Voyeurism: Wikis



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In clinical psychology, voyeurism is the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors, such as undressing, sexual activity, or other activity usually considered to be of a private nature.[1][2] In popular imagination the term is used in a more general sense to refer to someone who habitually observes others without their knowledge, and there is no necessary implication of any sexual interest.

Voyeurism (from the French voyeur, "one who looks") can take several forms, but its principle characteristic is that the voyeur does not normally relate directly with the subject of their interest, who is often unaware of being observed. The voyeur may observe the subject from a distance, or use stealth to observe the subject with the use of two-way mirrors, hidden cameras, secret photography, etc.


Historical aspects

Voyeurism is not a new phenomenon. Instances of voyeurism have been found in the Bible.[3]

DSM IV Classification

Classification and external resources
ICD-10 F65.3
ICD-9 302.82

Certain voyeuristic fantasies, urges and behavior patterns are classified as a paraphilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association and a disorder of sexual preference in the ICD-10.[4][5] The diagnosis would not be given to people who experience typical sexual arousal simply by seeing nudity or sexual activity.

Legal position

Voyeurism is not a crime in common law. In common law countries, it is only a crime if made so by legislation. In Canada, for example, voyeurism was not a crime when the case Frey v. Fedoruk et al. arose in 1947. In that case, in 1950, the Supreme Court of Canada held that courts could not criminalize voyeurism by classifying it as a breach of the peace and that Parliament would have to specifically outlaw it. On November 1, 2005, this was done when section 162 was added to the Canadian Criminal Code, declaring voyeurism to be a sexual offense.[6]

In some cultures, voyeurism is considered to be deviant and even a sex crime. In the United Kingdom, non-consensual voyeurism became a criminal offense on May 1, 2004.[7] However, some societies tolerate it in some circumstances (e.g., adolescent "Peeping Toms" and the UK dogging craze). Voyeurs are typically male, although many women also practice voyeurism.

In the English case of R v Turner[8] the manager of a sports center filmed four women taking showers. There was no indication that the footage had been shown to anyone else or distributed in any way. The defendant pleaded guilty. The Court of Appeal confirmed a sentence of nine months imprisonment to reflect the seriousness of the abuse of trust and the traumatic effect on the victims.

It has been claimed that some individuals who engage in "nuisance" offenses (such as voyeurism) may also have a propensity for violence.[9] Voyeurs may demonstrate some characteristics that are common, but not universal, among sexual offenders of all types including sadistic or violent offenders who invest considerable time and effort in the capturing of a victim (or image of a victim); careful, methodical planning devoted to the selection and preparation of equipment; and often meticulous attention to detail.[10]

In the United States, video voyeurism is an offense in nine states and may require the convicted criminal to register as a sex offender.[11] The original case that led to the criminalization of voyeurism has been made into a television movie called Video Voyeur and documents the criminalization of secret photography. Criminal voyeurism statutes are related to invasion of privacy laws[12] but are specific to unlawful surreptitious surveillance without consent and unlawful recordings including the broadcast, dissemination, publication, or selling of recordings involving places and times when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a reasonable supposition they are not being photographed or filmed by "any mechanical, digital or electronic viewing device, camera or any other instrument capable of recording, storing or transmitting visual images that can be utilized to observe a person."[13]

In the Louise Ogborn strip search incident, the perpetrator was said to be engaged in a form of virtual voyeurism.[14]

Secret photography

Secret photography by law enforcement authorities is called surveillance and is not considered to be voyeurism, though it may be unlawful or regulated in some countries.

Some fine art photographers have displayed a fascination with the forms of secret voyeuristic photography. Voyeuristic photography has also been centrally explored in movies such as Powell & Pressburger's Peeping Tom, and Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup, and has appeared to comic effect in films such as Gregory's Girl and American Pie.

