Odd experience in a city greenspace yesterday. I was sitting in the sun with a lady of my acquaintance when we were approached by a man who commented on the rabbits he had seen. We agreed that there were a good few around. He then informed us that he had lent his belt to a friend and as a result his trousers were very loose. He continued to comment on this fact for a half minute or so while fiddling with his waistband before being called away by someone else. At this point the lady enquired if I agreed that for a moment there it looked as though we were going to be flashed at and I was obliged to agree that it had looked that way.
Now I am of the male persuasion and therefore enjoy many of the perks of living in a patriarchy. One of these perks, quite frankly, is not being flashed at in parks. I hasten to add that I do not think that women should have to put up with it either. When it comes to the indecent exposure debate, I am firmly in the ‘no’ camp. It’s just that a man does not expect it to happen to him in the same way that he does not expect ever to have to have a bra fitted or have to respond to an unexpected proposal of marriage. Actually, that last has happened to me twice so bad example. And another story.
Anyway, it turned out, and an excellent thing too, that my companion had never been flashed at either. Therefore, neither of us had the slightest idea what we would do in the circumstances. I said something solemn about how I would have told him to put it away or I would call the police which made me sound as if I was channelling Joyce Grenfell, but I really don’t know.
The odd thing is that as a society we are a touch confused about male nudity. I imagine that the majority of people would agree that this man’s behaviour was not acceptable. Yet there was a huge amount of support for the naked rambler. Remember him? He kept being sent to prison for breaking court orders not to walk around the countryside naked and a fair number of commentators stated that that this was ridiculous and how they do these things differently in the continent (and indeed in the barking mad TV series Spartacus: Blood & Sand, about which more later) and how uptight we all are. Maybe so. My attitude to public nudity is a matter of record* and I think that what is really sad is that it is necessary to say that a person, either female or male, should be able to sit in the sun without being flashed at.
Oh, and if you don't know Joyce Grenfell, enjoy:
*see Oh Matron No post, October 2009