Sneaky peeks

Having a sneaky peek at a naked person without their being aware of this is reported as far back as biblical times, when King David watched a beautiful woman bathe from the refuge of his roof. More than a thousand years later, legend has it that a man named Tom drilled a hole in his shutters so that he could watch the naked Lady Godiva ride through the streets of Coventry, Tom’s sexual curiosity superseding the order to avert his gaze. To this day, the term “Peeping Tom” is still used to refer to a person that gains sexual gratification from observing unsuspecting naked strangers. The technical term for this is voyeurism.

The question is, how many of us would look away if the opportunity presented itself to watch a naked person going about their personal business? And, do people with hilltop or apartment views use their telescopes for only watching celestial bodies? Most of us would probably justify a sneaky peek by saying that those being watched should have closed their blinds if they did not want to be viewed. Such behaviour is one thing, but things become more sinister when people go to some lengths to observe unsuspecting strangers in states of undress, doing their ablutions, or engaged in sexual activity.

Some young, able-bodied voyeurs go to great lengths to find their victims, scaling walls and fences to access windows that victims would have thought were safe from prying eyes. But, given the digital age that we live in, everyone is now at a greater risk of being spied on through the use of technology like “spy ware” and even cell phone cameras. The media has reported cases of voyeurs filming up women’s skirts, in gym showers, and even in the sanctuary of one’s own home (like the man that filmed his stepdaughter and her friends while they were in the bathroom). Such technology allows for easier access to victims, results in less likelihood of being caught, and the benefit of having a recording which can be viewed repeatedly.

Why don’t voyeurs just watch porn, you may ask? For some, it is the excitement of watching unsuspecting victims, watching particular victims, and of watching “real” people – not models or people acting particular scenes. Many justify their actions by believing that what the victim does not know, does not hurt. This also assumes that the perpetrator does not get caught. When they are apprehended, victims are left feeling devastated, on the realisation that their most intimate and private moments have been violated.

We live in an era where many of us enjoy looking into the “private” lives of others on reality television shows like Big Brother, Survivor, and even Embarrassing Bodies. However, most of us would not like the cameras to be turned on us, especially if we were not aware that this was being done, and those images being used for someone else’s pleasure. If you are at all concerned about becoming the victim of voyeurism, then taking some common sense steps is encouraged. Keeping blinds and windows closed when naked; checking for things being out of place; being aware of your surroundings and who is in it; being mindful of wearing skirts in crowded environments; listening for camera clicks when people are standing close to you; and being mindful of new relationships, are some potential remedies. Educating young people is especially important, given that they are at the greatest risk of becoming victims.

As with many things, a one-off, opportunistic peek is unlikely to lead to a person becoming a voyeur. The danger arises when once is not enough; the person becomes obsessed with a victim; and/or the pairing of sexual arousal and viewing others. Doing so can have serious consequences for victims and perpetrators alike: King David had his victim’s husband sent to war where he was killed, leaving David to pursue the woman for himself; Tom was blinded for his actions; and nowadays, voyeurs appear before the courts and potentially end up in prison; while victims are left with deep emotional scars that can take a long time to heal.


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