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Voyeurism vs. Pornography

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Voyeurism vs. Pornography

Josh Killoran

Ever since porn has become mainstream people often equate it to voyeurism. These people are wrong, the two are not the same. There are a few fundamental differences between voyeurism and pornography. Voyeurism is a fetish that borders on a dysfunction and porn is more of a masturbation aide. Porn is becoming more socially acceptable as it moves into the mainstream, voyeurism has – and will never – be acceptable. There is a very good reason for that. That being said, porn and voyeurism should never be equated.

A Look At Voyeurism

Depending on how you see it, voyeurism could be a fetish or a sexual dysfunction. A voyeur looks at illicit sexual imagery, but that imagery has specific parameters. It has to be illicit, visual, and the person being viewed can't know they're being watched. This makes them a victim. There are many ways a voyeur can victimize people. Such as peeping through windows, using hidden cameras to watch people, or looking up skirts. Part of what gets the voyeur off is invading an unaware victim's privacy. In a way it's a form of theft and what's being stolen is privacy. Plenty of voyeurs will even say that porn doesn't arouse them because the porn stars are voluntarily being filmed. While voyeurism and porn addiction are both problems, the porn consumer isn't victimizing anyone. Another difference between voyeurism and watching porn is that a voyeur might not masturbate, or orgasm, during the act. Much like arsonists, voyeurs will often masturbate to the memories of their victims(1). For all of these reasons voyeurism has always, and will always, be far more unacceptable than watching porn.

A Look At Porn

Watching porn is far simpler than being a voyeur. Porn is simply sexual media made to cause a sexual reaction(2). This can be in the form of still images, videos, etc. However, there's a huge difference between this sexual media and voyeurism. The performers in porn volunteer to be filmed. There's a transaction between the pornographers and the performers where both parties benefit. This is also why the porn consumer isn't victimizing anyone. They are simply entering into the same transaction as the pornographers and performers. They're exchanging money, unless they're pirating it, for the porn that everyone voluntarily made – unlike voyeurs. Voyeurs are always victimizing someone and invading privacy. It even gets to the point where some voyeurs seek treatment.

Treatment for Voyeurism

Voyeurism can interfere with the voyeur's life. Therefore, it isn't uncommon for voyeurs to seek treatment for their voyeurism. There isn't any kind of consensus for what causes voyeurism. However, many experts point toward an accidental observation of a naked body in childhood that gets reinforced by repeating the behavior. In order for a psychologist to classify you as a voyeur you need to have intense sexual fantasies and urges to peek on an unsuspecting person for at least six months. These sexual urges/fantasies also have to cause significant distress in your life. This behavior occurs much more often in men, but can occur in women. Whenever a voyeur wants treatment they usually undergo Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in order to permanently change their behavior(3). This form of treatment is just one more difference between watching porn and voyeurism.

Conclusion

There are many people that think of watching porn as being voyeurism, these people are working under a misconception. It is quite possible that they don't fully understand what voyeurism is. With voyeurism there is always a victim who does not give consent. Part of voyeurism is getting off on that victimization. There is an implied consent with pornography. Porn stars are adults who volunteer to have sex on camera. Also, equating voyeurism with watching porn belittles the victims of voyeurs. A voyeur's victims have had their privacy violated in very intimate moments by a criminal. Porn stars are performers that get paid to do what they do – porn is benign compared to voyeurism.

  1. “Voyeurism: What It Is and What It Isn't,” accessed on May 21, 2017, https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2014/08/voyeurism-what-it-is-and-what-it-isnt/

  2. “Porn,” accessed on May 21, 2017, http://www.dictionary.com/browse/porn

  3. “Voyeurism,” accessed on May 21, 2017, http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Voyeurism.html