Let’s stop pretending these are female turn ons

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

A long time ago someone published a book called ‘Porn for Women.’ Don’t get too excited, it isn’t actually porn. It was simply a collection of different images of guys doing the hoovering, washing, and other household tasks. In this ‘porn for women LOL’ hilarious trope, guys are occasionally tantalisingly half-dressed but never doing the kind of thing I’d consider genuinely horny: masturbating on the sofa, or poised halfway to sitting down on a butt plug – that kind of thing. I would be surprised if – barring a few people with very niche fetishes – anyone’s actually ever wanked to it.

I was reminded of it recently when someone (I don’t remember who and I don’t want to drop them in it even if I could) tweeted a list of ‘top female turn-ons’ which looked suspiciously like this book. The list included such gems as ‘listen attentively when she tells you about her day’ and ‘take the garbage out.’ I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to have actual, satisfying sex with my own vacuum cleaner than to orgasm while thinking about a guy begrudgingly hauling bin bags to the front garden.

I do not sit at home frigging myself trembly over the idea of my partner picking up a hoover. I do not get wet just because someone is listening attentively while I speak, unless perhaps that person is Tyrion Lannister and what we’re discussing is just how hard he’d fuck me.

Turn ons for men

I had a quick trawl through some of the top articles that come up on Google when you search for ‘turn ons for women’ and ‘turn ons for men’, to do a bit of compare and contrast, and I found some absolute corkers.

For men, the vast majority of turn-ons fell into two categories: appearance (i.e. the way someone looks, specific body parts, what they wear) and specific sexual behaviour (i.e. touching, massage, dirty talk, sex positions – that kind of thing). In fact, so focused were the tip-givers on specific sexual behaviour, that they ended up confusing ‘turn ons’ for just ‘sex things you can do’, and recommended that the best way to turn someone on is to ‘give him a blow job.’ To be honest, if I’d paid money for that kind of consultancy I’d be feeling a tad ripped off.

“How do I turn someone on?”

“Put your mouth on their genitals and do what feels good to them.”

“You’re fired.”

There were a few tips that fell into a category that I’ve loosely called ‘non-sexual behaviour’. Things like taking part in activities he enjoys, or being ambitious or confident. Thing is, even with these non-sexual behaviours, they were usually sexualised in some way (as any good turn-on should be, by definition). One male turn-on included ‘paying for dinner’ – not because, you know, it’s nice when your date chips in, but because ‘it’s hot to date a powerful woman.’ Let’s leave aside the question of whether smacking down your credit card at the end of a meal counts as ‘powerful’ – I’ve never caused any earthquakes by doing it, and I doubt anyone else feels like they’re wielding the Mighty Hammer of Thor, but still.

The bottom line is, when we encounter male turn ons, barring a few stand-out exceptions, we’re usually talking about something that makes them horny. Not ‘nice’ stuff, or ‘understanding’ stuff: just those pure and simple moments when they see/hear/feel something awesome, and all the blood rushes to their genitals.

Turn ons for women

Please prepare your faces of utter shock, because we ain’t going to see the same thing for women. While most of the turn ons for dudes includes appearance-related or specific sexual behaviours, almost half of the female turn-ons cited were examples of non-sexual behaviour.

  • Taking the garbage out. (As mentioned previously, this is really hard to masturbate to)
  • Listening without interrupting. (‘Had an amazing wank last night, baby.’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘Yeah. I had a fantasy that I managed to finish the end of a sentence witho-‘ ‘Cup of tea?’)
  • Bringing her a bar of chocolate. (Does it come with a free dildo? Because that is the only way I’m going to crack one off to this)
  • Saying ‘I’m sorry.’ (‘Oh yeah baby, I’m so close to climax, please tell me more about your failures.’)
  • Maintaining decent hygiene. (I don’t have any snark to lay on this one but I will say that if I were a guy, over the age of about six, I’d be up in arms about how frequently sexperts think I need to be told to run a flannel over my genitals.)

Here’s the deal: these things can be super-awesome (or they can be basic requirements for an adult human), but if it were genuinely the case that women actively fetishised these things – they they were turn-ons in the literal, heart-pounding, genital-throbbing sense, I’m pretty sure we’d have been told, no? There’d be erotica dedicated to the curve of a guy’s hand as he lovingly caresses a Henry Hoover, or porn films featuring extreme close-ups of his fingers tying the garbage bag shut, with lingering pan-shots as he sultrily drips bin juice through the hallway.

I have no issue whatsoever with encouraging people to do these things – they’re basically nice things to do. Nor do I want to shame you if you’re one of the (I suspect few) people for whom the sight of a guy wielding a duster causes occasional eruptions in your pants. But I get really fucked off with the idea that, while guys have genuine sexual ‘turn ons’ women have a fluffier, softer, equivalent. Male sexuality is about blood and lust and horn and desire, whereas female sexuality is about comfort and protection and care and chipping in with your fucking share of the housework.

