HomeIntellectual aspects of sexualityThe sexual mindUnderstanding a man’s need for erotic turn-ons

Understanding a man’s need for erotic turn-ons

For most people, sexual activity whether alone or with a lover is a private affair. We rarely see other people engaging in sexual activity. We rely on fictional accounts from books or movies. Most of this fictional activity involves sociable situations. Masturbatory activities are less commonly portrayed. Men’s key focus is penetrative sex. Male erotic turn-ons include a lover’s genitals and observing their response to stimulation (especially penetration). Men feel threatened when another man admires their partner because they appreciate the strength of men’s sex drive. Men know exactly what is going through a man’s mind when he sees an attractive woman.

Men’s need for erotic turn-ons has evolved from the fact that intercourse is based on an act of male assault. When a woman is sexually amenable, she has no response due to of her lack of arousal. But equally the vagina is the wrong anatomy – it has zero sensitivity. The only response a woman can have to intercourse (because of the lack of physical sensation) is an unwilling one. For millennia, intercourse often led to a woman becoming pregnant. So women naturally avoid intercourse especially given their lack of erotic arousal. So men’s expectation for women to have a response to intercourse is based on a scenario where a woman is resisting the act. This adds to the confusion over how a woman behaves when she is aroused and has an orgasm. She doesn’t scream or provide other turn-ons and vocal come-ons.

A man responds sexually to people in the real world. But when a man masturbates, he has to rely on pornography or use his memory alone to conjure up erotic fantasies. This puts a man in a similar position to a woman. Women do not respond erotically to real-world stimuli. There are no naturally occurring triggers such as genitals or sexual activity that cause female arousal with a lover. But a responsive woman can use surreal fantasies to achieve orgasm alone. These fantasies involve appreciating the male view of sex. They allow her to put herself psychologically in the penetrator role.

A man is aroused on seeing a lover and by close body contact. He is aroused by touching and watching a lover undress. He is aroused by stimulating a lover and by being stimulated. For men, even the smallest hint of a cleavage or camel toe is cause for speculation. If women were aroused by a lover’s genitals, more men would display their bodies provocatively as a female turn-on. Women go to see male strippers for a laugh rather than erotic arousal.

Women have little interest in visual portrayals of any kind of sexual activity. A tiny amount of porn is produced for women in the mistaken belief that women can be aroused just as men are. If this were the case, women would also use prostitutes, lap dancing and voyeur bars as men do for physical gratification. There are people today who are political motivated to promote the idea that women enjoy eroticism just as men do. But if they did, there would be demand from women in the population, not just political activists. Not only are women not aroused by the idea of male masturbation, they are often disgusted by it. Men tend to keep their masturbatory activities private.

Women are offended by men who whistle at them on the street because, instead of the romantic admiration women enjoy, men refer to their crude and impersonal sexual urges. Unlike women, men do not need an emotional context to enjoy sexual activity. If women were aroused in a similar way, they would understand the male sexual response. Women don’t understand how men can want sex with a random unknown person they pass in the street.

A man may say he wants intercourse to last for ever but a woman notices that a man loses confidence if he is taking too long. Perhaps he realises that the woman is waiting for him to finish. A woman knows that he will not be satisfied until he has ejaculated. So she helps him by moving her hips to stimulate his penis or makes encouraging noises in time with his thrusting. Many men expect a woman to fake orgasm so that they can feel fully satisfied. At the most basic instinctive level a man needs to think that what he is doing to a woman is producing some kind of response. He doesn’t necessarily need her to enjoy what he is doing. This reflects the primitive penetrative act. A woman screams when she is unwilling such as in the flasher situation.

Some men also need the reassurance of an apparently engaged partner. This is difficult for women to understand. A woman assumes that a man only needs the physical stimulation he can obtain from her body. Women rarely understand that men need assistance with their arousal. Many men don’t just want dinner. They want dinner with a show. This emotional reassurance men want (that they are not being selfish), lies at the heart of the dishonesty over sex. A man wants to feel that a lover is pleased by his performance.

A woman feels guilty because she assumes that she is supposed to be aroused by sexual activity with a lover. She feels pressured into making effort but she doesn’t see why she should. Providing turn-ons involves even more effort. Many women never appreciate that arousal depends on erotic turn-ons. Even if they do, some women are not comfortable with the deceit of play-acting. No one explains this explicitly because it involves admitting women’s lack of arousal. Men are too embarrassed to ask. They assume women should be aroused but they don’t raise the issue. They fear their own inadequacy in providing the pleasure that would make sex more mutual.

It is, at once, an interesting reflection of man’s absorbing interest in sex, and his astounding ignorance of it; his desire to know and his unwillingness to face the facts; his respect for an objective, scientific approach to the problems involved and his overwhelming urge to be poetic, pornographic, literary, philosophic, traditional, and moral. (Alfred Kinsey)

Excerpt from Learn About Sexuality (ISBN 978-0956-894748)