Some jurisdictions regard mooning to be indecent exposure, sometimes depending on the context.
Moon has been a common shape metaphor for the buttocks in English since 1743, and the verb to moon has meant "to expose to (moon)light" since 1601. As documented by McLaren, "'mooning', or exposing one's butt to shame an enemy ... had a long pedigree in peasant culture" throughout the Middle Ages, and in many nations.
"Mooning" is also defined as "wandering idly" and "romantically pining".
Although the practice of mooning was widespread by the 19th century, the Oxford English Dictionary dates the use of "moon" and "mooning" to describe the act to student slang of the 1960s, when the gesture became increasingly popular among students at universities in the United States.
The legal position related to mooning varies between jurisdictions; some consider it indecent exposure, while others classify it as legal self expression.
In various countries and cultures
In 2016, mooning in a public place in Victoria was made a criminal offence/something for which one could be punished.
Whakapohane is the M?ori practice of baring one's buttocks with the intent to offend. It symbolises the birthing act and renders the recipient noa ("base"). A modern example was that of Mihi Kotukutuku Stirling. She stood on the marae (sacred area) and the chief of the Te Arawa tribes, Mita Taupopoki, objected telling her that she must get off his marae as she was a woman. She stood her ground and when he had finished his objections she defended her position.
She said that she was descended from a prior-born ancestor than the chief. She was not on his marae; she was on her marae. She exposed her genitals, telling the chief that that was where he came from. Those assembled were asked to gainsay her speech but no one came forward. The Maori gesture of Whakapohane had countered the argument that was aimed at her.
The court ruled that indecent exposure relates only to exposure of the genitals, adding that even though mooning was a "disgusting" and "demeaning" act to engage in, and had taken place in the presence of a minor, "If exposure of half of the buttocks constituted indecent exposure, any woman wearing a thong at the beach at Ocean City would be guilty."
Defense attorneys had cited a case from 1983 of a woman who was arrested after protesting in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building wearing nothing but a cardboard sign that covered the front of her body. In that case, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals had ruled that indecent exposure is limited to a person's genitalia. No review of the case by a higher court took place since prosecutors dropped the case after the ruling.
In California, an appellate court found in December 2000 that mooning does not constitute indecent exposure (and, therefore, does not subject the defendant to sex offender registration laws) unless it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the conduct was sexually motivated.
In 80 AD, Flavius Josephus recorded the first known incident of mooning. Josephus recorded that in the procuratorship of Ventidius Cumanus (48-52 AD), at around the beginning of the First Roman-Jewish War, a soldier in the Roman army mooned Jewish pilgrims at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem who had gathered for Passover, and "spake such words as you might expect upon such a posture" causing a riot in which youths threw stones at the soldiers, who then called in reinforcements--the pilgrims panicked, and the ensuing stampede resulted in the death of ten thousand Jews.
At the Siege of Nice, in the summer of 1543, Catherine Ségurane, a common washerwoman, led the townspeople into battle. Legend has it that she took the lead in defending the city by standing before the invading forces and exposing her bare bottom.
A number of early explorers of the Atlantic coastline noted that the Etchemin tribe of Maine practiced this custom.
Since 1979, The Annual Mooning of Amtrak has been an annual tradition in Laguna Niguel, California on the second Saturday of July, where many people spend the day mooning passing Amtrak trains; some passengers ride the trains that day to witness the event. This has inspired a chain of "train moonings" throughout the country.
At the Patch Adams Full Moon Festival three-day event to raise money for his Gesundheit Institute! and Albuquerque, 200,000 people pay $100 each to moon as a group and lend a hand with local projects.
On 13 May 2017, during an interval act at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, a man wrapped in an Australian flag sneaked on stage and mooned the audience. It was later reported that the man was Ukrainian journalist and prankster Vitalii Sediuk.
^Queller, Donald E.; Madden, Thomas F.; Andrea, Alfred J. (2000). The Fourth Crusade. p. 178. ISBN978-0-8122-1713-1. As the ships pulled away from the shore the Greeks on the walls hooted and jeered at the defeated attackers. Some of them let down their clouts and showed their bare buttocks in derision to the fleeing foe.