Our little corner of Castro and Market Streets was just recognized in the SF Weekly as the best place to see a naked man. Well, I have a confession to make that may reveal my inner prude — but the naked guy bothers me. Maybe it’s naked guys, because I’m not sure how many of them there are. But there is a least one extrovert letting it all hang out when I ‘m running errands with my daughter. I’ve lived in the Castro for 15 years and appreciate its character, its history, and its flavor. And don’t get me wrong, I’m OK with nudity. I’ve spent many weekends soaking in group hot tubs in Calistoga. I even understand special occasion nudity. If you want to rock chaps and nothing else at the Folsom Street Fair, go for it.
When my daughter was younger, I would quicken my pace when we walked past the shops with colorful sex toys and explicit videos in the windows. But window displays don’t brush past you. They don’t have the power to harm. They are fixed and predictable. Now 10, my daughter is learning about her body and her right to privacy. In other circumstances, a naked man exposing himself is considered a flasher. I don’t know this guy’s motivation and I give him the benefit of the doubt that he is not out to offend. But they don’t understand the power dynamic with which women and girls live. A naked man approaching you, whether you are a housekeeper at the Sofitel Hotel in New York or a mom and daughter heading to the library, signals a primal danger. My daughter and her friends squeal “that’s gross,” when we spot a naked man on our outings. But I can tell it troubles them, and feels threatening in ways they don’t understand.
The SF Weekly article did say that the police will ticket a naked person if requested by a citizen, but I’m not likey to take that step. At the very least, though, I can hope for a long and cold rainy season this year.
With a Perspective, I’m Stephanie Rapp.