LAST week, commuters in the UK were outraged when a couple were filmed having sex on a train platform.
I checked out the footage online (it was a slow news day, okay?) and I felt almost nostalgic.
“Young love,” I thought wistfully, as I made pancakes for the kids. “They must really be into each other.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve had sex on a train platform. A very long time, since I’ve never actually had sex on a train platform.
Still, I vividly recall the thrill of risky sex, sneaking a shag in when there’s a good chance of being caught. Most of us will, if only from our younger days. Who didn’t smuggle their boyfriend into their room and have a quickie before their parents got home? It feels subversive and exciting, with a shivery sense of triumph when you succeed.
Or, er, so I hear.
Having sex in public places is a little more kinky than sneaky bedroom sex, but it’s on the same continuum. And, as sexologist Nikki Goldstein explains to me, sex in public is a fairly standard fantasy. It is illegal, and so it is taboo, and we are all turned on by the idea of a taboo.
Even sharing the stories is fun. How many brilliant conversations have begun with the titillating words, “what is the weirdest place you’ve ever had sex?” (For the record, my second weirdest was in a stair well during a party. And no, you don’t need to know the first.)
So what kind of person actually goes through with the fantasy and has sex in public? Well, according to Nikki, some public sexers are attention seekers, and others are just trying to be kinky. Some have agoraphilia, and become aroused from having sex in public. Most enjoy the risk of being caught, rather than actually being sprung mid coitus. And then there are those who actually enjoy being watched having sex, which is when kink veers into exhibitionism.
I’ve never been an exhibitionist (except when it comes to karaoke), but my desire for privacy has increased exponentially since having kids. It’s difficult to get any private time at all, let alone have sex uninterrupted in my own house. The risk of being caught is a complete mood killer; instead of fantasising about public sex, I fantasise about locked hotel rooms and a reliable babysitter for the kids.
So is parenthood the end to public-sex fantasies?
Well, not necessarily, says Nikki Goldstein, who explains that getting sprung by one’s children is very different to getting sprung by another adult.
“Getting caught having sex by your kids is very awkward. Getting caught by a stranger, on the other hand, isn’t the end of the world. If you take a mum and dad who are always worried about getting caught by their kids and put them in a park to have sex, they will still feel excited.”
Probably, I think. Just perhaps not a play park. We are all utterly sick of them.
So if public sex is such a common fantasy, why were people so appalled by the couple on the train platform? I mean, sure it was inappropriate — no-one needs to see a stranger’s bum while they’re waiting for train — but why the outrage?
“Good question,” says Nikki. “We have movies and TV shows that are full of death and crime and heinous acts, and they are considered ‘entertainment’. And yet the idea of sex that is fun and pleasurable and enjoyable is regarded as the most offensive thing we have ever seen.”
She acknowledged that displays of public sex might open up some awkward conversations between parents and their kids. “Still,” she said, “People have sex to connect with each other and feel good and have intimacy. I’d much rather explain that to a child than explain why people murder each other.”
I concur with Nikki. Public sex makes a lot more sense than murder and violence and hate. On the other hand, public sex makes a lot less sense than a nice hotel room with clean sheets and a freshly scrubbed bath.
And on that note, I’m off to fantasise again. For this mum, a bit of private time is the greatest aphrodisiac of all.