Friday Flashback: Her Arousal – Head, Body, or Both?

Meredith Chivers, psychology professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, has advanced some interesting findings about female sexual arousal, with possibly revolutionary theories to explain her results. The findings include the fact men show “category specific” arousal, meaning men’s physical arousal (erection) is specific to their sexual orientation – heterosexuals are aroused by images with women, and homosexuals are aroused by images with men. Women are different – physical arousal (swelling of the genitals from increased blood flow) occurs with exposure to any sexual image, heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, or individuals of either sex, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Here is my take on one explanation Chivers gives for this difference. In men arousal is arousal; the body and the mind arouse as one, both “on” or both “off”. In women arousal of the body and the mind are not necessarily connected – her body is easily aroused to a minimal level by just about anything sexual, while arousing her mentally takes more – sometimes much more.

Why would this difference exist? To protect women from injury. The sad fact some women often end up having sex when they don’t really want it. In other words they are not mentally aroused. From rape to women who never learned to enjoy sex (or live/lived in a culture where women enjoying sex was unheard of and possibly evil) to teenage girls seeking love, not sex, it’s not uncommon for women to have sex when they are not and probably cannot be mentally aroused. In these situations, a bit of physical arousal is important as it prevents pain and damage to the body. From my standpoint, easy female physical arousal is God’s way of keeping women from being hurt, possibly badly, by sex they don’t want. 

If this is true, it means your wife’s body can be “ready to go” when her thoughts, feelings, and emotions are not ready. It means “getting her wet” means nothing more than you can have sex without causing her pain. If you want her to want or enjoy it, you may need to do more.

It may also mean your wife nay be unsure if or how aroused she is. Many women have a difficult time judging their arousal level. Perhaps this is because they wrongly assuming swelling and wetness means they are “horny”. Maybe most women have wrongly associated physical arousal with mental arousal, ignoring the signs of wanting and desiring sex in their minds. She may need some time to unlearn wrong patterns, and develop new patterns based on something deeper and more real.

Of course all of this is conjecture based on a proven difference in male and female arousal. However, this explanation does explain many common frustrations and difficulties. If this could explain some issues you have with your wife, I suggest it’s something to consider, pray about, and discuss.

Resource: One free resource with a good deal on Chivers’ studies is at the NYTIMES. The article is less than ideal, but all in all it’s not bad.


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