Sex differences in sexual arousal

So lately my classes have overlapped when it comes to varying topics. For instance in my animal behavior class the idea of evolution of mating systems has arisen, with discussion about monogamy, polyandry, and polygyny. And then in today’s discussion there was the discussion on sex differences about emotions and basically women are crazy and have many more emotions as well as more intense emotions. Shocking finding. So after class I was talking to a friend about the sex differences in sexual arousal and double standards and it got kind of interesting, I won’t bore with fun details.

I did some digging. I wanted to find whether there was a sex difference in sexual arousal. The first article I read about dealt with sex differences in sexual arousal to different erotic stories. Previous studies suggest that the pattern of dominant behavior exhibited by the characters in the stimuli influence males’ and females’ sexual response to the stimuli. In this study, results indicated that male subjects reported more sexual arousal and less negative effect when the story described the male character as dominant. Female subjects, however, reported more sexual arousal and less negative effect when the female character was described as dominant. Whether the story focused on the male or the female character’s reactions did not significantly affect the subjects’ sexual arousal, but it did influence their positive feelings toward the story. So basically boys will be boys and find that they are sexually aroused when dominant, but the same is found in females.

As I continued my search, a different study provided information about observed brain differences less likely to reflect sex differences in arousal; instead they reflect sex differences in the processing of sexually arousing stimuli. Both sexes reported comparable sexual attraction and physical arousal in response to the images; both groups found the couples stimuli to be the most attractive and arousing. Though, males showed significantly greater activation than females in the amygdala. This differential activation in the amygdala stands in striking contrast to many brain regions that were commonly activated for both males and females—regions associated with visual processing, attention, motor and somatosensory function, emotion and reward. Oh, and the funniest tidbit at the end of the research said, “It remains to be seen whether decreased amygdala activation associated with ejaculation is causally linked to males’ subsequent unwillingness to snuggle.” I may or may not have giggled.

Anyways I thought that was interesting. And then it got me to think more socially about sex differences related to arousal and intimate settings. We talked about the double standard once in class, and I see a slight change in favor of girl power even though the background stigma is still around. But I watched an interesting video, about a recent “scandal” that came out about a Duke graduate and her sex life, and it tied in Tucker Max, which if you don’t know him, he made millions writing about a book about his sex life and drunken stories from college. Cool guy. Anyways they referred to the double standard a bit in the video but it was mostly a clip to relieve parents. Maybe? It’s aim was to answer whether there was more sex on college campuses or is it just more talk. And I think most parents were relieved when the results showed that students are just that much more comfortable to talk about sexual experiences, not actually having more sex.

Anyways this post is just a whole bunch of ideas that I tried to tie together. Definitely watch the video, I found it quite entertaining.

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2 thoughts on “Sex differences in sexual arousal

  1. I think it’s really interesting that there is a large discrepancy between male and female amygdala activation during sex. Since males have much greater activation of the amygdala during sex, and since the amygdala plays a large role in emotion, it seems contradictory that males should tend to separate sex from love while women tend to link sex and love (as reported by Alessandra’s “Hook Up Culture” article).

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  2. The idea of dominance is very interesting in this post. I wonder what relationship social roles play in relation to dominance in sexual intimacy. If both men and women were aroused by their own dominance, then an interesting study would be to see that if during sexual relations the men or women act more dominantly.

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