Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Exhibitionism and voyeurism at Oberlin College and beyond

Inside Higher Ed reports that there are an increasing number of college anchored message boards “which encourage students to “share thoughts, debate ideas and communicate anonymously.”  Actually many of these boards require anonymous posting.

However, Oberlin College’s Oberlin Confessional has gone beyond just posting thoughts and ideas.  “At Oberlin Confessional, one of the most popular threads (with over 500 comments and counting) asks students to photograph their own genitals and post links to the pictures online so that others can rate them.  They have, and they are.”

Supposedly the body parts can be rated, but not dated or hooked up with; said body parts are not associated with any particular person.  However, such does not prevent any Oberlin student from claiming any particular body part.  Anonymity allows anyone to come forward to claim a particular image as their own image.  Of course, the person who donates the image can make a counter claim.  But such would lead to one’s identity becoming compromised.  Its all very tenuous and very ambiguous.

In terms of ambiguity, the dankprofessor raises the question as to the appropriate way to frame  the Oberlin scenario.  Might such represent a form of exhibitionism?  Committed exhibitionists get sexual gratification from exposing themselves to non-consenting anonymous others.  In the present case, Oberlin displaying students have the same anonymity needs as the traditional exhibitionists.  But those viewing the Oberlin display are there by choice so such separates them off from the non-consenting others of the traditional exhibitionists. 

But is such truly the case?  At some level is it not the case that the so-called unwilling victim may at times be quite compatible with the exhibitionist’s fantasy world and obtain voyeuristic gratification?  And at the Oberlin Confessional site one can quickly change roles from exhibitionist to voyeur.

And if the dankprofessor can take this scenario one step further, isn’t it the case that the net is driven by the exhibitionistic and that their needs are gratified by the presence of millions looking for anonymous voyeuristic gratification?  In a sense, the net has normalized both exhibitionism and voyeurism.  Oh, I almost forgot, for those of the voyeuristic bent, here is the link to Oberlin Confessional.

If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

May 2, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, exhibitionism, higher education, Oberlin College, sex, sexual politics, voyeurism | Leave a comment


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