Why aren't people having sex in public?

What about the other great apes? Do they mate in privacy, or out in the open?

I’m honestly having a hard time thinking of a reason why you’d want to have sex in public. Having sex is one of the most intimate, personal, and private things you can do with another person. It’d be extraordinarily embarassing for other people to see you doing it, IMO. As Freudian Slit said, it’s hard enough to trust one person in such a manner. Also, I don’t want people seeing my boobs and assorted parts, and I would imagine most guys feel the same about their own parts. I wouldn’t want people seeing me having sex for the same reason I (and most other people) don’t ever cry in public: in a time of extreme vulnerability, I don’t want a bunch of strangers seeing me. Never mind that I won’t ever see them again, I just don’t want something like that to be broadcast.

You can teach children about sex without them having to see it. Talk to them about what to expect and try to avoid making them feel that it is wrong or that they should feel guilty. Not sure what you mean by “how to do it properly”. Once kids are old enough to get the basic facts, it’s kind of self-explanatory.

Yeah, I certainly would, especially if it were still illegal to “dance to the music.”


  • “Jack”

Doesn’t seem to be a “just so” story to me – almost all societies generally practice private sex. I’m not denying that there are occasional orgies, or the odd bunch that seems to do everything out in public. But in most of the socieities I’ve read about people do go away from the common bunch to a private or enclosed area for their lovemaking. It’s frequently remarked upon in their stories and literature (see, for instance, Hera seducing Zeus in The Iliad and protesting that they must go somewhere private, or the way Hephaestus’ public showing of Ares and Aphrodite in bed together was supposed to shame them). So it’s not some sort of Judeio-Christian or even a Western hang-up. I suppose one can come up with other reasons for this, but the most obvious and likely seems to me to be to ensure protection and lack of disturbance during the process.

Tangentially-related to the “it’s not much fun for a lot of people” idea is that one of the key items on the job description of the porn star is to be able to have sex in front of a wildly disinterested audience. An interested audience would be different, but casual passers-by making sarcastic comments? Kind of a deal-breaker for lots of guys. Why do you think Ron Jeremy still gets work?

Why wouldn’t you be jealous just because you saw it since childhood? If you want something that is withheld from you, you are jealous even if it is common. Do you think that pauper children on the streets of Victorian London were not jealous of rich men in their fancy coats and stage coaches simply because they saw it since they were children?

And no, just because you cannot breed doesn’t mean you can’t have sex, but it does mean that you are less likely to be able to have sex. Certainly there were some people who were not very fecund who had sex with lots of people. Also there were people who had many wives. Mohammed and Genghis Khan really skew the average here. Warfare in its primal state is really about dominating the gene pool. So the creation of civilization is as a series of conduits through which we drive genetic pressures.

Well, some guys don’t like bread or baked goods of any kind. Doesn’t make them less of a man.

ok, yes it does.

I think the winning answer to the OP would be: Have you seen most people!?! Now imagine them naked and screwing! Sure its great when its Brad Pitt in a Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Aniston grunge sex sandwich, but more often it would be Ron Jeremy and Roseanne Barr on your front lawn.
or your parents.

Oh, I’m sure a child growing up would see all kinds of arses, dimply or not. Who knows, maybe some would think dimply arses are pretty.

Probably not though.

Jealousy is an odd thing, though… married couples with children don’t hide their status or their children in public, and yet those 40% could presumably have their jealousy just as well set off by that.

Right, but the OP is asking why we feel this way. Why is it so intimate and private for humans when it doesn’t seem to be for other animals? I have no good answer to the question but want to echo Pleonasts curiosity about other apes and how public/private their mating habits are.

I am also curious about the handful of other species that have sex recreationally. Is it the recreational nature of the act that makes it private for us?

I am not sure the jealousy angel holds water for me. Would there be jealousy if the taboo wasn’t in place? I have the same question about the alpha male getting attacked. Is there evidence that other animals who have wherever they feel like tend to get attacked by rivals while in the act?

Yes, but the comparison is invalid. While only rich men and women have fancy coats and stage coaches, even poor people have penises and vaginas. Sex is essentially free as long as there are people around.

That’s not true at all. Often wealthy men collect women. A wealthy man could have several poor mistresses who would not open themselves to other poor men.

There are lots of people who have trouble getting sex. I haven’t had particular trouble since I was in High School and am now married with a kid. However, I met my wife through a kid who had designs on her and who became very belligerent and threatening when he found out that there was no chance for him, and I’d already sealed the deal. I know for a fact that he was bitter about this years later because he IMed my wife to harass her again.

He knew I didn’t have trouble getting girls. Among our clique I was the most able to get girls of everyone. The other guys were not concerned about their ability to get girls, while this guy was a virgin in his twenties who was terribly upset about this. He threatened my wife, and he tried to threaten me except that I was not threatened by him at all, and could have taken him in a fight. If the ability to do me harm came within his grasp at some point I would not be surprised if he had acted on it. If I’d had sex in front of him, I imagine he would’ve flown into an irrational rage and I would have been exposed and vulnerable.

For humans, sex isn’t just about procreation. Much of the time, it is about mutual trust. Humans also feel that genitalia should be covered and protected because…well, I’m not entirely sure why that is. Probably because genitals are what make procreation possible? Also, that area is very sensitive and we don’t just trust it to anyone.

In other words, a trust like that fosters intimacy, which is something most people don’t want to share with a lot of random people.

Exhibitionists aside, how many women do you think could get off while doing it in public? Would they be whipping out vibes in the park, too?

But what do I know – I don’t even like public washrooms.

Some people don’t want anyone to know with whom they are having sex. I’m sure that plays a part in it.

I’m guessing you’re not a scuba diver. :smiley:

This doesn’t speak to why it’s taboo, but Donald Brown’s oft-cited “list of human universals” specifically names “copulation normally conducted in privacy” as a norm universally found in the cultures he surveyed. ((cite)

That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good, moral, or just, but evidently it’s a useful enough idea that everyone seems to observe it.

One can hazard a few guesses… my own personal favorite is that the visual cue of a couple having sex is highly arousing to the male as well as demonstrates that the female is sexually aroused as well. So by copulating in public, you’re leaving yourself open to another male literally coming in (unavoidable pun, sorry!) and undoing your work. Or conversely, if you were copulating with someone else’s partner, you’d leave yourself open to jealous intervention, which would ruin the moment and possibly get you injured or killed.

Laws reflect the expectations & values of those who live under them.

You get a 6 year conviction for a beach boink in Dubai
Up to 3 months on a suburban NYC commuter train.

Dogs, monkeys, various livestock don’t seem to need privacy. I can’t imagine that herd animals in the wild wander off to be by themselves.

Coitus interruptus sucks. The more people there are around, the more likely you are to get interrupted, either by a beta male who wants the female for himself, or by a little kid who is curious or wants to play, or a jealous female who wants the male for herself, the list goes on and on. Add in that doing it in public also increases the chances of other non-human attentions. The strong scents, excretions, etc. would draw bugs, ants, other animals. It’s not a party unless the ants show up right?