Social and community attitudes to the exposing of various body parts and laws covering what is referred to as indecent exposure vary significantly in different countries. It ranges from outright prohibition to prohibition of exposure of certain parts, such as the genital area. Decency is generally judged by the standards of the local community, such standards may be based on religion, morality or tradition, or justified on the basis of necessary to public order. Non-sexual exhibitionism or public nudity is considered indecent exposure. If sexual acts are performed, with or without an element of nudity, this can be considered gross indecency, in some countries, exposure of the body in breach of community standards of modesty is also considered to be public indecency. The legal and community standards of what states of undress constitute indecent exposure vary considerably and these standards have also varied over time, making the definition of indecent exposure itself a complex topic. It is generally accepted, at least in countries, that a naked human body is not in itself indecent. That principle is reflected, for example, in depiction of the form in art of various forms. Nevertheless, as a rule, it is also commonly expected that people when they appear in a public place will be appropriately attired. Inappropriateness is viewed in context, so that, for example, what may be appropriate on a beach may be inappropriate in a street, school or workplace. Depending on the context, some degree of inappropriateness may be tolerated, and perhaps described as eccentric, what is an inappropriate state of dress in a particular context depends on the standards of decency of the community where an exposure takes place. There is generally no implication that the state of dress objected to is of a nature, and if such an allegation were to be made. The standards of decency have varied over time, during the Victorian era, for example, exposure of a womans legs and some extent the arms, was considered indecent in much of the Western world. Hair was sometimes required to be covered in formal occasions as in a form a hat or bonnet. As late as the 1930s and to some extent, the 1950s, an adult woman exposing her navel was also considered indecent in the West into the 1960s and 1970s, and even as late as the 1980s. Moral values changed drastically during the 1990s and 2000s, which in turn changed the criteria for indecent exposure, Public exposure of the navel has been accepted during the 1990s, such as in beaches, while in the 2000s, the buttocks can be exposed while wearing a thong. Today, however, it is common for women to go topless at public beaches throughout Europe and South America. The effects may be enhanced by intended or unintended publication of a photograph or film of the act, breastfeeding in public does not constitute indecent exposure under the laws of the United States, Canada, Australia, or Scotland
Image: 2017 Capital Pride (Washington, D.C.) 027
Protesters gathered outside a courthouse to protest against the arrest of Simon Oosterman (second from left), Auckland's 13 Feb 2005 WNBR organizer.