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What Counts as Sex in Public?

Defining Sex in Public vs. Public Displays of Affection


What Counts as Sex in Public?
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Sex educators (myself included) like to talk about how sex is so much more than intercourse.    Kissing might be sex, touching might be sex, really anything that someone considers sexual might be sex. This raises an interesting question when we talk about people who have sex in public. After all, while most people would probably agree that oral sex or anal sex in the middle of the day in a public park is an example of sex in public, how many people would consider kissing in a restaurant or bar a form of public sex?

Where’s the line between public displays of affection and sex in public?

There are some stark lines drawn legally. Legal definitions of sex in public are worth learning if sex in public is something of interest to you.  But if you’re primarily interested in learning more about your own sexuality and exploring sexual pleasure, the law will usually leave you cold (unless you have a legal fetish, in which case, hit those books).

Legal definitions aside, there are several variables to consider. The kind of sexual activity you’re engaged in counts for something. Probably the amount of nudity involved will be a factor in judging the situation. But neither of these offer definitive guidelines.

While we may all have our own private definitions of sex, when we’re talking about sex in public it means that we have to take into account others definitions of sex too. So the sexual mores of the locale you’re in must be a factor. Once you begin to unpack these questions it becomes clear that what constitutes sex in public may require less of a checklist and more of a complicated algorithm of exposure.

But I woudln't suggest leaving the question to a computer either.  Instead, you might find that this is a perfect question to use as a way of exploring your own values and desires.

Start by making your own list of everything you would count as sex in public vs. public displays of affection. As you make the list imagine the activities that you’d consider doing yourself and think others would count as sex in public, but also what activities you would see others doing that you’d consider sex in public. Does it depend on who’s doing it? If you’re currently having sex with someone you trust, maybe you could each make lists and share them. It may or may not lead to you actually having sex in public, but that’s not the point, it will definitely lead to some funny if not important discoveries.

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