This article was last updated on June 18, 2022
Women are turned on verbally, men are turned on visually
I have a problem with this idea (I have heard it in many, many other places besides here) because it tried to pass itself off as the end-all be-all of stimulation. It would be more accurate, in my opinion, to say that "Women are more apt to be turned in verbally, and men more apt to be turned on visually."
But has anyone tried to reason this out? My personal belief behind it is that, while men are more likely to get ‘turned on’ by visual stimuli, it’s because of social conditioning versus actual physiology. I can’t tell you how it began, because I don’t know, but it probably happened many generations ago.
Women, until recently, have been taught to repress their sexuality as much as possible. Therefore, it is not ‘right’ for women to be titillated by visual stimuli lest she be labelled a jezebel, for she is focusing on the ‘carnal’ and physical side of the issue.
Men, OTOH [on the other hand], are taught to repress their sensuality. They (we) are conditioned to separate the physical acts from the emotional and mental corollaries.
This is not to say that things can’t change. I’m not female (at the moment), but I’m damn sure there have been women to have snuck a peek at their husband in the shower and it got their blood pumping. And, to go with it, I know from personal experience that spoken and written words can be an aphrodisiac.
The ‘problem’ here is not that we are not excited by certain things, but that we refuse to let ourselves be excited by them.
New brain research challenges the myth that men are more visual than women.
By Cory Silverberg – Monday June 19, 2006
…a recent study published in the journal Brain Research is offering the first preliminary but important evidence to dispel the age old myth that visual imagery is more important to men than it is to women. And it’s worth considering without hyperbole.
The study, carried out by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis measured brainwave activity of 264 women as they viewed a series of 55 color slides that contained various scenes from water skiers to snarling dogs to partially-clad couples in sensual poses. The researchers were interested in the speed, strength, and location of brainwave activity of the subjects as they viewed erotic versus non-erotic images.
As they hypothesized, the brainwave activity of participants was markedly different when viewing erotic images versus non-erotic images. But a finding they didn’t expect was that female participant’s response was similar to men. In a prepared statement, lead author Andrey P. Anokhin explained:
"Usually men subjectively rate erotic material much higher than women," he says. "So based on those data we would expect lower responses in women, but that was not the case. Women have responses as strong as those seen in men."
The authors propose that previous findings from other studies which found men to have a stronger response to erotic images than women may have as much to do with research methods, as an actual response by men or women.
Porn as we know it is used predominantly by men. That is not to say that women do not use it, but simply that men are the main consumers of this "pleasure technology." Why men? It may not come as a surprise, but research suggests that most men are more interested in sex than most women are. More men than women masturbate, and they do so more frequently. More men experience orgasms, and do so more consistently.
Some scientists believe that these differences have a biological basis. Evolutionary psychologists argue that ancestral men, to spread their genes, had much to gain from having sex with as many women as possible. In contrast, given the biological limitations on the number of children women could have and raise, they would benefit from being selective — choosing mates with the best genes. Thus, men evolved a sexual psychology that makes sex with new women exciting both to imagine and to engage in, and this made men especially responsive to visual signals of sex. Porn, a largely visual medium, parades many youthful and attractive partners, and provides physical gratification without commitment or encumbering relationships. There are other social-historical explanations for the gender discrepancy, however, including the fact that, until recently, porn has not been created with the intention of appealing to women.
Dr. Phil’s "Man-ual": Men Are Hunters.
O, The Oprah Magazine | June 15, 2003
As a result of the substantial differences between men and women when it comes to sex—differences that are psychosocial, biochemical and neurological—trying to get a man to function according to female standards is like trying to get a pig to fly. It’s just not going to happen. That old but often accurate notion that men are hunters seems especially applicable here.
How This Affects You
Men have less of certain hormones and more of others than women do, and that fuels us to respond in different ways. For most women, sex is primarily an emotional thing; for most men, it’s primarily physical.
A man often fails to see how sex and other aspects of the relationship are intertwined. I have always counselled women that there are times you make love, and there are times when it’s purely recreational: Wham, bam, thank you ma’am—just a complete physical release, and cover me up when you’re done. Men and women both need to recognize that there’s a range of feeling when it comes to sex. If you don’t acknowledge that range, the two of you are going to have a problem.
There is definitely a double standard with men when it comes to fidelity. If they are having an extramarital affair or an extra-relational affair, they’ll probably look at it as if they are going and taking something from a woman, not giving something of themselves away. There’s no emotional investment there.
Men are visually stimulated, which means if they are in a target-rich environment, they may well become aroused. This is not just a maturity issue; their brains are actually wired that way, which is very different from your own wiring. But this is not some involuntary reflex action over which he has no control. It is a choice. Men can be amazingly shortsighted on these issues, often failing to project ahead to the consequences of their actions on their wife or children.
What You Can Do About It
Discussing the matter of fidelity, before a crisis occurs, is crucial. Couples need to talk about what fidelity means to each of them so there’s no confusion. Understanding that men fear rejection and therefore thrive on acceptance and are easily visually stimulated, you can program out a considerable risk of unfaithfulness by investing energy in what may seem superficial: your appearance and the level of sexual activity in your relationship. Please don’t write to me objecting! I’m not saying this is fair, only that it is effective. Let the training begin.
It may be a stereotype that men are visual as there may be other factors which come into play in distinguishing between the sexes. We are certainly far more affected by our upbringing, by our peers and by society than we realise.