Hannah Eads

With the recent onslaught of celebrity nudes, it’s important to understand why these pictures exist in the first place. Just like it’s important to understand why hacking and posting someone’s pictures without his or her consent is a terrible thing to do.

We are the generation that coined the term “selfie,” and thus it’s not surprising that people love to take pictures of themselves, whether it be for their own personal enjoyment or for others.

So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that celebrities sext, and we shouldn’t think of them as bad people because of it. Yet some of us are shocked, and in turn, the images of these celebrities become damaged by our perception of how their personal lives should work.

It’s hard for us to accept that these celebrity nudes are real when we can’t even accept the fact that these people have their own private sexual lives, and that there’s a good chance they’ll send sexual pictures of themselves to other people.

I’ve heard it argued that the fault lies more with the celebrities who choose to take and send the pictures, when they know they are vulnerable to hackers. The chances are good that some of them don’t really care, but that still doesn’t make hacking them okay.

Sexting exists because there’s pleasure to be found in actually documenting ourselves in sexy poses and showing them off to other people. Some might limit it to text messages, others might post pictures online or use a webcam.

Exposing one’s body, usually genitalia, to an audience is called exhibitionism, and it’s considered to be a common fetish.

Unfortunately, those who do post pictures of themselves online or send pictures to others are at risk of someone they know finding out and spreading the word. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if we accepted nudity for pleasure as normal, but many don’t.

You should be careful with what you choose to do. Exhibitionism can be cited as indecent exposure, resulting in a fine and/or a registered sex offender label. Some states also have laws where it’s a crime to send and/or receive sexts if you’re under 18. There are consequences that you should always keep in mind.

That being said, some exhibitionists also enjoy the act of public sex. The idea of having sex in front of strangers or in a place where sex doesn’t typically occur might turn them on.

Or it’s the rush in absentmindedly picking out clothes to make it look like you’re at the store for shopping purposes and nothing sexual that turns you on. Maybe it’s the elaborate measures you take in precaution, such as deciding what clothes could easily be thrown on if someone catches you in the act. Or maybe it’s the irony in Norah Jones’ “Turn Me On” that begins to play right after the two of you rush inside the dressing room and start throwing your clothes to the ground.

Exhibitionism could be finding pleasure in getting caught by the embarrassed employee who rushes upstairs and leaves the two of you to finish what you started.

In the end, I bought a yellow dress for me and a blue windbreaker for him. The shopping trip was a success, and I learned what it’s like to push boundaries and enjoy sex outside of the bedroom.

But aside from sex, exhibitionism can be as simple as wearing a see-through dress in public.

When Rihanna wore her see-through Swarovski crystal dress to the CFDA Awards, it was clear that she enjoys baring her body in front of others. She might not consider herself an exhibitionist, but she presumably enjoys using her celebrity status to show off her body to a large audience, a rare experience that celebrities get to have if they choose.

Exhibitionism can be tricky because while we get a rush of adrenaline from how risky the situations can get, it isn’t very sensible to abandon all cares about the law in favor of a sexy rendezvous. If exhibitionism is your thing, I encourage you to find ways that don’t flirt with the law to fulfill your needs. Let other people watch you have sex in places like your bedroom that aren’t as public, or wear a see-through dress with nipple pasties on.

Although exhibitionists vary in the kind of reactions they want to get out of what they do, I found the most rewarding aspect of exhibitionism to be showing off parts of my body that strangers don’t normally get to see. The curious, surprised and dirty looks I received were just an added bonus.