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Brief Definition

Being an Exhibitionist is being someone who gets excitement from the act of exposing in a public or a semi-public context those parts of one's body that are not normally exposed – for example; genitalia, buttocks, or breasts.
The practice may arise from a desire or compulsion to expose themselves in such a manner to groups of friends or acquaintances, or to strangers for their amusement or sexual satisfaction or to shock the bystander.
The Dictionary says this;-


  • noun ˌek.sɪˈbɪʃ.ən.ɪst/


  • someone who tries to attract attention to themselves by their behaviour:

"I have an exhibitionist streak that comes out on the dance floor."

  • someone who shows their sexual organs in public

Some History

Public exhibitionism by women has been recorded since classical times, often in the context of women shaming groups of men into committing, or inciting them to commit, some public action. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus gives an account of exhibitionistic behaviors from the fifth century BC in The Histories. Herodotus writes that: When people travel to Bubastis for the festival, this is what they do. Every baris carrying them there overflows with people, a huge crowd of them, men and women together. Some of the women have clappers, while some of the men have pipes which they play throughout the voyage. The rest of the men and women sing and clap their hands. When in the course of their journey they reach a community - not the city of their destination, but somewhere else - they steer the bareis close to the bank. Some of the women carry on doing what I have already described them as doing, but others shout out scornful remarks to the women in the town, or dance, or stand and pull up their clothes to expose themselves. Every riverside community receives this treatment.

Some Psychology

Exhibitionism can interfere with a person's normal quality of life or their day to day functioning capacity, at this point it is considered a psychological disorder, as categorised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition (class 302.4) where it is called a sexual deviation aka "Paraphilia". Many psychiatric definitions of exhibitionism broadly define it as "sexual gratification, above and beyond the sexual act itself, that is achieved by risky public sexual activity and/or bodily exposure."
Beyond simple bodily exposure, it can also include "engaging in sex where one may possibly be seen in the act, or caught in the act."
A research team asked a sample of 185 exhibitionists, "How would you have preferred a person to react if you were to expose your privates to him or her?". The most common response was "Would want to have sexual intercourse" (35.1%), followed by "No reaction necessary at all" (19.5%), next was, "To show their privates also" (15.1%), then was the reply "Admiration" (14.1%), and lastly "Any reaction" (11.9%), there was a few exhibitionists who chose the reply "Anger and disgust" (3.8%) and a very small amount chose "Fear" (0.5%).


Engaging in exhibitionism can also lead to criminal charges, in many countries, and it can be treated as a criminal offense, due to the criminal nature of indecent exposure.

Types of Exhibitionism

Various types of behavior are classified as exhibitionism, including:
Anasyrma: - the lifting of a skirt when not wearing underwear, with the intent of exposing genitals.
Flashing: - the momentary display of bare female breasts, or a man or a woman's genitalia by the quick moving of the appropriate item of clothing.
Martymachlia: - a paraphilia which involves sexual attraction to having others watch the execution of a sexual act, something that's common to find in Swinging clubs.
Mooning: - the display of bare buttocks by pulling down of trousers and underwear/the lifting of skirt.
Streaking: - the act of running nude through a public place. The intent is not usually sexual but for shock value.
Candaulism: - when a person exposes his or her partner in a sexually explicit manner. Many into Swinging also enjoy this
Reflectoporn: - the act of stripping and taking a photograph using an object with a reflective surface as a mirror, then posting the image on the Internet in a public forum.
Telephone scatologia: - Some researchers have claimed that this is a variant of exhibitionism, even though it has no in-person physical component.


The Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices (2009) classifies exhibitionism in this way.

  • Class I: Fantasizing Exhibitionists

These people fantasize about exhibiting their genitals to unsuspecting persons, but are too timid to actually carry out their fantasies. They tend to remain happy merely with their exhibitionistic fantasies. They may turn to zoophilic exhibitionism to fulfill their fantasies, since it apparently is a safer activity.

  • Class II: Pure Exhibitionists

These people are content with just showing off their genitals from a distance and masturbating. They do not touch their victims or actually do them any harm.

  • Class III: Exhibitionistic Criminals

These offenders are primarily exhibitionists, but they also engage in other sexual crimes, especially pedophilia and child molesting. Upon finding a child alone, their sexual behavior may start with exhibitionism, but may progress to child molestation. These are considered dangerous to the society and may require more attention.

  • Class IV: Exclusive Exhibitionists

These offenders cannot form normal romantic relationships with persons of their gender preference and cannot engage in normal sexual intercourse. For them, exhibitionism is the sole outlet for sexual gratification. Such exhibitionists do not seem to have been reported in literature so far, but based on the theory of paraphilic equivalence, it can be predicted that these exhibitionists do exist in society and they will be reported sometime in the future. Behaviorally, they lie on the extreme end of the paraphilic continuum since they cannot form normal romantic relationships with other individuals.

Internal Links

See also Voyeurism