Julie Burchill

Is flashing at a man the best way to punish him? I’m unconvinced

Is flashing at a man the best way to punish him? I'm unconvinced
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I’ll never forget the first 'Funisher' I met. It was sometime in the late 1980s when you could meet all sorts of interesting girls. She was one of the moderately attractive, moderately intelligent broads the media has always been jam-packed with, the on-off up-down girlfriend of a male mate of mine, and one night she was annoyed by some roué writer who seemed to think he had droit du seigneur over all the PR girls at his publishing house, of which she was one. She fussed and fumed about it for a bit, then three vodkatinis in, a serene smile swallowed her face and she said ‘I know how to punish him - I'll have sex with him!’ My second husband couldn’t help exclaiming ‘Gee, I wish women had punished me like that when I was single!’

Suzy was a classic Funisher: a woman who thinks she is punishing a man for a real or imagined slight, but is actually giving him a fun thrill. I couldn’t help thinking of her when I saw the video of the actress who last week shoved her breasts in Piers Morgan’s face on American TV because he’d told another actress to put hers away. I had to read this twice to take in the full horror of what had taken place. As a way to get one’s kicks, any parasexual contact with Piers Morgan must be right up there with root canal work or reading the journalism of India Knight.

Not only this, but it transpired that Morgan had been the recipient of thousands of Twitter tits, with feminists 'attacking' him with photos of their own décolletages:



It also emerged that the flasher, Mayim Bialik, was no fame-hungry Kardashimanque but an award-winning actor who dresses modestly on the red carpet due to her adherence to conservative Judaism. Yet so accepted now are the ways of the Funisher that even this woman felt comfortable saying 'I identify as a feminist and I'm going to do this’ before shoving her jugs in his mug! It’s like a world where a modern-day Gulliver might get washed up; a topsy-turvy land where women show men their disapproval by delivering up exactly what men want from them. On the one hand, I think it’s funny; on the other, I find it a bit tragic. Women have spent decades protesting about wanting to be seen as more than bodies by men - and now a high-profile minority of them literally make tits of themselves whenever a man says something that upsets them.

I’m certainly not morally outraged by the Funishers - I wasn’t averse to popping out of my corset top as a teenage punk when the snakebite was flowing and the phlegm was flying. I’m suspicious of the concept of ‘modesty’ as a desirable thing for women. But there’s something horribly hormonal and infantile about such actions. It makes me wonder if those doing it are losing the plot somewhat. One of the reasons Marilyn Monroe fell out of love with Arthur Miller was because in The Misfits - his last ‘gift’ to her - the character of Rosalyn has the mother of all hysterical hissy-fits when the cowboys attempt to capture the wild ponies to be made into pet food. ‘Why couldn’t he have her explain to them why they were wrong?’ Monroe was reported to have quite rightly fumed. ‘Why did she just react?’ That’s how I feel about the Funishers.

We have the 1960s to thank for bringing stripping into politics. Stripping off in front of the paying public became so unstigmatised that a teenage Princess Anne joined the cast of Hair - the musical with the notorious nude scene - for an onstage boogie. Since then, it’s all been a mad mucky montage of page three girls, slutwalks, Femen, free the nipple and naked selfies.

And why not? I’m a broad-minded broad, and I can’t find it in my heart to be offended by the human body - though I’d probably draw the line at Piers Morgan’s. I suppose what puts my back up is the aspect of phoniness involved - for me, the best reason a woman ever gave for getting her kit off came from the icy lips of the stone cold fox Ursula Andress when asked why she stripped for Playboy in 1965: ‘Because I’m beautiful.’

Yes, I can see that there’s a quasi-political case to be made for shoving your nips in the gynophobic face of some mad mullah who thinks it’s OK to marry children and rape infidels. Otherwise, with Western wags who’ve seen it all before, you can kid yourself that you’re getting your tits out for feminism all you want - but if your enemy has a smile on his face and a party in his pants, you’re doing it wrong. And, frankly, your fondly-imagined deadly weapons look more like booby prizes.