It’s bad enough that we live in a world where ‘porn for women’ is considered a distinct category in and of itself, while the ungendered term ‘porn‘ is considered, by default, to be a male-only activity. But this stuff takes it even further, and implies that ‘turn ons’ for women aren’t just different things (nice hands as opposed to nice bums, for instance) but that – when talking about female turn ons – we need to redefine the idea of a turn-on in the first place. Not something that induces lust, but something that induces love: the kind of squishy feelings you might encounter when faced with a kitten, or a candlelit dinner.

And I don’t know about you, but I find those things hard to wank to.

It’s been eight years since the crappy ‘Porn for Women’ book was first published, and yet we’re still reading tips and advice that imply half the human race have a fundamentally different definition of arousal to the other half. It’s unnecessarily gendered, weirdly divisive, utterly unrealistic bullshit. If I want to masturbate I want something that speaks to the lustful things that happen in my head. My actual turn ons aren’t things that make my heart soar, they’re things that make my cunt wet. As the excellent XKCD put it, when the book was first published: in my fantasies, people fuck.

38 Comments

  • Bo says:

    I enjoy your Charlie Brooker-esque polemic, it’s v. funny. In fact it’s a turn on…….being funny.

    I wouldn’t wank over a joke,, but that’s a different sense of what a turn on is and you conflate the two senses in this piece. A turn on can be wank material, or it can be a characteristic in the person in front of you which draws you to them. That attraction itself also doesn’t have to be sexual, at least in the English sense of “turn on”, which can be a wider attraction. If someone is caring for example, I could well find that to be a turn on, most probably in a non-sexual way, but even in a sexual way, in that it gives part of me permission to start thinking about fucking them, because I would generally only fuck someone I really like as a person.

    This is just semantics though. Since your point, I think, is not about the wider conception of turn ons but about why societal notions of what is wank material for women are different to what that material is for men.

    On this point I’m not qualified to disagree. I would say though that with this topic, as with many straight male/female sexual issues, where there is a differential between the genders it could exist because of

    A-The impact of society on women’s self-expressed sexual desire. i.e. growing up in a sexist society which to some extent still shames open sexual expression of women, women’s preferences may be inhibited/suppressed permanently by that. They might feel shame if they wank to filthy porn.

    B- The lack of suitable wank material directs women to ‘softer’ material. So, for example, I find the porn that I watch at once a real turn on (it would tend to be amateur porn), but at the same time troubling. Troubling because it is very sexist. Why is it that all the captions to the videos talk about sluts/whores getting their comeuppance, and the such like. It’s really disgusting. Plus, there is the unknowable issue of whether consent has been provided for those videos (most likely not in the genre of gf revenge videos. Fucking wankers that those people are). I’ve tried to wank to pictures and stuff but it’s just not the same.

    C- Biological differences which give men and women different sex drives. I’m not sure what the science says on this, but looking around at society it seems that in straight dating the total male population is at least a little bit hornier than women, although I am happy to be overruled on this.

    I appreciate that this topic particularly narks you because evidently your own sex drive is…ahem…well developed (and wonderfully shared in these pages), but there are valid reasons for women having different, ‘softer’ turn ons. Even though I’ve mentioned a few, I agree with you and I think that the above points likely only make a small difference to people’s sex drives.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hey – thanks for your thoughtful comment!
      You’re right, the first point is essentially linguistics – hence why I compared with what are typically considered male turn ons versus female ones. We use words like ‘turn on’ and ‘fantasy’ to refer to things that aren’t specifically sexual quite frequently (and I probably do it a fair whack too), but obviously context is important, hence the comparison. In one, turn on is used very sexually, in the other it’s not, and I’m questioning why.

      I’d suggest that it’s probably contributing towards your point A – “i.e. growing up in a sexist society which to some extent still shames open sexual expression of women, women’s preferences may be inhibited/suppressed permanently by that.” In terms of whether women/men really do have different sex drives, I think it’s a phenomenally difficult thing to study, not least because across humanity there’s a huge amount of variance (and the idea that there’s a gender binary which dictates behaviour to such a detailed degree is in itself problematic). Probably above and beyond the broad question, though, is the idea that giving this kind of overarching advice is actually helpful for anyone who wants to get better at turning their partner on. I’m up for broad advice along the ‘converse/listen/chat/suggest/inspire’ lines, but realistically these lists are hit and miss on a personal basis, because no two individuals are the same.

      On a *complete* tangent, if you’re worried about porn ethics/exploitation etc, you might like this article by Jiz Lee, if you haven’t already seen it. It’s awesome, and a really interesting look at porn ethics from a consumer perspective: http://jizlee.com/ethical-porn-consumption-pay-for-porn-anti-piracy/

    • What a great response!

      There are many, many things that turn me on. Most have to do with being touched, or talked to, power dynamics get me, but yes, honestly even a few (granted, few) “mundane” things seriously turn me on.

