Voyeurism is a desire to watch other people doing things, usually sexual things. It’s a thrill, and it gives the person doing the watching a jolt of excitement. Arguably, the most famous voyeur of all time is iconic pop artist, Andy Warhol.
Truthfully, there is a little bit of a voyeur in all of us. We simply enjoy watching other people do things, no matter how mundane. The things are often not sexual, but we still are entertained. Take, for instance, watching reality TV. (You’re not in the drama you’re binging, but you are watching the people like a fly on the wall.) Or basically anything on YouTube or social media.
For a true voyeur, one who receives sexual pleasure from watching others, this interest crosses over from mere intrigue in the activities of others into fetish territory. (A fetish is when you derive sexual pleasure from something not typically sexual.) For instance, while you might get sexual pleasure from leather, spanking, feet, etc., a voyeur gets aroused by watching other people have sex.
But what exactly is a voyeurism fetish, and why does it turn some people on so much? Read on!
The appeal of voyeurismVoyeurism's appeal varies from person to person. The most common theory is that people can gain sexual gratification in witnessing something taboo or something you’re “not supposed to be seeing.”
For instance, watching a couple have sex through a hole in the wall might be enough to make a voyeur have an orgasm. For others, it’s more connected to their personal lives: Someone may enjoy watching their partner have sex with someone(s) else while they watch because it gives them a confidence boost and validation about their partner's attractiveness or it can also be simply be sexy to watch them in a sexual situation from afar. It’s a different view.
For others, it’s about humiliation, most commonly known as a cuckolding fantasy. In this fetish, voyeurs enjoy watching their partner have sex with someone else while being told they are worthless or not allowed to also engage in the sexual act.
Others may simply get turned on by feelings of jealousy; Seeing their partner (or even strangers) have sex can ignite possessiveness, turning someone on.
These examples by no means cover the breadth of voyeuristic fantasy, practice, or appeal, but they are prime forms of what the fetish is at its core: A sexual desire to watch other people have sex while the couple (or group) is either unaware (Note: You should always have consent for sexual activities, including voyeurism) or “not allowing” the voyeur to engage in the sexual activities.
If you’re interested in voyeurism, don’t beat yourself up about it. This is a very common sexual fantasy. If you’re thinking “Ew. That is so gross.” Well, don’t yuck someone else’s yum. We are all turned on by different things, and as long as you’re not harming yourself or anyone else, it’s totally fine.
When voyeurism is OK
If you’re sexually aroused by voyeurism, there are ways you can express these desires in a healthy, legal way. For instance, if you and your partner decide to bring a third (or fourth) person into your bedroom so that you can be a bystander, that’s perfectly acceptable.
If you want to live out a cuckolding fantasy and be caged or tied up while your partner engages in sexual activity with someone else, that’s great for you. If you want to watch from another room (either through a hole or camera), and your partner and the other person you’ve brought into the scene are aware and OK with this situation, you’re also in the clear.
Even watching porn alone can be enough to fulfill a voyeur’s desire to watch others have sex. It really depends on your preferences.
Voyeurism is OK as long as everyone involved is consenting to the fantasy. If you have the explicit green light to be watching, there is nothing wrong with what you’re doing.
When voyeurism is not OK:
You cross the line when the people you’re watching are not aware that you’re watching. Remember that famous long-form piece “The Voyeur's Motel?” (If not, it’s a must-read, especially for those interested in the mindset of a voyeur.) To sum it up: The owner of the motel spent years watching patrons having sex, taking detailed notes of their behaviors. He believed he was doing a social experiment. But really it was both a gross violation of his guests’ privacy and illegal.
If there is no consent, the voyeurism is not OK. In fact, it is very, very wrong. If you for any reason want to watch people have sex without their consent, do not. (Instead, seek therapy.) You cannot violate the consent of others.