Gymnophobia replaced by exhibitionism?

Recent exposure to news about streakers during sporting events not only intrigued me but also initiated my investigation about the psychological factors that influenced the streakers to peel and the history of streaking. Most reliable sources would define streaking as the act of running naked through a public place such as a sporting event as a prank, a dare, a drunken display or an act of protest. No matter what sporting event, streaking before a crowd or hundreds of spectators is becoming an unwelcoming modern trend. The popularity of streaking is unquestionable, especially when a high school student’s tweet about stripping before a crowd fetched him beyond the required 1000 tweets and influenced the student to peel off his clothes in response to the positive reaction. If it is not the popularity what other reason could a man have to strip at more than 5oo sporting events and make a business out of his ventures?

Gender Equity has been maintained by streakers as there are both male and female streakers indulging in attention seeking exhibitionism. The history of streakers, which commenced in 1799 when a man ran nude through the City of London as a bet for a wager of 10 guineas, has been carried on to the 21st century and has assumed the form of tradition at significant sporting events. If you ask me why the tradition has survived despite arrests made on the spot, I would like to quote a blogger on applied psychology who has used Freudian theory to explain why public nudity occurred. According to Freud, “it’s an infantile form of sexual pleasure.  You’re being looked at and you’re being given attention.  From the moment we’re born we have a love of looking… a sexual curiosity, and streaking satisfies that in a way.” A second reason for public nudity has been explained by an article in the British Medical Journal which emphasised that “streaking is the antithesis of flashing.  And there is no lingering to see the… look of dawning interest that the flasher so vainly hopes his victim will show.” 

Public nudity or streakers, often regarded as a source of entertainment and fun by a few, has been condemned and regarded as undesirable or a nuisance by many. It would be unreal if I overlooked a few circumstances where nudity has been and is tolerated or accepted such as at the beaches, naturist resorts or clubs and at special events.

It would be farfetched if I declared that streakers are ignorant and unaware of the consequences. Nudity to “harass, alarm or distress” others is an offence against the Public Order Act of 1986, UK. America and Australia also have indecent exposure laws in place which assert that walking naked around the country or through a public venue would result in periods of arrest, followed by release with/without charge according to the level of severity and the circumstances. According to experiments conducted by LiveScience, the moment a man or woman removes his/her clothes, people who are observing experience a change in their mental capacities. There is a shift from “a mind for thinking and a reasoning” to “a mind for emotions and passions”; in other words a thinker becomes a feeler. Don’t you think that it is horribly fascinating to learn that clothing influences our mind to perceive people differently?

One comment

  1. I have not been diligent of late to make sure that I don’t miss any posts of my favourite author.
    As such this post is valuable and I read it with interest.
    I have my own perception on streaking. In spite of my claim of being disciplined, I sort of liked the streaking performance during games.
    Perhaps it’s because the second publicised streaking took place in my city Cochin when four male students from the local law college streaked through the streets till the women’s college from their college.
    This happened immediately after the first streaking during the cricket match in Australia.
    I console myself for the aberration saying that it’s a harmless humour.


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