Voyeuristic tendencies were once something that was whispered about in the back parlors of large Victorian mansions. Something that made us draw our curtains tightly, because of the fear of peeping toms. In contemporary society, we not only engage in voyeuristic tendencies often, we encourage them…
Is social media to blame? Tweeting out your pain and outrage, posting tons of pictures of family vacations or bathroom selfies. Even posting intimate details about your life that would otherwise be considered private. This has become our new normal. But psychology asks – is it normal?
What are voyeuristic tendencies?
Voyeuristic tendencies are classically described as “becoming sexually aroused by watching an unsuspecting person who is disrobing, naked, or engaged in sexual activity.” That’s the Mental Health Disorders manual’s definition, a gold standard used by psychologists everywhere.
This definitely doesn’t fit the type of voyeuristic tendencies we find in contemporary society however. For one, people are definitely aware that they are being watched. They’re followed by television cameras, sign consent forms, or post their innermost secrets on social media themselves.
Today, voyeuristic tendencies are not always sexual. In fact, psychologists have had to create new forms of voyeurism, just to be able to encompass the ever-growing field of exhibitionists that exists in today’s culture. This includes terms like “television voyeurism” and “social media voyeurism”.
How have voyeuristic tendencies become normalized?
The main factor in normalizing voyeuristic tendencies is that true exhibitionists are being born. People who not only consent to, but genuinely enjoy (and are sometimes paid for) being the center of attention. Letting every detail of their private lives be available for consumption – either selling or freely giving this for voyeurs to watch.
This removes the unhealthy nature true (or pathologic) voyeurism. In pathologic voyeurism, the individual that is exhibiting their private lives has absolutely no idea they are doing it. They, in turn, become victims.
Contemporary voyeurism allows viewers to “peek behind the curtain” at the exhibitionist’s private lives. They allow you to see all of those personal experiences that just about everyone enjoys watching. Whether you’re tuning in to see how someone reacts to response to devastation, how they prepare for a big event, or what they look like while they shower or have sex, the fact is, a large percentage of the world’s population loves to snoop.
Voyeuristic tendencies and learning
Voyeuristic tendencies may well be a type of ingrained personality trait that we have from earlier in our evolution. A large part of how humans learn is through watching someone else complete the task. It could be scrolling Instagram to find the best pictures of travel destinations you’d like to go to. Maybe you’re flicking through HGTV to learn how to best curate your lawn. Or just maybe you’re looking back through the Voyeur House archives to find that clip where Joseph does that thing with his hips…
To a degree, we’re doing this because we’re curious about how these people live and react to the situations that are normal to them. Even with contemporary sexual voyeurism, voyeuristic tendencies don’t match the standard pathologic profile. Live cam models and couples on sites like Voyeur House are perfectly willing participants – they’re not only legally allowing the viewer to watch them shower, shave, and have some really incredible sex, but they themselves get a massive turn on from being exhibitionists.
So instead of creating a victimized culture, the new trend of voyeur/exhibitionist is creating a win-win culture. You can get your rocks off legally, while they get theirs off as well, and can gain an income from it.
Why Voyeuristic tendencies?
Again, it’s believed that voyeuristic tendencies are ingrained in our evolutionary process. Voyeuristic tendencies allow us to compare ourselves to others. They allow us to participate in social circles and situations that may otherwise be unavailable to us. Voyeurism involves us in sexual congress with beautiful women, or play the part of a fit, commanding male. They let our inhibitions drop when we can watch others doing things on camera that we would never be able to do.
Voyeuristic tendencies allow people the chance to view a life that is otherwise unobtainable, for whatever reason. Whether we lack the money, stamina, desire, courage, whatever – voyeuristic tendencies allow us to temporarily live a life that is not our own. A life we know is unscripted and unplanned. It allows us to experience joys, fears, excitements – and even orgasms – of others from the safety and security of our own homes.