Although the idea of sex in public is quite common, it arouses more than sexual arousal in both the public and criminal justice systems. If you look into research about sex in public, you will find that most texts are about preventing people from expressing their sexual desires in public. Yet when we talk about it, we often act as if all people do it for the same reason.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that people have sex in public for a variety of reasons, especially if you are someone who has a reasonable objection to others having sex in public. At least five come to mind.
First, some people find the idea of having sex in a public place where they might be observed appealing. For some people, the possibility of being seen is important. Others feel especially aroused when they know a stranger is watching them have sex.
Then there are people who are intrigued by the prospect of being caught doing something “bad” or “socially unacceptable”. Some people get aroused when they get caught, but in most cases, the arousal is fueled by the risk or danger of being caught. Sex in public is clearly perceived as indecent or wrong by these people, and that is part of what makes it so pleasurable.
People enjoy sex in public for a third reason: they enjoy having sex outside. Not in the bedroom or in the kitchen, just outside. It’s possible that other people watching them do it have nothing to do with it. These people will use their own outdoor space if they have one. However, if you live in a city, you may not have access to a private outdoor space. If you want to have sex outside, you have no choice but to do it in public.
In addition, there are people who may have their own private property but are unable to enjoy the kind of sex they desire in their own house. There are some people who have no choice but to go to public places in order to meet the people they want to have sex with and have the sex they want, regardless of whether it is different types of sex or sex with someone other than the one at home. As a result of having sex in public, these individuals, as well as the following group, are arguably at the greatest danger of injury.
There are others who have no home or private space at all. If you live on the street, in a shelter, or at a facility where you don’t have your own room, your only option is to have sex in public. When you consider that they have no other options, it’s clear that punishing someone for having sex “in public” when they are supposed to live their whole lives in public is absurd. This is another group that is heavily penalized for having sex in public, as well as the group with the fewest options.
Lastly, there are people who enjoy the idea of having sex in public without anyone knowing about it. This type of intimacy usually includes Bluetooth vibrators or no hands sex toys. They come in all kinds of forms and shapes and are usually made for this exact purpose: to be used in public. Most women have already tried panty vibrators or egg-shaped sex toys, such as the Lush 3. For those who are more into anal play, it is super easy to insert a vibrating anal plug and enjoy a nice walk in the park while their partner is controlling the device. the market offers unlimited options.
Is It Ethical to Have Sex in Public?
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to ethics. What is ethical to some may be unethical to others, and judging the ethics of activity always depends on different circumstances. Ethics is a method of delving into an issue; it is not a path to universal answers or solutions. Here is my answer, with my idea about the matter.
The relevant ethical issue with sex in public, in my opinion, is that of permission. Consent is a good place to start because I think most people agree that sex without consent (not to be confused with a fantasy of non-consent) is an unethical kind of sex. If you agree that forcing someone to have sex is unethical, ethical sex must involve consent from all parties involved.
With this in mind, consider the following scenario.
On a glorious Saturday afternoon, I prefer to have sex in a public setting, such as a baseball field in a public park. When a stranger walks by and observes me having sex on first base, he is shocked. I look up and make eye contact with him at the exact moment he looks at me. I feel strangely connected to this person in my heightened state of desire as if a very secret part of me has been revealed before him.
Is this person responsible for my sexual act?
They may not be physically having sex with me, but I claim that they are involved in the sexual act by watching me and reacting to what they see (whether that emotion is fear, anger, arousal, interest, or ecstatic laughter).
This means they are involved against their will. They had no idea that they would be watching me have sex while walking through their favorite park on a Saturday afternoon. So, this scenario does not seem consensual and is therefore unethical.
I would like to qualify my previous ethical judgment.
First and foremost, I want to emphasize that just because one person thinks something is unethical does not mean it’s “bad” or that others should not do it. So when I say that I think sex in public is unethical, it does not mean that I do not think you should ever do it (although I would strongly advise against having sex on first base in a baseball field in a public park on a Saturday afternoon).
Second, I want to point out that context is very important. If any of the elements in the above narrative were changed, I might come to a different conclusion.
Finally, I believe that the principle of reasonable effort should be applied in this situation. I believe that it is ethical to have sexual intercourse in a public place while making significant reasonable efforts to avoid being seen, i.e., to find some place that offers more privacy. I cannot endorse this method because it is still illegal, but from the point of view I have stated above, it may be more ethical.