4Men - Health

Exercise and gym tips, Gay health issues and the latest news in the struggle against HIV/AIDS

The Gay Voyeur and his dreams and actions explained

Understanding The Gay Voyeur

By Alex James

Have you ever wanted to check out the hot neighbor while he's cleaning his pool? Have you ever fantasized about having sex in public? If so, you might have a little voyeurism or exhibitionism in your blood. Most of us do to some degree, but how much can mean the difference between fueling fantasies and satisfying erotic desires, or invading someone’s privacy and getting yourself in a load of trouble.

Understanding fetishes starts with paraphilias. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), paraphilias are recurrent, intense, sexually-arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors generally involving nonhuman objects, the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, or children or other non-consenting persons.

Both voyeurism and exhibitionism are considered paraphilias. Voyeurism involves the act of observing an unsuspecting person in the process of disrobing or engaging in sexual activity. Exhibitionism involves the exposure of one’s genitals to an unsuspecting stranger. Each of these would be present for at least six months, and the person would have acted on these sexual urges, or had the urges or fantasies cause a marked distress or interpersonal difficulty to earn a diagnosis.

As with all unique sexual behaviors, having consent is essential. A keyword in the definitions of voyeurism and exhibitionism is “unsuspecting,” which implies a person hasn’t consented to the sexual behavior. For those of you who think you may fall into one or both of these paraphilia categories, a qualified mental health professional should diagnose voyeurism and/or exhibitionism. Treatment can help those who struggle with these desires.

A voyeur and an exhibitionist appear to be a match made in paraphilic heaven. One loves to watch, the other loves to be watched. You’d think this would make for beautiful music, but each person in the world has his own individual desires, turn-ons and limits, which can make it difficult to know where to draw the line when engaging in erotic desires. Often, consent plays an important role in whether people get turned on, turned off, angry, excited, or get in trouble with the law. For some, the idea of not having consent is what sexually arouses them, which can be a dangerous game to play.

There are a number of ways people express their voyeuristic/exhibitionist desires, and they range from the harmless to the harmful.

Some examples of nonconsensual voyeuristic behaviors include using peepholes, spying and using concealed or hidden cameras to record individuals for naughty shots and in places like bathrooms, changing rooms and public/private environments.

Some examples of consensual voyeuristic behaviors could include watching a partner undress or masturbate, checking out an internet “live” cam, observing people at a nude beach, and watching people have intercourse at a sex club.

Keep in mind that those individuals on internet live cams, at a nude beach and those having intercourse at a sex club offer a certain degree of implied consent because they are aware they will be seen. Flashers and people engaging in public sex who purposely get caught may fall under non-consensual exhibitionists, while the exotic dancer and people who perform on webcams, have Skype sex or send photos of themselves through cruise sites may be considered consensual exhibitionists.

We’re not sure where these desires come from or how they manifest. There are a number of theories and no definitive answers. One thing that’s certain with fetish and paraphilia theory is that the brain is heavily involved. If brain functioning is central to desire, arousal and compulsive behavior, our future understanding of the origins of voyeurism, exhibitionism, paraphilias, and fetishes will likely cross paths with brain and behavior research.

Some theories suggest that childhood experiences and family dysfunction may be linked to establishing fetishes and paraphilic lovemaps. Other theories to the roots of paraphilias and fetishes include the amount of testosterone in the body, a history of ADHD and traumatic head injuries. However, there is yet to be a causal relationship established by any of these theories, and it appears that many factors influence paraphilias and fetishism with individuals (biological, psychological, sociological, experiential, trauma, etc.). What research has found is that when there is a compulsive component present to voyeurism and exhibitionism, it can become problematic, debilitating and can potentially impact a person’s sexual functioning.

A diagnosed voyeur likely balances a number of internal and external psychological conflicts. Most are men and many struggle with their own sexual fulfillment and desires. They are often sexually frustrated individuals and have difficulty with sexual relationships and dating. The voyeuristic behavior helps the individual deal with feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, pain, self-esteem struggles, and/or underlying mental health issues. The behaviors may help satisfy or substitute sexual fulfillment and happiness. If you combine those difficulties with a compulsive need to view unsuspecting people in a sexual manner, this can be a difficult burden for anyone to carry and can possibly lead to harmful consequences.

A diagnosed exhibitionist may also experience difficulties that can affect their sexual and interpersonal functioning. Most exhibitionists are males and feel sexually unsatisfied. They often experience internal psychological frustrations or tension and the act of exposing themselves helps alleviate these feelings. Some fantasize that their flashing will produce a sexualized response from the observer.

Often, they seek a specific type of response, such as surprise, shock, disgust, or anger to help fill the sexual and/or psychological void within themselves. This response can elicit sexualized feelings and arousal that may lead some to masturbate afterward. If a person offers a different response than what was internally desired (ignoring them, ridicule, laughter), the exhibitionist may feel rejected, angered or humiliated. This could further exacerbate the psychological difficulties they may be dealing with and lead them to continue their exhibitionism in attempts to deal with their frustrations.

It is highly unlikely that a voyeur or an exhibitionist will become physical or try to have sex with a person. Both, however, will actively seek out people and situations that may provide them with an erotic outlet to engage their desires. For some, their desire to engage in these acts centers less on psychological turmoil and more on the pure arousing eroticism of the behavior. For others, psychology, arousal and compulsive thoughts and behaviors prove to be a powerful combination they struggle to control.

There’s relatively little research on either voyeurism or exhibitionism, which makes it difficult to have reliable statistics. Most studies focus on people who have never had these desires or people who have experienced legal consequences as a result of satisfying their desires; both variables will produce very different percentages. Therefore, the numbers vary with regard to prevalence.

A major Swedish study using 2,450 randomly selected 18-to-60-year-old subjects found that 3.1% of people (4.1% male, 2.1% female) reported at least one incident of being sexually aroused by exposing their genitals to a stranger. In that same study, they also found that 8% of people (12% male, 4% female) reported at least one incident of being sexually aroused by spying on others having sex.

A U.S. study found 42% of college-aged males reported having had at least one incident of secretly watching others in sexual situations. Maybe this difference in male voyeuristic behaviors (12% versus 42%) has something to do with Sweden’s sex-positive society and comprehensive sex education for children/teens versus America’s sex-negative society and abstinence-only sex education for children/teens. Makes one wonder where South Africa fits into all of this.

As with any sexual behavior, too much of a good thing and lack of consent can have destructive outcomes. Voyeurism and exhibitionism are like water: Sometimes they’re refreshing and nourishing, and other times, they can boil and burn you. We’re all sexual beings, and fulfilling our sexual desires is a basic part of life. Use your imagination and take advantage of all the possibilities out there for safe, consensual sexcapades. Be careful, make smart choices and find positive outlets for your erotic desires. They’re out there if you’re really looking.

Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Keep up with us on Pinterest Join our Google Plus circle Join us on Tumblr