Volume 55
Issue 2
Spring '18

To See and Be Seen: Reconstructing the Law of Voyeurism and Exhibitionism

Written By: Stuart P. Green


This article proceeds in four parts. Part I considers the definitions of voyeurism and exhibitionism from the perspectives of psychiatry, the criminal law, and general cultural norms. Part II offers a basic framework for thinking about what kinds of conduct are properly criminalized. Part III considers why we criminalize voyeurism, focusing specifically on the wrongs it entails, the harms it causes, and the offense it elicits, as well as when a potential victim of voyeurism can be said to have assumed the risk of, or consented to, being watched. Part IV focuses on the argument for criminalizing indecent exposure. Considered again are the act’s potential for causing harm, entailing a wrong, and eliciting offense. This part pays particular attention to the difference between public and private places, the value of the offender’s conduct to himself and to society, the victim’s susceptibility to offense, and the ways in which cultures differ with respect to norms concerning nudity and partial nudity.

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