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Does the source of sexual arousal differ for men and women?

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I'm aware of Ayn Rand's quotes to the effect that one can tell a man's philosophy based on his sexual attractions. I'm wondering to what extent people think this idea could be applied. Specifically, it seems to place the locus of sexual attraction at the conceptual level, or at least is in danger of doing that if loosely applied. If that were the case, it seems to me that sexual attraction would be impossible outside out knowledge of another person's values.

For example, suppose a man walks down the street, sees a tall brunette with nice curves. He doesn't know anything about her. Are you guys maintaining that he couldn't be sexually attracted to her, or if he can and is, what does that say about his philosophy? Anything? Or does the philosophical aspect come in later, for instance if the two got to know each other and the attraction was maintained (or vanished)?

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From what I understand of some of the forum's poster's views on this subject, it is impossible to find another person sexually attractive outside the context of your value in the other person's values. This means that when you see an attractive brunette, Spano, the only reason you find her sexually attractive is because you are (whether you know it or not) applying your desired values in another person to her. If it turns out, after getting to her, that you find her personality worthless, the sexual attraction will vanish. You can then only have an aesthetic admiration for her, since her body will still be beautiful.

Am I incorrect in my assessment here, those of you who hold this opinion? And those who don't, why do you disagree, if you would not mind sharing?

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I agree JASKN, and I would add that physical beauty is a sign of values in another. It doesn't mean that that person if utterly beautiful is absolutely the best person in the world, but beauty is not entirely natural and requires an amount of upkeep, an amount of virtue. SO someone being beautiful will reveal that they at least value their appearence, or their health. For instance, if someone didn't value their teeth and let them rot, that would be a vice, and their ugly teeth and putrid breath would be an indicator of that vice.

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In terms of sexual attraction does anyone think that the attributes valued by females is different (or should be different) then the attributes valued by (and found sexually arousing to) males? If so, why would a female find different attributes sexually attractive than a male would? And what attributes should a female (according to Objectivist philosophy) find attractive? What part does the biological fact that only females bear children have to do with this difference, if any? Did the requirements of survival of the human species and the evolutionary forces that brought us to where we are today have any influence on what males and females find sexually attractive? Since females need to survive while occupied by the 24 hour a day task of child rearing wouldn’t they naturally value a highly productive male? And wouldn’t it be in the species survival interest for males to desire attractive, i.e., healthy females? What part does reason play in this? Morality ...? Isn't the moral equal to the rational? Isn't the rational consistent with reality? Doesn't reality tell us that man (the human species) exist today because of 4 million years of evolutionary selection primarily based on what men and women find sexual attractive? As Tina Turner’s popular song questions: “What’s love got to with it, got to do with it?”

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Does the source of sexual arousal differ for men and women?

Source with respect to what? Both genders respond to what they value, but those values may differ - but they differ between people of the same gender as well.

If so, how does this quote from Atlas Shrugged apply differently to men and woman: “Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life”?

That particular quote was referring to males in context, not the general sense of rational beings, but I imagine it would apply the same way to women as well.

'Tell me what a woman finds sexually attractive and I will tell you her entire philosophy of life.'

I tend to be attracted (yes, sexually) to slender guys with glasses more than strong beefy guys or blond surfer dudes. What can be inferred from this? The slender guy with glasses is the stereotypical smart guy of my society. Therefore, I probably value intelligence more than physical strength. Of course, my attractions change when I learn more about the guy. But until I know something about him, I'll take the one who looks smart, though he may be physically weak, over the one who looks dumb and strong (no offense to weightlifters out there, I know a lot of you are smart guys. But you know the stereotypes.)

It might apply a little differently, because it's hard for a guy to look like a man-whore, even if he is one. However, cues like clothing styles still apply (preppy vs. goth vs. slob vs. pocket-protector etc.) The way a person looks says something about what they value, and that's what people respond to.

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Source with respect to what? Both genders respond to what they value, but those values may differ - but they differ between people of the same gender as well.
In other words men (in general) seem to be "turned on" by physical beauty, whereas women (in general) do not seem to be as aroused by the visual image of a man's body. I don't know this for a fact but it seems to be the case based of magazines, TV, movies, and discussions that I have had with men and women about this. Why do males value physical traits more so than females do? I am thinking that there is something that goes beyond reasoned out values--to some evolutionary aspect of what men and women seek out in order that the human race survives.
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Rsalar,

I think it is pretty clear that there is a difference exactly along the lines you describe. Take Felix's example of the circulation of Playboy vs Playgirl magazines alone. This is also backed up by many people I know personally and have spoken with, and my own experiences.

