People are becoming more comfortable embracing their kinks and fetishes, opening the door to better and more frequently satisfying sexual encounters. Even people who’ve never really dabbled in debauchery are becoming more open to the idea of pushing their comfort zones by trying some of the seemingly more harmless kinks. And in most cases, it can be done without fear of fully devolving into deviance—especially for couples looking to add a little spice to the bedroom. If you and your partner are in this camp, voyeurism might be something you’ve heard about and are considering.
What is voyeurism? Voyeurism is watching someone else engage in activities that cause you to derive sexual gratification from seeing it. That’s a broad spectrum of kink there. It can run from enjoying watching your partner undress or bathe to watching hidden cameras of sexual encounters. And there’s a thin but clear line between when it’s ok and when it becomes deviant and, potentially, illegal.
When Voyeurism Crosses the Line
It would help if you got a quick understanding of when voyeurism isn’t ok at the jump. As mentioned above, the line is thin, but it’s substantial. Voyeurism is never ok if the person being observed doesn’t consent. Voyeurism is never ok if the person is regarded as a minor or of diminished capacity. Voyeurism is never ok if your partner isn’t ok with you doing it. If you have to hide what you’re doing from your partner for any reason, chances are, you shouldn’t be doing it.
There’s a legal definition of voyeurism in many states that defines when it becomes a criminal offense. The language varies from state to state, but a consensus seems to be similar to the statutory language of Ohio, which states, “A person is guilty of voyeurism if, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying himself, he trespasses or otherwise surreptitiously invades the privacy of another to spy or eavesdrop.” In states without a direct statute for voyeurism, such acts are often still punishable as a criminal offense. At the state level, they could be charged under the broader indecent conduct, invasion of privacy, or even eavesdropping statutes, depending on the state.
There’s a federal law that could be at play, as well. The “Video Voyeurism Protection Act” makes it a federal offense to photograph, record, or stream another person’s genitals without explicit consent. So, even if your state has lenient voyeurism laws, if electronics come into play, you can still be taken up on federal charges. Best to keep it all consensual, right? Right. That’s not even a question.
Voyeurism in Modern Times
The classic definition of voyeurism focused on the deviant part of the spectrum mentioned above. In this definition of voyeurism, the focus is on the person or people being watched, not consenting to be observed. It’s all about the secrecy and the illicit aspects of the watching. Some examples would be peeping into someone’s home, a public restroom, or changing room, taking up-skirt photos of women out in public, and even hidden cameras that record or live stream someone for hours. For the deviants of voyeurism, the subject of the viewing not being aware is where the turn-on originates. They aren’t necessarily into the fun of the act but the power dynamic that makes them feel superior when they get away with something they shouldn’t be doing. When they’re taking away the person’s free will by viewing them without their consent, it sexually arouses them.
These days, though, voyeurism is frequently used to refer to the non-harmful fetish or kink. A fetish, loosely, is sexual arousal or gratification tied to a non-sexual act or object. Some common examples would be foot fetishes and people who cannot reach sexual climax without a visual aid such as a photo or video. There are even fetishes involving inanimate objects like hats or shoes or even a spatula. On the other hand, a kink is arousal or enjoyment of a sexual activity considered outside the norm.
Voyeurism As a Fetish
The fetish of voyeurism can be harmless if all parties are consensual participants. If any one of the participants hasn’t consented or is incapable of consenting with complete autonomy, then it’s considered a crime, and crime is terrible. voyeurism, it can be considered a kink when you are alone or you and a partner engage in sexual activity while watching someone else also engage in sexual activity. It’s also sometimes used, perhaps incorrectly, when exhibitionism is the kink. Exhibitionism is when you and/or your partner enjoy having other people watch you engage in sexual activities.
With near limitless on-camera actors willing to let you watch them do anything from their laundry to sleeping to having sex, all for a fee, a person can scratch their kinky itch above-board and legally. You could also watch a pornographic video or look at pornographic pictures to derive the same type of sexual benefits and have it considered kinky and not illegal, provided those videos or photos were obtained legally by people who provided consent to being in them. In these cases, it’s best to either purchase them through a reputable company, or you could even do a video or photo swap with people you trust.
