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. We tend to focus on the mechanics of sex but erotic pleasure is foremost about turn-ons. Men enjoy the turn-on of penetration as much as the stimulation of intercourse.
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 another person 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.
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.
How we explore sexual activity both alone and with a lover depends on having a creative imagination. As with intelligence, what we achieve is a combination of the potential we are born with and our motivation to capitalise on it. Our ability to use our imagination 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 people maximise their sexual potential.
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.
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.
Turn-ons vary according to gender and orientation. The male and female views of what is erotic are very different. An erotically responsive person may not understand that others are not necessarily interested in fantasies. Not all men want to enjoy their arousal through erotic concepts, fantasies and portrayals. Some men’s fantasies can definitely be shared. Women can also suggest activities that they enjoy with a lover. We each have the right to privacy. It’s a personal decision. Many people don’t want to share fantasies.
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 are not always willing to engage in extended sex play.
For a highly responsive man, his sexual responses are a constant biological challenge. These are not conscious reactions. A man has no choice. Given he does not consciously seek them out, it is easy to interpret other people’s behaviours (those he is attracted to) as invitations. When a man talks about something arousing, interprets a behaviour as arousing or sees someone who arouses him, he has an instant reaction. It is difficult to see them as people with their own motivations. For a young man, these feelings are fun. But the novelty wears off as a man learns that the feelings never go away.
Many men want more sex than a relationship provides. So men use porn to substitute for the variety of partners and sex play they cannot find easily in real life. 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 genitals or sexual activity that cause female arousal with a lover. Some women claim to be aroused by porn but eroticism is defined by male turn-ons. If women were aroused by porn, they would also be aroused (as men are) to want intercourse regardless of any relationship. If a woman reads erotic fiction or masturbates openly, a man is likely to become intent on intercourse and her opportunity to enjoy orgasm disappears.
We do know that the frequencies of nocturnal dreams show some correlation with the level of erotic responsiveness of an individual. (Alfred Kinsey 1948)