Sarah Sands: There's more to man boobs than meets the eye

Share
Related Topics

Three High Court judges debating the sexual allure of man boobs is the stuff of music hall. The Court of Appeal has just overturned the conviction of a homosexual care worker who filmed another man at a swimming pool. He could not have been found guilty of voyeurism under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, because the male chest is not accorded the same privacy as female breasts.

The mysteries of the flesh are a joyful topic. "What is Linford Christie's lunchbox?" asked the great Mr Justice Popplewell. "They are making a reference to my genitals, your honour," replied Christie.

But in this case, I think the Appeal Court judges have alighted on an issue of genuine complexity and ambiguity. Sexuality is in the eye of the voyeur. There are no photographs of the man who was secretly filmed, and thus the story is illustrated in my newspaper by a photograph of the cheerfully collapsed physique of Jack Nicholson. This throws us off the scent. What if the victim in the court case was an Abercrombie and Fitch model? A monumental slab of beefcake? The photograph of Jack Nicholson is intended to depict pantomime buffoonery, but we know that Nicholson is still something of a hellraiser. His man boobs may be an essential part of his sexual armoury.

The Sexual Offences Act fastens on female breasts as an impenetrable sanctum, yet women have become fairly careless about exposing them. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, have both disregarded the spirit of the Sexual Offences Act with their swaggering displays of cleavage.

The most outdated aspect of the Act is the assumption that only women can be sexual objects. The Abercrombie and Fitchism of our culture has been the other side of feminism. As many women are taken more seriously so many men are less so. Good-looking young men have the option of being gawped at and squeezed and given pocket money and patronised just as pretty young women always have.

How can we talk about unique lasciviousness towards the female form when you have David Beckham posing in his underpants on gigantic billboards in city centres?

The prosecution case against the care worker rested on a quaintly chivalrous view of the woman swimmer. The Act discouraged men from entertaining thoughts of women emerging from the water, drops trickling down their shoulders and thighs. But the act pre-dated Daniel Craig's swimming trunk scene in Casino Royale.

Despite society signing up to sexual equality, there are areas of ambivalence. We wonder if a female teacher who seduces a boy student is as serious an offence as a man in authority who takes advantage of a girl. We shouldn't, but we do.

We believe that male domestic violence against females is more menacing than women attacking men. We even seem to accept – disregarding the legal and ethical transgressions – that it is OK to pay women less than men.

And judges still believe in the exclusive sanctity of the female breast. Bless them.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you familiar with the sayin...

Recruitment Genius: Hospitality Assistant

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker

£6 - £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Protein World advert displayed in an underground station in London which says  

Protein World’s advert 'not offensive'? Try telling that to the 70,000 people who signed the petition to ban it

Anna Cafolla
A Palestinian child screams in pain at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip after she was hit by shrapnel during an Israeli military strike near her family house  

As a surgeon who worked in Gaza last year, hearing that 511 Palestinians died after their ambulances were obstructed doesn't surprise me

Ghassan Abu Sittah
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most