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 mostly in the English-speaking world to express protest, scorn, disrespect, or provocation but can also simply be done for shock value or fun.
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, long before they were combined in US student slang in the verb(al expression) mooning "to flash the buttocks" in 1968.
Moonstruck normally means:
- mentally deranged, supposedly by the influence of the moon; crazed.
- dreamily romantic or bemused.
But when taking in the context of mooning it becomes a pun for spanking.
The legal position of mooning varies between legislations, from indecent exposure to legal self-expression.
In the U.S., a Maryland state appeals court determined in 2006 that mooning is a form of artistic expression protected by the United States constitutional right of freedom of speech. The court ruled that indecent exposure only relates to exposure of the genitals, adding that even though mooning was a "disgusting" and "demeaning" act to engage in, and had in addition 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 1983 case 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 genitals. No review of the case by a higher court took place since prosecutors dropped the case after the ruling.
Mooning in History
A few notable examples of mooning in History:
- 1204 - In the Siege of Constantinople, the Greeks exposed their bare buttocks to the Crusaders after they repulsed them from the walls.
- 1346 - During the Battle of Crécy, 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.
- 1844 - At the Women's Factory at Cascades near Hobart Town (Van Diemen's Land, today Tasmania, Australia), while a reverend addressed the women of the institution, "on a sudden the three hundred women turned right round and at one impulse pulled up their clothes shewing their naked posteriors which they simultaneously smacked with their hands making a loud and not very musical noise." (see  and  for an illustration of this event)
- 2000 - A mass mooning event was organised outside of Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom by the Movement Against the Monarchy (M'AM). A large police presence prevented a large scale mooning, but even so, a few individuals mooned.
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