      Dishes would be an excellent example of this. My husband will frequent be shirtless, or even naked to further my desire, and there’s something so fucking hot about the steam rising against his body, his hands immersed in sudsy water, wet, slippery from soap, rhythmically scrubbing, and watching the muscles play in his arm as he pushes and scrubs at something, mmm…yep, this is a no-joke, fucking hot, can barely keep my hands off of him sight. It’s not because he’s actually doing housework; and he knows how it gets me. One time when we were separated for an extended period of time, he took a video of himself doing dishes naked. Yep, definitely the stuff of my fantasies.

      For the most part, however, I agree with your points. It always makes me a little sad how female fantasies are made fun of, belittled, not acknowledged, and yet highly promoted and consumer driven. Great, thought provoking post, as always!

      • Girl on the net says:

        Thanks Cammies – that’s put a pretty hot soapy spin on it =) I’m kinda kicking myself because that example probably wasn’t the best one to use, but how’s this for an example:

        – There’s a pretty common trope about girls in short shorts and white t-shirts getting all sudsy as they wash a guy’s car. Camera pans over tits, bums, soap, slipperiness: all the turn ons. Yet we wouldn’t say that ‘having a clean car’ is a turn-on: it’d be stated that obviously for dudes it’s the soapy/slippery/hotness of it, possibly with a bit of being ‘served’ thrown in. What frustrates me about the female tropes is that the physical/sexual things (i.e. soapiness as you’ve so beautifully summed up!) are usually brushed aside, in favour of the actual activity being explained as the turn on. As you say, it’s belittling. And thanks for the soap, which set my mind off down this track, and now will be in my head most of the evening =)

  • xwoman says:

    ‘There’d be erotica dedicated to the curve of a guy’s hand as he lovingly caresses a Henry Hoover’

    Hang on, didn’t you write something once saying how watching a mans hands driving was a massive turn on. Watching a man take the garbage out , as long as its not begrudgingly (did they actually say begrudgingly?), can be sexy, those strong arms hauling that shit out of that awquardly large bin. Man being. Man doing. Nnngh.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Yeah, maybe that wasn’t a great example. My point being we’d eroticise the housework as opposed to the doing aspect.

  • Mmm. bin juice.

    No, wait! MEN juice. Yes, that’s it. Men juice. Mmmm.

    xx Dee

  • Jillian Boyd says:

    I remember reading bits of that godawful book – and the brilliant XKCD comic which kind of tells you exactly what I think about the situation. And yeah, I kinda get hot and wet from the idea of watching a guy’s muscles rippling as he’s mowing the lawn, but that’s because his muscles are rippling and not because he’s making the grass look nice.

    Blimmin’ good post, GOTN. And very Brooker-esque – the Charlie Brooker of fuck blogging is a title that suits you.

  • King of Bongo says:

    It seems to me the key to this difference lies both on cultural and biological aspects, but the latter play a larger role. It’s no surprise that men are visual beings — a heritage from the times they had to spot prey while avoiding predators in the bush. Men seek dominance through power and instant gratification, looking to spread their seed across as large a sample of breeders as possible. You can imagine the turn-on criteria for a caveman could be succinctly summarized as “must have vagina,” a feature that’s shared pretty much across the animal spectrum. As males, particularly among mammals, don’t have much responsibility in bearing or raising the offspring, it’s easy for them to mindlessly fuck anything that moves — or, preferably, holds still. Over eons, the male brain has been hardwired to be straightforward when it comes to turn-ons. Despite our rational and social constraints, modern humans are not much different in this regard.

    Females, on the other hand, have a lot at stake in a sexual encounter. A pregnancy will leave them vulnerable for weeks on end, weaker for having to share their energy reserves with the offspring, responsible for caring and often carrying. It’s natural, then, that they’ll be picky about their mates, going after or welcoming one that is fit not only to give her healthy babies, but also to protect said babies and their own lives while they’re nursing. They have to look beyond beauty to reckon whether the male will excel not only in sex, but also in being able to provide protection and resources.

    Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m fully aware and supportive that women are also able to be hornified by a tight shape and enjoy a fuck just for fuck’s sake, just as they can be independent and provide their own well-being and comfort. After all, there are not so many saber-tooth tigers or woolly mammoths we have to flee or hunt around our offices or malls. Modern priorities, needs, and dangers have shifted and, thankfully, allowed women to be fully independent from men. Likewise, not all men bear erections at the plain perspective of a wet hole, there’s much more involved that might even lead to a complete lack of sexual interest or ability if the partner is not right. I, for one, have declined a handful of lays in my time because of either physical or abstract aspects — gosh, bad grammar or the wrong skin texture can be such boner killers, or maybe I just didn’t feel comfortable with the situation!