Voyeurism and Your Relationship
Voyeurism can take many forms. With modern technology, you don’t even have to be in the same country as the person you’re watching. Webcams are streaming with fully consenting adults in front of the lens, and the sky’s the limit with what they’re willing to do for their viewers. Most, but not all, are behind a paywall. This will open up many exciting opportunities to explore as you dabble in voyeurism and see how you like it.
Voyeurism By Observing Your Partner
Simply watching your sexual partner without participating can be a fun way to experiment with voyeurism. You can do this by watching them dress and undress or observing them while bathing. An enjoyable way to explore both voyeurism and exhibitionism is to have a secured “hidden camera” at home that you and your partner can use when away from home. You could watch your partner from afar and then tell them later about how much fun you had masturbating while you watched.
Roleplaying is another way to practice voyeurism with your partner. This could be roleplaying in public in some capacity and then coming home to enjoy the fruits of your labor. It could also mean you roleplay at home in a scenario where one of you catches the other sneaking a peek at them but is secretly into it, and sexy time ensues.
If your relationship supports it, then you could take the roleplaying to a different level and watch your partner engage in sexual activity with another person. It could begin with watching them pick up the person in public, then continue at home. All three people have to consent to this, of course, but even that break from the roleplay wouldn’t altogether remove the fun from this way of trying voyeurism.
Voyeurism By Observing Others
The last example above falls into both camps because you’d be watching both your partner and another person, but watching other people only can also be a fun part of voyeurism. This can be consensual mutual masturbation with a third party or another couple. It could be watching pornography, particularly fake hidden camera videos, and then having sex with your partner. It could also be observing a live webcam. This option ensures the other party or parties have given consent, as they actively interact with their audience. Given the live-action aspect, such webcam sessions can feel more natural and almost like it is in person.
If you’re curious about trying voyeurism by observing others, you might be wondering what other safe spaces are there to legally practice voyeurism besides webcams. There are more than you might think. You could observe another couple or person in your home or their home. You could join a swingers club. Some are hosted in residences, but many metropolitan areas have actual clubs you join via membership where you can participate in sexual activity with others or respectfully observe while other people have sex. Sex festivals are another great option. These are entirely legal and are a great place to watch others and buy items to enhance your experiences at home.
Safety For You And Your Partner With Voyeurism
Suppose you’re in a long-term relationship and looking to explore voyeurism within your relationship. In that case, you should ensure that both you and your partner are safe and comfortable with what you plan to do and what you’re actively doing. You also need to ensure both are safe and comfortable with what you are actively doing when you are doing it. You should also periodically discuss things you’ve tried recently and find out if you both enjoyed them and felt safe, loved, and empowered.
Discuss Your Voyeuristic Plans
If you’re interested in exploring voyeurism, have a candid discussion with your partner. Define what voyeurism means for you. That might include all the examples here or could only be a small subset if one of you is not comfortable with all aspects of voyeurism. Make a game plan for how you’ll proceed when you decide you’re ready and follow the game plan. Unexpected deviations from what was agreed upon could cause one or both of you to lose interest in voyeurism and undermine your trust in each other. It takes a tremendous amount of trust in your partner and your relationship to engage in kinky activities, and you want to ensure you are honoring that trust at all times.
Find a Way to Signal During Voyeurism Play
More physically rigorous types of kinky play, such as BDSM, absolutely require a safe word to be established, and voyeurism should be no different. It could be a complete surprise to find yourself engaging in voyeurism with your partner, and suddenly it isn’t fun any longer. The best way to prevent any awkwardness and alleviate any worry ahead of time that one of you might annoy the other or hurt someone’s feelings if you need to stop is to establish a safe word. If either of you uses it, the activity ends immediately, and there will be no hard feelings.
