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Equipping Parents For the Culture War

Guest: Rebecca Hagelin

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May 01, 2017

Men's and Women's Differences in Sexual Desire

Question: Dr. Dobson, can you be more specific regarding the differences in sexual desire and preferences between males and females? Since I'm getting married next July, I would like to know how my future husband's need will differ from my own. Could you summarize the major distinctions that will occur between us?

Answer: You are wise to ask this question, because the failures to understand male and female preferences often produces a continual source of marital frustration and guilt.

First, men are primarily aroused by visual stimulation. They are turned on by feminine nudity or peek-a-boo glimpses of semi-nudity. Women, on the other hand, are much less visually oriented than men. Sure, they are interested in attractive masculine bodies, but the physiological mechanism of sex is not triggered, typically, by what they see; women are stimulated primarily by the sense of touch. Thus, we encounter the first source of disagreement in the bedroom; he wants her to appear unclothed in a lighted room, and she wants him to caress her in the dark.

Second, and much more important, men are not very discriminating in regard to the person living within an interesting body. A man can walk down a street and be stimulated by a scantily clad female who shimmies past him, even though he knows nothing about her personality or values or mental capabilities. He is attracted by her body itself. Likewise, he can become almost as excited over a photograph of an unknown nude model as he can in a face-to-face encounter with someone he loves. In essence, the sheer biological power of sexual desire in a male is largely focused on the physical body of an attractive female. Hence, there is some validity to the complaint by women that they have been used as "sex objects" by men. This explains why female prostitutes outnumber males by a wide margin and why few women try to "rape" men. It explains why a roomful of toothless old men can get a large charge from watching a burlesque dancer "take it all off." It reflects that fact that masculine self-esteem is more motivated by a desire to "conquer" a woman than in becoming the object of her romantic love. These are not very flattering characteristics of male sexuality, but they are well documented in the professional literature.

Women, on the other hand, are much more discriminating in their sexual interests. They less commonly become excited by observing a good-looking charmer, or by the photograph of a hairy model; rather, their desire is usually focused on a particular individual whom they respect or admire. A woman is stimulated by the romantic aura which surrounds her man, and by his character and personality. She yields to the man who appears to her emotionally as well as physically.

Obviously, there are exceptions to these characteristic desires, but the fact remains: sex for men is a more physical phenomenon; sex for women is a deeply emotional experience.

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