesting 500 children…and there is about another 25,000 children sexually molested by priests only in the US apart from Europe and everywhere else…

    What sort of contradictions do you see there?

  21. Cherie

    I agree with jtrue….that, I find this parade very disturbing & I think that it degrades women, as objects. But, I think it raises the question of – ‘why do you do what you do’? The same as what you were saying James. However, in terms of ‘homosexuality’ that you mentioned, I think its more of a fact, of ‘what do you identify yourself as?’ The gay and lesbian parades (I don’t believe) are a protrayal of ‘sexual objects’, but rather a statement of their ‘sexual expression’, that ‘yes, we can be who we want to be, regardless of society views’. Is it needed? I think that there are too many inconsistancies & we need to take it back to the basis of law. If the law historically forbit certain
    acts, such as homosexuality, prostitution, & porn…..there was reason for it. As we have advanced in technology and society in general….our standards have droped. We live in a country were everything is pretty much acceptable….as long as its not a criminal offence. I don’t believe what we see, is needed. One, must ask – what is the motivating factors? The women who parade on the bikes, must surely enjoy doing so, otherwise they wouldn’t. They have a choice….I think thats sad. Why would you want to be the object of everyone’s/’males’ sexual excitement? But maybe my views are too conservative.

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