Kinks Laid Bare: Voyeurism
Are you someone who loves the idea of watching other people while they get down and dirty? Then you might just be a voyeur.
The term 'voyeurism' comes from the French word 'voyeur', which means one who looks or one who sees.
Voyeurism is most commonly used to describe the practice of watching others for one's own sexual gratification. (Voyeurism can be used in non-sexual sense as well. People often refer to society's love for reality television as a kind of voyeurism, for example.)
There are a variety of common scenarios that a voyeur (the one who looks) may find arousing - and if you're someone who'd like to introduce a little 'spectacle' to your sex life, then we've got some top tips for you.
What does this kink involve?
Voyeurism involves two distinct groups: the voyeur/voyeurs, and the person/people being watched.
The voyeur/voyeurs will often watch others who are:
- Fully clothed, in only underwear or are completely naked – this depends on personal preference
- Changing outfits or undressing
- Showering or bathing
The defining characteristic of a voyeur is that they will just watch the others involved. They may watch from afar, or use a camera to record what they see, but they will not interact directly with those that they are watching.
The person/people being watched may be:
- Doing activities that, to a non-voyeur, have seemingly no sexual connotations (like cleaning the house or watching a film)
- Doing activities that are inherently sexual, such as masturbating or having sex
Non-consensual voyeurism & consensual voyeurism
Voyeurism is a fetish that is often misunderstood and vilified. When voyeurism is the subject of news stories or entertainment media, there is often no distinction made between non-consensual and consensual voyeurism. That means consensual voyeurism often gets a bad name.
Non-consensual voyeurism is when the voyeur knowingly watches people, without their prior knowledge and consent, for sexual gratification. Non-consensual voyeurism falls under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. It is a direct violation of privacy and it is illegal. This is the kind of voyeurism you are most likely to encounter in the news or films.
Consensual voyeurism, however, is when both the voyeur/voyeurs and the person/people being watched have consented to taking part in the scene. (read under C is For Consent for a greater understanding of how this can work in a BDSM scene). Consensual voyeurism is not illegal and, if it's your cup of tea, it can be extremely arousing.
There are many reasons why people enjoy taking part in consensual voyeurism. For those being watched, sex becomes performative. Those who identify as exhibitionists may particularly enjoy partnering with voyeurs for sex.
When sex becomes performative, those being watched may experience the feeling of increased confidence, they may feel extra desirable, or even idolised by their voyeur. The knowledge that they are being watched can also feel thrilling, and this combination of adrenaline and arousal is why many people are drawn to the fetish in the first place.
For the voyeurs themselves, watching someone else in this way can feel deliciously taboo. Feeling as though you are doing something risky and forbidden can be an incredible turn-on, and it's no different when it comes to voyeurism.
Not engaging sexually with the other person in a conventional sense means that the voyeur is like the lone audience member at a private show, giving them a sense of power and privilege.
How to explore your kink
If you have others ready and willing to explore voyeurism with you, that's great news!
If the voyeur in your life prefers to feel as though they can't be seen, it can be a bit difficult to orchestrate. For example, if you live in a shared house, it's going to be tricky to explain why one of you is sitting in the back garden in the middle of the night staring up at the open blinds.
Try a blindfold instead. Blindfolds can come in satin, silk and a variety of other textures that are great for sensory play and mounting anticipation. Have your lover wear the blindfold whilst they pleasure themselves. This should help release any inhibitions and turn you on as you watch, unseen. (Watching your partner masturbate can also teach you how to better knock their socks off!)
If you'd both prefer to take things slower, why not treat each other to new lingerie or underwear? Watching each other undress and try it on can be a playful introduction to exploring your fetish together.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and this is certainly true of voyeurism. Remember to always indulge your kinks in a consensual manner, and then you can be sure that everyone is having fun!
Audrey Andrews is a student blogger for Lovehoney. In her spare time she loves to do craft, but would not advise knitting your own condoms.
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