Psychological Self-Help

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1006
Turn-ons for men and women
There are other differences between males and females in addition
to attitudes about masturbation. Even though girls mature earlier,
boys think about sex more, enjoy X-rated movies more, and start
having sex earlier. Men "turn on" to almost any nice body; women
"turn on" to charming, successful men in romantic situations. That's an
overgeneralization, but, in general, most single men would welcome
sex without love, while women want love and commitment first before
having sex. Women more often than men feel sex without love is
vulgar and animalistic. Men say (50%) they would use the services of
a prostitute if it were legalized; only a few women (5%) say they
would use such services (Easter, 1975). The centerfold of Playboy is
much more popular to men than the centerfold of Playgirl is to women
(Psychology Today, 1976). After reading an erotic story, women report
avoiding men, while men report seeking out women (Byrne, 1976). 
Males in our culture are titillated by women's bodies. By nature or
by social conditioning males come to crave sexy body parts (of course,
in the right circumstances, women like this attention). Idealized female
body parts become erotically tantalizing even as objects, even as
pictures on a page or on a TV screen. Objects become sexually
arousing, e.g. pages in Playboy produce erections. And, in turn, actual,
live, whole women are responded to by men as if they were only erotic
objects, not complete physical, mental, and spiritual beings. Women
have and control these precious sexual objects (breasts, butt, vagina,
etc.) that men want; thus, men may feel vulnerably dependent on
women for sexual favors and fearful of the power women have over
them. Brooks (1995) says this woman-as-sex-object situation poses
serious interpersonal problems between men and women, especially
because men idolize perfect female body parts to such an extent that
it interferes with emotional intimacy between men and women. He
recommends ways for men to, first, recognize and stop this "turning
women into objects" and, second, learn how to establish deeply
intimate relations with a woman. As a culture, we need to deal more
effectively with men's depersonalization of women, called "the
centerfold syndrome " by Brooks.
This lusting for women's body parts by men causes many problems
for both men and women: (1) men feel compelled to look at women
but see them as only highly erotic sexual parts, not real whole
persons. (2) Men believe they must "turn on" women in order to feel
like "a man;" thus, women wield enormous power over men. (3)
Likewise, men feel that attracting beautiful women, as if they were
great trophies, proves their sexual powers and personal worth. (4)
Once men are trained to crave sexual gratification and, at the same
time, taught to avoid softness, emotionality, and intimacy, men may
sexualize their relationships as a way of avoiding the dangers of a
deeper involvement, such as emotional domination by women,
commitment to women, and love. Recognizing and rejecting the
"centerfold syndrome" is necessary before we, as men, can mature,
like ourselves, become a compassionate caretaker, and become close
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