Exposure

Almond tree flowers
What makes a woman report a crime?

I’ve been thinking about this question since my turn with jury duty. There are tons of things that would make me call the police. Theft, causing physical harm to a person or property, cyber bullying, extortion, etc. There are some gray areas, however.

For instance, let’s take a woman who is minding her own business loading groceries into the back of her SUV. A man drives up slowly in the store parking lot and exposes himself to her, his penis waving about in all of its erect “glory”.* What makes her say, “You know what? I’m going to call 911 and report you, you sorry bastard!”

To be honest with myself and all of you, I would not be the woman dialing 911. I’d be shocked and disgusted to be sure, but calling the police? No. Not for this.

Why? 

Shouldn’t I be reporting the guy to keep him from doing this to other women? Isn’t it my civic duty to report it, to protect the public? 

Maybe I am just desensitized from seeing men’s penises every day as part of my job, some of them even erect (nothing funny about that, it is involuntary) that it does not offend me as it should? Maybe I just don’t want to waste more of my time on him. Filing a police report, potentially testifying in court… those things take time. A lot of time. Then there is the added aggravation of having defense counsel work to convince the jury that out of either malice or ignorance I must not have seen what I know I saw… worse, if the jury decided he was not guilty.

So here I am, an educated woman telling you that I would make the conscious decision to not call the police about a man showing off his penis to me in public and I have to be honest with you that after serving as a juror, I think I would be even less likely to do it. 

Call me a coward. 

What prompts another woman make the report, though? What are your thoughts? Would you call 911 if you were the woman? Why or why not? What if you were a man and witnessed this being done to someone else? What if it was done to you? Would you do something different if a friend was with you? What if there were kids around?

*In case you are wondering, this was not the case I served on as a juror.

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117 thoughts on “Exposure

  1. “The case you served on.” Is your stint over?

    If all the man were doing is just waggling his dick? Nah. (I’m confused by your example, though. He is driving and waggling? Because then I wouldn’t see it. Does he stop his car and get out right in front of me? That is more aggressive, and I might just call.) If I were with anyone I consider to be a friend, then that person would have a wicked sense of humor, and the waggler would be in for some trouble. An on the spot questionnaire. A man on the street interview. A dollar bill measurement. Pix or it didn’t happen. I’d be too chicken to do that alone, for concern that he’d turn violent, but in a group? Game on! If he was menacing children, I’d call. The time required to do so would be a pain, as you mention, but my life is rather dull.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lifting himself up out of his seat, opening the door, getting out… however. There was a case in our community a few months ago where the guy stopped his car, pulled himself up to the open window and flashed a woman in the parking lot. I’ve actually had a guy do it to me at a stop light of you can believe that. I agree that if kids were involved that takes it to another level entirely.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Call me desensitized to nudity but I would not be calling the police for anyone exposing. As one who is a member in good standing of the topless reading club, yes we read in the park bare breasted, I am quite comfortable with my nudity and the nudity of others.

    Of course, in the performance of my job, surgeon/physician, I am aware of preserving the modesty of those in my care. However, if someone walks up to me a public place, exposes genitals, breasts, chest, back or any other human body part, I am pretty mellow.

    Liked by 4 people

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  4. Having been a police analyst, I’d be all in favour of reporting because every little bit of data helps paint a picture. Let’s ignore the possibilities that it was a childish dare or the result of mental health problems (I did see an elderly man drop his trousers in front of a neighbour once) or accidental (what a guy does in the privacy of his own car, etc.). If it’s an explicit exposure, that’s a criminal act. I once worked on some data on several exposures and masturbation in front of women in one small part of Nottingham. Each one helped paint a picture of who it was, the times they were active, etc.; it was taken pretty seriously. The cops eventually caught him & I guess he went on the Sex Offenders Register.
    So my advice is: go for it. Call the cops, take his licence number. Even if they don’t get a prosecution or conviction the fact remains that 1) he’s now known to have had a report of sexual misdemeanour against him, which may open further lines of investigation if others also report; and 2) it just might stop the twat from doing it again, or worse.
    We’ve had a whole shitstorm of historic sex abuse cases from the 70s & 80s coming through in the UK over the last 5 years or so. A lot of this was acceptance by victims & police that there was nothing that could be done (your word against his & he’s a TV star), or it wasn’t a big deal (until you realise the scale of the offending). Google Jimmy Savile, Operation Yewtree & Rolf Harris.
    Don’t think of it as a crime against you – it’s a crime against the morals & values of society and the perpetrator shouldn’t be allowed to get off (in both senses).

