I saw a penis on the way to work today. That's not a metaphor or a reference to someone I think is a bit of a knob: I literally, unintentionally, saw an erect penis on my way to work. I left my house as normal, trotted down the road towards the bus stop and BAM. PENIS. A stranger shouted at me, whipped out his genitals and started having an enjoyable time, before swiftly tucking it back in and running off. It was as ridiculous and as obscene as it looks written down.
Now, I'm no prude. I'm fairly easy going and actually - had I heard about this happening to someone else - I'd maybe have previously thought light of it. Doesn't sound too big of a deal really.
But when you're personally faced with a stranger's erection before 8am when you've barely taken down your breakfast, it becomes less of a non-event. I'm actually fairly taken aback, and if I'm being honest, pretty shook up. Thanks man. Exactly what I was after as a side to my latte - an eyeful of erect penis and a big fat grunt worthy of a Seventies porno. You've made my morning. What were you thinking? That I'd head off to work with a big cheeser on my face? Elated at the fact I'd copped a face full of your inappropriately swollen genital area? Big love, congrats on the manhood, cheers for the memories?
After wandering off slightly dazed after my al fresco penis experience, I decided to do what every wronged white middle class twenty-something would do, and called the police. The Met were everything they should be: outraged, sympathetic, and prompt. A patrol was sent to the area immediately and, although he was long gone, I was called back to make sure I was alright. What followed shocked me - I was told that several instances of this kind of obscene activity had been reported in the last few weeks alone, all with differing descriptions of the perpetrator.
Yes. In my postcode alone, several instances of men flashing their dicks at innocent young women have been reported, and none were the same assailant. Each and every instance was a different offender. Several different men have thought it prudent to expose themselves in the name of sexual gratification, cause lets face it, they're not doing it for our benefit. This sort of thing happens because men of the perverse persuasion are getting kicks out of committing sexual offences against innocent women. That's not okay.
Now I know plenty of normal men whom would never dream of doing such a thing, but surely the statistics of this particular instance give worrying food for thought. Has this become a thing? Are we living in a world where it's becoming more and more common to wapp your dick out for a bit of sexual gratification? Is this kind of thing happening and girls aren't even reporting it?
The incident above happened outside a primary school which, luckily, is out for the holidays. But what's the true extent of this issue? I'm acutely aware that in the spectrum of sexual crimes committed this one is minor, but are these idiots doing this to girls much younger than myself? Slightly less able to brush off the obscene nature of the act? It's a worrying thought.
In the grand scheme of things, I came away from the experience unscathed. I'm annoyed, outraged, and with an image burned into my retinas that I won't forget in a hurry, but largely I'm alright. What worries me is those who might not report this, and might be in a more vulnerable position. The young, the innocent and those who don't think reporting it will matter. Where does it leave them?
I remember similar events happening to me when I was a teenager, and thinking it was pretty hilarious. It's not. It's damaging, and if it happens to you - report it. The issue here is consent: I'll tell you if, and when, I want to see your penis. By having that choice removed, I feel violated, grubby, and wishing I'd had a knee jerk reaction to throw my scalding hot latte in his direction.
If this happens to you, call the Metropolitan Police Non-Emergency line on 101 with as much information as you can remember - your call could be valuable to stopping something much worse happening to someone else.