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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I fear for the future of exhibitionists. Technology is demeaning their innovation and trivializing their perseverance and rendering an entire milieu of sexual perversion tracing back ten thousand years and more, merely passé. These determined depraved enthusiasts who once spent hours or days planning their brief flashes of nudity, are now being offered a less problematic path to obscenity. At the forefront of this cultural retro-revolution is a young man from Sondershausen, Germany, who has been convicted of taking snap shots of his own erect penis with his mobile phone and then sharing them at random with hundreds of other unwilling mobile phones. One woman who received the photo bothered to report it to the police, and they were able to back-track to the source and arrest the mobile flasher. But since his only offense was the misdemeanor of “distributing pornographic material”, he was fined a mere $220 and released to text message and photo share again. It hardly seems worth the effort to snap the photo, share the photo or prosecute the photographer
And then there is South Yorkshire police officer David Mayes who also posed for a camera, twice, not to display his body parts but to put on public display his gross stupidity. Twice last July 26th Officer Mayes drove into frame of a traffic speed camera on Halifax Road, in Sheffield, England, once at 68mph and then again at 73mph. The posted speed limit along that stretch of road is 40 mph. Both times Officer Mayes was responding to a 999 call, and so might have been forgiven for speeding, except that both times the camera caught Office Mayes grinning and giving the camera a “thumbs up” with both his hands off the wheel. His license has been suspended for six months, he has been fined $800 and been suspended from duty pending a disciplinary hearing. Warned a police spokesperson, “This type of behavior will not be tolerated” But it’s not like he was waving his weenie at the camera, now was it.
Jenny Marsey, of Harlepol, Teesaide, England, has also posed for the camera, proudly holding up a pair of her badly soiled big-girl knickers. It seems that her son and nephew were distracted while “frying bread” and started a fire. In horror the boys grabbed the first thing available from the nearby dirty laundry pile, a sky blue pair of “parachute knickers”, size 18 – 20 and used them to smother the fire, saving the home. Said Ms. Marsey, “I think if they (the underwear) had been my daughter Sarah’s skimpy knickers they wouldn’t have done any good.” It is a most sanguine observation.
But what made the “big panties” fire extinguisher story truly memorable was the column it inspired Caitlin Moran to write for the Times of London, observing that the photo of Ms. Marsey holding up her underwear for public perusal, “…encapsulated the implacable moral, spiritual, political and, most importantly, practical superiority of big pants… I am currently wearing a pair that could have put out the Great Fire of London at any point during the first 48 hours or so…(but most women insist on wearing) little more than gluteal accessories…they’re all in briefs, demi-briefs, bikinis, strings, midis, hi-legs or thongs…there is a catastrophic physical displacement. Entire body parts are split asunder, and undertake vast migrations… Women, this manner of underwear cannot be an act of sanity…Why have we succumbed to pantorexia?...You have to remember (that) men are blessedly, almost serenely laisser-faire creatures….Whether you wear sexy pants is neither here nor there to them.” At last, a woman who understands men’s view of sex; i.e., yes, please.
If the truth were told most men would be willing to have coitus with one of the hippos from Fantasia. They might not admit that to other men, but nobody should ever believe what men tell each other when no woman is around to take offense. Proof of this male egalitarian sexual attitude was recently obtained by the Office for Consumer Protection, in Brasov, Transylvania. They responded to a customer complaint that his blow up sex doll would not stay inflated and had lost her moan. I hope I am wrong but I suspect his rubber girlfriend had one of those little boxes sewn inside her that made a cow noise when you tipped her over on her head. It is the sound and physical attitude most men assume implies sexual gratification in women. And understand, this guy wasn’t asking for an exchange. He didn’t want a new girlfriend, just somebody to listen to his whining, which his rubber girlfriend could not – proof again that men don’t want only one thing from a woman. They want two things. And the investigators found that whiney boy’s complaints were verifiable and fined the shop $1,200. Now that is a consumer protection office you can count on. And for women, perhaps their conundrum about sex was best described in 1967 when intellectual gadfly Irina Dunn, scrawled on two Sydney, Australia toilet stall doors the post-post feminist mantra; “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
But what do you do when you can’t “go to the video tape”? It is a question now being asked by Francois Turgeon, who owns a Second Cup franchise in Montreal. Second Cup is the Canadian version of Starbucks, except they are owner operated, which meant that when Francois found that one of his bathrooms was being used as a heroin shooting gallery he was on his own. So he came up with what he thought was a brilliant idea. He installed a prominent video camera to tirelessly stare down into the lone stall. That seemed to solve the problem, at least until a local tabloid got wind of the situation and publicized this gross invasion of public privacy. Caroline Ducet, legal advisor to the Quebec information commission said the situation was very worrying and promised an investigation. Commentators from the left and right weighed in on the issue, until finally, poor Monsieur Turgeon, who was merely fighting to retain control of his bathroom, had to admit that the camera was a fake, a decoy, and not hooked up to anything because there were no electronics inside. And amazingly, this revelation has not silenced the critics. As a Canadian privacy lawyer explained, “There isn’t any real material difference between a fake camera and a real camera…you still have the feeling of being watched.” And this, as the young man from Sondershausen, Germany, could tell you, is precisely the point.

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