Britain In A Nut (Case) Shell – Frilly Knickers Upset Prude

It’s a classic tale of English village small mindedness, reported as a comedy story in the press – and why not? It’s a hilarious story, on the face of it. An anonymous complainant has been upset by the ‘display’ (on a washing line) of ‘obscene’ underwear near a school.

These are the frilly knickers in question.


As you can see, underwear so shockingly raunchy that they are bound to corrupt any school child who might glance over at them. At least, that is the opinion of the illiterate buffoon who took exception to them, removing them from Rozamun Perrin’s washing line in Stokeinteignhead, Devon (trampling across her private property in the process) and posting them through her letter box, along with a note that read “It is total inapropriate [sic] for this type of garment to be displayed opposite the village primary school. There are member of this community that would welcome a halting of this. Thank you.” 

Clearly, the letter writer is concerned that with such sexy underwear vaguely visible from the classroom, the school kids will not focus on their lessons and so end up as stupid as they are. I wonder if they gave then a good sniff before posting them – after all, many a prude is a closet pervert.

Perrin’s daughter Charlotte took to Facebook to expose the prude, with the following post:


… and of course received plenty of support. She also revealed that this was not the first time that her mother’s choice in underwear has been targeted in the 700-population village, having once been the subject of a Parish Council meeting ten years ago.

All of which is rather hilarious – the backwards prudery of village inbreds and Little Englanders. But of course, it’s not a one-off case, and not something that just happens in small villages. Across Britain, sour-faced prudes get their way all the time – whether it is taking down ‘racy’ window displays (look at the fact that sex shops, where they are allowed to open at all, generally have blanked out windows), ‘unsuitable’ art exhibitions or shutting down any form of sexual entertainment. Seen as part of the bigger picture, this story is less a comical aberration, and more like a slightly extreme version of the norm, where – whether the cover story for prudishness is the protection of children, sexism or body image – anything that even hints at sex is increasingly crushed.

With London’s new Mayor banning ads featuring bikini-clad women on the somewhat spurious grounds that they ‘encourage a negative body image’, the ASA shutting down any ad that features scantily clad women (even if the ad is for underwear) and Ann Summers window displays constantly being campaigned against, is getting hot under the collar about frilly knickers on a washing line really that extreme? Had the letter writer demanded that the school remain a ‘safe space’, they might have ended up with a sympathetic column in The Guardian