April 18, 2005

The Fog of Illicit Sex

So I'm reading a new Justice Department's report entitled, "Illicit Sexual Activity in Public Places" (pdf), and you should be too. Because nothing makes the afternoon fly like a bit of middle school-style snickering. Ha ha, just kidding, this is a serious issue. Also, there's some fascinating info in the report, like this tidbit:
Why people sunbathe nude or teenagers park at "lovers' lanes" has not been well researched. (p. 21)
Uh, really? Not well researched? This is one of the great mysteries of social science? Okay, whatever, here's some more uncharted territory:
Certain patterns (e.g., opposite-sex coupling at a "lovers' lane") have not been studied empirically, while others (e.g., same-sex contact in public restrooms) have been studied much more extensively. (p. 4)
Actually, that's genuinely interesting. I wonder why the disparity. No, never mind, I think I know why. Honestly, though, seems like this field is just ripe for some major breakthroughs; get thee to lover's lane, grad students. But hey, it's not like criminologists don't know anything about illicit sex in public places. Far from it! Take the following passage, which includes a footnote citing three scholarly sources for reference:
As with those who engage in sexual activity in public restrooms, those who do so at truck stops or rest areas generally don't want to be detected. (p. 6)
Three sources can't be wrong. Folks, this is about as certain as we in the field can get. Far more certain, it seems, than hypotheses like the following:
The climate likely has an influence on outdoor public sexual activity. (p. 7)
Indeed. I love that qualifier more than I can really say.
-- Brad Plumer 9:28 PM || ||