    With such distinct evolutionary pathways — that, in turn, partially led to cultural ones –, it’s easy to see how different genders will tend to give different insights on their turn-ons. Men will be more specific, more direct, more focused: I want something that’s erotic at the immediate level, an instant reward to fulfill my carnal desires. Women will tend to look at the bigger picture, pondering traits that would make a man a good companion, someone that would make them confident enough to be allowed between their legs (or lips, or buttocks). A woman with the proper hip-to-waist ratio, good-looking tits, and/or a receptive demeanor should suffice to be rated hot by men, just enough to grant a hard-on, while a man will have to tick the right boxes in categories other than sexual prowess to hit the spot — including the G one. It’s commonly said that men are turned on by their eyes while women are turned on by their ears and there’s quite a bit of truth to that. As a man, I also look at overall traits when choosing a girlfriend (or simply falling in love unwittingly, as a matter of fact), but just a pretty smile and a hot body is enough for short-term lust. Her being smart and a good cook and knowing how to remove a tomato sauce stain is definitely a plus, but not decisive to wake up desire at first sight.

    One curious unfolding of that is the number of drop-dead gorgeous women dating/marrying ugly-ass men, while the opposite is not all that common. They guy might look like a baboon’s bottom, but be confident, involving, seductive in all the right ways to become attractive. The fact they take the garbage out or do the dishes or vacuum or get up when the baby cries in the middle of the night or know how to mend a fuse or read a map or ask about their girl’s day will not lead to wet panties by itself, but will make the woman happy enough that she’ll feel at ease with him to, when the time comes, come and come and come.

    I do hope that Porn for Women book was published as a snarky joke. Taking it as a serious attempt at erotica is naive, just as much as assuming men will get instantly horny while browsing through a female anatomy book.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Cool story, bro. Did you mean to post it here? On the internet? Because traditionally you’d have been driven to smear it on the cave walls with the blood of a freshly slaughtered gazelle, and I wouldn’t want you to think you have to evolve just for my sake.

      • jan says:

        That was hilarious response gotn. I can’t stop laughing. But biology is fascinating and I’d like to explore the comment. On some level the ‘dude’ does have a point, female mammals and birds are primed to pick their mate carefully, especially primates who invest a lot of time looking after a single baby. Its a high price for a female to get it wrong. She can only have a handful of babies in her life, and must put her body and life at great risk to do so. Males on the other hand can have thousands of children at no cost (except that fighting off rival males to do so can be risky.) For a female a good mate wold be capable of looking after the child (fatherly/nurturing) or have strong male genes (physical fitness) so that the child can have the best chance if survival. But all of this is primative biological Darwinism. The trouble is, whats about the dude aboves beliefs (its common) is that it ignores how human brains and bodies are very very plastic. Its what distinguishes us so much from other primates. We don’t even fuck to have kids now. We actively prevent it. Male and females alike. No other animal does this.. We make tools, microwaves, porn, condoms, and aeroplanes because we fully reject our genes pathetic capacity not to give us wings and sex without kids. We reject our biology at will. And I rather love that becauae that is our biology. We are not set. We can be anything we choose. We can change behaviour and our desires and our physicality without ever changing our genes. We are not dominated by our ancient animal instincts anymore than we are by our ancient caveman cultures (i think tv and internet is here to stay and caves will probably never make a comeback.) We can change our hair colour, our state of mind, even our gender. Darwinism has its place but when it comes to humans it has barely begun. Great blog BTW.

        • Orathaic says:

          And no, Dolphins have been know to have sex for fun. And Bonobos (who are our closest living relative) have sex to say hello, and to relieve stress, and as a form of bonding between males and between females within a group. Pretty much the most sexual ape. (Note we are also Apes, ie primates without tails)

          And apart from evolving from the same lineage as humans, bonobos are more closely related to chimps than they are to us, yet the two could not be more different in their sociology, particularily when it comes to equality between the sexes (and this are a great case study)

          FYI: You don’t see bonobos in zoos because their constant sex (which looks a lot like human sex) makes visitors uncomfortable.

    • Azkyroth says:

      Not this shit again.

    • Orathaic says:

      No, no, no, no, no.

      Please watch all over Saplosky’s Stanford lectures on human behavioural biology. (Available now on youtube) then retract all arguements based on your evolutionary psychology as too simple.

  • King of Bongo says:

    I feel some sarcasm in your reply (note that “some” is an abstract measure that can amount to anything between a teaspoon to an oil tanker’s worth).

    Though I probably shouldn’t, I’ll bite: I’m talking about how our brains are programmed to look at things in slightly different ways, hence the different perceived turn-ons for different genders you were ranting about. I assumed your comment section was about exchanging points of view and being respected for them; I was obviously wrong. I’m struggling to figure out what triggered your rude reply, but I guess I shouldn’t spend such effort on something that’s not worth it.

    Evolve for your sake? Not even if by ‘sake’ you mean the Japanese rice-based alcoholic beverage! Do yourself a favor and go through my original comment to understand I was just giving insight — although rambling quite a bit while at it — on the matter by exploring some evolutionary traits that make men and women, sometimes, grasp the very concept of a turn-on from radically different standpoints. Or don’t, I don’t fucking care.