Sometimes voyeurs use normal cameras, but the photographer is concealed. Sometimes the camera itself is disguised or concealed. Some obvious element of concealment (or great distance) is generally needed to make such photography fall under the category of 'secret photography' rather than street photography or documentary photography.

Although spy cameras small enough to fit inside a pocket-watch had existed since the 1880s,[15] advances in miniaturization and electronics since the 1950s has greatly aided the ability to conceal miniature cameras, and the quality and affordability of tiny cameras (often called "spy cameras" or subminiature cameras) has now greatly increased. Some consumer digital cameras are now so small that in previous decades they would have qualified as "spy cameras", and digital cameras of 5 megapixels or more are now being embedded in some mobile camera phones.

Some institutions, such as gyms and schools, have banned camera phones because of the privacy issues they raise in areas like changerooms. Saudi Arabia banned the sale of camera phones nationwide for a period, but reversed the ban in 2004. South Korea requires that all camera phones sold in the country make a clearly audible sound whenever a picture is being taken.

In popular culture

Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, As She Goes to Bed by William Etty. This image illustrates Herodotus's version of the tale of Gyges.
  • A serious psychological treatment of the topic in cinema was done in Peeping Tom.
  • The anime Colorful is devoted almost entirely to the paraphilia.
  • Alone With Her is a recent indie film shot completely from a high tech, spycam point-of-view.
  • The movie Video Voyeur: The Susan Wilson Story is based on a true story about the woman who was secretly videotaped and consequently, helped get the law against voyeurism passed.
  • Cult movie double feature The Rocky Horror Picture Show/Shock Treatment deals with the theme of voyeurism sexually and in mass media
  • In the E.L. Doctorow novel Billy Bathgate, Billy is a voyeur who masturbates as he secretly watches a woman.
  • The 1993 film Sliver deals with voyeurism.
  • In 2007, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho referred to Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger as a "voyeur", after Wenger reportedly spied on Chelsea tactics during a team training session.
  • In the film Saw 4 the villain Jigsaw depicts Ivan as a voyeur when he recorded himself on a tape recorder saying "Hello Ivan, as a voyeur you have kept pictures of those you have victimised"
  • Voyeurism is an ingredient in some reality television programs such as Big Brother.
  • Laura Mulvey talks about scopophilia in terms of feminist film theory in Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.
  • Blink-182 has a song entitled "Voyeur" on their 1997 album Dude Ranch
  • In the video game Modern Warfare 2 the term is used as a title given to players who frequently use a UAV to spy on the other team.
  • A popular adult-themed website called Voyeurhousexxx features a voyeuristic look inside a 24/7 live webcam model house.

See also


  1. ^ Hirschfeld, M. (1938). Sexual anomalies and perversions: Physical and psychological development, diagnosis and treatment (new and revised edition). London: Encyclopaedic Press.
  2. ^ Smith, R. S. (1976). Voyeurism: A review of the literature. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 5, 585-608.
  3. ^ Aggrawal, Anil. (April 2009). "References to the paraphilias and sexual crimes in the Bible". J Forensic Leg Med 16 (3): 109–14. doi:10.1016/j.jflm.2008.07.006. PMID 19239958. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B8CY1-4TRHCD9-1&_user=5081486&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000047720&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=5081486&md5=ccfb8545a50236e6819a0666ba569db2.  
  4. ^ "ICD-10". http://www.who.int/classifications/apps/icd/icd10online/gf60.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-13.  
  5. ^ BehaveNet Clinical Capsule: Voyeurism
  6. ^ Criminal Code
  7. ^ Section 67 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  8. ^ (2006) All ER (D) 95 (Jan)
  9. ^ R.R. Hazelwood and J. Warren, "The Serial Rapist: His Characteristics and Victims," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1989, 18-25
  10. ^ The Criminal Sexual Sadist
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Invasion of Privacy Law & Legal Definition
  13. ^ Stephanie's Law
  14. ^ Strip search prank call scam.
  15. ^ Secret watch camera, c.1886

External links

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 28, 2010

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