    Liked by 6 people

  5. A man exposing himself never happened to me, but while in Italy stopped at a red light (2:AM), a woman of the night flashed her breasts at us, husband & 2 adolescent boys. When she realized I was not a man (in the passenger seat) the look on her face was priceless. All we could do was laugh. Hard to decide what I’d do if a man exposed himself to me in the U.S. Kids around would make a difference! 🎶 Christine

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am coming from a different place. As a grandmother of 5, I would
    call the police for their sake and also my own protection.
    Do I know if this guy uses his behavior as the start of an attack
    on another person, or a child? No way am I going to let that
    pass.
    Nudity surely has it’s place, but not in a parking lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would be apt to laugh and tell him to get over himself, which would probably not be the reaction he was looking for. If there was a auto, I would take the plate number and report it, just for the record. I wouldn’t press charges, but would want the police to know.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That is an interesting take, reporting but not pressing charges. I wonder if the police would keep track of that sort of thing and at what point they would recognize a pattern and if they did identify a pattern what would they do about it if no one was pressing charges?

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  8. I was in a foreign country and walking with my family when this happened to us. A man who was walking toward us and then passed by, but he flashed. I was the only one who noticed and I started to laugh. When I started to laugh the rest of my family started to laugh too. The poor fellow must have been humiliated, unless he intended to make us all laugh.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was flashed at when I was at university in my early 20s, while I was walking in a wooded area, but near a well-travelled road. Reporting it to anyone didn’t even occur to me. I was offended, but thought it was “just one of those things,” and probably wondered if something about me had provoked it. This was in the 1970s. I really don’t know what I would do if something like that happened now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for weighing in! I have wondered if older women would be more likely to report than younger women, but then I guess I am no longer in the target demographic for flashers anymore so it is hard to say. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think I would shocked and a bit scared( and not wanting to show it) of someone who was doing that and I am not sure if I would report it either. I like to think I would. But then do I have to stay at the scene. The guy would probably leave the area quickly which would be good.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. flashers? I wouldn’t report them. I’d probably laugh at them and ask if they didn’t have something better than that…..Other crimes? yea, I would report. I have in fact reported assaults and robberies. Been on jury duty several times and found it both tedious and fascinating. Joie viore is perhaps the most ridiculous part of the whole thing, trying to get “peers” to judge. Sorry, but I am not the peer of an idiot committing crimes of any sort and say so. Must be why I am so frequently not chosen.

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  12. I think I would report it – partially because it’s against the law and partially because the poor sick person needs help but if it was for a bet, well perhaps a few hours in the cells – naked – may show him the error of his ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I would call to report if nothing else comes of it because what if he comes back to me? OR, because he can see there are no consequences to such action. At the very least, the message given to him is if you do such offensive behavior, you have to go through the hassle of answering for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Would I report it? It depends on my mood at the moment. If I’m feeling grounded, if I feel that I have the resources to deal with the police, then I would.