If the safe word option doesn’t seem to fit your needs, you should agree upon another way of letting each other know when things need to stop. This could be a hand signal, doing something seemingly mundane to others, such as pulling an item out of your purse or pocket and using it while looking at your partner, or any such action that you will both be looking out for. As long as you both know the signal and remember to look for it, any type will suffice.
Conduct a Post-Mortem After You Try Voyeurism
Whether your foray into voyeurism was a raging success or an utter failure, a post-mortem will let you and your partner figure out if you want to do it again or where it all went wrong. This is when, if one of you used the safe word, you discuss what happened, why you didn’t like it, and what could have happened differently or not at all to make that experience pleasurable. As long as you have a firm agreement to allow a veto during the activity without judgment, this conversation should only encourage your use of voyeurism in your healthy relationship.
Voyeurism And Other Kinks Are Good For Your Health
When considering whether or not you are ok with engaging in certain sexual activities such as voyeurism, you might find it beneficial to understand some of the science behind how you and your partner will benefit from the enjoyment of those activities. Studies are done on everything, and participation in kinky sex is no exception. Even though most studies are done on other types of kinks than voyeurism, you can safely assume that such reactions and results would apply to nearly any kind of kink, including voyeurism.
Some of the documented benefits of engaging in voyeurism and other consensual types of kinky sex are being less sensitive to rejection, being more open to new ideas and experiences, being more extroverted, and even being less neurotic in your day-to-day life.
Mental health and sexual health are very tightly entwined. When you have a satisfying/good sex life, it can positively affect your mental health. If you let yourself engage in and enjoy voyeurism, you could see such positive impacts as improved mood through increased serotonin, increased self-esteem, better sleep, and enhanced happiness overall.
Voyeuristic Disorder: The Dark Side of Voyeurism
Even though voyeurism and other kinks are perfectly healthy when consent and safety are foremost, there’s a dark side to voyeurism. Voyeurism becomes a voyeuristic disorder when the fantasies, urges, and behaviors that come with voyeurism are done in such a way as to cause harm or potentially cause damage to you or anyone else. This is most often seen by doing things without consent from the other parties.
To be classified as a voyeuristic disorder, the behavior must be consistent and generally observed over six months. Non-consent or ignoring revoked consent by the other party involved must be present. And, you have to be over the age of 18. Sexual deviance in minors is another topic and handled entirely differently than discussed here.
There’s no known cause for developing a voyeuristic disorder, but correlations or tendencies have been observed. These involve experiencing childhood sexual abuse, drug abuse, and hypersexuality. Bear in mind that having experienced these situations doesn’t mean you’ll develop a voyeuristic disorder. It only means that those who have a voyeuristic disorder tend to have one or more of these issues.
If you have a voyeuristic disorder, it can be treated via psychotherapy, medication, and behavioral modification activities.
Is it OK to Like Voyeurism?
Fetishes and kinks, such as voyeurism, are only problematic when they cause distress to someone involved. It’s absolutely OK and even healthy to enjoy voyeurism. Anything safe and enjoyable that helps you enjoy sexual activity with your consensual partners and doesn’t harm anyone else is a great way to enhance your experience. Your sex life and the decisions that go into what that entails for you are never anyone’s business but your own. Your focus should be on keeping yourself, and the others involved safe and satisfied. Whether or not anyone else feels your enjoyment of voyeurism is right or wrong doesn’t matter.
Often, women are more hesitant than men to pursue kinky exploration in the bedroom. They often worry that their partner will be disturbed by their fantasies and might even accuse them of not believing they are enough sexually. If you broach the subject of voyeurism with your male partner as a woman, and his first instinct is to demean you for it, you’re with the wrong man. If he, however, objectively has zero interest in trying it, then that’s different. You’ll have to respect his boundary. But, you’ll probably find your husband or partner will be very excited to hear your fantasies and more than happy to help you realize them within the safety of your relationship. And you’ll both probably find it brings you closer together when your sex life is more fulfilling.