Editorial: Topless girl bad decision

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A topless 8-year-old girl joined her mother and six other adults in the New Zealand World Naked Bike Ride along Papamoa this weekend.

Was I the only person wondering what her mother was thinking?

It is one thing to take part in such an event oneself but another to take a child who cannot really fathom the implications.

The event's organiser, Andrew Pointon, blames Tauranga's conservatism on the lack of turnout. Apparently the reason only eight people turned up to ride along a beach in nothing, or next-to-nothing, on a cloudy March day was conservatism. It couldn't possibly be anything to do with some people's apathy towards the cause (in this case, oil dependency), having something better to do (composting or washing re-usable nappies) or being totally uninspired by the method of protest (that is, naked).

I know some people are suspicious of naturalists but I am quite comfortable with the idea of people getting nuddy in environments such as their own homes and nudist beaches. I'm even comfortable with the occasional display of wanton exhibitionism, such as naked rugby for naked rugby's sake.

As a reporter, I have attended events at nudist communities in Hamilton and Nelson and, although I was fully-clothed both times, some of the attendees had convincing arguments about nudity being a leveller, shattering the class structures which clothing can sometimes create and reinforce.

Where my calm, accepting, live-and-let-live routine falls over is when a mother takes advantage of the influence she has over her child and ropes her child into a protest.

This would be bad enough if it were a street march about labour issues or a university sit-in about student fees. But to drag your topless 8-year-old daughter along to a naked bike ride protesting oil dependency, with the catch-phrase "ride bare for clean air", is extraordinary.

Did this mother not think it inappropriate for her child to be cycling with a cluster of naked men along a beach? What if her topless daughter had seen some of her friends from school?

Perhaps the girl wanted to be involved.

If so, surely her mother would reserve the last say on the matter and, if there were any chance of potential ridicule, would the mother not be best to convince the girl to save the political action for another day, another event?

The mother of the 8-year-old girl could argue that she has the right to involve her child in a naked bike ride. But while adults bang on about their rights, children's rights are ignored.

Yesterday we reported the Bay's high incidence of pregnant mothers who smoke.

Protests about a sex shop opening near a school were shouted down by adults who insisted they have the right to have their needs served and too bad about the kids.

Sometimes adults are so busy fulfilling their rights that their selfishness blinds them to the rights of others - even their own children.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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