    Meanwhile, I guess I’ll just close the few tabs I had open with other posts that were feeling quite tasty and well written and now just became crap from someone who feels entitled to dis a reader for chipping in.

    • Azkyroth says:

      So what did your ancestors encounter on the savannah that adapted them to this level of petulance?

      Our brains are not “programmed.” “Evolutionary psychology” would be more properly called “evolutionary phrenology” and consists almost entirely of motivated reasoning and unevidenced Just-So Stories desperately handwaving the injustice and stupidity in our society with an insistence that it’s all hardwired into us and nothing can or should be done to change it. “Innate [average] differences” between men and women could certainly exist in principle, but due to the aforementioned handwaving and motivated reasoning, and an almost unbroken record of jaw-droppingly horrid experimental methodology, reasonable people regard a claim to have REALLY WE SWEAR THIS TIME found one the same way they regard an email claiming to REALLY WE SWEAR THIS TIME have found a way to enlarge one’s penis, for basically the same reasons. And having it smugly brandished at us by people who are capable of looking up “confirmation bias” is…tiresome, particularly given the frequency with which it’s used to prop up sexism, both institutional and casual, and dismiss women’s points of view.

      Here is some remedial reading.

    • Girl on the net says:

      What Azkyroth said. Yeah, as a general rule I do my best to not be knee-jerk shitty to people in the comments, and I probably shouldn’t have been so dismissive, because I don’t want to discourage people from joining in. But your comment was pretty patronising (and your follow-up even more so). You’re trying to lay some ‘insight’ down, utterly convinced that you’re right, despite the fact that what you’re talking about has been debunked a thousand times before.

      Our brains aren’t ‘programmed’ so that we’ll inevitably behave in particular ways. If this were the case then we would have no culture, society, morality, or free will. However, if you genuinely believe this then you wouldn’t be angry at my response. After all, in the hunter-gatherer society women were greatly at risk from predators and therefore naturally more risk-averse, meaning that overreaction to challenges from males is totally understandable as a self-preservation tactic. See? Anyone can make this bullshit up if they want to – it doesn’t mean it’s right.

      • potentlover says:

        Quote: “Our brains aren’t ‘programmed’ so that we’ll inevitably behave in particular ways”

        That is, I’m afraid, only partially true. While we have a cognizant part of the brain that endeavors to remain ‘in control’ of our waking selves as much as possible, we also have a ‘primitive’ brain which provides basic (and subconscious) reactions and emotions. Instantly recognizable amongst these is the ‘fight or flight’ reaction where we instinctively become aggressive or run faced with a situation that threatens our existence, but there are plenty more of these reactions lying below the surface of consciousness.

        Anyone who has experienced the ‘fear’ reaction will have noticed how difficult it is to control. Yes, it is possible to overcome the emotion of fear and the physical reactions that accompany it – facing up to a barking dog, for example – but many people don’t have that level of control.

        That is not to say that we cannot control our sexual emotions, of course we can, but the real pleasure lies in giving in to them, letting them release the pleasurable endorphins into our bloodstream and wallow in the emotions rather then trying to control them. As a result, part of the pleasure of sex is allowing our primitive brain to have its way with us, giving up to the orgasmic reflex and relaxing into the stimulation that leads up to it, not to mention the satisfaction that follows.

        So don’t dismiss the pre-programmed parts of our brain so readily. Our instinctive side drives more of our behavior than is often realized.

        On the other hand I agree with you that there is a load of pseudo-Freudian twaddle made up about the difference in what constitutes the sex drive in men and women that has been, and needs to be, debunked before people start thinking in stereotypes. We are all different and I’m loving the way that ‘girl on the net’ reveals your preferences in such a totally honest and outspoken way.

        Keep up the good work.

        • Girl on the net says:

          “So don’t dismiss the pre-programmed parts of our brain so readily. ”

          Hmmm. I’m not saying we can’t say anything about human development and evolution, but as you rightly say there’s a lot of twaddle stated. Yeah, we have bological reactions (i.e. fear etc) but we cannot examine these outside the context of the society we live in and the impact that has. Fear is an excellent example – the fight or flight reaction often causes us huge problems which are totally outside any actual danger we might be in (i.e. mental health issues such as anxiety can trigger these reactions in situations where they’re entirely inappropriate/unhelpful).

          And, I guess the heart of my frustration comes from the word ‘programmed.’ We aren’t ‘programmed’ in any of the ways that we’d typically understand the word. For a start it implies programmed for a purpose, a kind of directional evolution that fits better with Intelligent Design than any genuine scientific explanation. And secondly the idea of programming implies a kind of inevitability about the way any given individual must behave. While we might be able to say ‘people in X situation will tend towards acting like this’ to say that we’re programmed to is way too simplistic.

          • potentlover says:

            That’s a good point – about the use of the word ‘programmed’.

            It’s difficult to describe the genetically ‘hard wired’ parts of the brain in any other way, though, as a ‘program’ is now understood so well in computing circles. Perhaps ‘imprinted’ would be a better term to use.

