When female mammals are in heat they are amenable to allowing another animal (even a female) to mount them. In other species of animals, mating only occurs when the female is amenable (called ‘on heat’ or in oestrus) because this is when she is capable of being impregnated. Women are not limited by oestrus. They can offer a man intercourse at any time during their monthly cycle.
The female mammal typically puts up a range of opposition to mating, which only occurs once she has been manoeuvred into accepting penetration by the male. The female needs to co-operate with intercourse long enough for the male to ejaculate.
The mating position used by other mammals is rear entry (the man penetrates the woman from behind). Humans typically use what has become known as the ‘missionary position’ (man on top of the woman but facing her). This position allows intercourse to be transformed from a mating act into a lovemaking act including kissing and mutual stimulation.
When a man offers ‘lovemaking’ a woman may feel obliged to show some appreciation for his efforts regardless of her own desire for sexual activity with a lover. A couple can combine intercourse with sensual interaction, such as caressing and kissing, to demonstrate their affection for each other. Men may hope for an erotic response from a woman but may settle for an affectionate response in the early romantic weeks of a relationship.
Any position where the woman is facing her lover causes the woman’s mental engagement (or lack of engagement) to be more evident to her partner. The resulting need for a woman to appear to be aroused by intercourse contributes to the more sophisticated emotional bonding humans have evolved over time.
In the early days of a relationship, a couple may explore different approaches to pleasuring. Typically, this exploration is initiated by the man. He has the motivation to explore a lover’s body because he is aroused by doing so. A woman is not. If a woman has read erotic literature or watched porn movies, she may identify with the role of giving pleasure. A woman can choose to act the part of the prostitute by engaging in sexual activity without orgasm and possibly faking orgasm if the man expects her to. Being proactive is a positive approach for a woman to take and men will certainly enjoy it! Although a woman may initially offer sexual pleasuring, her enthusiasm tends to dwindle over time because of the effort involved and the fact that she gets so little payback herself.
Men are naturally much more proactive as lovers than women are. In the first instance men stimulate a partner because they are aroused by touching, kissing and penetrating a lover’s body. Women do not have the same benefit. Women have to make conscious effort to offer a lover sexual pleasuring. Women make conscious effort (to varying degrees) to provide a (simulated erotic) response to intercourse.
A woman is not naturally motivated as men are by sexual pleasure. So young women are more enthusiastic about sex. There’s the novelty, romance and ego initially. But there is also an aspiration that by acting sexually something (i.e. orgasm) will eventually happen. This explains why women lose interest in intercourse over time but their true responsiveness through masturbation does not reduce as they age.
A man may offer pleasuring other than intercourse initially but he finds it difficult to please a woman through sex. She rejects any form of clitoral stimulation by hand as her clitoris is too sensitive. She may refuse to allow a man to perform cunnilingus because she is disgusted by the idea of oral sex. If she does allow him to stimulate her clitoris with his tongue she can feel very little sensation and no real pleasure. Over time a man becomes dis-incentivised to do any more than offer intercourse. Intercourse is the act that society claims as the right of every married man. Over time men become increasingly focused on intercourse because women accept that as the minimum. Women’s lack of responsiveness ensures that sexual activity focuses on the mating (reproductive) act.
When a woman shows initiative, for example caressing or kissing a man, he assumes that she is aroused. But a woman’s motivation with a lover is to be affectionate. She does this either mechanically (in the case of the prostitute or disenchanted sexual partner) or more ideally because she is motivated to demonstrate her love for a partner.
Instinctively a woman knows that she has to offer a man sex with some kind of regularity to keep him interested in a relationship with her. In the past women needed men for support and protection. Today if a woman expects a man to put up with the emotional trauma of a relationship she needs to incentivise him.
I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be satisfied if we only had sex when I feel like it. I have had to learn it’s not all about me. Sometimes I wish it was, but it’s not. (Valerie Harris 2012)