The most basic definition of sexual pleasure is the enjoyment of arousal and orgasm. Men and women enjoy these phenomena under different circumstances. Given men’s sex drive to engage in penetrative sex, men focus on sexual activity with a lover. Sexual pleasure tends to be defined in male terms as the pleasure obtained from sexual activity with a lover.
Sex focuses primarily on the pleasure a man enjoys from penetrating a partner (vaginally or anally). Men (whether receiving or penetrating) enjoy a tension that comes from sexual arousal with a lover that women never experience. Men enjoy the erotic smells and body secretions of a lover. The receiving partner (male or female) may enjoy the emotional satisfaction of offering this pleasure to the penetrator (a male partner).
Given women are not aroused with a lover, their natural sexual role becomes one of pleasuring men. So men come to expect women to provide the sexual come-ons and turn-ons that assist with male orgasm. Men find almost any stimulation by a lover to be emotionally significant. Whereas women experience only social and emotional feelings with a lover. So they need to use behaviours to emulate the arousal men expect them to have.
Once a woman has got a man interested in having sex with her, it’s over to him. What happens after that is totally up to him. He wouldn’t be there if he wasn’t aroused by her body. All that a man needs for orgasm is the stimulation that can be provided by intercourse. So a woman doesn’t ask about male orgasm or male sexual pleasure. Ejaculation and a man’s post-coital gratitude usually provide enough evidence of male satisfaction.
Many lesbians have relationships that never include genital activity. A women may enjoy greater sensual pleasures with a female partner. Men’s bodies are firm and muscular. Women’s bodies are usually softer and sensual because of the body fat that most women naturally have. Women look after themselves more than men in general so they often both look and smell better. Women often enjoy looking at other women for this reason.
The pleasures a woman enjoys from sex, depend very much on the woman. Some women never enjoy sex. Women have little direct motivation to do so since they are not aroused with a lover. Women of both orientations can enjoy emotional sensations from physical intimacy with a person they love.
If we are sufficiently aroused (so that orgasm is possible) then it does not matter 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 cannot stimulate herself to orgasm then it will be impossible for a lover to achieve the same.
Most people assume a woman should orgasm with lover even though the research findings indicated that women do not orgasm from intercourse. The assumption was that women could be helped to orgasm if a lover stimulated alternative anatomy. No one asked why women did not know this for themselves. Today the clitoris remains as obscure as it ever was. Very few women ever masturbate to orgasm but even for those who do, there are no easy explanations for why they cannot achieve orgasm a lover.
Women’s experience of orgasm does not fall within men’s definition of sexual. Almost all male sexual activity focuses on the idea of penetration. Sexual pleasure is assumed to involve interactive activity focused on penetrative sex. Even a woman who masturbates, thinks of masturbation as separate to her sexual relationship. Female masturbation (not the genital display we see in porn) is not erotic from a male perspective. There are no male turn-ons. There is no chase, no interaction and no genital display.
In order to enjoy arousal, a person must first be aroused. Women do not have erotic turn-ons with a lover. In order to enjoy orgasm, they need to consciously focus on sexual fantasies, which is only possible when alone. Women masturbate to enjoy the sensations of orgasm and sometimes to help them sleep or relax. It’s a private pleasure. A woman cannot share this pleasure with a lover. But why would she want to? The presence of a lover interferes with the focus she can achieve on fantasy and so prevents her from enjoying her own arousal and prevents her from achieving orgasm.
A woman’s basic energy is usually channelled into ‘nurturing spirit’, while a man’s is usually channelled into ‘warrior spirit’. (Kramer & Dunaway 1994)