"Is this one of us?" reads a message-board headline. Attached is that video of the woman confronting her subway flasher. But the board commenters aren't talking about her. Welcome to Dickflash, a twisted forum where flashers trade tips and tricks.
No one came forward to identify themselves in that video from the subway, the same one we posted yesterday, but my hours (and hours) on Dickflash at least revealed why the man in the video was wearing a condom while he flashed and rubbed up against his victims: Pros don't jizz in their pants, so it's recommended that newbies wear condoms or — and one contributor knows this "seems weird" — infants socks. As for the guy in the video, his biggest mistake was timing. A commenter named "Peter Pockets" explained: "Trains and busses are fun but only during off peak hours; 10:30am - 3:00pm, and late at night. Never get into a train car thats locked that prevents you from scrambling away."
The forum is full of useful tips, such as:
- How to obtain fake license plates for "carjacking."
- How to properly photograph the act — "the tasks of keeping the dick & female in the same frame while jerking and being aware of your surroundings is somewhat overwhelming while at a spa or outdoor park," complained one commenter.
- How to hide your genitalia with books and newspapers, just enough to avoid being caught. "It is all about positioning," commented the aptly-monikered "Crazy Jerking."
Some flashers have even devised special attire for their outings. "Jerk Artists" wrote, "My favorite technique and one that i had just used 2 nights ago is using a modified hooded sweatshirt with the middle pockets cut out at the bottom to allow easy access to my already open zipper." But for some it's enough just to wear extremely tight pants and parade the bulge in front of women — and then post the photos on the forum; sharing the images is just another form of exhibitionism. The few descriptions of actual sex on Dickflash are often in the style of Penthouse Letters and are never as convincing as the flashing stories.
For the gentlemen on Dickflash, the targets are never accidental — there is lots of talk on the forums of teenage girls, and to a lesser extent female in-laws.
In a thread that polled users on whether they'd been arrested (click to enlarge the results), one poster laid out hard-learned ground rules: "No white women over the age of 25 unless you have a wicked getaway plan. Flash Asian women or Black women, Asian's are too embarrased to call the cops and black women think it's funny."
Reading the account of one man, who cheerfully described "jerkflashing" on commuter rails where teenage girls are riding, I wondered if he was the guy who flashed me years ago, or the guy who did the same to my friend. But in reality, there are so many of these men out there.
The discussions of these acts rarely involves any thought of the targets, the victims, the objects. And that's probably a key element to the mind of a flasher: A lack of empathy, an inability to connect with others.
These men know, however, that the more vulnerable the target, the more likely they are to get away with it. One man updates brags about taking in boarders and jerking off in front of them. Hotel maids are extremely popular targets; one man described jerking off in front of an overnight nursing home aide.
All of these men seem to want a reaction; some seem to want the woman to enjoy it, and others implicitly like a woman's disgust. One man addressed his questions to all those hotel maids who frequent Dickflash:
I'm curious because looking at the hotel maid flash videos it seems the maids immediately walk out, some with smiles on their face. With those who smiled, if you enjoyed what you saw, what keeps you from taking another look? Is there anything the guy could do to assure you stay? What if you were absolutely certain he wasn't able to see or hear you?
Another poster wrote, "Sounds like the reactions of women in general; they are quite happy to watch so long as they can convince themselves that you don't know it."
Even for those men that flash or jerk off in front of very young teens — there is at least one stepdaughter involved — no one ever contemplates the damage they may inflict. That explains the tone of this deeply horrifying (even by Dickflash standards) thread discussing the various things posters have done to people, including "friends" when they're passed out or drunk. A sample narrative: A girl at a college party, who "was very attractive and way out of my league at the time," passed out on the couch. It ends with, "I would have loved to have been there when she woke up and realized there was a glob of cum all over her hand, but I decided to get out of there and just walk home."
On these forums, lack of consent can itself be a form of titillation. Exulting about an encounter at the Barcelona airport, one man wrote, "I have never so openly and proudly shot my load for a non-consenting women before or since this, it will always remain one of my horniest memories!"
The flashers aren't completely incapable of understanding themselves; they seem to kind of know why they like it. "The more risky the better the pleasure," says one. Another writes:
I think the odd factor for me increases the riskiness of the situation. For example, if I was in a boxed in up to my neck and nobody knew what I was doing, I would not really get off that much masturbating near hot girls. The other big factor for me is the time factor. I found that knowing I have only 20-40 seconds to cum with the girl near me, this really gets me turned on.
Some of the members of Dickflash recognize that they have a problem. There is talk, if scant, of sex-addiction therapy. This thread started by "boaby fantastic" was illuminating:
I simply can't do it anymore. The terror of being caught, my heart racing every time a police car drives past; it was too much. Plus, there was the feeling deep down inside that what I was doing is simply wrong. Now, I don't want to judge anyone here, and I don't think I'm morally superior to any of you active flashers, but I found that I was basically just offending woman after woman to find the occasional one who enjoyed it. I flashed around 50 women I think...one enjoyed it, and one possibly enjoyed it. That just nawed [sic] at my conscience too much.
Some parts of Dickflash don't fall along the spectrum of sexual assault; there's some mutually-consensual exhibitionism, which is a helpful cover for its corporate parent, AdultFriendFinder, part of the same group that publishes Penthouse. But consensual flashing, which would require communication with a partner, would actually negate the point for many of Dickflash's posters, including the remarkably self-aware "boaby fantastic," who also writes:
I have thought about trying permission flashes or whatever you might call them, but I believe part of the reason I feel the need to flash is kind of as a clumsy way of making contact with someone...Ironically, the thought of talking to a strange woman scares me alot more than showing her my dick.
And there you have it — that inability to connect with women, or engage in consensual activity with one, distilled. But not everyone is so conflicted. In a thread wondering if what the Dickflashers do is "ill," one poster opined that it's no different from being gay pre-Stonewall, and another said it was men's natural instinct to, well, peacock: "All that is different to 'normal' as far as flashers go is a higher than average sex drive, which means you're more likely to be aroused much of the time and as exposing your penis to a woman satisfies a sexual urge, that's what you do." (Meanwhile, the prevalence of incest themes on Dickflash is ripe for some Freudian to unpack.)
No wonder most of the flashers show no interest in being rehabilitated. "Got 6 months prison, was out in 4 months with good behaviour, but lost wife, job, house in the process," wrote one. "Oh well, it was worth it!, and I'm still flashing!! (-:"
And it's not like prison has to be all that bad, as another poster reminded everyone.
The fun thing about prison is that when you get to reception they stripp you all naked in a big reception area where there's always women working there, some are nurses, female guards, office workers and staff. So they make you walk around some 50 feet or more buck naked and have the great chance of flashing some more and nobody will say nothing to you.
After all, as he pointed out, "You cant get arrested... cause you already are."