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A young woman flashes her breasts at a Mardi Gras celebration.

Exhibitionism, also known as flashing, is behavior by a person that involves the exposure of private parts of their body to another person in a situation when they would not normally be exposed, with a tendency toward an extravagant. The act may be at least partially sexual or intended to attract the attention of another. When the term is used to refer to the psychological compulsion for such exposure, it may be called apodysophilia[1] or a Lady Godiva syndrome. Some researchers have claimed that telephone scatalogia is a variant of exhibitionism.[2][3]

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%), “To show their privates also” (15.1%), “Admiration” (14.1%), and “Any reaction” (11.9%). Only very few exhibitionists chose “Anger and disgust” (3.8%) or “Fear” (0.5%).[4]


Types of exposure

There are various types of behaviour which are classified as exhibitionism. These include:

  • Flashing is the display of bare breasts by a woman with an up-and-down lifting of the shirt and/or bra or a person exposing and/or stroking his or her genitals.
  • Mooning is the display of the bare buttocks while bending down by the pulling-down of trousers and underwear. This act is more often done for the sake of humor and/or mockery than for sexual excitement.
  • Anasyrma is lifting up of the skirt when not wearing underwear, to expose genitals.
  • Martymachlia is a paraphilia which involves sexual attraction to having others watch the execution of a sexual act.

Psychological aspects

Exhibitionism as a disorder was first described in a scientific journal in 1877 by a French physician and psychiatrist Charles Lasègue (1809–1883).[5] Typically, the part(s) of the body exposed when referring to "flashing" are bare female breasts and/or buttocks. In theory, however, flashing and exhibitionism can also involve the genitalia or buttocks of either gender. A "male flasher" stands in stark comparison to this definition as the latter usually refers to a male indecently exposing his penis to an unwilling observer.


In psychiatry, exhibitionism is only considered a paraphilia when the practice interferes with the quality of life or normal functioning capacity of the individual. According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition, exhibitionism is classified as 302.4, and 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 bodily exposure, it can also include "engaging in sex where one may possibly be seen in the act, or caught in the act."[6]


"Flashing" in public by women has been mentioned by historians since Classical antiquity, often in the context of the women's shaming groups of men into either refraining from committing, or being incited to commit, some public action.[7]

See also


  1. ^ apodysophilia - Dictionary of sexual terms
  2. ^ Hirschfeld, M. (1938). Sexual anomalies and perversions: Physical and psychological development, diagnosis and treatment (new and revised ed.). London: Encyclopaedic Press.
  3. ^ Nadler, R. P. (1968). Approach to psychodynamics of obscene telephone calls. New York State Journal of Medicine, 68, 521–526.
  4. ^ Freund, K., Watson, R., & Rienzo, D. (1988). The value of self-reports in the study of voyeurism and exhibitionism. Annals of Sex Research, 2, 243–262.
  5. ^ Aggrawal, Anil (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN 1420043080. 
  6. ^ American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Washington, DC: Author.
  7. ^ Origin of the world


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also exhibitionist



Exhibitionist m. (genitive Exhibitionisten, plural Exhibitionisten)

  1. exhibitionist

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