HomeSocial aspects of sexualityThe sex industryWomen attract men by sexualising themselves

Women attract men by sexualising themselves

We wear clothes for protection, for warmth, for decency and also for display. The need to differentiate ourselves depends on our personality. Many women believe it is an essential part of their femininity to display their bodies. As long as there are no consequences (they are protected from male advances), women enjoy the admiration they get. Men don’t display themselves in this way. Men display themselves when they have an erection.

A woman has no biological reason for engaging in sexual activity outside her fertile period. A woman may be impregnated if sperm are deposited in her vagina around the time of her monthly ovulation (when an egg is released). Her reproductive capability relies solely on her ability to attract a mate. A man’s erection communicates his desire for penetrative sex. A woman is not aroused in the immediate and obvious way that a man is. Even when woman masturbates to orgasm, there are no obvious signs of female sexual arousal.

We can differentiate between erotic turn-ons and sexual come-ons. A turn-on is something that causes arousal. Turn-ons are not always associated with the intention to arouse. Men are easily aroused and they assume women respond similarly. Young men may easily confuse turn-ons (such as a woman’s attractiveness) with come-ons (her conscious sexual behaviours).

A come-on is a behaviour that is aimed at causing arousal. A come-on is an implicit sexual invitation. Specifically, a come-on is a behaviour that a woman uses to indicate her willingness to be penetrated by an aroused male. She is explicit about what she says or does so that there is no room for doubt that she is making a sexual invitation. This behaviour is common in pornography. Prostitutes and sexually experienced women provide sexual come-ons which a man interprets (according to male sexual behaviours) as a sign that a woman is aroused and actively seeking vaginal stimulation. Other women may use the simple mechanism of wearing a negligee as a mild come-on.

Some women like to dress in a way that is sexually provocative and that acts as a sexual come-on. But more typically, women display themselves to obtain platonic admiration. Men assume that a woman displays her body because she is aroused and making a sexual invitation. In truth these women are not available. How a woman dresses is a conscious behaviour and not a sign of responsiveness. A woman enjoys the power of knowing that she is attracting attention. Putting on a short skirt, a low-cut blouse and a push-up bra is easy. It is much more onerous for a woman to provide a partner with regular sex.

The colours women wear have connotations. Red lipstick or red clothes are attention seeking and daring. Black and lace are associated with women’s provocative nightwear. There are no male equivalents. Other women can be offended by partial female nudity because it is display for male admiration.

If a man waited for a woman to be enthusiastic about sex then he would wait for ever. So many men follow their instincts and take the initiative by making an advance. The vast majority of interaction between the sexes, involves a man admiring a woman. This male admiration gives women power in their relationships and may cause a woman to feel loved. So women allow men to make all kinds of innuendo that they quietly ignore. A man gets used to interpreting women’s silence and passivity as acceptance. Women have to be directly rude before most men will accept rejection. This insensitivity comes from having a sex drive and is an almost inevitable part of being male.

Women look at other women for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they look out of curiosity to judge the attractiveness of their own body relative to others. Secondly women want to learn from other women’s successful behaviours. Lastly women want to reassure themselves that they are more attractive than others so they can feel better about themselves. Invariably, the message for a woman is that if she is to succeed, she must use her body. That is how she is admired, gets friends and is promoted at work. By believing they orgasm as men say they should, unresponsive women feel better about themselves.

Orgasm is a specific physiological response of the human body. Yet some women think they have the right to define orgasm however they want. Women promote orgasm as if it’s a kind of club they can invite their friends to join. We do not choose to be responsive. It’s just the way we are born. Responsiveness has nothing to do with being attractive or amenable. We do not orgasm because we wear a sexy dress, pout our lips or spread our legs. Men find this confusing because they assume a sexy-looking woman must be responsive. And yet they know male responsiveness doesn’t work that way.

Confusingly, for men, the women who are shouting loudest about female orgasm are the ones who have no idea how it is achieved. But because they are essentially reflecting male fantasies, their claims are very persuasive. This is very natural. But men need to differentiate between what women say and what they actually do. The real issue for men is whether a woman is enthusiastic about investing in a sexual relationship over the longer term. The men, who are most likely to succeed with longer-term sex lives, are those who have invested in the wider relationship by responding to a woman’s needs. It also helps if a man takes responsibility for his own sexual needs rather than expecting his lover to provide turn-ons for him. A woman is most likely to offer sex when she anticipates that little effort is expected of her.

Much of this interest in rare or non-existent forms of sexual performance may represent the male’s wishful thinking, a projection of his own desire to engage in a variety of sexual activities, or his erotic response to the idea that other persons, especially females, may be involved in such activities. (Alfred Kinsey)

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