Voyeurism is the practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors, such as undressing, sexual activity, or other actions usually considered to be of a private nature. Voyeurs are most commonly male, though it’s not restricted to gender. For some, the thrill of voyeurism is the secretive nature of the act—the individual being viewed is often unaware of the voyeurs interest. Cameras, webcams, and photographs are tools of the trade. When a voyeur becomes obsessed with their subject, however, it can often lead to stalking. Often regarded as being sexual in nature, it can also be done in a nonsexual nature.
Reality TV is a prime example of nonsexual voyeurism. Shows like Teen Mom, Survivor, and American Idol all give the viewing public an intimate interaction with an particular subject or group with limited outside influence.
Voyeurism often goes hand in hand with exhibitionism. Exhibitionism is the practice of engaging in a deliberate manner in order to garner attention. There are those who like to watch and those who like to be watched. There is no harm, in my honest opinion, in engaging in voyeurism or exhibitonism if all parties and acts involved are consensual. Non-consensual voyeurism and exhibitionism, of course, is a crime.
Art, film, and literature has long used voyeurism as a medium in their creations: Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, and D.J.’s Caruso Disturbia all used voyeurism as the plot device. Master painters such as Rembrandt depicted half clothed woman in various acts of perceived unobserved normality, while Velasquez focused more on how the images are observed, often using an inanimate object to bisect the picture, forcing the viewer to “peep” at the subjects. Nabokov’s Lolita, Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Through The Looking Glass, and Nadzam’s Lamb are all classic tales which have an underlying theme of voyeurism. Even music has capitalized on it; who doesn’t know the stalker's anthem song, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police?
[How does romance handle voyeurism?...]