Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Media Support for Voyeurism and Exhibitionism

Voyeurism is the practice of observing someone else nude or engaging in intimate behaviors without that person's awareness of what is going on.  The common stereotype is that of the Peeping Tom, for better or worse.

Exhibitionism is the intentional public display of body parts that are normally concealed.

Both of these are officially categorized as paraphilias by the American Psychiatric Association when there is sexual intent involved.

Lately, the media has become increasingly an enabler of these sorts of practices, whether the person being viewed is complicit in the process or not.  (Does anyone believe that many or most of those "wardrobe malfunctions" were purely accidental?)  As a matter of fact, there's a purely instrumental reason why there's been a proliferation  of these types of literal exposés: they're translated into increased magazine sales and increased publicity for the person in question.  For example, there's been a recent proliferation of personalities who have won clothing that makes it evident that they went commando, yet managed to expose very little.  There's a mindset in Hollywood that perceives that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

However, there are some occasions when a person does have a legitimate malfunction.  When that occurs, the polite thing to do is to pretend nothing happened, nothing was seen!  Common decency and good manners should call for that.

There's a semantic issue involved.  The routine media coverage of these showings indicates strongly that the social climate towards these activities has shifted, making certain of these more normative.  And, should not there be a redefinition of the psychiatric term as it is ordinarily used?  Or maybe there should be some kind of additional qualifications as to when these terms should be used?

How about attention whore syndrome as a diagnostic category?  Well, the present-day histrionic personality disorder could effectively cover it.  But the deliberate publicity-seekers might warrant such a distinction!

To use a concrete example: If someone were cheekily to appear in public at South Beach while wearing a thong, should that be considered exhibitionism? Would the beach visitors who visit that shore to enjoy the local fauna be regarded as voyeurs? This is a long way from Daumier's keyhole peeker above. The thong-wearer presumably intends this sort of exposure, and the local custom permits this kind of display and its viewing.

Okay, I'm well aware that a woman who might appear in public wearing a thong would be arrested in many inhibited localities, like Boston or Minneapolis, for instance. There, the local mores view that sort of display in a negative light. But, since some places have different rules of dress, should there be geographical criteria to the definiton of these paraphilias?

And, in the case of Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, temporal criteria possibly.

nd time plays a part, too.


The Mistress of the Dark said...

I wish we could get rid of the attention whores...or better yet the people that thrive on giving attention whores attention

Duckbutt said...

There is definitely a symbotic relationship between those whose position is dependent on publicity and the media. Hell, even the Huff Post plays that game.

TexWisGirl said...

sex sells.

Deena said...

We need national standards for appropriate beach attire. There's too much ambiguity that can result in the unwary being in trouble.

Bilbo said...

"Attention Whore Syndrome." I love it!! There are a whole bunch of people in Congress suffering from it, for sure. And as for thongs and such, I still prefer the Picket Fence Theory of feminine apparel: a bathing suit or similar attire should be able to protect the property without obstructing the view.

Mike said...

I can't say that I've ever seen a fully thonged person in person. Just the back strap flash from a bend over.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Bilbo -- Maybe it will appear in DSM - VI, if trends continue the way they are.

TexWisGirl -- It does very well

Mike -- It's common at South Beach. A string bikini with sufficient tush coverage is considered modest attire.

Mistress of the Dark -- Alas, they will always be with us.

Duckbutt -- True symbotism.

Deena -- But what part of the country will impose those standards on the rest of us? Boston or Salt Lake City or Seattle? Or Miami or Gulf Shores?