Above is a photo from last night's World Naked Bike Ride event in Portland, OR.
I'm not sure why I posted it. Maybe there is a little voyeur in all of us. It was easy, and sometimes I am lazy. You can find plenty more such photos on the internet.
Anyway, thousands of bicyclists gathered in a neighborhood park and pedaled on from there. This has become an annual event in Portland and other cities around the world since shortly after the dawn of the new millenium.
The ostensible purpose is to protest dependence on oil and, to a lesser extent, to show the vulnerability of people on bicycles in the modern-day car culture.
I don't buy that. I don't think you could gather that many people wearing clothes to demonstrate for either of those causes in Portland or any other city.
This is really about the bicyclists themselves.
A columnist for the Portland newspaper wrote a meditation on the event. It was titled "Why Do They Do It?"
He quoted one participant saying this: "Spectacle in and of itself is a protest, spectacle in and of itself is a freedom of expression. The part I love the most is the number of people who have said yes to this."
I think I know why they do it: Because they can.
Here is the idea: Naked people get to bicycle through the streets, and the people who don't think this is a fun thing are narrow-minded prudes who are too chicken to stand a little nakedness.
On the other hand, Portland's Naked Bike Ride route is not publicized because riders are afraid other people will come out to harass them.
Portland, like San Francisco and certain neighborhoods in other large cities, has for years had a particular ethic -- Keep Portland Weird. Citizens in those cities like to roll their eyes and tell each other, in self-congratulatory tones, this is just such a wacky place.
My town doesn't have a naked bike ride. If it did, I wouldn't join it. I also wouldn't go out of my way to see it. My view of the participants would be this: Fine. Be that way.
I've spent enough time in shopping malls and airports to know that most people are not all that attractive even with their clothes on.
NOTE: In a post on this blog on May 24, ("Scary Men in Underpants") I discussed the upset when a statue of a man, not naked but wearing tighty-whities, was erected (ha!) at a women's college. In short order, almost 1,000 signed a petition to have the statue removed. The signers believed the statue could "trigger" thoughts of sexual aggression. I wonder how traumatized those young women students would be if thousands of living, truly naked people bicycled through their campus.