When we look at how men orgasm, it is clear that a man must have an erection before he can attempt orgasm. Only when a man has an erection, does the penis respond (when the shaft is massaged) in such a way as to cause orgasm. This is true regardless of the activity a man engages in. So although an erection is a prerequisite for intercourse, a man also needs an erection before he can orgasm through masturbation or fellatio. A man becomes erect fairly quickly if he anticipates the prospect of sexual activity. This is such a well-established and accepted fact that we take it for granted.
Men experience acute arousal, both physical and mental. The penis becomes rigid, which is what makes stimulation highly pleasurable. Men’s minds are also completely absorbed in the erotic stimuli of the scenario they anticipate (an opportunity to penetrate a lover with their erect penis). Men are intent on obtaining sexual release through thrusting to ejaculation.
Nevertheless, this male experience has not been applied to women. No one insists that women must be mentally aroused before they can orgasm. Most people are confused if you ask them to name female erotic turn-ons. They have no idea what you might be referring to. A woman’s role in intercourse involves offering an orifice regardless of her own state of erotic arousal.
Female arousal with a lover is defined quite differently, even in pornography. Women display their bodies for male admiration. They wait for a lover to stimulate them. They provide come-ons and male turn-ons. Women’s passivity and conscious behaviours clearly indicate that they are not experiencing sensational erotic arousal or physical pleasure. For older women, vaginal secretions may increase but there is no pleasure in this. Even when masturbating, female arousal is not as intense as male arousal. But a responsive woman can differentiate between the diffuse sensations with a lover and the focused arousal that arises from fantasy when alone.
It must seem ridiculous to a man that a woman is unsure about arousal. [i] Even for a responsive woman, her arousal is never, at any stage, the acute, physically obvious and highly conscious experience that men have. Even when masturbating, female arousal is felt as a semi-subconscious feeling of mild excitement. A responsive woman feels a barely discernible, slight tingling sensation that she learns to associate with arousal. When she has sex for the first time, a woman notices the contrast with masturbation alone but she does not appreciate that her inability to orgasm is due to her lack of mental arousal. This is because her arousal, even when alone, although critical to the activity, is a relatively insignificant physical phenomenon.
[i] It is impossible to believe that any male would ever be unconscious of the fact that he was aroused sexually, even if he did not have a penis to bear testimony to that effect… (Alfred Kinsey)
Excerpt from Understanding Sexual Response (ISBN 978-0956-894762)