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The Peeping Toms

Our journey begins in the Kingdom of Lydia (currently, Western Turkey) in 735-718 BC, in the Royal Chambers of King Candaules of Greece. According to several historical texts, King Candaules would often be found in the company of his servant, Gyges, boasting about his new acquisition, his gorgeous wife, Nyssia.

Having to prove himself, the King arranged for Gygi to be hidden in the bedchambers so as to take a quick peep at the Queen as she undressed and got in bed with the King. As Gygi was leaving the Royal Chambers, the Queen spotted him.

The next day morning, Gygi was called to the Queen's quarters and was given a choice. So as to maintain the reputation of the Queen, he had to either kill the King or be killed. So there was a coup. Gygi hid in the bedchambers as he did earlier and slaughtered the sleeping king.

He then married the Queen and fathered the Mermnad Dynasty.

Coined by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his 1886 book Psychopathia Sexualis, Candaulism, today, refers to an act involving both Voyeurism and Exhibitionism.

It is classified as a paraphilia, and involves the exposure of a partner (quite often the woman) for others' voyeuristic pleasures. In other words, men orchestrate an ambience for their friends/colleagues to spy on their naked wives. In some references, men were seated as the cuckold, while another man took advantage of his woman.

From my understanding, the only difference between Cuckolding and Candaulism is that the latter often occurs with or without consent of the woman, and prioritizes the man's pleasure before hers. Candaulism is often found in contexts where the Man views the Woman as his property and what she experiences in life is under his control.

"Men don’t love women for who they are, but for what kind of context they create for their masculinity", Mistress Amanda Wildefyre.

Several other instances where Candaulism seems to be referenced is wherein pleasure is obtained with respect to sexual activity concerning one's partner.

"It heightens the excitement because of the erotic fear that someone else will take their female away, or be tempted to. So men experience this as a compliment, or acknowledgment of their ability to attract a beautiful woman to begin with", Mistress Amanda Wildefyre.

There are several anecdotes from our sexual history where men arranged for their wives to be propositioned by another man. In the 20th century France, it was not uncommon for a man to secure a regular at the brothel to have sex with his wife in front of him. Many would consider this practice to be cuckolding in nature, however, here the woman's consent isn't necessary for the man has already sold her to the regular for the duration of the act.

In the 1990s, in Southern California, several group houses, meant to host orgies, had a bench for Voyeurs. Several husbands that happened upon these places, often preferred a large, well-endowed Black man to ravage their wife.

"Sometimes men project onto their wives, in other words, they want to experience being desired by other men, or to experience being desired in general by someone with a penis. This is distinct from repressed homosexuality, and also reflects the desire to know what it feels like to be a woman during a sexual act", Mistress Amanda Wildefyre.

Let us travel to Ancient India for a bit. Written between 950-1050 C.E., the Srimad Bhagavatam (one of the many Holy texts in Hinduism) references Candaulism. In fact, there are several stories hidden in Hindu scriptures and early texts that speak about a man belonging to a lower caste, offering his wife to a man of the upper caste (Brahmin), for her to be impregnated such that the child thus born would be born with Brahmanical traits. The consent of the woman in question was considered irrelevant.

We finally end our journey through history on February 18 2001: the arrest of FBI counterintelligence Agent Robert Hanssen. Upon his arrest, we were privy to information on the double life led by the Former Agent. Although a devout Catholic, Hanssen harbored several fetishes that began with him sending secret photographs of his wife to his friend, Jack Horschauer, a retired army officer.

Very soon, Jack was invited to the Hanssen house where he'd watch Robert have sex with his wife through the window. Robert eventually, used FBI video equipment to design a closed-circuit television, which allowed Jack to watch the sexual activities from the comfort of his guest bedroom.

Candaulism in particular, is a fetish and it pools in other kinks/fetishes such as Cuckolding, Voyeurism, Exhibitionism, Free-Use, Breeding, Bondage, etc. As per the law, Candaulistic behavior today, without securing consent from all parties involved, will be considered sexual abuse. So I urge all individuals who would like to indulge in these kinks/fetishes to do so safely and consensually.

  1. Aggrawal, Anil (2009) Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices CRC Press.

  2. Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, pp. 43–46

  3. André Gide, Le roi Candaule (1901)

  4. Hebbel, Gyges und sein Ring

  5. Herodotus, Histories, Book 1.8

  6. Krafft-Ebing, R. (1965). Psychopathia Sexualis: With Especial Reference to Contrary Sexual Instinct. Philadelphia: F.

  7. N.J. Ciccarello & T.J. Thompson (2002) Money, the Fear of Failure, and Espionage: Report of an Interview with Robert Philip Hanssen. Langley, VA: Personnel Security Managers' Research Program.

  8. Office of the Inspector General (2003) A Review of the FBI's Performance in Deterring, Detecting, and Investigating the Espionage Activities of Robert Philip Hanssen. Washington, DC: Department of Justice.

  9. Sanyal, J.M. and Vyāsa Krṣṇadvaipāyana (1984) The Srimad-Bhagvatam: Translated into English prose from the original Sanskrit text with exhaustive index of proper names & words. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.

  10. Wise, D. (2003) Spy: The inside story of how the FBI's Robert Hanssen betrayed America. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks.


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