Monday, 14 September 2015

The Fairy Story Of Men And Sex Opinion

Each time you turn on the television after 10pm, eavesdrop on a group of men at your local pub, or drive past a billboard, you're likely to encounter some stereotypes about masculinity and men's sexuality.

SLAVE TO FEELINGS: Many factors could contribute to some men's preoccupation with sexual thoughts. Picture: Thinkstock

We're told that men's minds are so immersed in thoughts of sex that it can become a full-time preoccupation.
SLAVE TO FEELINGS: Many factors could contribute to some men's preoccupation with sexual thoughts. Picture: Thinkstock
Think of James Bond's sexual exploits, Coca-Cola's "bigger is better" campaign, and the folklore that men think about sex every seven seconds (which would amount to more than 8000 thoughts about sex a day).

A recent study from Ohio State University, young men think about sex 19 times per day.

They also have other regular, needs-based thoughts about eating and sleeping.

In contrast, the Kinsey Report, which examined the sexual behaviour of men aged under 60 years, found 54% think about sex every day or several times a day, 43% think about sex a few times a week or a few times a month, and 4% reported just one sexual thought, or less, a month.

Another study found 16- to 17-year-olds think about sex every five minutes. By age 40 to 49, this drops to a sexual thought every half an hour, and it keeps reducing with age.

There's certainly no consensus among researchers about the frequency of men's sexual thoughts. And little is known about the nature of these thoughts.

So, do men think about sex more often than women?

A handful of researchers argue there are no significant differences between the frequency of men's and women's erotic thoughts outside of sex. But most studies show that men think about sex more often than their female partners. Testosterone contributes to men's frequent preoccupation with sexual thoughts. Because men have a higher level of testosterone than women, they have more frequent sexual fantasies and a stronger desire for sex.

Men's sexual fantasies tend to be more explicit than women's. And interestingly, men are more likely to fantasise during masturbation compared with women.

This difference has been attributed to men having greater opportunities - culturally and biologically - to experience sexual fantasies.

A multitude of factors could contribute to some men's preoccupation with sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

A 2009 study by Reid and Carpenter, for example, found that factors such as emotional distress, discouragement, poor self-esteem, difficulties coping with stress, and self-doubt were associated with hyper-sexuality.
Psychologist Michael Bader suggests that sexual fantasies, and sexual arousal, have more to do with unconscious problem solving than most of us realise.

But men's preoccupation with sexual thoughts cannot be fully understood without considering the effects of social media and constant internet access.

Young men are increasingly using Facebook to share pictures and stories about their sexual conquests. And the prospect of 24/7 access to pornography via mobile phones and laptops may prompt compulsive behaviour and excessive sexual thoughts.

There are other myths about the sexual character of men: they should aspire to be virile, "well-endowed" studs and always ready for sex.

But most men are not "well-endowed": the average penis size is not nine inches but, rather, between five and seven inches. As for being ever-ready for sex, as men age, they have sex less frequently and some may even need medication to help with erectile function.

So the question we need to ask is who benefits from the perpetuation of these myths? Perhaps Coca-Cola or the sex industry.

But certainly not men.

Written by Victor Minichiello a Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean, Faculty of The Professions at University of New England
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