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Voyeurism and Exhibitionism 101

  • 5 min read
Voyeurism and Exhibitionism 101 - The Cowgirl Blog

Written by sex journalist and expert, Gabrielle Kassel, for The Cowgirl.

The terms “voyeur” and “exhibitionist” get thrown around willy-nilly, but question: Do you actually know what they mean? Read on to find out that, and so much more.

Let’s start with definitions:

Voyeurism: Voyeurism is the practice of watching others engage in nude, semi-nude, or sexual activities, and obtaining pleasure or sexual gratification from it. However, a voyeur may also experience pleasure from hearing others have sex.

Exhibitionism: Exhibitionism is essentially the opposite of voyeurism. It’s the act of receiving pleasure by being watched or seen while naked or having sex.

“Voyeurism and exhibitionism are two sides of the same coin,” says sex worker and sex educator Corey More. “An exhibitionist thrives in the presence of a voyeur, and vice versa.”

Wait, Are Voyeurism and Exhibitionism Legal?

Great question! Ultimately, it depends on whether or not consent has been asked for and granted, says branding expert, fat activist, and performer Megan, founder and performer behind That Fat Babe.

“Playing out voyeurism or exhibitionist fantasies is only appropriate if consent has been enthusiastically granted ahead of time and boundaries have been discussed,” in the absence of guilt, pressure, or coercion, she says.

If the person/people being watched have not opted into being watched, voyeurism is illegal. Likewise, if the person/people seeing sex take place, need to have consented to see that.

Why Are People Into Voyeurism And Exhibitionism?

streaming sex acts

For starters, both are taboo. “These days sex is still seen as something that happens behind closed doors between two people,” says Megan “So, the act of inviting someone into the space to watch you—or being invited into that space to watch someone else—can feel naughty.” And doing things that are naughty or forbidden can be a real turn-on.

Voyeurism has the benefit of allowing a person to receive pleasure (vis-à-vis watching someone else receive pleasure), without any pressure of performing, physically, says Megan. For people with erectile dysfunction, performance anxiety, dyspareunia (painful sex), dysorgasmia (painful orgasm), anorgasmia (the inability to orgasm), being a voyeur can be a more comfortable way of having sex.

With exhibitionism “there's a certain amount of pleasure derived [...] from the simple knowledge that others think you’re hot,” writes Dr. Justin Lehmiller, PhD, social psychologist and research fellow at The Kinsey Institute, wrote in Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, a book about the seven most popular fantasies, based on his research.

Are Voyeurism and Exhibitionism Kinks Common?


According to the aforementioned research conducted by Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., voyeurism is the most common “taboo” sexual activity to fantasize about, with 60 percent of research participants reporting having fantasized about it before.

The same research also found that 42 percent of participants had fantasized about consensual exhibitionism before.

Do I Have A Voyeur or Exhibitionist Kink?

Considering how common the two kinks are, it’s very possible!

Some questions to ask yourself to find out:

  • Do I watch porn while I masturbate? If so, what about it turns me on?
  • Do I enjoy sending nudes to my partner(s)? Would I ever consent for my partner(s) to share those photos?
  • Do I listen through the wall when my roommate is having sex? How do I feel about my roommate hearing me have sex?
  • Do I have an interest in attending a sex party? What about attending a sex party turns me on?
  • Does the idea of being caught having sex by a stranger turning me on? Does the idea of catching a stranger having sex turn me on?

Voyeurism and Exhibitionism 101 - The Cowgirl Blog

How To Use The CowGirl To Explore Your Kink

One of the best (read: legal, consensual, and pleasurable) ways to explore your voyeuristic or exhibitionism kink is by buying The Cowgirl.

“A rideable sex machine is a great investment for voyeurs and exhibitionists alike because they allow you to put on a solo show for your partner(s)—or watch a show by your partner,” says More. “The Cowgirl is an especially good option because it can be connected to an app that allows the machine to be controlled from afar,” they say. Meaning, the performer can allow the watcher to modulate the intensity. Fun, right?

Beyond the psychological stimulation that often accompanies voyeurism and exhibitionism, The Cowgirl also feels good physically. Through high-quality silicone attachments, “the machine is able to transmit super powerful vibration to the performer,” says More.

To make riding The Cowgirl as pleasurable as possible, Megan recommends incorporating lube. The glisten of the lubricant against the exhibitionist’s bits can be incredibly arousing for whoever is watching. It also allows the attachments to slide and glide over—or into— their genitals more easily.

explore kink with cheat sheet

Megan also recommends that the exhibitionist write a lil script ahead of time. “Anytime you’re putting on a show for someone(s), you want to make your life as easy as possible,” she says. “When you’re not sure what movements and motions to do, it’s helpful to have a cheat-sheet to refer back to.”

3 More Ways To Tips Exploring Exhibitionism and Voyeurism

The Cowgirl may be one of the best ways to explore these kinks—but it’s not the only way.

1. Go to a sex party.

go to a sex party

“Attending an in-person or Zoom sex party is a great way to explore these kinks because being watched and watching are a big part of the experience,” says Megan. (Plus, many sex parties have a Cowgirl on the floor that attendees can use).

To find a sex party to attend, she recommends talking to your most sex-positive friends. Or, chatting with the employees at your local sex shop, your local sex educators, or local sex workers.

“Before you attend, look into the organization's consent culture, and find out what their protocols for newbies are,” she suggests. “Ask if there is a review board if there will be that people won’t be having sex, but will keep their eyes on the scene, and learn what the security will be like.”

When you’re there, keep in mind that there is a polite way to be a voyeur and a less-polite way to be a voyeur, “It is super rude to comment, give unsolicited direction, or feedback on the scene that you’re watching,” says More. So don’t do that.

2. Exchange nudes with your partner(s)

exchange nudes with your partners

“It can be really thrilling and gratifying to send a photo to someone you know wants to see you naked,” says More. “Likewise, it can be sexy to receive a photo from a partner you want to see naked.”

Sendee beware: Even in a relationship, you can’t spring nudes on your partner. “Make sure your partner is in an environment and head-space that they can receive a nude and give you the feedback you’re looking to receive,” they say.

3. Masturbate in front of your partner, or watch your partner masturbate.

“When you’re having sex with your partner, you might get so caught up in the moment that you aren’t able to fully appreciate how hot they look,” says More. But if they masturbate in front of you, there’s nothing to focus on but how hot they look!

To introduce the idea to your partner, you might say:

  • “While I’m away on business next weekend, would you have any interest in sending each other masturbation videos back and forth on Snapchat? Watching you have sex with yourself would be such a huge turn-on for me.”
  • “Tonight instead of having partnered sex, I’d love to watch you touch yourself while I watch. Is that something you might be interested in?”.

If your partner is an exhibitionist, this is a win-win. If not, however, you may need to spend some time reassuring them how hot watching will be for you. After all, masturbating is typically something people do on their own, and shame around masturbating is common.

The bottom line

Voyeurism and exhibitionism are common kinks, that when explored consensually, can bring the people with the kink a lot of pleasure!