If you go down to Colwick woods tonight, you’re sure of a big surprise, as it is one of Nottingham’s very own dogging hot spots, a sexual trend that is on the rise as increasing numbers turn to the winning fusion of voyeurism and exhibitionism to get their kicks. ‘Dogging’ is a broad term that can mean anything from either watching or partking in sexual acts in public places, usually after dark and often with strangers or partners met on one of many dedicated internet forums. Others are encouraged to watch and even get in on the action themselves.
Dogging originated in the early seventies, fresh off the wave of the swinging sixties sexual revolution. Suddenly love had become free and the traditional values of sexual confinement had been shaken off like a Victorian smock. Libidos were truly liberated and spontaneity triumphed over self-restraint. For the first time people could openly express their sexuality and it wasn’t long before thrill seekers took to the open air in their masses, dizzy on hedonism, primitive emancipation and who knows what else. Dogging is to sex what punk-rock is to music; anarchistic, rebellious and a middle finger to convention. Marxist scholars even discussed how it was part of the capitalist backlash – going against the ‘conservative’ norms of restraint, tradition and the supremacy of moral values. According to likes of Marceuse and Riech it was the emergence of sexual radicalism, something the capitalists had dreaded and in turn tried to repress. Apparently you can have specifically Marxist sex.
It is difficult to say how widespread the phenomenon is, as official statistics are difficult to obtain for obvious reasons. However, if the number of dogging websites is anything to go by, its popularity cannot be underestimated: Google has almost seven million search results for ‘dogging’, the majority of which are sites with forums for people seeking fellow doggers. The public sex trend is by no means restricted to the UK, the recent increase in public sex has rippled throughout Europe and North America, and sent many a car rocking around the globe. If the typically prim and proper British are enticed by the craze, it makes sense that the more adventurous and quirky continentals are engaging in dogging on a similarly large scale. Many dogging sites in the UK even have different language options to encourage interracial dogging, for a truly multicultural experience so no one is left out in the cold. At least not alone.
Dogging can be a minefield of etiquette if you’re not clued up on the specific dogging signals, for those not in the know, here is a brief guide:
Flashing car lights – “Are there any other doggers in the area?”
Interior light on – “Watch us”
Window half down – “Oral offered”
Window all the way down – “Touching allowed”.
There are three general theories regarding the origin of the term ‘dogging’, the most common being that innocent dog walkers often stumble across these outdoor orgies. Other notions are that it comes from the term ‘to dog’ meaning to go after and chase; as in people seeking out steamy action, or even that the exhibitionist nature of doggers means that they are like dogs in that they will do it anywhere and are undeterred by people watching.
Now you are enlightened as to the ‘ins’ and, er, ‘outs’ of dogging, you may be wondering what sort of a person it attracts? It is hard to say for sure, but there is evidence that a good proportion of doggers are middle aged, middle class couples. Some forums have found that the majority of their members are couples falling into the thirty to fifty age bracket, looking to spice up their relationship. These are respectable members of society with good jobs looking for a new thrill, not creepy down and outs. Dogging is a universal phenomenon across all strata of society, there is possibly the potential for a dogger in all of us, a primal urge to push the limits of what’s acceptable in the pursuit of pleasure.
There are of course questions of legality surrounding dogging. As far as the law is concerned, if it is all voluntary and consensual (those viewing and participating), then generally speaking, it is legal. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that sex in a public place as such is not illegal as long as you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Councils have been known to eliminate such private spots by cutting down vast areas of trees in the hope to deter doggers from the vicinity, thus the largest victim of dogging appears to be mother nature as there are very few cases of prosecution or even court cases regarding sex in public places. Surrey County Council has even gone as far as strategically placing herds of bulls in dogging hotspots to deter such sexual deviants.
Dogging is part of a wider community of people looking for a sexual quick fix. As technology has advanced we expect many things at the click of a button, sex has become one of them. Instant gratification and quick thrills have become second nature to us. With the proliferation of internet sites we can order food, clothes, watch films and listen to music. Ever resourceful in satisfying our needs, it’s only natural that people use it to pursue the most basic form of human pleasure. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of raw, plain sex with strangers, preferring to associate it with love and relationships. Sex with strangers can indeed be hollow and ultimately depressing, but for those who are under no pretences about what they are getting, it can be quite an exhilarating experience. This brings us to an interesting conclusion about the psychology of sex; we do not need to attach it love or intimacy, sex can be fantastic as an act in itself, particularly when at one with nature, or at least a gear stick.
As for dogging catching on with the student community, the prospects are limited. The student lifestyle in itself is as wild and crazy as you want it to be, there are simply too many new and weird experiences on your doorstep that you never have to venture out into a dark lay-by to uncover your naughty side. I’m sure there are satisfied student doggers out there, but middle aged couples make up the largest proportion of doggers for a reason; their lives have become routine and ordinary. For them it is a way of breaking away from the mundane and rediscovering their spontaneous, wild side, whereas many of us are simply discovering we have one. As for the sexual gratification with a complete stranger, us students need look no further than a quick scout around the sticky delights of the Ocean dance floor on a Friday night.