On August 28 I decided to join the World Naked Bike Ride #WNBR, Amsterdam edition. The link was shared with me by a friend. The website for the event features a soiree of naked people, unabashedly flaunting their bits and pieces https://www.world-naked-bike-ride.nl.
The purpose is activism and the website reads that it is a naked demonstration to protest the increase of traffic in big cities, the air pollution that comes with it and our reliance on fossil fuels. It promotes cycling as the most environmentally friendly transportation. The nudist is to symbolize how fragile the humans are against car and the impact they have on the world.
After the intrepid adventure I recorded a voice note. Below is the transcription of a conversation I had with myself. Being nude and exposed opened up a can of worms it seems:
That was interesting I have to say. Of course, the hardest part was the initial taking off of the clothes. Well first I was late, and then I couldn’t find them and then I was cycling around the city like crazy. And I was about to give up, thinking what’s the point, so I decided to chill in the museum park. The whole ride was from 2 PM-4 PM, and I only found them at 3:30 PM. And it was so funny, the place I was waiting is where they stopped, so I was surrounded by a sea of make people. Soo interesting. I was sitting there thinking if I should join but proceeded to take pictures. No one seemed to mind too much. I thought that would be it for my research, but then as they were about to leave, one dude asked if I wanted to join. And I thought by myself, that what I wanted, an invitation. So then I went for it. For the first 5 min I was wearing my bikini, and then mustered up the courage to go topless. My plan was always to be at least topless. It’s my lady times no way you’ll get me to take of my pants, blood everywhere. What about the OV fiets I was riding. I generally enjoy being naked and the other people on the bike looked very proud of their nudity too. They were flaunting it in the museum park during their break, cartwheels, willy dances, super entertaining. Of course, I wouldn’t have joined if I didn’t feel comfortable. there were quite a few women and the people ranged from attractive to average. Young and old. something of everything. Perverts of course too. that’s how it goes. you have to roll with them if you want to be naked in public.
Our bodies are so close to us but we are soo shy of them. How can something so natural be so sexualised? People easily assign the label of ‘pervert’ to you when they see you are naked. But I’m doing research about being naked.
But yea I did it. I agree with their mission. Fewer cars and more cyclists in big cities. Everyone rides naked to hammer in the point about how vulnerable cyclists is against cars. you have no protection. But when you are cycling naked, that’s not the message people see. They just notice you are naked and then think you are crazy. My purpose for joining was mostly for research, so as usual, I was mostly an interloper. Observing, documenting. So fake of me.
But I did it, did the ride, snapped a few pics with other participants.
But it was soo funny when we rode through Vondel Park. Many picnic-goers ran towards us when they saw us like really ran. to snap a picture of the crazy naked cyclists. In retaliation, I started taking pictures of them. And someone even commented ‘O, she is taking a picture of me’. Of course, you guys are standing there ogling us with your phone camera’s out. Making videos, uploading them online, then I can do the same too you! You are as much of a spectacle as me. So I have many photos of people taking photos of us.
In principle, I don’t have any issues with being naked. But I know how people perceive you. My exBF even called me a slut and a whore for posing nude for a video on campus. It was soo unnecessary.
But I also take offence sometimes when people use nudity to subvert some issues. The WAP song was especially triggering. I didn’t find it empowering. but you are just pandering to the male gaze. But probably the issue that I have is with our belief structure and how problematic it is that we believe anything at all at the end of the day. Because there are so few things that are actually truth. Apparently, some people even exist without eating. Breatharians, they are called. Or that you don’t need as much water as you think.
Of course, if you stop breathing you will die. Everyone is scared of dying because they are scared of where they will end up.
And of course always when I’m naked I think about my parents a lot. And I even sent my family pictures of my naked bike shenanigans. Not my breast so much, but they can see I was topless. And funny how my mom makes a prudish comment even though she is no prude. And I feel about my body the way I do because of her and my dad. They also had perverted indulgences.
And then I also think of all the men I am dating at the moment. And how the one completely ditched me this morning. But that’s my reality and I cannot project it onto him, because he resides on a totally different station than me. He lives for instant gratification. He is a junky. But when I talk to him it always seems like he has control over his life. And he acts normalish. Like he cares about stuff. But sometimes he also doesn’t care. He is impulsive and does exactly what he wants to, but not even as a narcissist. But anyway, it’s interesting how I am sexualised by him and others. Just a vessel to ejaculate into. And how so many things in my life has made me comfortable with that. Well, some days I am. Today I am not so comfortable with it, but of course, my period is making me feel emotional and like I want to cry.
Back to cycling. There were a bunch of pervs coming to talk to me too. One even wanted to hug me. But maybe he was just feeling lonely. He spoke English to me. I don’t know what people expect of you when they meet you at events like these. On the polyamory groups, they are very explicit about the events not being a place to hook up.
I wonder if I will continue seeing the junky. Fuck and what about the guy from the cycling shop. He seems nice but super judgmental. I think he just acts that way because he thinks he has too. People have all these weird ideas in their heads about who they should be. all these lies we tell ourselves. But I do it too.
My calls mates told me I didn’t look like myself in this one photoshoot. The bike shop guy took them and I was a bit worried. Why do I do it? Why do I always act so unnatural with some guys? Like they won’t accept me for who I am. Fuck, daddy issues. Will it never end! You always think you have reached a point when these things don’t bother you anymore but then it still does!
And the museum was so overwhelming that I have to immediately read the comments and feedback from my boss. The critique wasn’t even that bad, and it’s things I already know I can improve on. but it was something that I had to read straight away! while I was having fun in the art museum. I couldn’t even switch it off! But at that point, I had to know what their feedback was. I’m so emotional and fragile today. I don’t like it.
In SA I was always heavy aggressive and stressed but in Japan, I didn’t have that but I was always depressed about where I fit into society. But here I am so worried about the future. Sigh. It feels like I have to fight for everything. But not like in South Africa in a whole different way. I feel like a second rate citizen. I’ve never felt so small and unwanted. not even in Japan. I hate feeling this way. And the only reason I don’t feel like that all the time is because of the campus. what if that goes away or doesn’t work out. it’s a massive worry. But there is so much stimulation, something I craved in Japan. And all the things I suppressed there and when my dad died. Things I have suppressed for so long. It’s nice opening up.
Documenting those documenting me
I made a video of the people ogling us too! I don’t understand why people feel that if you are naked your body is public domain but if you are clothed you somehow deserve protection and anonymity? We wear a disguise to hide our true selves and that seems to be more tolerated than just being natural? How did we end up in such a convoluted system.
Unwanted attention on Social Media
After posting publicly that I joined the #WNBR (World Naked Bike Ride), I started receiving unwanted attention on Instagram. A stranger sent me a picture of myself at the event. In the photo I received in my inbox I was still wearing my bikini. But who knows what he collected for his personal collection.
Even worse, I heard from friends that they had seen the ride on TikTok. Isn’t it illegal to post photos of people without their consent? Especially if they are nude photos? Why didn’t the social media filters filter out the nudity? (well, to be honest I posted too but I blurred out all the genitals and tits – but my actions is also morally debatable).
I also found the content on a porn website surrounded by dicks and tits.