Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area can be submitted to email@example.com, or anonymously using this form. Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.
The summer has arrived and I’m feelin’ the call of nature — to get frisky! I’m sick of my stifling apartment. But my partner is a little anxious, and frankly she’s a bit more concerned with any legal consequences than poison ivy in all the wrong places. Birds do it, bees do it: Where is and isn’t it OK for us to have sex outside?
–Hot In Herre
Your ol’ pal Kiki has spent the better part of life (jokingly, I swear) proclaiming the maxim that something is only illegal if you get caught! But unlike theft, murder and the rules of Uno, that’s actually the case in this situation. The only law governing consensual sex in Iowa (well, other than prostitution) is Iowa Code §709.9: Indecent Exposure. This section of code makes it a serious misdemeanor to expose oneself or engage in a sex act in front of a person if A) it’s done specifically to satisfy sexual desire (no exhibitionism; sorry!) or B) you should reasonably know it would be offensive to the other person.
So, Hot, you and your partner definitely do need to be careful — the penalty is a fine of between $350 and $1,875, up to a year in jail and registering as a sex offender for 10 years — but if you’re secure in your secluded spot, go for it! If no one sees you, it really is unequivocally legal. The crime is in offending the poor, innocent eyes of the other person, not the act itself. (But the flip side is, if you are seen, even if you’re in a private location — at home with your blinds open, for example — it really is illegal.)
xoxo, “IANAL” Kiki