Mooning is the act of displaying one's bare buttocks by removing clothing, e.g., by lowering the backside of one's trousers and underpants, usually bending over, whether also exposing the genitals or not. Mooning is used in the English-speaking world to express protest, scorn, disrespect, or provocation, or can be done for shock value, fun, or as a form of exhibitionism. Some jurisdictions regard mooning to be indecent exposure, sometimes depending on the context.
1. Word History
Moon has been a common shape metaphor for the buttocks in English since 1743, and the verb to moon has meant "to expose to (moon)light" since 1601. As documented by McLaren, "'mooning', or exposing one's butt to shame an enemy ... had a long pedigree in peasant culture" throughout the Middle Ages, and in many nations. "Mooning" is also defined as "wandering idly" and "romantically pining".
Although the practice of mooning was widespread by the 19th century, the Oxford English Dictionary dates the use of "moon" and "mooning" to describe the act to student slang of the 1960s, when the gesture became increasingly popular among students at universities in the United States.
2. Legal Status
The legal position related to mooning varies between jurisdictions; some consider it indecent exposure, while others classify it as legal self-expression.
3. In Various Countries and Cultures
In 2016, mooning in a public place in Victoria was made a criminal offence/something for which one could be punished.
3.2. New Zealand
Whakapohane is the Māori practice of baring one's buttocks with the intent to offend. It symbolises the birthing act and renders the recipient noa ("base"). A modern example was that of Mihi Kotukutuku Stirling. She stood on the marae (sacred area) and the chief of the Te Arawa tribes, Mita Taupopoki, objected telling her that she must get off his marae as she was a woman. She stood her ground and when he had finished his objections she defended her position.
She said that she was descended from a prior-born ancestor than the chief. She was not on his marae; she was on her marae. She exposed her genitals, telling the chief that that was where he came from. Those assembled were asked to gainsay her speech but no one came forward. The Maori gesture of Whakapohane had countered the argument that was aimed at her.
3.3. United States
Students at Stanford University conduct a "mass mooning" in May 1995. This demonstration was in protest of censorship in the American media. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1775124
In January 2006, a Maryland state circuit court determined that mooning is a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment as a form of speech. The court ruled that indecent exposure relates only to exposure of the genitals, adding that even though mooning was a "disgusting" and "demeaning" act to engage in, and had taken place in the presence of a minor, "If exposure of half of the buttocks constituted indecent exposure, any woman wearing a thong at the beach at Ocean City would be guilty."
Defense attorneys had cited a case from 1983 of a woman who was arrested after protesting in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building wearing nothing but a cardboard sign that covered the front of her body. In that case, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals had ruled that indecent exposure is limited to a person's genitalia. No review of the case by a higher court took place since prosecutors dropped the case after the ruling.
In California, an appellate court found in December 2000 that mooning does not constitute indecent exposure (and, therefore, does not subject the defendant to sex offender registration laws) unless it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the conduct was sexually motivated.
4. Notable Incidents
- In 80 AD, Flavius Josephus recorded the first known incident of mooning. Josephus recorded that in the procuratorship of Ventidius Cumanus (48-52 AD), at around the beginning of the First Roman–Jewish War, a soldier in the Roman army mooned Jewish pilgrims at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem who had gathered for Passover, and "spake such words as you might expect upon such a posture" causing a riot in which youths threw stones at the soldiers, who then called in reinforcements—the pilgrims panicked, and the ensuing stampede resulted in the death of ten thousand Jews.
- In the Siege of Constantinople in 1204, the Greeks exposed their bare buttocks to the Crusaders after they repulsed them from the walls.
- During the Battle of Crécy in 1346, when king Edward III of England took Caen on the way to Crécy, several hundred Norman soldiers "exposed their backsides to the English archers and many of them paid a high price for doing so".
- At the Siege of Nice, in the summer of 1543, Catherine Ségurane, a common washerwoman, led the townspeople into battle. Legend has it that she took the lead in defending the city by standing before the invading forces and exposing her bare bottom.
- A number of early explorers of the Atlantic coastline noted that the Etchemin tribe of Maine practiced this custom.
- Since 1979, The Annual Mooning of Amtrak has been an annual tradition in Laguna Niguel, California on the second Saturday of July, where many people spend the day mooning passing Amtrak trains; some passengers ride the trains that day to witness the event. This has inspired a chain of "train moonings" throughout the country.
- An example of whakapohane was performed by Dun Mihaka to Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles during the 1983 royal tour of New Zealand.
- On November 22, 1987, an intruder interrupted the broadcast signal of Chicago PBS affiliate, WTTW with a strange video of himself dressed to resemble Max Headroom. He exposed his buttocks to the camera.
- In June 2000, a mass mooning event was organised outside of Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom by the Movement Against the Monarchy (MAM). A large police presence prevented a large-scale mooning, but a few individuals did so. This event is known as the Moon Against the Monarchy.
- On 7 June 2002, Macy Gray mooned the crowd during her performance at Manchester Apollo concert in Ardwick Green, Manchester, England.
- At the 2005 UK Music Hall of Fame awards ceremony, musician Ozzy Osbourne mooned the crowd after a set he played.
- In October 2006, England Premiership footballer Joey Barton was fined £2,000 for mooning Everton fans.
- On January 9, 2005, Randy Moss of the Minnesota Vikings pretended to moon Green Bay Packers fans following a touchdown he scored. He was fined $10,000 by the NFL for the incident.
- At the Patch Adams Full Moon Festival three-day event to raise money for his Gesundheit Institute! and Albuquerque, 200,000 people pay $100 each to moon as a group and lend a hand with local projects.
- A tradition of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers Mooning the Cog has developed on Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
- On 10 May 2007, Yvette Fielding pulled a moonie out a Soho restaurant window on the final episode of the reality television series Deadline.
- On 24 October 2011, economic inequality protester Liam Warriner of Sydney ran alongside the motorcade of Queen Elizabeth II and a waving Prince Phillip for 50 metres with an Australian flag clenched between his exposed buttocks, before being arrested by police.
- On 13 May 2017, during an interval act at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, a man wrapped in an Australian flag sneaked on stage and mooned the audience. It was later reported that the man was Ukrainian journalist and prankster Vitalii Sediuk.