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Public sex

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Engraving by Jacques Joseph Coiny, Angelique et Medor. 1798
Martin van Maële's print Francion 15 depicts a couple engaging in foreplay outdoors

Public sex is sexual activity that takes place in a public context. It refers to one or more persons performing a sex act in a public place, or in a private place that can be viewed from a public place.

Such a private place may be a back yard, a barn, balcony or a bedroom with the curtains open. Public sex also includes sexual acts in semi-public places where the general public is free to enter, such as shopping malls. Public sex acts can be performed in a car (colloquially called "parking"), on a beach, in a forest, theatre, bus, aeroplane, street, cubicle, elevator, bathroom, cemetery, and other locations.

According to a large study in 2008, having sex in a public place is a common fantasy and a significant number of couples or individuals have done so.[1] The fantasy is at times depicted in art or film.


In ancient Greece, it was recorded that Crates of Thebes, the Cynic philosopher, had sexual intercourse with his wife Hipparchia of Maroneia, another Cynic philosopher, in public.[2] In England, some Ranters engaged in public sex.[3]

In September 2003, the BBC reported on a "dogging" craze fueled by Internet publicity.[4] Dogging is a British English slang term for engaging in public sex, usually in a car park or country park, while others watch.[5][6][7] Dogging has aspects of exhibitionism and voyeurism.

There is some evidence on the Internet that "dogging" has begun to spread to other countries, such as the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, the Netherlands, Denmark,[8] Norway,[9] Poland,[10] and Sweden.[11][12]

Outdoor public sex purportedly takes place often in parks and beaches in Vancouver and San Francisco.[13] According to the New York magazine, public sex occurs frequently in New York City, and is a fantasy common to many people.[14]


A topless couple kisses in public, Nudes-A-Poppin', USA, 2013

Social views related to public sex and sexuality vary greatly between cultures and different times. There are many and varied laws that apply to sex in public, which use a variety of terms such as indecent exposure, public lewdness, gross indecency, and others. In some jurisdictions, an offense is committed only if the participants are seen by others, so that a sex act may occur in a closed toilet cubicle without an offense being committed.

In the United Kingdom, there has been a rise in public sex venues, possibly due to a more relaxed approach to the enforcement of laws relating to public sex since the early 1990s.[15]


In the United Kingdom, the legal status of public sexual acts was considered as part of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Section 71 of the Act makes it an offence to engage in sexual activity in a public lavatory. In the United Kingdom public sex comes under laws related to voyeurism, exhibitionism or public displays of sexual behaviour, but public sex law enforcement remains ambiguous. Prosecution is possible for a number of offences under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, exposure under section 66 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, or under the common law offence of outraging public decency. The policy of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is that arrests are a last resort and a more gradual approach should be taken in such circumstances.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head? The Secret World of Sexual Fantasy (2008) by Brett Kahr, ISBN 9780786721917
  2. ^ Sextus Empiricus Outlines of Pyrrhonism Book I section 153
  3. ^ Na, Na (2016). The Battle of the Frogs and Fairford's Flies: Miracles and the Pulp Press During the English Revolution. Palgrave Macmillan US. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-137-10052-8. Retrieved 2023-06-18.
  4. ^ "'Dogging' craze sex disease risk". BBC. 8 September 2003. Archived from the original on 19 February 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  5. ^ Jen Johnston (21 September 2003). "Councils voice concern over new sex craze". Sunday Herald. Archived from the original on 22 September 2003. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Here's the Pub, Church and Field for Public Sex". New York Times. 7 October 2010. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 8 October 2010. Unhappily for many people here, it is also famous for being featured on lists of good places to go "dogging" — that is, to have sex in public, sometimes with partners you have just met online, so that others can watch. So popular is the woodsy field below the ridge as a spot for gay sex (mostly during the day) and heterosexual sex (mostly at night) that the police have designated it a "public sex environment… Public sex is a popular, and quasi-legal, activity in Britain, according to the authorities and to many Web sites that promote it. It is treated as a crime only if someone witnesses it, is offended and is willing to make a formal complaint. The police tend to tread lightly in public sex environments, in part because of the bitter legacy of the time when gay sex was illegal and closeted men having anonymous sex in places like public bathrooms were routinely arrested and humiliated.
  7. ^ Kahney, Leander (19 March 2004). "Dogging Craze Has Brits in Heat". Wired Magazine. Archived from the original on 11 March 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Masser af sex på landsdelens rastepladser". tvmidtvest.dk. Archived from the original on 2013-06-21.
  9. ^ Gray, Martin (4 February 2007). "Tenner på risikosex". Aftenposten. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007. Fenomenet "dogging" brer om seg og er i ferd med å få fotfeste i Norge.
  10. ^ "Uprawiają seks w centrum Warszawy". onet.pl. 9 October 2007. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2007. Łazienki, park Szczęśliwicki i Skaryszewski to ulubione miejsca doggersów. Umawiają się przez internet, by na oczach przypadkowych przechodniów uprawiać niezobowiązujący seks.
  11. ^ Abrahamsson, Karin (14 July 2008). "Sommarens heta sextrend". Aftonbladet. Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 12 June 2010. Träffpunkter och nätverk för dogging finns över hela Sverige.
  12. ^ "The Wellingtonista After Dark: Spot the Dog". wellingtonista.com. 20 July 2007. Archived from the original on 23 July 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2016. (On the topic of dogging) What is it? Who does it? And where oh where does it happen? We'll let people out themselves on the second question but we can definitely help y'all with the third one.
  13. ^ Sides, Josh (2009). Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 978-0-19-537781-1.
  14. ^ Em & Lo (1 April 2007). "Public Displays of Affection". New York. Archived from the original on 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
  15. ^ Finlayson, Iain (21 June 1998). "The Human Condition: Johnny be good". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2017. The debate was largely irrelevant in the UK, where at the time there were very few public sex venues. In the Nineties, however, there has been a significant increase in commercial gay venues, particularly in London where there are now at least 15 saunas and 10 bar/clubs that provide facilities for gay sex on their premises.
  16. ^ "Police leniency call on park sex". BBC News. 17 October 2008. Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Califia, Pat (1994). Public sex: the culture of radical sex (sex outside). Cleis Press. ISBN 0-939416-89-1.

External links[edit]