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.
A man has three possible sources of erotic arousal:
- Hormonal: including young boys’ random and spontaneous erection and the regular erections many men have each morning.
- Physical presence of a partner: this is a response to anticipating possible opportunities for intercourse as the penetrating male.
- Erotic fantasy: those with a creative imagination can make use of imagined opportunities for intercourse as the penetrating male.
Women do not experience hormonal arousal. We can also rule out the second option because of the fact that porn (that is so arousing for men) is censored in every society. So the only option for women is erotic fantasy. But this is evidently very rare given most women’s aversion to any form of eroticism. Responsive women effectively put themselves in the position of the penetrating male by using surreal fantasies and by stimulating the clitoris.
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. 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. Social restrictions limit men’s inclination for promiscuity. Propriety, marital loyalty and family responsibilities are issues.
Orgasm only lasts a few seconds. Sexual pleasure revolves around what happens in the mind. Those who are sexually active assume that everyone responds positively to eroticism. This is far from the truth. 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 are having sex rather than talking about it. Perhaps the shame associated with sex (for women) and the desire to conform (to attitudes about what is proper) is too strong. Certainly the average person is not nearly as sexual as we like to think. This certainly includes the vast majority of women of any age as well as many older men.
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. A man has no control over these responses. When a man talks about something arousing, interprets a behaviour as arousing or sees someone who arouses him, he has an instant reaction. In the situation where he is not consciously seeking a sexual opportunity, a man can easily interpret the behaviour of those he is attracted to as an invitation. It is difficult to see them as people with their own motivations. For a young man, these feelings are fun. The novelty wears off as a man learns that the feelings never go away.
Many men enjoy eroticism beyond their relationships. Men use porn to substitute for the variety of partners and sex play they do not find in reality. Some women claim to be aroused by porn but they cannot name any explicit turn-ons. If women were aroused by porn, they would want intercourse outside a relationship. They would generate demand for strip-bars and lap-dancing bars. They would heckle and harass men for sex. Women don’t do this because men are sexually proactive. A responsive woman uses fantasy to achieve orgasm. But if she openly reads erotic fiction or masturbates, a man always wants intercourse and she loses her opportunity to enjoy orgasm.
We do know that the frequencies of nocturnal dreams show some correlation with the level of erotic responsiveness of an individual. (Alfred Kinsey)