Boys and young men may be so highly aroused that they orgasm spontaneously or without any time required to build arousal. But most adults (and certainly women) need a period of time to build the kind of arousal that leads to orgasm. Sexual arousal is caused by erotic turn-ons, which are objects or concepts, regardless of any relationship or emotional connection. So men’s sex drive can be triggered by a complete stranger.
Women tend to find this concept impersonal. Most women want to know a man well and have a sense of emotional connection before they offer a man sex. Women are attracted to a lover by emotional factors such as the sound of his voice or his personality rather than his sexual attributes. Women are attracted to men who exude charm and emotional warmth.
Turn-ons work unconditionally. A woman’s physical presence represents a sexual opportunity for man even if the woman is not emotionally amenable to sex. This is because men respond to women as objects (body parts) rather than people with feelings and choices. Intercourse is a simple pleasure for a man who can insist on taking his pleasure simply by using brute force. A woman cannot. A woman is not aroused by the physical presence of a man because intercourse represents, not a pleasure, but a potential risk. A woman offers sex under her own conditions. Many women need to feel confident that a man cares about her personally before offering intercourse.
Each generation of men thinks that women of their generation are more sexual than any previous generation of women. This is because young men are aroused by young women’s bodies. But our responsiveness does not depend on how we look. Responsiveness depends on what happens in the mind. Arousal occurs when the mind responds positively to eroticism. Young women are no more enthusiastic about eroticism than older women.
Male triggers for arousal are many and varied. Male turn-ons include women’s legs, buttocks or breasts. Such stimuli may cause arousal but not orgasm. Otherwise a woman could just show a man her breasts instead of offering intercourse. Orgasm triggers are used in a much more focused way.
A person needs to be able to block out other distractions in order to obtain the focus necessary to achieve orgasm. The precise thoughts that cause orgasm are highly explicit, personal and often taboo. The concept or the reality of penetrating a lover is the kind of specific turn-on that can cause orgasm. Responsive women use fantasy to focus on the concept of penetrating a lover. Women masturbate to orgasm alone by using surreal fantasies, which are independent of a lover or any relationships in real life.
For a man, eroticism is inextricably linked to other people who represent an opportunity for penetration. When masturbating a man has in his mind’s eye, a graphic image of sexual activity perhaps with a specific person he can clearly imagine. He imagines activity that he would like to engage in if he had a real partner available. But a woman’s fantasy focuses on her own body that is being conceptually penetrated as well as the psychology of the man penetrating her. She can be both people simultaneously because they are not real people but represent merely concepts of someone being penetrated and a male penetrator. She can use homosexual erotica because she can identify with both the male who is penetrated as well as the penetrating male.
Many men are turned on by objects they associate with sex, such as women’s underwear. Men talk about women’s panties because of the association with genitals and, therefore, sexual activity. Women are bemused by such interest, which they evidently do not share. Some men need a woman to act out a sexual role in order to obtain their sexual and emotional satisfaction. Men’s minds are much more varied in how they use real life scenarios for erotic arousal. Some men want a woman to engage in a fetish. Others enjoy sucking on a woman’s nipple. Women are not sexually aroused by such scenarios. Some women will provide for a man’s unusual needs especially if they are paid. Traditionally men have enjoyed “wine, women and song” but there is no female equivalent. Most women enjoy relaxing with a book, a non-sexual massage, chatting with friends or shopping for clothes.
Some men want a woman to dress up and act out a role. Popular outfits include house maids, nurses and air stewardesses. These jobs are of a lower social status and such women may be more amenable to sexual advances because of the social advantage of obtaining a rich lover and benefactor. Women are not aroused by the idea of a man acting out different roles.
Fetishes are associated with male sexuality. A fetish is an object that is not directly associated with sexual activity, such as shoes or feet. Men who have fetishes need to have the object on hand or be fantasizing about it, whether they are alone or with a partner, to become aroused enough for orgasm. A man might masturbate while he holds, smells, rubs or tastes the object. He might ask a partner to wear it or use it during sex. The most common fetish is feet, followed by clothing. Fetishes sometimes involve the feel of a material, typically leather or rubber. A sexual fetish, much like porn addiction, is not a disorder by definition but it can reach that level if it causes intense, lasting distress. Some sources erroneously describe women’s fantasies or behaviours as fetishes in an attempt to imply equality.
Fetishism is an almost exclusively male phenomenon. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)