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Gender Differences in Sexual Desire

1655 words (7 pages) Essay in Psychology

08/02/20 Psychology Reference this

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“Men are visually aroused by women’s bodies and less sensitive to their arousal by women’s personalities because they are trained early into that response, while women are less visually aroused and more emotionally aroused because that is their training” (Naomi Wolf, 1990). Even though men, and women respond to the same sexual stimulus, the brain processes sexual cues in different ways. Sexual desire is typically defined as an intense feeling that an individual has for another person. There are many components that play a part in human sexual desire, such as physical, psychological, and biological conditions. Variations in human sexual desire, depends on one’s gender, sexuality, and cultural background. Gender differences in the response to sexual stimuli are widely acknowledged, although poorly documented.

Although, some researchers dedicated their research to understand the gender differences in male and female sexual desire. Sexologist Meredith Chivers and her colleague investigated heterosexual women’s sexual arousal in response to less intense sexual stimuli, and the examined both women’s and men’s genital and subjective sexual responses. (Chivers and Timmers, 2012, pg.1). Along with Chivers (2016) neuroscientist Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam A Billion Wicked Thoughts accurately examine both men and women’s psycho-neurological cues that drive sexual desire. Furthermore, the neuroscientist examined the structure of the sexual brain, in terms of how human’s brain processes sexual arousal. There is a distinction between the conscious arousal of the mind and the unconscious arousal of the body (Ogas, 2011, pg.61). Based on research of pornography, male and females sexual brain do not process the same erotical illusions, which explain human sexual desire and sexual variations. Additionally, the amount hormones affect sexual desire and differences.

Seeing that women’s sexual brain consist of particularly psychological and internal cues, female erotical illusions are psychological. The psychological cues are more functional at tricking the female sexual brain. Studies show that romance novels are pornography for women (Ogas and Saddam, 2011, pg.72). Why are women more interested in erotic stories and romance novels? According to Ogas, “At least 74.8 million people read a romance novel in 2008 . . . and more than 90 percent of these readers are women” (pg.74). By definition, romance novels aren’t erotic, but novels that portray men as emotionally intelligent, leaders, and confident is sexually arousing for women. Sexologist Meredith Chivers and Amanda Timmers provided an erotic story and recorded how sexually-arousing the story was to both men and women. The used photoplethysmographic to measure women’s sexual response and plethysmography to measure male sexual response. Chivers and her colleagues found that women’s sexual interests and sexual behaviors may be more influenced by romantic and affectionate stories (Chivers, 2012, pg.9). The women reported feeling more sexually aroused than the men. Women are sexually aroused by stories about romance and emotions, without any pornographic pictures shown. This can explain why females are big consumers of romance novels, rather than pornography films.

Furthermore, women are sexually attracted to romance novel because there erotical illusion are psychological. Ogi Ogas (2011) explains “erotical illusion” appears when two different sexual cues trick the sexual brain into producing an erotical illusion. Women are big fans of romance novels that portray men as being dominant, alpha-males, and lustful because it combines all female sexual cues. Ogas (2011) states, “Though vampires turbocharge cues of masculinity, the erotical illusions are only complete when these invincible heroes are brought to their knees by the irresistibility of an ordinary woman and her ability to unlock his secret heart” (pg.158). Women are sexually aroused by vampires in novels, not because of their masculinity, but because overwhelming desire the character has for the women. Female erotical illusion is a fundamental key in understanding human sexual desire.

Contrarily, male’s sexual brain is primarily visual, therefore there erotical illusions are largely visual cues. Men unite the psychological arousal and physical arousal (Ogas and Saddam, 2011, pg.63). Additionally, male’s sexual brain responds to any single stimulus. According to Ogas (2011), “After obtaining her provocative results, Chivers reviewed 132 different laboratory studies published between 1969 and 2007 that simultaneously investigated physical and psychological arousal. The results were very clear. Men experienced a strong correlation between the arousal of mind and body” (pg.61).  Men are very easily sexual aroused in the mind and body, simultaneously. Men are sexually aroused by the physical and external cues. Males are the biggest consumers of pornography, because they get aroused so easily by sexual explicit images. They do not need any emotional stimuli to cause sexual arousal. According to Ogas (2011), “In the male fantasy realm of pornotopia, sex is sheer lust and physical gratification, devoid of courtship, commitment, durable relationships, or mating effort. Porn videos contain minimal plot development, focusing instead on the sex acts themselves and emphasizing the display of female bodies, especially close-ups of faces, breasts, and genitals” (pg.27). For the most part men are only interested in the physical.