            It is also interesting that the physical side of sexual arousal (male erection, female clitoral swelling etc.) is an autonomous response, in other words it is not under our conscious control. However, of course, the CAUSE of the arousal IS due to our conscious response to external stimuli or our subconscious response to fantasies or dreams.

            What you are attacking, in this post, are the assumed triggers for sexual arousal which differ widely between people of both sexes. There is considerable evidence that these triggers are printed into our brain by incidents throughout our lives, even from a very early age. This certainly helps the explanation of fetishes and fantasies that many of us enjoy and some feel guilty about (being honest with your partner is a good way to get it out in the open).

            Perhaps the big problem is one of semantics – what exactly does anyone mean by being ‘turned on’ by a person, a thing or an image? I had a girlfriend who was ‘turned on’ by me rolling up my shirt sleeves. She said the sight of my bare forearms made her want to have sex. But if I had sent her a picture of my bare forearms, would she have been so turned on she would want to wank? (Damn, I should have tried it, just to find out)!

            I’m impressed by your candor that you get turned on by direct images such as a guy having a wank on a sofa. I haven’t heard anything so directly put by a girl before but is that just because girls feel they shouldn’t say such things even though they actually think it? On the other hand you’ll find no lack of men who agree that they get turned on by a flash of boob or panties, and many admit to being aroused by watching lesbian porn. So does that mean that some girls could be turned on by watching boys having a good time together or is that one of the gender differences?

            Your conclusion seems to say that what turns on a male is no different, in essence, from what turns on a female. I agree with you that we shouldn’t fall prey to stereotypes as, in sexual arousal, there are no predictable norms. But, after viewing the anecdotal evidence of related fantasies, are there really no differences between men and women (allowing of course for gender reversal) as far as what turns them on goes?

          • Girl on the net says:

            Hard-wired falls into the same traps as ‘programmed’, I think. The fact is the human brain is far too complicated for us (at the moment) to predict individual human behaviour to any degree. What’s more, there’s more variety within a species than our models have generally given credit for. Couple that with the fact that people like to say ‘science says men/women tend towards X therefore men/women will all do X’ and it’s difficult to have a meaningful discussion about the impact of these things on everyday interactions.

            OK, rest of your comment I’m going to quote and reply otherwise I’ll get lost…

            “Perhaps the big problem is one of semantics – what exactly does anyone mean by being ‘turned on’ by a person, a thing or an image? I had a girlfriend who was ‘turned on’ by me rolling up my shirt sleeves. She said the sight of my bare forearms made her want to have sex. But if I had sent her a picture of my bare forearms, would she have been so turned on she would want to wank? (Damn, I should have tried it, just to find out)!”
            Maybe. But here I think the fact that she said ‘made her want to have sex’ would put it firmly in the physical turn ons category. What I find interesting though is that you’re looking for a way to question/prove/disprove it. Would you say the same if a guy told you he had a fetish for female forearms?

            I’m not being shitty, I’m genuinely curious about this. Mainly because I think so often women’s physical turn-ons are met with disbelief. For example… =)
            “I’m impressed by your candor that you get turned on by direct images such as a guy having a wank on a sofa. I haven’t heard anything so directly put by a girl before”

            And I think you nail it here:
            “is that just because girls feel they shouldn’t say such things even though they actually think it?”

            I think this is a massive contributing factor, yes. Obviously not all people will get turned on by the same things, but I think the societal assumption that women don’t like sex contributes to more women feeling weird for their genuine sexual desires, coupled with the fact that if we *do* say ‘oh I find this super horny’ we’re often met with guys who say ‘really?!’ or ‘I call bullshit’, so we swiftly learn to keep our mouths shut, or have those conversations elsewhere. I wrote a bit about this before here: http://www.girlonthenet.com/2014/12/14/where-are-the-pervy-women/

            “many [guys] admit to being aroused by watching lesbian porn. So does that mean that some girls could be turned on by watching boys having a good time together or is that one of the gender differences?”

            Haha OMG I am glad you asked this today because I have just spent a fair while talking to another lady about the hotness of gay porn. Long story short: yes. Yes straight women can (and frequently do) get turned on watching gay porn. Yes. Yes. Yes. And I might need to go and watch some right after I’ve written this comment and have a lovely wank about it.

            Additional point: I feel like one of the hottest things about gay porn that a lot of mainstream straight porn does not get is the eroticisation of men. Like, gay porn shows way more face, body, hands, sultry staring directly to camera. Guys wanking, guys performing, guys really letting go and enjoying themselves… this is super-fucking-hot. And I suspect that one of the reasons why many women are turned off mainstream porn (although many of us enjoy it too) is that it spectacularly misses the beauty and fucking horniness of guys: they’re usually reduced just to off-camera grunts and on-camera cocks that are tools for penetration rather than eroticised things in and of themselves. It’s a shame.

