June 1, 2011

Voyeurism is Inescapable

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 12:50 pm

By. Kelsey Smyth

In present day America voyeurism is a common, widely accepted practice.  This may seem surprising because the word carries a negative connotation.   Voyeurism comes in a variety of forms; the most common is the negative image of a “peeping tom.”  A creepy man, who tries to satisfy his sexual desires by, climbing up a tree to look in a teenage girl’s window as she changes, looks up a girl’s skirt, or other through other invasive methods.  Obviously this activity is not society approved.  However technologies such as surveillance cameras, and web cams, as well as American’s fascination with reality TV are all common ways voyeurism is accepted.    

A sign that voyeurism is not only accepted, but supported in our society is American’s obsessive use of surveillance cameras.  In 2007, there were an estimated 30 million surveillance camera in the United States, and the average American was caught on film about 200 per day.  The number of surveillance cameras continues to increase all of the time, thus four years later we are all being watched by even more cameras.  For some, this blinking, red dot provides a sense of security that someone is watching over their well being.  For others, this ample use of cameras provides them with the capability to satisfy their voyeuristic tendencies without being noticed by society.   

Webcams, a common feature on nearly every laptop purchased in the past couple years.  This tiny camera, when paired with the internet, has taken voyeurism to an entirely new level.  People have created websites that they use to stream live footage of themselves, being typed via a webcam, going about their daily routine.  The “stars” of the webcast are voluntarily giving up all of their privacy rights, by choosing to allow anyone in the world (with computer access) to watch their every move.   

Another even more widely talked about type of voyeurism is a form of entertainment that our society is obsessed with, reality TV.  Reality shows cover every topic from athletic and intellectual challenges, to dating, to make-overs, and many others in between.  Each of the broad categories branches out exponentially, thus there is something for every person’s interests.  This makes it one of the most popular television genres.  If one thinks about it, nearly everyone in our society is a voyeur looking in on these people’s lives.  These drama filled, fast paced shows have most Americans addicted to watching people struggle, change, and compete.

As our world and technology continues to advance the more privacy people lose.  Already we can’t leave our home without being caught on tape multiple times.  We have reached a point now where the majority of our day is filmed.  The 2007 movie, Look proves someone can track our daily movements from the cameras of every place we visit, and piece them back together, as if to turn our lives into a reality show for others to view.  This movie shows how frightening it is that technology can truly take away all privacy and turn us all into voyeurs.


  1. Tara Nagaraj

    This post reminds me of the article we read in English class about the webcam girls who record their daily activities for the public to see. I agree with the fact that constant surveillance, whether through webcams or security cameras really limit what is truly private. With advancing technology, no one really knows where to draw the line between public and private space, and this is proof of that.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — June 1, 2011 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  2. It is true that occasionally our privacy is invaded by these lurking cameras; however, do they really cause more harm than good? Most cameras are used for security purposes and without them the amount of breaches in security would skyrocket. I am aware that we all like to keep certain parts of our lives private, and sometimes cameras destroy this goal. I personally believe though that the security and protection that we gain from the use of cameras largely outweighs the every once in awhile invasion of privacy.
    Katie Roberts

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — June 1, 2011 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: