Petting was never originally intended to be for the woman’s benefit. It was simply a product of some men being aroused by and therefore motivated to explore a woman’s body as a precursor to engaging in intercourse. There is no logic to assuming that women only orgasm because a man knows how to (or is willing to) stimulate her in the correct way. If women were aroused with a lover, they would be motivated to obtain their own stimulation. Men cannot possibly know how to stimulate a woman if she doesn’t know herself.
Foreplay makes no sense because of the array of female body parts involved. Alfred Kinsey noted that foreplay techniques are inconsistent with the kind of stimulation that causes orgasm. Orgasm is achieved by some applying consistent stimulation (specifically rhythmic massaging of the sex organ). The clitoris was identified by researchers as the female sex organ and critical to female orgasm but this has never been unanimously confirmed by heterosexual couples. The clitoris was simply added to the list of anatomy that a man could stimulate in his attempts to pleasure a woman.
Men are proactive lovers because they are aroused by a lover and the prospect of penetration. This male behaviour means we assume it is the man’s role to stimulate a woman. With the discovery of the clitoris, this role was expanded to include a responsibility for providing the correct stimulation a woman needs for orgasm. Men accepted this responsibility unquestioningly. Women’s sexual passivity and men’s inclination to be proactive during sexual activity made it a natural assumption. This is the origin of the popular belief that it is a man’s role to give a woman an orgasm.
Almost all men masturbate alone at least for some period of their lives. But many women never masturbate. So it is unlikely that they will do so with a lover (apart from providing a turn-on). Some men stimulate a lover’s clitoral glans by hand. But if a woman was aroused, she would be motivated to do this herself. The fact that a lover provides the stimulation is an indication that such stimulation is more important to a man than it is to a woman.
If a woman can stimulate herself to orgasm by using clitoral stimulation, why she would do this with a lover? She can stimulate herself at any time. A key issue is understanding how female arousal is achieved. If women were aroused with a lover (by genitals and sexual opportunities), then they would be similarly aroused by portrayals of the same situations in pornography. Pornography would not be censored as it is in every society in the world.
Educated men tend to appreciate eroticism: visual or imagined representations of nudity or sexual activity. They tend to masturbate much more frequently than less educated men. More educated men also enjoy their arousal by appreciating the opportunity to explore a lover’s body and extending the time they engage in enjoying sexual interaction with a lover.
Men’s quest to understand how female pleasure is achieved is not entirely selfless. If it was, men would be happy to know that women orgasm through masturbation alone. A man is motivated to try and pleasure a woman so that she will remain amenable to offering him opportunities for intercourse. Women’s lack of enthusiasm for sex is a constant worry for men in case they lose their source of sexual pleasure and relief. A man is also motivated to please a woman so he doesn’t feel guilty that sexual pleasure is one-sided.
A woman undoubtedly enjoys a fraction of the physical and emotional sensations of a man’s orgasm. Men are highly sensitised because of genital and general tumescence. For men, being touched by a lover is emotionally significant. It’s significant to them because they look for signs that a lover is attracted to them and amenable to sex. Men are more aroused by being touched by a lover than when they touch themselves, especially genitally.
Manual stimulation of the phallus is a prerequisite for masturbation alone. But the prime reason that men engage in sexual activity with a lover is to enjoy the pleasures of intercourse. Manual stimulation can be used with a lover. A man may stimulate his penis manually in order to obtain an erection. A man may enjoy a lover masturbating him because the idea of someone else providing stimulation arouses him more than self-stimulation.
For women the issue is more emotional than sexual. They want to touch a lover to demonstrate affection. They want a lover to touch them to know that they are attractive and that a lover wants to enjoy their body. Most women only allow someone she loves and trusts to touch her genitals.
Foreplay does not assist with female arousal but it does bring some variety into a sexual relationship, which becomes incredibly boring for women if it always focuses on intercourse. The pleasure is not so great that a woman’s going to insist. A woman waits for a man to offer and if she feels in the mood for some sensual pleasuring she allows him to stroke and massage her body.
The sexual techniques which marriage councils and marriage manuals recommend are designed to foster the sort of intellectual eroticism which the upper level esteems. It depends on prolonged pre-coital play, a considerable variety in techniques, a maximum of stimulation before coital union, some delay after effecting such union, and, finally, orgasm which is simultaneous for the male and the female. (Alfred Kinsey 1948)