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Guest blog: sexy things in public spaces, and the price of love

When I do sex and politics, usually it’s a bit sledgehammer – an angry rant about the concept of the ‘Friend Zone’, paying for dates, that kind of thing.

This week’s guest blogger, though, is talking about love in public spaces – kissing, touching, holding hands – and brings up a whole bunch of things that I’d never considered from a sex perspective. Frankie tackles the cumulative effects of a whole bunch of different decisions – transport costs, public spaces, house prices – on the sex that people have, and the ways we all interact when we’re super-horny and just want to fucking touch each other. When I read through it, it gave me a jolt – I’d literally never thought about that way before, and now that I’ve thought about it I’ve started seeing it everywhere.

So read, enjoy and please do comment. Because whether you agree or disagree, it’s really bloody interesting.

The price of love

Oh, to be young and in love! To have all those vague, deliciously horny feelings suddenly concentrated like a laser on that one incredible person, and, miracle of miracles, they want you back! All you want, every second, is to be pulling their clothes off and mauling every inch of them, and that’s all they want too. Nothing is better… or, it would be if you had anywhere in the world to go. Your parent’s house? Unlikely. Behind the bike sheds? CCTV. A park bench? You can’t even sit on these now.

Go out for a summer day in the countryside? Good luck finding affordable public transport to nowhere. Even a brief encounter in a public toilet requires a long search for one that hasn’t been sold off for “development” (and finding 30p). Every time you turn around it gets harder and harder to simply BE anywhere without spending vast sums of money. Even supposedly free spaces make damned sure you can’t be in them for long. Parks are fenced off, walls and pavements are spiked, undergrowth is cut back. Heaven forefend you might want to go somewhere nice, or dry.

Clubs, cinemas, pubs and restaurants are becoming ever more expensive, and, with the expense, ever more sanitised. The last time I went to a cinema the lights only went down half way; how are you supposed to cop a quick feel in those circumstances? Furthermore property prices are making this a problem far beyond the teenage years. The ONS reports 2 million adults (age 20-34) are living at home with their parents. While some families are sufficiently liberal in their attitudes that parents (and kids!) will greet lovers with a blind eye or a knowing grin, others (in both generations), aren’t so lucky.

But it’s not just the practicalities; it’s also the constantly repeated message that the only fun worth anything is the fun you pay for. When I was a young girl, there were enough nice places to be outside that we could feel rebellious and subversive for spending an afternoon sitting on a stoop with a can of beer between us and cutting our lips to ribbons on each others’ dental braces. Now we are made to feel that this isn’t subversive, it’s just sad. All our sexuality has been co-opted and sold back to us, and if we don’t have the money to buy it, we aren’t entitled to its pleasures. As a forty year old, I am becoming painfully aware that, now, my best sexual adventures are only made possible by a reasonable amount of disposable income. What hope for the young, or cashless? We are told that people are having less sex; well, it’s no wonder! Sex requires a little space, a little time, a little let up from the calculating anxiety of economic life, how is that possible when we are constantly being “moved on” or worried about what the bill is going to come to?  It’s time to take back the alleys, the doorways and the park benches, before they deprive us of all the love we can make.


  • walter says:

    I once got my knob out in a public place and was told it was inappropriate by a passing park warden. I pointed out that he let dogs wander freely with their cocks out. I get that some people prefer dog cock, i dont have a problem with that. But others have strange kinks too. I like my cock. I am not going to hide it. Forget alleyways. Do it in pubic. Be proud of your nature.

    • Girl on the net says:

      I’m not entirely sure you get what the blog is about.

      • walter says:

        If we weren’t to criminalise people for being as they are (homeless, underdressed, hoodied, wrong race) this wouldn’t be the problem it’s become. Society is depriving others of joy for the sake of predudice. There is a growing disgust for much of humanity, and an ever narrowing definition of ‘acceptable person’. This fear and insecurity is driven by corporate interest, and the spaces we are deprived of is a tool to teach us how awful humanity is. Be clean. Be pretty. Be slim. Dress nicely. Own a home. Be rich. Buy more. Be suspicious of everyone else.’ To me they are all connected. Sex and enviroment are partners. Control the environment and you control sexual freedom. Check out fuckforforest. It has some of the most beautiful porn around, it unites sex with our environment.

  • Chris says:

    Here Here!!!!!

    I remember many a teenaged romp in the car in a desrerted car park, sex on the beach, etc etc. Now those locations are housing developments, walled off, or paid parking lots. This is just another symptom of the growing divide between the haves and the have nots. We are currently suffering through the long term consequences of the thatcher / regan years (swing to the right politically and socially). It looks like we have gone as far as we can and that the political and social pendulum is now just starting to swing to the left. unfortunately it’s going to take many years and much work to make our world a more egalitarian place.