    But if I’m not, I would probably feel it’s too much effort for too little “outcome”.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think there are levels to this sort of thing, and this is on the bottom rung. I don’t see it as being that important. Now, of course if he was doing something with it that physically violated other people, then I’d call.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I don’t know the psychological aspects of where this type of exibitionist behavior may lead and if there are possibilities that this type of behavior may lead to child exposure or physical assault on women or children. One of my daughters was waiting for the school bus one morning in front of our home when they were in grammar school and a man with out of state plates pulled up to them, got out of the car and exposed himself. As a parent, you’re angry and understand how easy it might have been for him to grab one of them.
    I would opt for calling the police. I’d hate to think I didn’t and find that this person committed a crime that could have been prevented. But that’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Women can’t even find people to believe them when they report a rape…no, no police on this one.
    It’s depressing in a way, that we make a pre-evaluation of the possibility of it having any effect. Is it worth the effort? Is there any chance of any real action being taken? For most things, no would be the answer.
    Although people do take photos of flashers and gropers on the subway with their phones and post them online. Not sure if it has any effect, but satisfying. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I would first get photo evidence of the guy and the exposure if I could then you can bet I’d call the police but not before I kicked him in his exposure.
    I’m a survivor I’d have no tolerance for that.
    Having said that, this is what I’d like to think I’d do. If I were actually in the situation, the shock might change everything.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I think laughter is the best medicine!! It happened to me once – an older man – and I just felt sorry for him. I think/hope I would laugh if it happened to me now at the ripe old age of umpety-ump – poor choice I’d want to say but I guess involving them in conversation just gives them the attention they crave.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I was flashed at numerous times in my teenage years. I’ve always assumed this happened to most teenage girls but perhaps I was wrong. The first time happened when I was 12yrs old and in the local library. He was on the other side of the book shelf and poked his penis through the gap when I went to reach for a book. It never occurred to me to report it, I just got the hell out of there!
    In my twenties I worked on the 5th floor of an office in the centre of Sydney and I went to the window to check out the weather. I had a clear view of a man masturbating in a courier van. I called over some colleagues, when he finished the deed he got out to deliver a parcel. While he was gone we got some butchers paper and wrote in big letters WE SAW YOU! When he came back we held it up to the window and we all started banging on the glass so he would look up. The look on his face was priceless. Who knows, perhaps we might have cured him that day through sheer embarrassment. 🙀

    Liked by 3 people

      • Personal experience. I was about ten and it scared me to death. I was walking home and waiting to cross a street and along came this car and low and behold in all his glory. I ran around the back of his car to cut through a lot and looked at his plate number and he followed me. I ran the fastest I have ever run in my entire life. Told my mom and she took me to the police station. It tramatized me for quite some time. They did catch him and I had to go to court but the judge took me in his chambers with my parents (my dad wanted to kill him) and then I was taken home. He was sent to jail, I don’t know for how long but I’ll tell you this. I will never forget his face and if I ever saw him today and I am 73 I would still recognize him. If it happened to me it can happen to any child, he was a sick SB.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. I would call just so he might be prevented from doing this around or directly to a child or young teen.. I don’t put any deviant sexual behavior past someone who is that bold and mentally disturbed..

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  22. I would probably get a description of the vehicle and call, just to give police the info, but not to press charges. I like to think my city is small enough that the authorities would care. If I lived in a big city, I probably wouldn’t bother, unless there were children around. I wonder if that’s a bias about big cities.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. If there weren’t kids around and I didn’t feel threatened, I’d probably call my brother, who is a cop, and he’d likely come and have a talk with the guy, give him a warning or something. (I supposed I’d still call the brother with the former situations, but it wouldn’t be a chat to tell him to cut it out and move along.)

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I had a man expose himself to me once. I have no idea where it came from but I yelled at him, “Small, isn’t it!” He ran, I guess because I’m an anatomist and have seen more than my share of penises (check out my story There’s a Penis in My Pocket on my blog), I wasn’t much affected by it

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Good question. I’d like to think I would, but can’t be sure. I never reported my own sexual assaults, but was a minor. I’d like to the the adult, empowered me would not only call the police, but kick him where it counts while I’m waiting for them to arrive. Though, you just never know. I don’t seem to have a fight or flight reflex, unfortunately….just the freeze reflex

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  26. It did happen to me once when I was in my 20s. He was close enough to me that I managed to whack him on the side of the head with my purse and then ran.
    It didn’t even occur to me to call the police.
    Nor do I think I would if it happened today, unless I felt threatened.

    I did however call the police once when someone came to my door claiming to be doing a survey for the school board and began asking questions about our neighbours’ children. There were just too many things wrong with this scenario. The police responded very quickly, but the person had become spooked by our interrogation of them and disappeared.

