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Selling slaves in Rome, painting by J.L. Gerome (1886) that depicts a female slave exposed nude in front of a male audience.

In a spanking or BDSM context, a public activity is one witnessed by others. It may be truly public, such as on a street or in a mall or other place where any person might be present. But a spanking or other punishment that takes place at a spanking party or in a BDSM dungeon with people present who are not involved in the scene is generally considered to be public, also.

For many spankees, public punishments have an increased humiliation factor. This may make them more or less attractive, depending on the attitude of the spankee towards humiliation.