Sexual activity is typically described in terms of physical stimulation. The idea that the brain needs to have an empathic response to eroticism is rarely mentioned. This is because we can see physical activity but we cannot know what is happening inside another person’s head. No one (not even a man) can orgasm if their mind is engaged elsewhere (if they are distracted by non-sexual thoughts). Orgasm occurs in the brain. It is not just a question of physical stimulation. Some form of fantasy is needed. As a rule, stimulation techniques are useless without accompanying psychological arousal. For example, a man must have an erection before he can orgasm.
The male mind slips effortlessly from the social world into the world of erotic fantasy. So men only need to use artificial (consciously created) fantasy scenarios to boost their natural arousal. For example, men use pornography when masturbating in the absence of a lover. But women are much less sexually responsive than men are. The emphasis on clitoral stimulation (as if it is the only factor in orgasm) is misleading because it ignores the much bigger issue of erotic turn-ons. [i] Female orgasms certainly do not happen spontaneously. A responsive woman has to work at orgasm.
Any woman who cannot orgasm with a lover is told that she has a psychological problem (she is sexually or emotionally inhibited). It is true that the psychological aspects of sex cause women difficulty but not because there is anything wrong with them. It is because of how women’s sexual psychology works. Women are not aroused by real-world triggers. As a receiver of intercourse, a woman never needs to be aroused. Women have neither an engorged external sex organ nor the sexual psychology of a penetrating male. So women are never conscious of arousal in most situations.
Arousal is a response to our senses (sight, smell and touch) as well as our imagination. Women’s lack of hormonal drive means they have to use their imagination (fantasy) on a completely different level to how men use theirs. Women also have no easy sources of arousal such as a lover’s body. Given these two conditions it takes considerable mental concentration to orgasm by using only fantasies (focused on taboo aspects of sex). If she is to orgasm, a woman needs to be alone, in an environment devoid of distractions. The fact that women orgasm most easily by masturbating alone is counterintuitive because it is not the male experience. Ironically, it is the sociable nature of sexual activity with a lover that prevents a woman achieving the intense focus on fantasy that she needs in order to orgasm.
[i] … the techniques of masturbation are especially effective in producing orgasm. (Alfred Kinsey)
Excerpt from Women’s Sexual Behaviours & Responses (ISBN 978-0956-894717)