Sexuality is about our motivation to explore our fantasies both during masturbation alone and during sex play with a lover. Our ability to reach orgasm ultimately depends on what happens in the brain. Male arousal tends to be automatic with a lover, so we often focus on the mechanics of sex. But the psychological aspects of sex are critical to achieving orgasm.
The intellectual component of responsiveness is the degree to which a person enjoys fantasies and mental arousal. Every man experiences some form of sexual fantasy even if it is only wondering what a woman looks like naked. Most men masturbate and they need to use explicit fantasies to achieve orgasm. Fantasy is a prerequisite of female orgasm because even responsive women are not aroused by real-world erotic stimuli as men are.
How we explore sexual activity both alone and with a lover depends on having a creative imagination. As with intelligence, there’s the raw potential responsiveness we are born with and then there is our motivation to use it. It is the ability to use our imagination that allows us to enjoy arousal and orgasm outside the reproductive scenario of intercourse. Some people find this easier to do than others. Due to timidity and embarrassment over discussing sexual pleasuring, few individuals maximise their potential.
Turn-ons vary according to gender and orientation. The male and female view of what is erotic are very different. An erotically responsive person may not understand that others are not necessarily interested in fantasies. Even men who are highly responsive are not necessarily interested in erotic concepts, fantasies and portrayals. They may prefer having intercourse.
There is a difference between a man’s responsiveness and his enjoyment of erotic turn-ons. The vast majority of men focus purely on opportunities for intercourse. Other men (often the more educated) enjoy fantasies, masturbation alone and foreplay activities with a lover. A man with a creative imagination can obtain release through masturbation alone. He may also want to spend longer enjoying sexual pleasuring with a lover. This impacts on his lover. Women do not always want to engage in extended sex play.
Eroticism is defined by explicit portrayals (usually visual) of sexual activity or genitals. When someone bends over, the view from behind is provocative to a man. A heterosexual man enjoys the view of an attractive woman’s buttocks. A homosexual man responds to the view of a man’s behind. Women are not aroused by the same sight because they do not have a drive to penetrate. A woman can admire a man’s clothed backside but she has nothing to gain by obtaining it. A woman lacks an organ to penetrate with.
Eroticism is defined by male turn-ons. A woman (or a man) is the focus of erotic scenarios as seen through a man’s eyes. Women don’t have turn-ons as such. A responsive woman uses fantasy when masturbating alone. But there are no naturally occurring triggers such as nudity, genitals or sexual activity that cause female arousal with a lover. Women claim to be aroused as men are in part because they gain the impression from men that they should be. Also there are no obvious alternatives to explain how women could be aroused with a lover. In truth women are not aroused with a lover.
If we are sexually motivated, we tend to assume that everyone responds positively to eroticism. This is far from the truth. Many people are uncomfortable with an erotic interpretation of sexuality. Perhaps the shame associated with sex and the desire to conform is too strong. Certainly the average person is not nearly as sexually motivated as we like to think. This is certainly true of the vast majority of women as well as many older men. There are many people who refer to sex as if they are sexually active when they are not. This is misleading. The most responsive people say nothing.
Our cultural environment, religious beliefs, the attitudes of the society in which we live and our own personal values all affect our enjoyment of the intellectual aspects of sex. Men are much more inclined to be sexually adventurous than women are but anyone can be limited by their own or by a lover’s moral beliefs. Social restrictions limit men’s inclination for promiscuity. Propriety, marital loyalty and family responsibilities are issues.
Many men want casual sex but few women offer sex outside a relationship. So a man uses porn to substitute for the variety of partners and sex play he cannot find easily in real life. Pornography portrays a male view of sexual activity that is visually explicit. Women are shielded from such images because a woman cannot observe a man’s performance from any position.
Even if they were aroused by porn (which they are not), women don’t need it because sex is not a scarce resource for them. If a woman wants intercourse, she can get it easily. This is a key issue for a woman’s opportunity to masturbate. If a woman engaged in activities, such as masturbation or watching porn, a man would assume she wanted sex because from his perspective, intercourse is the ultimate erotic act.
We do know that the frequencies of nocturnal dreams show some correlation with the level of erotic responsiveness of an individual. (Alfred Kinsey 1948)