Each generation of men thinks that women of their generation are more sexual than any previous generation of women. This is because young men are aroused by young women’s bodies. But our responsiveness does not depend on how we look. Responsiveness depends on what happens in the mind. Arousal occurs when the mind responds positively to eroticism. Young women are no more enthusiastic about eroticism than older women.
Men’s sex drive can be triggered by a complete stranger. This is natural because turn-ons are objects or concepts that cause arousal irrespective of any emotional feelings. Women tend to find this concept impersonal. Most women hope for an emotional connection before they offer a man sex.
Male turn-ons include women’s legs, buttocks or breasts. Such stimuli may cause male arousal but not orgasm. Otherwise a woman could just show a man her breasts instead of offering intercourse. Male triggers for arousal are many and varied. Women are attracted to a lover by emotional factors such as the sound of his voice or his personality rather than his body parts.
Orgasm triggers are used in a much more focused way. Boys and young men may be so highly aroused that they orgasm spontaneously or without any time required to build arousal. But most adults (and certainly women) need a period of time to build the kind of arousal that leads to orgasm.
A person needs to be able to block out other distractions in order to obtain the focus necessary to achieve orgasm. The precise thoughts that cause orgasm are highly explicit, personal and often taboo. The concept or the reality of penetrating a lover is the kind of specific turn-on that can cause orgasm. Women use fantasy to focus on the concept of penetrating a lover. A few women masturbate to orgasm alone by using surreal fantasies, which are quite unconnected with a real man or any relationships in real life.
Turn-ons work unconditionally. A woman’s physical presence represents a sexual opportunity for man even if the woman is not emotionally amenable to sex. This is because men respond to women as objects (body parts) rather than people with feelings and choices. A man can insist on sex simply by using brute force. A woman cannot. A woman is not aroused by the physical presence of a man because a woman has nothing to gain from sex. Intercourse involves a man depositing his seed in a woman’s body.
Much prejudice is based on the belief that people can make conscious choices over how they behave sexually. It is understandable that women might think this way because women rarely experience responsiveness. Men should know better. No one has a choice over what causes their arousal. Yet in the past, men have suggested gay men should be able to force themselves to have sex with women. It obviously doesn’t occur to men that the means by which they become aroused is subconscious. We cannot change our subconscious responses. This equates to telling someone to train themselves out of feeling hungry or thirsty.
Almost any aspect of sexual activity can trigger male arousal. Many men are turned on by objects they associate with sex, such as women’s underwear. Men engage in endless conversation about women’s panties because of the association with genitals and, therefore, sexual activity. Women are bemused by such interest, which they evidently do not share.
Fetishes are associated with male sexuality. A fetish is an object that is not directly associated with sexual activity, such as shoes or feet. Men who have fetishes need to have the object on hand or be fantasizing about it, whether they are alone or with a partner, to become aroused enough for orgasm. A man might masturbate while he holds, smells, rubs, or tastes the object. He might ask a partner to wear it or use it during sex. Some sources describe women’s fantasies or behaviours as fetishes. They draw erroneous parallels between men and women in an attempt to imply equality.
The most common fetishes involve body parts. The feet are by far the most common. After body parts comes clothing. Fetishes sometimes involve the feel of a material, typically leather or rubber. Some people can trace their attraction back to early childhood. A fetish can also come from seeing inappropriate sexual behaviour during childhood or from sexual abuse. A sexual fetish is not a disorder by definition but it can reach that level if it causes intense, lasting distress. Porn addiction is a similar obsession in that the fascination for porn may come to substitute for the reality of sex with a partner. This is only a problem if a man is hoping for a relationship.
Fetishism is an almost exclusively male phenomenon. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)