Tacky porn is best hidden

New Zealand is a small country such that local titillations anywhere frequently make the news everywhere.

It’s Auckland’s turn to star, with self-proclaimed pornographer Steve Crow organising his annual boobs on bikes parade down Queen Street. Its an annual publicity stunt to draw attention to the popular Erotica Expo where apparently all manner of interesting, helpful and odd offerings are on sale to stimulate one’s sex life.

Crow is an unlovely figure. He looks like a middle-aged, bald biker with an unrefined vocabulary centred on his right to offend. If people don’t want to see they should stay away – there are plenty who do so let them enjoy what’s on show, says Crow.

Arguments about the rights of women not to have their gender exploited as sexual chattels is just PC nonsense to this businessman.

So he sets off down Queen Street with a few blonde bombshells stripped to the waist and proudly displaying their silicon-enhanced breasts for all the world to see. Alongside them is the ageing, leathery Crow. It’s a scene straight out of Playboy.

Each year there is a public squabble and attempts of various kinds to ban the ride. The council has refused to issue a permit and the police say they can’t stop it on grounds of indecency which apparently exists only below the belt. This year the council is having another go. Crow has thumbed his nose at it for too long.

With every council attempt he puffs his generous chest self-importantly and says it makes him more determined than ever to stop the small minds on the council from raining on his parade. If ever there was justification for defining a male as a life-support system for a penis then Crow would come close.

Late last week he got top billing on national television news because city councillor Cathy Casey has successfully lobbied the council to apply for a court injunction to stop the parade. If that fails she and other women are prepared to lie down across the street in its path. The scene is set for a real bun-fight (or is that a bust-fight?).

Cathy is a spirited woman among a council dominated by conservative men. They recently passed a new bylaw to bar public events associated with pornography. The law was aimed squarely at Crow but he is giving their newest effort the fingers so they are off to court.

The public seems bemused by it all.

The most common argument is that it’s best to ignore the issue because challenging Crow gives him priceless publicity. It plays into his hands. Alongside this argument is another large group which says there’s nothing wrong with a bit of naked flesh voyeuristically displayed in public in any case.

We’re told we shouldn’t be so uptight – it’s just a bit of harmless fun. The women stripping are volunteers, after all, and look like they are enjoying being the centre of attention.

On the face of it women have a lot more trouble getting agreement to breastfeed in public places than Crow has to run his parade.

The difference, of course, is the sexualised image of women promoted by Crow. It is degrading and dehumanising to women as a gender and all women get the backlash from antics such as these. When it comes to nudity context is everything.

I’ve been to previous Hero parades in Auckland and I think it’s a real shame they’ve run out of steam. Back in the 1990s they were a huge public celebration of gay pride and sexuality and there were exposed breasts there as well, among other things, but the context was very different. They were a celebration of being human.

There is a little bit of the voyeur in most of us, which explains why crowds collect for Crow’s parade. They also flock to the Erotica Expo, but for the most part this shows more a healthy interest in sex than in degrading pornography.

No-one would lose any sleep if Steve Crow were jailed for defying a court order but I can’t see it happening. Crow will fight the court injunction one way or another even if it succeeds. He will have his next moves well sorted. However, it’s a useful stand from the council, if for no other reason than to remind us that sex should be celebrated, erotica enjoyed but tacky pornography is best out of public sight.

Perhaps next year Crow might organise a testicles on toast parade with himself as the star. I might get down to see that one myself.

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