Learn About Sexuality

Arousal relies on a positive response to eroticism

We can experience a peak of sensation for various reasons. Take, for example, ticklishness. Someone could tickle our feet, our knees or under our armpit. We may reach a point where we don’t want further stimulation. We may even experience a peak of sensation or simply exhaustion from being over-stimulated.

But such a sensation is not orgasm. Firstly, it does not involve our sex organ and secondly it doesn’t involve a mental focus on eroticism. There may be occasions where these two requirements do not apply but in general they will apply for most people most of the time.

Our ability to orgasm depends on our own responsiveness. The trigger for orgasm arises in the brain. In the first place, only we can determine what explicit aspect of sexual activity is particularly arousing to us personally. Secondly only we can generate the mental focus required for orgasm. This psychological arousal is then combined with massaging the blood flow within the erectile organ (penis or clitoris) to achieve a release of sexual energy.

Some women believe that they orgasm (both alone or with a lover) but they do not use any form of fantasy. They believe it is possible to orgasm simply by using physical stimulation alone. There is a good reason why women might think this way. When they see a man (or a woman who is supposed to be having an orgasm in erotic fiction or pornography) all that we see or hear about is the physical stimulation involved.

When women see how porn actresses are shown supposedly having an orgasm, naturally some of them believe what they see. The idea that they can please men so easily in this way validates them or makes them feel good about themselves. But porn is directed by men to provide turn-ons for men. It has nothing to do with how a woman achieves orgasm for herself. Men orgasm easily when stimulated because they are easily aroused. But there is something very specific going on in their minds for them to be aroused and hence capable of orgasm.

The idea that a man has an orgasm with his head full of non-sexual thoughts (such as his current work schedule or a recent sporting event) is unthinkable. Of course his mind is fully occupied by the sights, sounds and sensations of sexual activity with a lover. During masturbation his mind is focused on a fantasy or visual stimulus such as pornography. Women are often unaware that orgasm involves a mental focus on eroticism. Sexual thoughts are typically the motivation for a man to masturbate.

We could accept that women have orgasms without having any erotic thoughts. But it makes very little difference to a woman’s attitude towards eroticism or to her sexual behaviour if she has such orgasms. It is the mind’s positive response to eroticism that causes an individual to be in tune with sexual activity and to empathise with erotic scenarios. The difference is that women who do not fantasise say that they masturbate simply to feel the physical sensations of orgasm.

But the true pleasure of orgasm is not the physical response of pelvic muscle contractions. The physical feelings occur as a result of what is happening in the mind. When a woman fantasises there is the enjoyment of the fantasy and the sexual emotions associated with a ‘satisfying’ psychological release. The most significant pleasure of orgasm occurs in the mind.

After puberty, men’s sex drive provides new associations with genitals. This change in attitude comes about because boys routinely experience orgasm. For women, the connection between the genitals and going to the bathroom remains into adulthood. This is another clear indication that women generally do not experience arousal.

Heterosexual women do not watch pornography involving gay men. In part this is, of course, because women do not watch porn in general. But also most women are looking for emotional drivers for relationships rather than erotic turn-ons connected to body parts or sexual responses (such as ejaculation or erection). Women are also not turned-on by visual images.

Anyone who masturbates at almost any age (except for some very young boys) needs to use fantasy for arousal. Turn-ons are erotic concepts or images that cause us to become interested in engaging in sexual activity.

Similarly, if we are sufficiently aroused (so that we are able to reach orgasm) then it does not matter too much who provides the necessary stimulation: ourselves or a lover. There may be a turn-on associated with knowing that a lover is stimulating us but the stimulation itself is just that: physical. So if a woman does not know how to stimulate herself to orgasm then it will be impossible for a lover to achieve the same.

Similar situations are recognized in anger, in fear, and in epilepsy – all of which are physiologically related to sexual response. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)

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