            “Your conclusion seems to say that what turns on a male is no different, in essence, from what turns on a female. I agree with you that we shouldn’t fall prey to stereotypes as, in sexual arousal, there are no predictable norms. But, after viewing the anecdotal evidence of related fantasies, are there really no differences between men and women (allowing of course for gender reversal) as far as what turns them on goes?”

            Hmm. I probably wouldn’t go that far. My conclusion is mainly ‘don’t define ‘turn on’ to mean ‘gives you a boner’ when it comes to men, but mean ‘is a nice thing to do’ when it comes to women.’ But yeah, women become physically aroused, and they’re far more likely to become physically aroused by the sight of someone doing something sexual than the idea of someone doing them a favour. And anecdotally, I suspect that any assumptions we have around this are probably more to do with
            a) what society tells us men and women think and
            b) the ways we behave when we feel like we have to conform to what society wants and
            c) our unquestioning, and often totally oblivious reinforcement of those societal standards.

            And, as I say, I really don’t mean this in a shitty way because your comment’s thoughtful and all that, but things like asking with surprise whether your GF could have a wank to something she’s explicitly said is a physical turn-on, asking me in surprise whether women could possibly get aroused to gay porn… I think those kinds of things do contribute towards our narrative around this. While I probably wouldn’t say that I know with certainty that men and women are no different when it comes to the kind of things that turn them on, I probably *would* say that this extra cultural baggage makes it almost impossible for us to draw meaningful conclusions, because all of us will have been influenced by this at some point, and it’s hard to strip it away.

            Phew. Long ramble. Sorry.

        • Azkyroth says:

          There’s an ocean of difference between “humans have instincts” and “1950s gender stereotypes are hard-coded into our brains and any attempt to move away from them is doomed.”

          • potentlover says:

            Wow, I’m so impressed that you’re really delving into these comments in such an open minded way. And I feel like I’ve learned a lot already.

            To clarify a couple of things…

            “things like asking with surprise whether your GF could have a wank to something she’s explicitly said is a physical turn-on, asking me in surprise whether women could possibly get aroused to gay porn… I think those kinds of things do contribute towards our narrative around this.”

            I wasn’t asking ‘with surprise’, just more of a prod to find out what you think about it and what other girls would feel about it too. I completely take your point about the ‘bare forearms’ tale and, no, it wouldn’t surprise me if a guy admitted to that. I’ve heard from a couple of guys that get turned on by the sight of a girl’s back, or neck. Andy why not? Like I said, there may be some sexual imprinting going on from an early age that contributes to these sexual triggers and that, of course, applies equally to both sexes.

            Talking of which, but on the negative side, I’ve met a lot of girls who feel that there’s something ‘dirty’ about the sex organs, and I mean ‘dirty’ in its normal context. Perhaps this comes from their mothers, who have cautioned them against touching themselves ‘down there’ or some equally stupid advice. My current GF thinks that they are ‘dirty’ because the same organs are used for peeing, but that doesn’t stop her enjoying cunnilingus – just as well as it is one of my delights – but she won’t return the oral sex. And I’m not saying this is just a female prejudice as I’ve met guys who think that oral sex is ‘dirty’ too, but it is perhaps more widespread amongst women from what I can gather. What say you?

            Thank you for the elucidation about girls watching gay porn and you make some good points there. Personally I’m not turned on by straight porn, in the main, because it is so artificial. Anyone who is into a satisfying sexual relationship knows that the violent, minimal-body-contact thrusting that is portrayed in today’s straight porn is not at all exciting in reality. To me it looks more like abuse than love making and I’m seriously worried that we’re breeding a generation of young lovers who think that what they see in straight porn is how they should behave in the bedroom.

            I’m more in tune with the masturbation and lesbian action in the ‘I Feel Myself’ movies as, in these, I can see all the different ways that girls excite themselves and learn something from it in addition to being turned on by it. This has echoes of how you described the gay porn movies, as you are viewing people who are so obviously turned on themselves.

            Thankfully I’ve now almost completely turned my attention away from porn. My main turn on now is watching my GF exit the shower and using cleansing products on her face and body before climbing into bed. It’s a sight that never fails to thrill me to my core (and, no, that’s not a cleansing fetish but just enjoyment in watching the way her body moves).

            And don’t apologise for your ‘long ramble’. I’m loving it even if it’s becoming longer than the original article itself!

  • Azkyroth says:

    how frequently sexperts think I need to be told to run a flannel over my genitals

    …wait, so the “well my dad’s from New Zealand and he says it!” ditz from that disastrous Taboo! team isn’t the only person on earth who calls a washcloth a “flannel?”

    • Girl on the net says:

      I… I thought *everyone* called it a flannel! Now I have to reexamine my entire life vis a vis bathroom linguistics. *flips table*

  • Azkyroth says:

    Off-topic: GOTN, I would like to draw your attention to one of the most glorious sex toys I’ve ever encountered: The Diamond Girl Mini Vibe.

