Learn About Sexuality

Intercourse is the heterosexual lovemaking act

The proper word for lovemaking is intercourse. During puberty hormones cause boys to experience arousal, which means that they feel excited when they think about someone they find attractive. When he is aroused, a boy’s penis becomes erect and hyper-sensitive in a way that makes it very pleasurable to touch. Initially some boys stimulate themselves (called masturbation) because they enjoy the feelings of orgasm when they ejaculate (white sticky liquid called semen which contains sperm). Later a man has a desire to engage in intercourse with someone he finds attractive.

Women bear children but men initiate reproduction because of their desire to penetrate a woman’s body. Intercourse can be very enjoyable even if a couple is not intending to have a baby. So humans engage in intercourse for pleasure. Men tend to be more focused on the genital stimulation that leads to the peak (or climax) of sensation called orgasm. Women are unresponsive with a lover so they tend to prefer more sensual pleasuring. Men can also enjoy activities other than intercourse, which are sometimes called ‘foreplay’ and more recently ‘sex play’. Some people consider these non-reproductive aspects of our sexuality to be more important than others.

Some animals (notably birds) mate for life. But there is no evidence to indicate that the human male is biologically inclined to be monogamous. In fact, all the evidence points the other way. So a woman needs to provide an incentive for a man to stick around and defend her and her children. This is a conscious decision that a woman makes. The more amenable she is to providing a man with an opportunity for intercourse the less likely he is to go looking for someone else. Up to a point. Some men like promiscuity for the variety, the sense of conquest and the novelty of new sexual partner. Men’s inclination (in common with other male mammals) is to live their lives focused on their own pursuits. In most mammals the female raises her offspring by herself. But the time for human offspring to reach maturity is much longer than in most other animals.

It’s not possible for women to evolve a responsiveness to intercourse just because it would pleasure them (and of course men). So women have developed the behaviour of being amenable to intercourse beyond the needs of reproduction. The aim of the behaviour is to please a man and keep him committed to the relationship so that he will support the family. A woman provides a man with the sexual interaction he needs as a means of demonstrating her love for him. A man makes love to a woman to indicate his dedication to her and his willingness to defend her. His commitment to the relationship involves taking responsibility for the protection and support of the family.

Sex (or at least intercourse) has always been implicit within marriage. The assumption is that a man ‘makes love’ to a woman because he loves her. By engaging in intercourse a woman also demonstrates that she loves him by recognising and responding to his sexual needs. Given a man’s sex drive, initiating intercourse is a natural progression from a couple kissing to a man following through on his arousal. When a woman is amenable to accepting a man’s sexual initiative, intercourse allows her body to provide him with the sexual release he needs. In return a man supports his wife and children financially.

In the past a woman was often dependent on her parents for financial support. This dependency was then transferred to her husband on marriage. For most of our history married women have not had financial independence. Even when their families had money, this wealth was transferred to the husband on marriage. No man would want a woman to be more powerful than him. He wants to be assured of her being amenable to offering him the regular sex that he needs.

Women’s sexuality focuses on a desire to form the kind of loving and supportive relationship that might support family life. Women like to call intercourse ‘lovemaking’ to reflect their romantic view. Women are often attracted by love and romance rather than sex itself (whether intercourse or genital stimulation in general). Men don’t place the same emotional importance on their children that most women do. But from a biological perspective a man’s children represent the only visible evidence of male potency and virility.

Usually women want intercourse when they are in love, in the early days of a romance, lovemaking is an expression of their love. Also it is only a small part of the quality time they spend with a lover. In a short love affair a woman is motivated to demonstrate her affection and encourage a man’s desire to ‘make love to her’. Unfortunately, over time this motivation declines as sexual encounters become more routine and sex is taken for granted. Few men realise the need to provide romantic stimuli beyond the early weeks of a sexual relationship.

… since intercourse has been defined as the basic form of sexuality, and the only natural, healthy, and moral form of physical contact, it has automatically been assumed that this is when women should orgasm. (Shere Hite 1993)

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