Specificity of Sexual Arousal for Sexual Activities in Men and Women with Conventional and Masochistic Sexual Interests
Prior studies consistently report that men’s genital responses correspond to their sexual activity interests (consenting vs. coercive sex) whereas women’s responses do not. For women, however, these results may be confounded by the sexual activities studied and lack of suitable controls. We examined the subjective and genital arousal responses of men and women with conventional (22 men and 15 women) or masochistic sexual interests (16 men and 17 women) to narratives describing conventional sex or masochistic sex. The aims of the studies were twofold: (1) to examine whether gender differences in the specificity of sexual arousal previously observed for gender also exist for sexual activity interests; and (2) to examine whether men and women with masochistic sexual interests demonstrate specificity of sexual response for their preferred sexual activities. Surprisingly, the pattern of results was very similar for men and women. Both men and women with conventional sexual interests (WCI) reported more sexual arousal, and responded more genitally, to conventional than to masochistic sex, demonstrating specificity of sexual arousal for their preferred sexual activities. Despite showing specificity for conventional sexual activities, the genital responses of WCI were still gender nonspecific. In contrast, women and men with masochistic sexual interests demonstrated nonspecific subjective and genital responses to conventional and masochistic sex. Indices of genital and subjective sexual arousal to masochistic versus conventional stimuli were positively and significantly correlated with self-reported thoughts, fantasies, interests, and behaviors involving masochism. The results suggest that gender similarities in the specificity of sexual arousal for sexual activity exist despite consistent gender differences in the specificity of sexual arousal for gender.
KeywordsSexual arousal Sexual masochism Gender similarities Gender differences
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