Men are helping other men flash women on the streets and in the subways of New York City — and there’s nothing the NYPD can do about it.
Yes, a website called DickFlash.com actually exists. Its nearly 30,000 members sign on each day and brag about the various public places where they’ve exposed themselves, from parks to Grand Central Station.
“Richard Flash,” a self-described “conservative, normal” family man who founded the site, said he likes to flash “because of the sexual thrill and turn-on. I suspect I have some underlying issues with the objectification of women.”
Every flasher is unique. “Dick” gets his kicks by “bulge flashing,” wearing tight pants or shorts. “Think Speedos or tight running shorts,” he said.
All of this online talk of — and advice on — public indecency is protected by the First Amendment, say legal experts. “It’s not a crime itself to say you did something,” said Katherine Franke, a Columbia Law School professor and director of its Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.
Men exposing their junk has reached “epidemic” levels in New York, according to Emily May, a spokeswoman for Hollaback NYC — a group that encourages women to fight back against street harassment.
Said Det. Cheryl Crispin of the NYPD: “No, we do not troll that site looking for people. We can’t arrest them based on what they put on the site — we have to see them do it. But we do go on the subway and look for infractions.”
Tricks of the trade
Metro gathered some flashing etiquette (yes, there is actual protocol among flashers) from the website. Posters wrote:
» “Subways or local buses must be done with sweats or some form of elastic band. When you’re busted, it’s easy to slip back up.”
» “It’s bad form to flash a lone woman.”
» “Personally, I flash in ways that are non-threatening — or at least I hope they are.”
» “While flashing, make sure your viewer enjoyed it.”