This World is filled with abusive hand gestures. And while they vary wildly from region to region, the Up Yours gesture is fairly consistent.
As a Brit, I was brought up to recognise the “V” sign (back of hand TOWARD the target) as a means of expressing disrespect. Although during WW2, Churchill refurbished it to mean Victory – a usage horse rider Harvey Smith restored in the Seventies.
And of course, everyone sagely declared that it dated back to Agincourt, where the British forces made the gesture to the French, to show they still had the fingers they needed to fire arrows at them – although there is little historical evidence to support the story.
Meanwhile, the French do a thing where they raise their entire forearm, fist extended, with a chop into the inside of their elbow from the other hand. But that is the French for you.
However, the universal gesture of Up Yours is undoubtedly the middle (usually longest) finger extended upwards, with the other fingers curled down.
The implication is clear – said finger represents the male member, while the “bumps” on either side constitute the gonads.
And today, that gesture has taken precedence over all the others, it having inevitably come from the USA.
But America did not INVENT the gesture – oh, no. It originated two millennia earlier, in ancient Rome. There, it was called the Digitus Impudicus (really – would I lie to you?) And it appears to have travelled to the New World, courtesy of Italian immigrants.
So is it not strange that while censorship has generally relaxed over the decades, this gesture is now routinely PIXELATED on US TV – and anyone “flipping the bird” (as it is known over there) on a LIVE broadcast is heavily censured.
In My Day, such paranoia would have been LAUGHED at…