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Wiki

Voyeurism

By Bellesa Team

Voyeurism is the tendency or desire to become aroused by watching others as they engage in intimate activities such as disrobing or sexual activity. The formal name for voyeurism is scocophilia, which translates from Greek as “the love of watching.”\

Sexual voyeurism can be considered a fetish (i.e. a sexual fixation on an activity that one depends on to enhance arousal or experience sexual satisfaction) or a kink (i.e. a deliberate practice of engaging in non-conventional activities in the consensual pursuit of erotic pleasure). However not everyone who experiences arousal in a voyeuristic scenario is necessarily a fetishist or engaging in kink play. It could simply be a fantasy one wants to explore.

The opposite counterpart of voyeurism is exhibitionism, which is the tendency or desire to become aroused by being observed, often in a state of nude or sexual performance, by others. Together, these fantasies and behaviors surrounding watching and being watched make up some of the most common sexual fantasies.

Voyeurism as a Common Fantasy and Sexual Activity

Voyeurism can be a regular and healthy element of one’s sexual practices alone and/or with a partner or an occasional indulgence. It is only problematic mental patterning when the behaviors cause distress to the individual experiencing them, or when they lead to consent-crossing and/or law-breaking activities.

Healthy and consensual engagement with voyeuristic fantasies and activities can allow for sexual satisfaction, both within a partner relationhisp and as part of one’s solo sexual routines. Common forms of healthy voyeurism can include but are not limited to watching ethical porn, engaging in role play where the people involved agree to the scene where pretending to not to know that they are being observed is part of the act, listening to pornographic or erotic audio recordings, looking at ethically-acquired nude or erotic photos, taking erotic photos of a willing subject, or being in the audience for a strip tease or sexual performance.

Is Voyeurism a Problem?

As with some other fetishes and sexual behaviors, some forms of voyeurism are still considered a disorder. The American Psychiatric Association lists it as a paraphilia (i.e. the disordered form of a fetish) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) where they define the phenomenon as deriving “sexual pleasure from observing an unsuspecting person who is naked, disrobing, or engaged in intimate behavior.” 

However, updates to the fifth edition (DSM-5) have now made the distinction between voyeuristic behavior and its disordered equivalent. Experiencing sexual arousal in response to observing nudity, sexual activity, or any other intimate activity is not enough to be diagnosed with a disorder, nor is it considered inherently problematic or concerning behavior.

When one practices voyeurism in a way that breaches the privacy and consent boundaries of another (e.g. the observed individual does not know they are or agree to being observed), especially in the case of procuring a recording or the observed. This is not only unethical but often illegal. Many states and countries have anti-voyeurism laws that make it illegal to record someone without their knowledge and consent.

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