But the question as to why this is; that is something I don't have an answer on and don't want to hazard a guess. Evolutionary? Learned? Both are possible given the evidence I have, so I really can't say.

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I think it is pretty clear that there is a difference exactly along the lines you describe.
Based on this observed difference what does it say about the difference in the philosophies held by males compared to the philosophies held by females? What can you tell me about his philosophy of life based on the fact that he finds physical features important?

“Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life”?

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Based on this observed difference what does it say about the difference in the philosophies held by males compared to the philosophies held by females?

Isn't it premature to ask that? If we don't even know if it is based on their choices, then isn't it jumping the gun to ask what possible chioces those would be?

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Isn't it premature to ask that? If we don't even know if it is based on their choices, then isn't it jumping the gun to ask what possible chioces those would be?
Yes, if we are to assume that it is in fact possible to determine a man's philosophy from his sexual desires ... and no, if we assume that it is not. Do you think you are able to determine a man's philosophy from his sexual desires?
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Yes, if we are to assume that it is in fact possible to determine a man's philosophy from his sexual desires ... and no, if we assume that it is not. Do you think you are able to determine a man's philosophy from his sexual desires?

Short answer: Yes with an "if;" long answer: No with a "but."

Certainly a man's sexual desires are a form of evidence in determining his philosophy.

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So what does the fact that men generally are turned on by physically attractive bodies say about their philosophies (in general)?

It could say simply that they are men. Until we know the source of that one, then it's not useful to us. It's the other aspects of their attraction - the ones that can be explained by values - that are useful.

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Take Felix's example of the circulation of Playboy vs Playgirl magazines alone. This is also backed up by many people I know personally and have spoken with, and my own experiences.

But the question as to why this is; that is something I don't have an answer on and don't want to hazard a guess. Evolutionary? Learned? Both are possible given the evidence I have, so I really can't say.

As far as I have understood it, it's an evolutionary difference - a man's best chance of passing on his genes involved inseminating as many (healthy=attractive) women as possible, so he evolved to get aroused easily, based on looks. A woman's best chance involved finding a guy who would stick around to help with the kid, and how he looks doesn't have a whole lot to do with that, so she is aroused by his character and actual contact more than looks. Maybe this isn't entirely accurate, but it makes more sense to me than the 'learned' idea, because the only thing I can think of that would have taught me to suppress arousal is the social stigma against female masturbation, and that really isn't very closely related.

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Another thought occurs to me: So far I have spoken of biological differences; what I mean is not to say necessarily that it is a matter of brain chemistry but of our biological nature vis-a-vis sex roles. A man's nature is masculine and his choice in attributes to look for are influenced by this.

If you subscribe to that viewpoint. I know not everyone here does.

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Another thought occurs to me: So far I have spoken of biological differences; what I mean is not to say necessarily that it is a matter of brain chemistry but of our biological nature vis-a-vis sex roles.

Do you mean that because of the shape of their body people develop a psychology to match it? Doubtful. If there are any differences, I would expect them to come from the brain: which means that men and women's brain develop differently to create different sexual behavior. This is known to exist in other animals, I would therefor expect it to exist in humans as well.

From observation, there is a difference between boys and girls from a very young age: the fields of interest of girls and boys are different, their temper is different. Boys fight, girls play nicely. Boys like to compete, girls like to exchange pretty things. In elementary school: boys like to show off their abilities, girls are usually more shy.

There are exceptions of course, but usually that is the case.

Just to clarify something: eventually every psychological difference is a matter of "brain chemistry": you cannot have a thought, an emotion, or any sensation without it having a chemical/electrical representation. But the shaping of the brain can come automatically, from genes, and from one's experiences and choices.

I say that if any differences of femininity/masculinity exist, search for the reason in automatic development of the brain.

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Do you mean that because of the shape of their body people develop a psychology to match it? Doubtful.