         Equally important, male’s erotical illusion can explain how their sexual brain when processing arousal. For instance, the most popular genre of porn that men are interested in is “shemale porn” (Ogas, 2011). The four top body part men are attracted to is; breast, butt, feet, and penis (Ogas, 2011). All these body parts are on a “shemale”, and fulfill men visual sexual

cues, causing arousal. Understanding that men’s brain are programmed to respond to a sexual stimuli in a particular way, helps explain human sexual desire.

For the reason that there is gender differences in how the sexual brain processes arousal, heterosexual men and homosexual men have similar cues. Research on pornography reveals that sexual preferences of gay and straight men are extremely similar. Gay men’s sexual cues is also visual and external. According to Ogas (2011), “Their brain activity was strikingly similar, with comparable activation in the frontal cortex, visual cortex, and subcortex. But, strikingly, both gay and straight brains exhibited different patterns of activation from women’s brains” (pg.104). The brain activity when processing sexual arousal is similar in straight men and gay men. Gay male’s brain is hard wired with the same cues as straight men. No matter what the sexual orientation is, there men’s sexual brain processes arousal based off visual cues.

While it may be true, that there’s gender differences in how the brain processes sexual arousal, testosterone plays a key role in sexual variation.  Studies show the bisexual women have higher sex drives than heterosexual women, or lesbians. If women have the same sexual cues, what makes bisexual women have a higher sex drive? As previously mentioned, females require a psychological cues to be aroused, but not bisexual women. Research on pornography shows that that bisexual women showed different patterns of arousal from watching pornography from lesbians and heterosexual women (Ogas, 2011, pg, 124). Studies shown that the large amount of testosterone in bisexual women effects their sex drive (Ogas, 2011, pg.124). Testosterone are known to have higher levels in men, but lower in women. Although, greater levels of testosterone on bisexual women cause them to have higher sexual drive. (Ogas,2011).Bisexual women do not require emotional cues to be sexually aroused, compared to heterosexual women and lesbians.

Research on pornography reveals that hormones can explain human sexual desire and variations.

Research on pornography reveals factual information about what and how women and men sexually desire. Pornography has such a wide range of different subjects that serve different sexual interest. By searching the internet you can honestly see what men and women are searching for. Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam A Billion Wicked Thoughts reveals many facts about human sexual desire and variations. The research conducted by the two neuroscientist shows the how the sexual brain is different in men and women. How men and women process or respond to sexual cues are different, which explain sexual desire. It is important to know these differences because one will understand what human are sexually interested in. It is essential to know that women are predominantly sexually attracted to psychological cues. For instance, just because a woman finds a man attractive, does not mean she wants to sleep with them. Yes, women want someone that is attractive, but they aroused by emotional, confident, and lustful men (Ogas,2011). There sexually aroused by stories being emotional and romantic (Chivers,2012). There brain is hardwired to only respond to psychological cues. Whereas men, predominantly are sexually attracted to the physical. It doesn’t take a lot of sexual stimulus to turn men on (Ogas,2011) For example, men do not need any emotional cues to cause arousal, all the need is someone they find attractive to cause arousal. One of the key factors in understanding human sexual desire, is to grasp the idea of gender differences in the brain, in how it processes sexual cues (Ogas,2011). Another factor in under sexual desire and variation is understanding how sex hormones play a factor in gender preferences and high sex drive. High levels of testosterone causes a higher sex drive in bisexual women (Ogas,2011). In conclusion, research on pornography reveals that men and women do not have much control over what they sexually desire. Humans inherently cannot control what turn them on.


  • Chivers, M. L., & Timmers, A. D. (2012). Effects of gender and relationship context in audio narratives on genital and subjective sexual response in heterosexual women and men. Archives of sexual behavior, 41(1), 185-197.
  • Ogas, O., & Gaddam, S. (2012). A billion wicked thoughts: What the Internet tells us about sexual relationships. New York, NY: Plume.
  • Wolf, N., DiNozzi, R., Massey, R., Schmidt, J., Into the Classroom Media (Firm), & California Lutheran University. (2009). Naomi Wolf: The beauty myth. Los Angeles, Calif: Into the Classroom Media
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