  • tiuiu says:

    More guests blogs about sex crimes please.

    • Girl on the net says:

      It’s not a sex crime to snog in an alleyway. Did you actually read the blog? Maybe my bad for the title, which I’ll change, but seriously, please read what Frankie actually says in the blog post.

    • Chris says:

      Yes your right sex out in public spaces is illegal. But, it happens all the time. So sex in a public space is a risk. You run the risk of running afoul of the law, being seen or discovered, etc etc

      But…… You know and I know it happens all the time.

      Now, quit being such a grumpy old git and join in the shared revelry of a public groupe or shag.

      • tiuiu says:

        That won’t stand up in court, Chris.

        • walter says:

          True. But we are all free to discuss what should or shouldn’t be illegal. What is moral is not always what is legal or vice versa. Laws change through challenging them. Gay marriage for example. It is OK to express that laws should be broken if they are morally abhorrent. Even if its not ok to actually break them according to general society/law enforcerw. Yet sometimes breaking the law is a nobel act in itself, changing world views for the better, as Rosa Parks did. Its daft to suggest the law should never be challenged. Its sad gotn changed the title. Because I think it was right the first time. Besides where does snogging end and sex begin exactly? Yes sex is illegal in public spaces. But the law should not be the reason someone can’t disagree with that. Morally and legally, for now at least, it is fine to suggest the law sucks and we are free to protest at risk of arrest. Having publc sex won’t stand up in court. I think we are all aware of that. What Chris said however , certainly would. Its just an opinion. A well informed one at that.

  • The Hill Mouse says:

    Yeah, this is good and applies to more than just sex but to relationships generally both with those that we’re close to and those that we’re not so close to. “Only connect” is good advice but only if there’s time and space in our lives to “only connect” in.

  • pinkgilly15 says:

    I totally agree with this blog post. When I was a teenager at least travel was cheap I once spent an afternoon with two lads in a bandstand! Touching was great fun they would not even be able to get in that bandstand now I think its gated. I had not though of it as deeply until I read this but I think the younger generation really do have a battle ahead simple pleasures and not economic worries must be reclaimed.

  • Chris says:

    When I was 16 and first dating, there were only 4 1/2 billion people on this planet. Now, there are 7 billion. Two things happened: the world got almost twice as crowded (less free private space or empty public space) and people found a way to have a whole lot of reproductive sex. My guess is, that we’re going to wake up one morning a few decades, find that there are now 11 billion of us, and wonder how people managed to do that, pressed together as sardines as we will be. Maybe that is the answer: the less space there is between us, the easier (not harder) it is to reach out and touch someone.

  • So very true. I some times wonder if the powers that be are afraid of sex, because it short circuits the capitalist wires of buying and consuming to be happy. Also it might make it pointless for guys to spend money on daft status symbols to impress girls. I’m not sure what % of human desire for power and wealth is rooted in our sex drive… I wonder what would happen to the economy if we could all just have sex all the time?! Would existing corporate power structures come tumbling down?

    Anyway… Who wants to come with me to start a kinky sex commune in the woods somewhere? :-)

  • RB says:

    Hmm. This is an interesting post (though it does seem to be bringing out out the dickwads in the comments…), but I don’t agree with all of it – there’s a level of generalisation which doesn’t take into account the difference between rural and more urban spaces. Where I live, Manchester, is quite architecturally aggressive right in the centre; anti-homeless spikes, very little privacy, restrictions on benches, so it can be difficult to just have a little alone time with someone if you had nowhere else to go. But more rural spaces, like my hometown and my university town, are a little more lenient; there’d be no charging for toilets, much more open spaces and greenery and space to roam. So, there is a bit of a divide between city and town spaces.

    The bit about lack of house privacy for 20-somethings reads depressingly true, though. I long for a place of my own for that reason, but I just can’t afford it.

  • Morgan says:

    This issue has been discussed in academia for a long time; our geography and architecture not only defines our sexuality but our gender. From the youngest age, we are asked each time we go to the toilet to not only decide, but then declare how we identify.
    The issue of public sexuality has been explored in many different ways, but two books I highly recommend on this contentious topic are Policing Public Sex (Queer Politics and the Future of AIDS Activism), by Dangerous Bedfellows (1996) and Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, by Samuel Delaney (yes, that Samuel Delaney!) (1999).
    The latter is a truly fascinating discussion of the gentrification of Times Square in New York and the subsequent effect that had by pushing previously visible sex (e.g. prostitution, sex cinemas, strip clubs etc.) underground and into areas that simply were not safe – creating a haven for exploitation and minoritisation.

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