. Reactions to an Obscene Telephone Caller
The obscene telephone caller may boast of sexual acts he will perform on the victim, may describe his masturbation in detail, may threaten the victim, or may try to entice the victim to reveal aspects of her sexual life or even perform sexual acts such as masturbating while he listens on the phone. Some callers are very persuasive; many have great success in talking women into performing sexual acts while posing as product representatives recalling tampons or douches, as the police, or even as people conducting a sexual survey. (Please note: no reputable sexuality researchers conduct surveys over the phone. If you receive such a call, do not answer any sexually explicit questions.) Others threaten harm to the victim or her family if she does not do what he asks (obscene callers often know the victim’s address, if only from the phone book). Some will get a woman’s phone number while observing her writing a check at a place like the supermarket and then will frighten her more because he knows her address, appearance, and even some of her food preferences (Matek, 1988; see the accompanying Personal Voices, “Reactions to an Obscene Telephone Caller”).
Currently, thousands of phone lines have been established in which a person can pay to have sexually explicit phone conversations. Perhaps these lines may lessen the need of obscene callers to contact unsuspecting victims. However, new and potentially
more intrusive types of obscene calls may be just around the corner. Recently, the first picture phones have been put into general use; these phones have a screen that transmits the picture of the person calling. The picture phone may initiate a whole new type of obscene telephone call.
Question: What should I do if I receive an obscene telephone call?
You should react calmly and not exhibit the reactions of shock, fright, or disgust that the caller finds exciting. Do not slam the phone down; simply replace it gently in the cradle. An immediate ring again is probably a callback; ignore it, or pick up the phone and hang up quickly without listening. Sometimes a gentle suggestion that the person needs psychological help disrupts the caller’s fantasy. Persistent callers can be discouraged by suggesting that you have contacted the police. If you do get more than one call, notify the telephone company. Caller ID has been helpful in reducing the rates of obscene phone calls.
Voyeurism Voyeurs, or those who engage in scopophilia, are people whose main means of sexual gratification is watching unsuspecting persons undressing, naked, or engaging in sexual activity. Some would argue that we are a voyeuristic society; our major media—newspapers, television, movies, advertisements—are full of sexual images that are intended to interest and arouse us. Magazines and movies featuring nude women or couples are very popular. Even television shows display far more nudity and sexuality than would have been allowed in movies just a few years ago. In modern society, it seems, we have all become casual voyeurs to some degree.
Clinical voyeurs, however, are those for whom watching others naked or viewing erotica is a compulsion. Voyeurs are often called “Peeping Toms,” a revealing term because implicit in it are two important aspects of voyeurism. First, a “peeper” is one who looks without the knowledge or consent of the person being viewed, and true voyeurs are excited by the illicit aspect of their peeping. Second, the voyeur is usually male. Though it is becoming more acceptable for women in society to read magazines such as Playgirl, which show nude men, or to spend an evening watching male strippers such as the Chippendales, clinically speaking there are very few “Peeping Janes.”
The typical voyeur is a heterosexual male who begins his voyeuristic behaviors before the age of 15 (Seligman & Hardenburg, 2000). Primary voyeurism is apparently rare. More often, voyeurism is mixed in with a host of other paraphiliac behaviors (Langevin & Lang, 1987). In one study, fewer than 2% of voyeurs said that voyeurism was their only paraphilia (G. Abel et al., 1988). Still, voyeurs are generally harmless and are satisfied just with peeping, although they certainly can scare an unsuspecting person who sees a strange man peering in the window. In a few cases, however, voyeurism can lead to more and more intrusive sexual activity, including rape (Holmes, 1991). Voyeurs, when caught, are usually not charged with a sex crime but with trespassing or sometimes breaking and entering. Therefore, how many actually get in trouble with the law is difficult to determine.
Many voyeurs satisfy some of their urges by renting pornographic videos or going to live sex shows. For most voyeurs, however, these are ultimately unsatisfying, for part of the excitement is the knowledge that the victim does not know or approve of the fact that the voyeur sees them. Like exhibitionists, voyeurs tend to be immature, sexually frustrated, poor at developing relationships, and chronic masturbators (Holmes, 1991). Some voyeurs have turned to voyeuristic webcam sites that capture unsuspecting sexual activity and broadcast it live over the Internet (Griffiths, 2000).
Although it technically refers to a single couple copulating in front of others, troil – ism (TROY-ill-iz-um) has come to mean any sex sessions involving multiple partners. Troilism is not new; in 1631, Mervyn Touchet, the Second Earl of Castlehaven, was ex-
ecuted in England for ordering his servants to have sex with his wife while he watched. The fact that they were servants and thus beneath his station was as damaging to him as the actual act (Bullough, 1976). Janus & Janus (1993) found that 14% of men and 8% of women in their survey had engaged in group sex.
Troilism may involve aspects of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and, sometimes, latent homosexual desires; an observer who gets excited, for example, by watching his wife fel – late another man may be subconsciously putting himself in his wife’s place. Some troilists install ceiling mirrors, video cameras, and other means to capture the sexual act for viewing later on. Others engage in sharing a sexual partner with a third party while they look on, or they engage in swinging (see Chapter 9). Many couples experiment with group sex, but to the troilist, engaging in or fantasizing about such sexual activity is the primary means of sexual arousal.