Learn About Sexuality

The nature of the fantasies women use for arousal

Men typically achieve orgasm through masturbation much more quickly than a woman does. This is because men are aroused at the start of any sexual activity. They have a basic biological arousal that makes it easy for a younger man to be aroused almost spontaneously. Men are also aroused by many triggers in the everyday social environment: the sight of someone they find attractive as well as casual sexual remarks may cause male arousal.

From a biological perspective a woman approaches orgasm from a base line of zero. She has to summon up sufficient arousal for orgasm out of nothing. She does not have the benefit of the external triggers that cause men to be aroused before they even start on any stimulation. This no doubt accounts for the research statistics that women take an average of 4 minutes to reach orgasm through masturbation. If the clock was started at the point her mind latches onto an arousing fantasy, then a woman might be able to compete more equally with the male experience.

Given their much lower responsiveness women have to work much harder at achieving the kind of mental arousal that is needed for orgasm. Compared with a man, a woman has much more conscious control over whether she indulges in the erotic thoughts that might lead to enjoying her own sexual arousal and orgasm. Fantasy allows women to gloss over the crude practical details of sex. Women have to use their imagination when masturbating alone on a completely different level to how men use theirs. It takes considerable mental concentration for a woman to orgasm by focusing on aspects of sex she finds taboo.

A woman does not have the sensory, emotional and erotic benefits of penetrating another person with her sex organ. She does not experience arousal and orgasm with a lover. So masturbation represents her only opportunity to enjoy these phenomena. Her focus during masturbation is on enjoying the sensations of orgasm. These vary considerably so her satisfaction relies more on the quality of orgasm rather on speed criteria.

There is confusion over women’s fantasies because many women only ever have romantic fantasies. Romantic fantasies can include thinking about having intercourse with a real or imagined man but they do not focus on the close-up genital activity of penetrative sex. The fantasies that women use to assist with arousal have a very specific nature. If a woman masturbates (to orgasm), she is aroused by scenarios unconnected with her sexual relationship.

Fantasy is a mechanism for achieving orgasm rather than being an activity a woman engages in for itself. Without an effective fantasy, a woman has no chance of reaching orgasm. A woman’s fantasy is a completely artificial construct that she uses purely for the purposes of achieving orgasm. Fantasy is a mechanism a woman uses to focus on a more psychological view of sex by being the object of male sex drive.

The psychological context of sexual activity is much more crucial to a woman than it is for a man. A woman fantasises about a man doing things to her because men initiate and drive penetrative sex. A woman needs to be able to tune into ‘adult’ (erotic) psychology to consciously generate the equivalent mental arousal a man needs for orgasm. It is the ‘whys and wherefores’ of sex that appeal to the female mind. Sex as an abstract concept can be arousing even though the reality is not.

For a woman to respond positively to eroticism she must empathise with the male perspective. These fantasies focus on the male perspective on thrusting and ejaculating conceptually rather than as a graphic representation. A woman needs to see herself as sexually attractive and she needs to take pleasure in the knowledge that a man wants her sexually. A woman may enjoy imagining a man’s desire to enjoy her body sexually and to penetrate her (take her). In her mind she may also be the male taking the initiative and experiencing the pleasure.

During female masturbation, a woman’s focus is thinking about a man’s desire to penetrate and of his penis thrusting until ejaculation. A woman concentrates her mind on male sexual psychology (a man’s focus on his erection and his urgent need for penetration) and the male satisfaction in ejaculating. Heterosexual women fantasise about the penis, male psyche and sexual acts involving men. The act of fellatio is a turn-on because the activity is highly explicit and is focused on the penis. The woman is incidental. For orgasm to occur a heterosexual woman needs to focus on sexual aspects she finds most gratifying: male orgasm and ejaculation.

Few of us reach orgasm without fantasy, so let your imagination go wild! Don’t get hung up about your fantasy; it doesn’t mean you’re odd, gay or secretly want to be raped. Most women fantasise about things they wouldn’t dream of doing in real life – that’s why we call them fantasies. (Tracy Cox 1998)

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