“They are less inclined to hide behind a bush in a residential area, and more likely to expose themselves in front of a webcam on the internet,” researcher Niklas Långström told the TT news agency.
In Sweden, women are nevertheless rarely the perpetrators in indecent exposure incidents reported to the police, with the absolute majority of flashers being men, according to research from Sweden’s National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå).
However, Långström has found that, despite the large difference between men and women in the statistics, many women nevertheless have the same urges as the men to expose themselves in public.
An analysis of calls made to a national helpline set up recently for people who lack control of their sexual urges reveals that many women do indeed suffer the same flashing impulses as men.
In addition, it’s much less common for indecent exposure crimes committed by women to be reported to police.
“Almost 90 percent of those who have suffered such sexual violations don’t report the matter to police,” said Långström.
“One of the factors that influence this is whether the offender was a woman. If it was a man, it matches better with that we traditionally associate with a perpetrator.”
And while Swedish women may prefer to shock unsuspecting victims by exposing themselves online, some also prefer to flash using more traditional techniques.
A 54-year-old man told TT of an incident when a female flasher lifted her coat and exposed her breasts to him.
“I was extremely insulted and felt really bad afterwards. It took two weeks before I could put it behind me,” he said.
“I didn’t know if she was psychotic when she rushed forward and flashed herself at me.”
However, the man didn’t hesitate to report the incident to police.
“When it happens without warning, you don’t know what to do. I stretched my hands before me and walked by, and after I’d walked 20 metres away I turned to make sure she was at a safe distance,” he said.
The fact that the flasher was a woman shocked the man even more, especially after having previously suffered an encounter with a flasher of the male variety.
While being flashed by the man had made him angry, the 54-year-old victim said having a woman expose herself to him made him feel differently.
“I was scared that she was psychotic and would do more than just flash,” he said.
As it turned out, the flashing was part of a TV programme prank, for which the woman has now been convicted.