The heterosexual act of vaginal intercourse is designed foremost as an expression of love between a man and a woman.

After all, if sex was purely about two people reaching orgasm, then we would more naturally engage in activities that involve more direct genital stimulation. Intercourse is a natural progression from kissing to a man capitalising on his sexual arousal to ‘make love’ to a woman.

When a woman is amenable to accepting a man’s sexual initiative, intercourse allows her body to provide him with the sexual release of orgasm.

Penetration provides the maximum turn-on for a man and signifies a high level of trust and intimacy between two people. Intercourse represents the most personal acceptance that a woman can offer that can be emotionally rewarding for a man (especially if her sexual acceptance is awarded sparingly).

“Although we may use orgasm as a measure of the frequency of female activity, and may emphasize the significance of orgasm as a source of physiologic outlet and of social interchange for the female, it must always be understood that we are well aware that this is not the only significant part of a satisfactory sexual relationship.

This is much more true for the female than it would be for the male. It is inconceivable that males who are not reaching orgasm would continue their marital coitus for any length of time.” (p371 Sexual behavior in the human female 1953)

Many women see sex as a loving and sensual act with a man they love. The vast majority of women are not interested in the eroticism and physical sex play (focused on genital stimulation) that would lead to their own sexual arousal and orgasm.

The sexual revolution implied that women’s sexuality could become more like men’s simply as a result of a change in attitudes. In fact, many women settled for faking orgasm to keep men happy rather than being motivated to reach orgasm with a partner.

Female sexuality cannot change just to fit the fashion

Despite the supposed liberalisation in attitudes, men today still feel obliged to apologise to women for sexual innuendo. They appear to assume that a woman will always be offended by sexual references, which of course they often are.

But if women are so shocked by eroticism how do they achieve the sexual arousal that leads to orgasm? The answer is that they don’t. Most would be horrified at the suggestion that they could experience sexual arousal by appreciating aspects of eroticism. Women prefer to assume that female orgasm involves loving feelings rather than crude sexual urges.

Many women enjoy the kind of romance stories that end just as the couple kiss. Although sex is implicit, there are none of the explicit sexual references that so often offend women. This is just where men would want the story to start not to end.

Women are not naturally attracted to the physical as men often are. A woman who is unable to empathise with men’s enjoyment of these phenomena will have difficulty understanding the attraction of eroticism. Women who masturbate enjoy aspects of eroticism through sexual scenarios or stories. Fantasy allows women to gloss over the crude practical details of sex.

But it is one thing to use sexual fantasies during masturbation alone or during sex, for that matter. It requires a much higher level of trust and communication to discuss ways of sharing our sexual fantasies with a partner during physical sex play.

Women may not be happy about a lack of orgasm during sex but they can put up with it. If a man ever experiences impotence, he can feel that life is no longer worth living. Women don’t have the same biological drive to reach orgasm with a partner.

This means that women don’t have the same motivation to explore all the options with a partner. Since intercourse has been endorsed by society as ‘acceptable and proper’ heterosexual behaviour, it is the default and requires minimal discussion.

Excerpt from Jane’s book Ways Women Orgasm (2011)


  1. “Men enjoy the erotic turn-ons & genital stimulation displayed in porn. Women prefer the loving relationships of romance novels.” – from one of your recent posts on this topic

    Nooooooo. Our genitalia and chromosomes do NOT decide what turns us on please don’t reinforce this sexist and regressive sex/romance binary.. greetings from a woman loving porn and detesting romance novels

  2. I’m female and I think it’s essentialist and dangerous to assume that men and women innately enjoy different things… I’m convinced that many women turn to soft erotic fiction rather than hardcore porn simply because they don’t allow themselves certain fantasies

    I enjoy about porn that it can be raw, ugly, silly, politically incorrect. it’s actually a rare place where women can be fully sexual, loud, non-“ladylike,” their bodies imperfect, their faces a mess.

    the other questions are tough to answer because I also look at porn as part of my research. which is: all the time & everywhere but the elements I describe can be found on polished mainstream productions, queer indie sites, or amateur platforms alike… it’s how we look at it

  3. Sure – but I am asking about the explicit details that cause you to become erotically aroused. You know – blood flowing to the clitoral organ that makes orgasm possible. Or are you just saying that you enjoy the pictures for the sake of photography alone?

  4. not at all! I’m talking moving images, and erotic pleasure. I actually found that the porn that is most aesthetically pleasing to me is usually least arousing. It’s impossible to tell exactly what it is that turns you on, though.

  5. What do you mean – it’s impossible to tell what turns you on? Men are turned on by breasts, legs, buttocks, cleavage, etc. Surely you must know what turns you on? Otherwise how do you repeat the process? Can you actually orgasm? If so do you know what anatomy are you stimulating?

  6. For a professional, you make very generalizing and HETERONORMATIVE claims… (heterosexual) men THINK that’s what they are turned on by, because culture has taught them that’s what men like & they systematically avoid other stimuli (gay porn, romantic erotic fic)

  7. I have as many findings as you have to prove your point! there is no useful way of researching sexual arousal because there’s no way to study the cultural context of a bodily response and correlation is easily mistaken as causality.

    given your inability of nuance and obvious ignorance of topics you should know better about, I am not willing to answer your other questions. but yes, I can actually orgasm, thank you. goodbye.