The Legality of Private Acts in Public Restrooms - OZY | A Modern Media Company

The Legality of Private Acts in Public Restrooms

The Legality of Private Acts in Public Restrooms

By Eugene S. Robinson

"She pushed me into the women’s room, where it became clear we were to have sex, and we did."


OZY’s Eugene S. Robinson addresses queries from the love-weary in “Sex With Eugene.”

By Eugene S. Robinson

You’re Only Cheating Yourself?

EUGENE, SIR: I recently ended my first marriage. My wife had stepped out of our relationship to pursue her female CrossFit instructor. Dating after the marriage has gone well, and my sex life hasn’t really skipped a beat. I’m mildly successful at building and maintaining relationships with the opposite sex. I’m not a pro at mending old wounds, though. Do you believe it’s worthwhile to make an attempt at proper closure with my ex, albeit a year or two later? Or should I let a sleeping dog lie?

There’s probably more to unpack here, but are these types of scenarios more common than I am led to believe? Should I view this using the same lens as any instance of marital infidelity? Am I hyperinflating the uniqueness of my situation? Every ounce of me wants my ex to wallow in her own emotional state. I’d love to avoid this kind of thinking, but there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t feel shellshocked and cheated by the whole thing. — MB

Dear Melt Banana: Listen, you know that thing that shrinks sometimes suggest of writing it all out in a letter? Then, when everything you could possibly have to say is down on a piece of paper, burning it? Well, I don’t know if shrinks really say that or if they just said it to me, but the reality is I have never regretted a letter I haven’t sent. Why? Because unless I’m coming down from a quick convo on a mountaintop with a burning bush and have my hands full of some commandments, there’s nothing I’ve written in an interpersonal scenario that probably hasn’t changed since I wrote it. Probably minutes after I wrote it.

Some sage once said, and it was as true then as it is now: You can’t talk your way out of dumped. Not that you’re trying to do that, but by attempting to relitigate you’re actually robbing yourself of the pristine pureness of the moral high ground. The fact that she left you for a woman should provide you with all the closure you need. What better way to have an exit written? Unless she’s telling all and sundry that she’s bisexual, your face-saving explanation — and something I don’t even believe you need — is that she tried her best but she was acting on an inner call, and you’re not the type of cat who would want to lock her into living a life that was inauthentic. 

Common? I have no idea how common it is, but I’ve heard about it more than a few times, and just because it was a woman that your ex stepped out with doesn’t make it any less of a violation. Intimacy is the issue. It’s perfectly natural to want to see karma leveled here, but realistically speaking, that’s the teenager in me talking. The adult me? Totally suggesting that you keep sailing on. Better to have found out now than after two decades.


Bathroom High Jinks!

EUGENE, SIR: A female friend of mine and I went out to eat at a nice restaurant recently. I asked her where the bathroom was and she showed me. Before we reached the men’s room, though, she pushed me into the women’s room, where it became clear we were to have sex, and we did. The next thing I know the bathroom has started to fill with women waiting to use the stall we’re in. My friend got scared and tried to leave before me. I thought that would look bad, so I asked to go first, then I bolted. She followed me, into a bathroom of raised eyebrows. The other women asked her if everything was OK and she said yes. What are my legal rights in such an incident? It seems like it could have gone very wrong for me. — Ronnie T.

Dear Re-Tweet: If you follow a rabbit down a hole you might be amazed at where that hole leads. In this instance, to multiple chats with lawyers and cops to find out that what I thought was going to be an easy answer is actually very nuanced and complicated. Short answer: You’re right. In California, for example, you’d have been in violation of Penal Code 647(a): soliciting or engaging in lewd acts in public. And here “public” is defined as a place that is open and accessible to “anyone who wishes to go there.”

They break it down pretty exhaustively, but what caught me was No. 6: “The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that someone was likely to be present who could be offended by the requested conduct.” Now, I’m no prude, but if I had to urinate badly I might be offended if I couldn’t get into a stall because someone else was having sex in it. I might complain. My complaint might result in the cops being called, and if the cops showed up, well, someone might get arrested. This is most likely part of the thrill, but unless your sense of thrill also includes jail time, perhaps choose a better time and place.

Also, your friend would be in just as much trouble as you — no gender breaks here.

That being said, I think it’s a mockery of a travesty of a sham to arrest people for performing acts of love in places where we can livestream it to Facebook for not-unsubstantial fees. Set Public Fornicators Free!

Getting Up On the Go Down

EUGENE, SIR: My man likes to go down on me, and I like to have him go down on me, but when I’m on my back, given my size, if he’s on his stomach it hurts his neck to raise his head enough to get the job done. Are there exercises he could do or positions that would make this not so miserable for him? — Girls Just Want to Have Fuh-Un

Dear Cyndi: If neither adjusting the bedclothes nor changing the venue (e.g., the sofa instead of the bed) is working, I suggest he lie on his back and you lower yourself from a kneeling position onto his face. Hope that helps. Thank me later, if so!

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