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  27. There are a lot of factors as to why I wouldn’t call the police. One is they’d either not believe me or they’d dismiss it as just “something some men do,” because this is the current world. We live in a male apologist culture that makes the assumption that we should just expect this type of behavior, even though it’s all connected to rape, assault, and other violent crimes. I think it’s less of you not doing your civic duty as it is you understanding that even if you did, it wouldn’t make much of a difference due to the current spirit of the times. I’m not sure what we can do to change that. Education. Teaching empathy. Eradicating the “boys will be boys” mentality Starting all of these before boys become men who will wave their penises at strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know any men who would consider this behavior OK. That is the frustrating thing. I agree with you that reporting would be an exercise in futility but the why, from what I see, is not because it is considered an accepted behavior. It is because of a challenging judicial system.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s more expected than accepted. We have this “boys will be boys” mentality that boys hear as a mantra their whole live (it’s starting to change, but is still an issue), and this carries over into adulthood. It feeds the mentality of “did you provoke him,” “why were you out that late,” “why were you in that locale,” “what were you wearing/doing” and so on when women are assaulted. I think it’s a judicial problem and a social problem, and they both bleed into the other.

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  28. This has actually happened to me… only i was riding in tree car and the man was driving a mini van on the interstate! He lifted himself so it was in the window and he was playing with it. I’m sure he saw the shock and disgust on my face. I did get the license plate number (i still remember it to this day, and this was at least 10 years ago if not more)… but i didn’t call the police…i figured they would never find him..and I’d never see him again.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. A friend liked to suggest this as a possible response, depending on the circumstances: “Oh, is that a penis? It looks like it, only smaller.” (Easy for me to joke about it, right? Actually I hate thinking that this kind of thing happens, so I guess joking is a type of denial.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a hard thing to understand and makes me uncomfortable, too. I read that they are searching for a dopamine high by causing shock. How does someone get wired to do that? Sky diving might be a more reasonable way to get a high…

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  30. Hell, I don’t know what I would do. Thing is, I’ve been living in a lawless country for so long… 😦
    Courts here don’t work. The Police is to be feared. There is no way to settle disputes in courts. All indicted are presumed guilty. (There actually was a great documentary on the local legal system called just that “presumed ” guilty.) So I have forgotten a bit what it is to live in a law-abiding country.
    Maybe one should be able to just take a photo, and send it to 911 and let them handle the sh..?
    I believe rape victims anywhere still have a hard time getting… justice?
    A tough question Victoire.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. This brought back an old memory…I used to take a bus to and from work, and have to walk up a long street to my apartment, it was about a mile from bus stop to my door…the walk was up the street with all the expensive homes on it, I lived in a little apartment at the end of the expansive mansions…LOL I used to walk up the middle of the street as it was after 11p when I got off the bus to head home…there was a mam who always was walking down the sidewalk toward me, well most nights anyway…he stepped out into the street and was walking directly up to me…I was panicking….wonder if I could outrun him, he was about 20 feet from me and he had a long trench coat and was starting to untie it….as the wind flapped the edge of the coat I notice his pant legs only went up to his knees….great I thought a perv….he walked up to me and stood in front of me naked from the knees up…LOL really disgusting…we just stood there looking at each other…I told him not to bother and walked around him to home….from then on he didn’t flash me ever again….never saw him out in the day light and I didn’t call the cops…didn’t even cross my mind….hummmm times are sure different now…..kat

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  32. I would report. I have a daughter who was followed by such man on her way to school. He was walking beside her all the way and talking dirty. She was only ten, and she was terrified. She said no one, she spent all the day in school, knowing he would come again. She haven’t seen flashers at home, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I have an apparently overwhelming amount of feelings regarding this particular thing. (I’ve written and rewritten my comment about six times, with varying levels of obscenities and fury.) Suffice it to say the crime itself is disgusting (and I happen to be the very essence of NOT prude) and one has no idea how it will affect the victim. So ‘would I call the police’? I’d like to think so. I believe all assaults against people (and the point of showing off your dick to someone without their consent is to assault, be it purposefully sexual, just plain shocking, or otherwise) should go reported and probably punished, whether the act involves a child, or not.

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