No, you misunderstand. I will clarify:

I mean since men and women have different sexual roles (i.e. masculine and feminine), then they would, in that respect, select their partners by different criteria. This would be a psychological difference that has nothing to do with brain chemistry, and everything to do with the fact that one develops one's psychology in part based on what one's nature is.

If there are any differences, I would expect them to come from the brain: which means that men and women's brain develop differently to create different sexual behavior. This is known to exist in other animals, I would therefor expect it to exist in humans as well.

Mens and womens' brains are different and they have different levels of hormones, I will grant. What exactly this does, however, is still a mystery. What we do know is that people have free will. (important to keep that in mind when discussing hormones and brain chemistry and such)

Edited by Inspector
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From observation, there is a difference between boys and girls from a very young age: the fields of interest of girls and boys are different, their temper is different. Boys fight, girls play nicely. Boys like to compete, girls like to exchange pretty things. In elementary school: boys like to show off their abilities, girls are usually more shy.

From experiments, this is complete and utter bull. Put a bunch of young children (age 2 or younger) dressed ambiguously (say, in yellow) with gender-neutral haircuts, and adults will not be able to determine the gender of the children. They don't do much better than random guessing. By elementary school those traits are learned - aggressiveness is tolerated more in boys than girls, and boys are encouraged to show off. And girls do not play nicely - they stab each other in the back all the time, and do fight physically when younger. I'd take a good, physical fight any day over the backstabbing passive-aggressive verbal shit girls learn instead...

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From experiments, this is complete and utter bull. Put a bunch of young children (age 2 or younger) dressed ambiguously (say, in yellow) with gender-neutral haircuts, and adults will not be able to determine the gender of the children. They don't do much better than random guessing. By elementary school those traits are learned - aggressiveness is tolerated more in boys than girls, and boys are encouraged to show off. And girls do not play nicely - they stab each other in the back all the time, and do fight physically when younger. I'd take a good, physical fight any day over the backstabbing passive-aggressive verbal shit girls learn instead...

Hm. I've seen a report where they put little boys into girl's clothes and girls into boy's clothes and then had adults play with them, who of course tried to play with dolls with the boys and with cars with the girls and utterly failed and frustrated the little kids.

I'm not sure which age the kids had. But as far as I remember the kids couldn't speak, yet.

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  • 2 months later...

I always say, "If you excite my mind, you'll excite my body". I think someone like Mike Piazza from baseball is appealing, sexy (looking) and excites me physically, however, If I met him and he said something dumb and I found him to be intellectually unapealling, I wouldn't be able to or want to have sex with him.

I cannot seperate physical and mental. I think some people, usually men can just view a woman as sexy looking and appealing and have sex with her, like a one night stand, regardless of whether her thoughts and mind are appealing.

Edited by Alessa36
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I think your first paragraph contradicts your second a bit. You said that you can find Mike Piazza appealing purely physically, or based at least solely on his athletic ability. I think this is the same for most if not all men. Men can look at a picture of a pretty woman and think "wow, she is very sexy, I would like to have sex with a girl like this" and if they met the girl and depending on their standard of value would change their desire to have sex with them if the girl went against their standard. For example most of my friends would see a maxim girl and definately want to bed them, but if upon metting her she was a "bitch" they would not.

Its not the mental as against the physical, but it is possible to make an assessment with limited knowledge, but one must change that assessment along with added knowledge. Some guys may ignore certain things about a girl, and girls may do the same, but there's always a tipping point.

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I think your first paragraph contradicts your second a bit. You said that you can find Mike Piazza appealing purely physically, or based at least solely on his athletic ability. I think this is the same for most if not all men. Men can look at a picture of a pretty woman and think "wow, she is very sexy, I would like to have sex with a girl like this" and if they met the girl and depending on their standard of value would change their desire to have sex with them if the girl went against their standard. For example most of my friends would see a maxim girl and definately want to bed them, but if upon metting her she was a "bitch" they would not.

Its not the mental as against the physical, but it is possible to make an assessment with limited knowledge, but one must change that assessment along with added knowledge. Some guys may ignore certain things about a girl, and girls may do the same, but there's always a tipping point.

My apologies to all the intelligent men on this site. I guess I thought most men's standards were low. I didn't give enough of you credit.

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