    I mean, it’s a vibrator that fucking runs on fucking REAL GROWNUP FUCKING BATTERIES, that, instead of being exactly 1/8in too large (like all the “egg” vibrators with external controllers) or too small (like all the “bullet” vibrators with external controllers) (…and seriously, that CAN’T be a coincidence), FITS INTO THE SLOTS IN TOYS DESIGNED FOR THOSE ONES THAT RUN ON THOSE SHITTY LITTLE WATCH BATTERIES! :D (I just confirmed this, having received the first of two-now-four I ordered…)

    …it probably has other qualities…

  • Azkyroth says:

    …so, I just looked up the energy storage capacity of AAs vs.the LR41 flavor of Shitty Little Watch Batteries.

    Alkaline AA: 1150mAh.

    LR41SLWB: 25-32mAh.

    I figured the AA would be like double.

    How in any god’s name did anyone ever decide a stack of SLWBs was suitable for powering a freaking motor? O.O

    • Azkyroth says:

      (Damnit, this was supposed to be a nested reply. >.>)

    • Girl on the net says:

      I enjoyed this, and your other comment, for their sheer practicality – top work =) I’ve never tried that vibe but I know what you mean about the watch batteries – not always the best way to get proper power from something! I’ve been told off before for repeatedly recommending the Doxy (I LIKE power, dammit!) because it’s far too strong for some people, but that made me wonder if the only kind of hardcore power that’d work for me would be a corded toy. I should probably try a cordless wand and see how it matches up.

      If you are angry about watch batteries, you might enjoy this rant from Cara Sutra: http://carasutra.co.uk/2013/01/stampy-pants-rant-watch-batteries-in-sex-toys/ She’s way more sex-toy-expert than I am, and I understand that watch batteries… umm… annoy her slightly =)

      • Azkyroth says:

        On further research, my initial numbers seem to be slightly off: ~160mAh, and 1800-2600mAh, respectively. (I think I searched “LR41” by accident).

  • I’m glad I wasn’t the only one confused about “flannel”…I thought it meant pyjamas but knew that just didn’t work in your context :)

    I loved this post and won’t repeat comments above, but did want to share a piece of research I came across a couple of years ago about porn. Apparently, women will respond physically (as in, get turned on) to a much wider range of porn. It doesn’t matter if he’s guy-on-guy and she’s straight, it actually doesn’t mattter at all. Women get turned on by seeing sex of any combination. In contrast, men will not respond as well to porn that doesn’t reflect their own choices. I loved this because it was not how we generally think of female and male responses to sexual things.

    I’ve always found that the female turn ons you describe – the ones about men doing chores – really boil down to whether a woman is able to get out of her head during sex, and stop worrying about whether those things are done. Many of my female friends are pissed at their partners because they don’t share household burdens. While it’s not sexy inherently (lathering and steam and hotness aside), men who do these things may have clued into how to get their women open to having sex at all.

    • Azkyroth says:

      “Flannel” refers to a type of fabric, out of which pajamas, and shirts (particularly outershirts), jacket linings, and the like are commonly made, and out of which…washclothes…might have been made at one point? I’ve literally never seen such.

      • Girl on the net says:

        I think it might be UK versus US English? Either that or my parents have managed to spectacularly troll me, by giving me a word that literally no one else has ever used, and allowing me to misuse it for over 30 years. I’m kind of hoping its the latter.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thanks for mentioning the study, Ann – I have a feeling I have read something like that before too so I’ll see if I can dig out the link.

      I think you’ve got a point about the housework, and I have a hell of a lot of (ranty) things to say about how work in and around the house is so often seen as a woman’s job (which leads to women doing more of it, to these tasks generally being undervalued, loads of other stuff). I’d definitely make the argument that doing more housework can potentially get someone more sex, because it gives their partner time to chill out. Also, I feel way sexier when I don’t feel like an unpaid servant, and when I haven’t spent half an afternoon clearing up someone else’s crap. So yeah, it’s definitely something, although obviously I wouldn’t say specifically a turn-on in and of itself. But if a guy strips off from the waist down, I’m more likely to get turned on by that specific physical thing if I’m not also worrying about a bunch of life admin. I think it’d be true of work too, though: I’ll get more turned on if I don’t have a pile of emails to respond to, or articles to write, or what have you.

      I’m getting worked up about this. Clearly I should get a cleaner or something. Or just burn all of the clothes so I never have to do the laundry again.

      • Totally agree with you – a man doing that stuff is a means to an end.

        But I do like the idea of a dude in my kitchen, all wet and hot… And it reminds me of one of my first lovers after my divorce, one of the best I’ve ever had. His nickname on my blog is “naked ironing man” because he sent me these stunningly beautiful photos of him doing the dishes and the ironing, with a strategically placed iron. It was over a year ago since I last saw him but I have never been able to delete those pics. Gorgeous.

  • Bally Fuck says:

    “or they can be basic requirements for an adult human”

    Quite possibly the single best, most concise examination of the topic I’ve ever read. Brilliant, bravo!

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