Candaulism, Voyeurism and Exhibitionism
This is really the second part to Watching or being watched where I concluded that one of my key kinks was candaulism. Candaulism seems to be less discussed than its partner kinks of voyeurism or exhibitionism, but it is closely related. Where voyeurism is about gaining sexual pleasure for observing someone who is unaware, with candaulism a third party is invited to watch by one of the participants, for their own sexual pleasure. Where exhibitionism involves gaining sexual pleasure from exposing yourself to others (often for a shock value), with candaulism a person is exposed or displayed by someone they are in a relationship with, for their pleasure.
Candaulism: A Definition
Candaulism, or candaulesism, is a paraphilic sexual practice or fantasy in which one person (usually a man) exposes his (usually female) partner, or images of her, to other people for their voyeuristic pleasure. Candaulism is also associated with voyeurism and exhibitionism.
The term may also be applied to the practice of undressing or otherwise exposing a female partner to others. Similarly, the term may also be applied to the posting of personal images of a female partner on the internet or urging or forcing her to wear clothing which reveals her physical attractiveness to others, such as by wearing very brief clothing, such as a microskirt, tight-fitting or see-through clothing or a low-cut top.Wikipedia
How Candaulism Works for Me
While the three kinks are definitely connected, there are differences. I am not an exhibitionist but I do get off on being made to be an exhibit. While I don’t want to watch others, the thought of being made to be watched by someone else can be arousing. I think part of the difference comes down to the conscious and active consent and knowledge of all three parties. Each person is aware of what is happening and they are all gaining erotic pleasure from the experience. Candaulism is also less active for me. It isn’t a choice. I am not choosing it, I am being made to do it, and for me that taps into what turns me on as well as allowing me not to have to take responsibility for it.
The Role of Responsibility
The responsibility part is important for me. In being exposed in this way I am confronting my own fears that I will be rejected. While I want to be seen as desirable or sexy, I am afraid that, in reality, others will be shocked or repulsed by me and that they will mock me or turn away from me. In order to push these boundaries and challenge these deep rooted fears, it has to be done with someone who will not actually do these things. There has to be pre-agreement because then the risk is small. It is the difference between humiliation and erotic humiliation. One will destroy and the other will turn you on.
The sexual pleasure of all of those involved is also important. In order to confront my own fears, and hopefully push past them, the enjoyment of each person has to be key. Any sense of rejection will pull me out of that headspace because it is the pleasure that holds me there and encourages me to go further and push past the fears. The things said and done have to keep things erotic and not allow them to slip into a place which is damaging. If there is agreement and enjoyment from those involved then this is more likely to happen so it separates itself from the other two kinks in this way.
What is the Pleasure?
By exposing my own vulnerabilities to someone else I am putting myself at risk, and risk can be exciting. As with any kink, to do this in a controlled and managed way where the risk is small turns the fear into excitement and helps me to push past the point where I would usually turn back. This is a big part of the appeal. It feels like a different world beyond that point: the freedom, the escape, the sense of abandon of the self who would usually hold me back.
The reminder from the other participants about their enjoyment is also valuable and without that I would be pulled out of that space into my own self doubts. In a way it is like being flooded with someone else’s thinking. Being almost like a third party allows me to experience it almost through the eyes of the watcher. While to watch myself would be too graphic, to see through that words being spoken and the sounds being made allows me to connect with the observer in a way that is only possible in the imagining.
By allowing myself to be exposed to my fears in this way, and being able to move past them and to leave the negatives behind is a huge thing. It validates the more rational voice which sounds strange as it is feels more of an emotional response than a rational one when it happens. It feels like a natural thing. Like it is the pure feeling untempered by the insecurities you pick up in life. A big part of letting go is the giving up of the self-control that I use to regulate myself and keep me safe from the fears mentioned so when that is gone and I find that they are gone too, it feels like a huge thing.
The term is derived from an account in The Histories of Herodotus. King Candaules of ancient Lydia, according to the story, conceived a plot to show his unaware naked wife to his servant Gyges. After discovering Gyges while he was watching her naked, Candaules’ wife ordered him to choose between killing himself or killing her husband in order to repair the vicious mischief.Wikipedia
Most of my fiction writing is based around the play that we do and the fantasy ideas that I have therefore much of it is themed around erotic humiliation. I have written about being displayed in the sort of way which would fit with candaulism and so I have included a couple of examples of what I would find exciting below.
The phone he had given her rang. His voice, his tone, direct and requiring no response.“21.47.
You know where to come.
Just open the doors and wait. Read More
To say she was embarrassed just didn’t describe it. She was mortified – hell, she was beyond mortification. When she had discussed her fantasy first of all, she had no idea he would actually make her do it. Now here she was, sat on the chair, naked, opened and on display for anyone who wanted to look. Read More
He led her into the room. She took it in and felt a bit overwhelmed, although she was impressed with what he had done. He had definitely thought of the details and it was sumptuous. She should have known better really. Read More
Real Life Fantasy Scenario
In terms of real life, my thoughts are probably more achievable than being displayed in a shop window or at a kink event. Here is one example.
I imagine one or two people, probably men. I am laying positioned on a bed and HL is talking with them. I am blindfolded so that I can’t see, and HL is playing with me, telling them what he is doing and noting the changes in my body. He speaks in an observational way, telling them what I like and showing them what he can make my body do. He asks them for input and suggestions. They may or may not become involved in the play. Occasionally he will check with me that I am happy with something or want something, thereby making me complicit in what is happening, but apart from that I am a more of third party than an active participant.
We have used fantasies like the one above as a sort of narrative in our play and this is something that is fun to explore. I will write more about using narrative in play as, although roleplay is used in a similar way, narrative can be a little different. I am not sure where exploring candaulism as a kink will go for us. As I said in my previous post, we have used things online to experiment with it before but the plans that we had in place for more real life scenarios were overtaken by other events and didn’t end up transpiring. However, lockdown has given us time to think about where we want to go and given us ideas for the future.