On balance, I think that the new peeping tom exhibit at London’s National Gallery will be a force for good. For those of you who aren’t avid followers of high culture, this work of art consists of a bathroom in which naked women are viewed through carefully positioned peep holes. The women are models, I should hasten to add, and fully aware that visitors are spying on them. One hopes their skin retains its natural oils and juices after being washed and dried on a continuous loop.
Why do I approve of this exhibit? Because I believe that giving peeping toms a lawful outlet for their perversion is better than letting them run amok in respectable society. As well as causing their victims much anguish and annoyance, these fiends have to be hunted down at considerable cost in time and labour. I speak as a gorilla who was dragooned into anti-voyeur duties during his circus career. The female acrobats expected me to guard their changing and showering facilities, as well as apprehending any rascally swine who dared to spy on them.
Although I was happy to protect the girls from intruding eyes, and dealt with offenders as mercifully as the dictates of justice allowed, I would much rather have been reading comics or harvesting root vegetables or competing in toe-wrestling tournaments. No gorilla on his deathbed has ever said “I wish I’d spent more time chasing peeping toms”. Even the biggest dullards of our species have better things to do with their leisure.
I have often wondered why humans, of all the animals, feel shame on exposing their private parts. I think there are two reasons. First, there is considerably more variety in their size and shape than in other species. Imagine a world in which all humans had standard-issue genitalia. Would a man be ashamed of displaying his todger if it were identical to every other human todger? I think not.
The second reason is that humans have less control over their sexual arousal than other species. This is obviously true of men, who dread being discovered with an involuntary stiffy, even when they are fully clothed. Yet there are also women, so I’ve heard, who can be tricked into unwanted nipple-hardening and dilation of the vulva. This is a major biological weakness, because the animal in heat is an easy target for predators. Hence clothes are an essential cloaking mechanism for humans.
The models in the National Gallery have clearly learnt to master their shame, but I’m not particularly keen to watch them in action. Looking at naked humans through peep holes is not the gorilla way. I would much rather view the exciting banana exhibition being held in a museum in Somerset.
The banana is a noble fruit which feels no shame when you peel it. Yet curiously enough, the man whose artefacts are being displayed at the museum was inspired to start his collection by the sight of a woman furtively eating a banana. Why in the name of all that’s white and tasty would a woman be embarrassed about eating a banana in a public place? I admit to mystification.
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