Mediated Exhibitionism: The Naked Body in Performance and Virtual Space


Mediated exhibitionism is the phenomenon of amateur performers exposing their nude bodies on the Internet, and includes the exchange of nude images by email, text message, webcam, electronic bulletin board, and other means of digital communication. Although mediated exhibitionism has its foundation in live performance and traditional media forms, its potential as a means for broadening the aesthetics of the body and offering a form of resistance to social control is magnified by the interactive quality of the Internet. Conversely, new aesthetic ideals have been established and resistance to social control has been challenged by the very technology which made resistance possible. A series of websites catering to mediated exhibitionism were investigated.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Some examples discussed later include,,,, and

  2. 2.

    Even if Voyeurweb offers an avenue for body acceptance, Richardson, the author of the Playboy Magazine article, undercuts this with the use of the word Shamu to describe larger bodies. This derogatory reference is in keeping with the Playboy aesthetic which is jeopardized by the appreciation of non-idealized bodies.

  3. 3.

    Other websites (e.g., are exclusively dedicated to the mediated exhibitionism of larger bodies.


  1. Arthurs, J. (2004). Television and sexuality: Regulation and the politics of taste. Berkshire: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Barcan, R. (2001). ‘The moral bath of bodily unconsciousness’: Female nudism, bodily exposure and the gaze. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 15(3), 303–317.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Baumeister, R. (1991). Escaping the self: Alcoholism, spirituality, masochism, and other flights from the burden of selfhood. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Benjamin, W. (1955/1968). Illuminations (H. Zohn, Trans.). New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. (Original work published 1955).

  5. Booth, D. (1997). Nudes in the sand and perverts in the dunes. Journal of Australian Studies, 53, 170–182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Case, S.-E. 2002. The emporer’s new clothes: The naked body and theories of performance. SubStance #98/99 31(2–3), 186–200.

  7. Cover, R. (2003). The naked subject: Nudity, context and sexualization in contemporary culture. Body and Society, 9(3), 53–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Esch, K., & Mayer, V. (2007). How unprofessional: The profitable partnership of amateur porn and celebrity culture. In P. Susanna, K. Nikunen, & L. Saarenmaa (Eds.), Pornification: Sex and sexuality in media culture. New York: Berg.

  9. Forsyth, C. J. (1992). Parade strippers: A note on being naked in public. Deviant Behavior, 13, 391–403.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Grosz, E. (1998). Naked. Presented at the Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

  11. Hansen, M. (1986). Pleasure, ambivalence, idnetification: Valentino and female spectatorship. Cinema Journal, 25, 4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Heim, M. (1991). The erotic ontology of cyberspace. In M. Benedickt (Ed.), Cyberspace: First steps. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  13. Hetherington, K. (1993). The geography of the other: Lifestyle, performance and identity. PhD Thesis, Lancaster University.

  14. Jefferies, M. (2006). ‘For a genuine and noble nakedness’? German naturism in the Third Reich. German History, 24(1), 62–84.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Johnson, S. (2001). Emergence: The connected lives of ants, brains, cities, and software. New York: Simon and Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Kipnis, L. (1991/2001). (Male) desire and (female) disgust: Reading Hustler. In C. Lee Harrington & D. D. Bielby (Eds.), Popular culture: Production and consumption. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. (Original work published in 1991).

  17. Mayer, V. (2005). Softcore in TV time: The political economy of a ‘cultural trend’. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 22(4), 302–320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. McNair, B. (2002). Striptease culture: Sex, media and the democratization of desire. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Metz, C. (1977/1982). The imaginary signifier (C. Britton, A. Williams, B. Brewster, & A. Guzzetti, Trans.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (Original work published 1977).

  21. Mulvey, L. (1975). Visual pleasure and narrative cinema. Screen, 16, 6–18.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Nakamura, L. (2002). Cybertypes: Race, ethnicity, and identity on the internet. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Nakamura, L. (2007). Digitizing race: Visual cultures on the internet. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Paasonen, S., Nikunen, K., & Saarenmaa, L. (2007). Pornifiaction and the education of desire. In P. Susanna, K. Nikunen, & L. Saarenmaa (Eds.), Pornification: Sex, sexuality in media culture. New York: Berg.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Redmon, D. (2003). Playful deviance as an urban leisure activity: Secret selves, self- validation, and entertaining performances. Deviant Behavior, 24, 27–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Richardson, J. H. (2007). The redclouds revolution. Playboy, 54(9), 56–128.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Shrum, W., & Kilburn, J. (1996). Ritual disrobement at Mardi Gras: Ceremonial exchange and moral order. Social Forces, 75(2), 423–458.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Souweine, I. (2005). Naked protest and the politics of personalism. In M. Narula, S. Sengupta, J. Bagchi, G. Lovink, & L. Liang (Eds.), Sarai reader 2005: Bare acts. ISBN: 81-901429-5-x.

  29. St. John, G. (1997). Going feral: Authentica on the edge of Australian culture. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 8(2), 167–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Toepfer, K. (2003). One hundred years of nakedness in German performance. The Drama Review, 47(4), 144–188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Van Schendel, W. (2002). The politics of nudity: Photographs of the ‘Naked Mru’ of Bangledesh. Modern Asian Studies, 36(2), 341–374.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Waskul, D. D. (2002). The naked self: Being a body in televideo cybersex. Symbolic Interaction, 25(2), 199–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. White, M. (2006). The body and the screen: Theories of internet spectatorship. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Woodall, E. E. (2002). The American nudist movement: From cooperative to capital, the song remains the same. Journal of Popular Culture, 36(2), 264–284.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew T. Jones.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Jones, M.T. Mediated Exhibitionism: The Naked Body in Performance and Virtual Space. Sexuality & Culture 14, 253–269 (2010).

Download citation


  • Mediated exhibitionism
  • Nude performance
  • Virtual space
  • Media
  • Body image
  • Social control