An exhibitionist is a person who becomes sexually aroused by being observed naked or engaging in sexual acts. This thrill can be achieved through fantasy or by actually performing these acts in front of people or in a public space. The term exhibitionist is closely connected to the term voyeur. The exhibitionist is the person who puts themself on display and the voyeur is the person who derives pleasure from watching the exhibitionist. Exhibitionists can be folks of any gender or sexuality.
The word exhibitionist can be used in two different ways, one more casual, and the other clinical. For most people, an exhibitionist lives their revealing fantasy in a consensual manner. The people seeing or hearing their body or activities understand the situation and accept it. This differs from those who have the mental health condition exhibitionistic disorder. This condition is characterized by a compulsion to unexpectedly expose one’s genitals to strangers or other non-consenting people.
Engaging in or fantasizing about being an exhibitionist is a common fantasy. Surveys suggest that more than half of people asked think about having sex in an open public space. More than 80% of folks are turned on by the thought of having sex in communal spaces, such as workplaces, bathrooms, restaurants and more.
Exhibitionist behaviors cover a wide-ranging spectrum of activities. In one sense, a person never has to leave their home to be an exhibitionist. They can wearing sexually appealing outfits such as lingerie or jock straps, perform striptease dances, have sex with the lights on or participate in mutual masturbation with their partner. The end goal is to be seen or heard.
Other out-of-home activities can elicit attention from a wider range of people. This can include wearing revealing clothing to attract attention, flirting, touching and dancing provocatively, performing burlesque or stripping or attending sex parties and participating in sexual activities while being watched.