Gays Find Strippers Sexy; Women Don’t?

Male strippers have beautiful bodies. And women find them sexy. But probably not sexy in a way that gets them too aroused.

Last week I considered the lack of excitement. Turns out, women don’t get too turned on by male nudity, at all. When sex researcher, Meredith Chivers, wired women up and showed them sexual images, straight women experienced no arousal — physically or subjectively — when looking at fit naked guys working out. Another time women watched a nude man walking and the only thing that aroused them less were bonobos, an ape species, having sex.

Is it because the male body simply isn’t sexually exciting?

Probably not, since gay men did get aroused looking at nude men.

Why are gay men turned on by male nudity when straight women aren’t? There are various possibilities. And it’s not that women just aren’t visual, after all, women were more aroused by a nude woman exercising than by a nude man. And, some women enjoy porn.

The fact that gay culture celebrates and eroticizes the male body in a way that straight culture does not could play a role.

And then there’s repression. Men are rarely slut-shamed for being sexual. On the other hand, gays are too often taunted as fags or queers. Still, research on men and women who have lived in repressive cultures, like Victorian England, find men less affected (perhaps because they are also less repressed). But even gay men are less affected than lesbians by homophobia-induced repression (even though homophobia is more strongly directed at gay men). Maybe because the male sex drive is stronger, due in part to higher levels of testosterone, while twice as much of their brain is taken up with sex.

Meanwhile, men’s bodies give them better feedback than women’s do. When blood rushes to the penis a man knows it. He feels very excited. But when blood rushes to a woman’s vagina, she can be clueless. Again, this difference may be biological, or due to greater female repression, or because men are less affected by repression, or all of the above. Indiana University researchers believe that women are less responsive for both anatomical and psychosocial reasons.

We don’t have the definitive answer on why gay men get aroused by male strippers when straight women don’t so much, but here’s a little food for thought to munch on.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 16, 2012, in feminism, gender, objectification, pornography, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. You said ” Maybe because the male sex drive is stronger, due in part to higher levels of testosterone, while twice as much of their brain is taken up with sex.”– After reading that I wonder, Do women actually enjoy sex as much men do under better conditions ( Romance & foreplay)– How can women enjoy sex as much as men since they have only low testosterone(20:1) and only less space in brain for sex?

    • I see that you have already found the post I was going to refer you to — where I have some updated data. So I will respond Over there. (men have a higher sex drive, why?)

  2. I am a homosexual guy and I find muscularity a turn-on. Apparently, I am a small fraction among homosexual gus because I love huge muscles, but most homosexual guys find the looks of bodybuilders and strippers too a turn-off, gross, etc.

    I have a hard time believing that heterosexual women, as a collective are not turned on by the sight of a man’s muscular body. I think they are just as attracted to muscular bodies and homosexual guys are, but women tend to refrain to express their sexual preferences because society stigmatise them. So many heterosexual men refer to women using derogatory language when they (women) don’t fit in the purely emotional box that patriarchy has put women in.

    Women generally have to stick to the emotional-more-than-sexual label that society has assigned to them.

    Homosexual guys, on the other hand, are expected and allowed to expressed their attraction for the male body without the strong stigmatisation women receive in this specific scenario.

    • Depends on what you mean by turn on.

      Women certainly appreciate an attractive guy. But women rarely, if ever, masturbate to nude images of men. Gay men do.

      Our sex-negative society (For women) has a much stronger effect than women simply not admitting that they don’t find something sexually appealing. When you are constantly dampening down your sex drive, it begins to dampen itself after a while, so that you no longer feel.

  3. D: Do you find a woman like Rachel Maddow sexually appealing?

  4. I do desire women that look like men, I’m talking body-wise facially etc. but I don’t desire hot beautiful women that most straight men would… I don’t find breasts or vaginas aesthetically pleasing.

    Basically what I wanna know is if I’m not exclusively gay do I fall under the gay umbrella and can I rule out being straight?

    • Not finding breasts or vaginas aesthetically pleasing (or not) has nothing to do with sexual orientation, for reasons I gave before.

      If you have any desire at all to have sex with men– and you do – you can rule out being straight.

      So you desire sex with men and women who look like men. I don’t know that that qualifies as gay. In addition to pansexuality there is something called queer sexuality, where people often place themselves when they don’t fit clearly into a gay or straight category:

      Read the definitions of both links and determine for yourself where you fit.

  5. D: if you are not attracted to women’s bodies, do you still feel sexual desire for women? When you look at male bodybuilders, do you want to have sex with them? Is the emotional attraction to women a platonic thing or something more?

    • I do want to have sex with male bodybuilders, and I can have sex with women because it is sex but I don’t find female parts very appealing… Emotionally I am attracted to women and can’t see myself being in a romantic emotional relationship with a man regardless of my sexual attractions.

      • You are at least gay. Whether you are gay or bi depends on this: Do you have a desire for sex for with women?

        For instance, a lot of men who sexually desire women aren’t attracted to their vaginas. And in a lot of cultures they aren’t attracted to their breasts, either. Plus, when a man has been with a woman for a while the breast fetish disappears. But he still desires her sexually.

        So do you desire women sexually?

        You may also be pansexual:

  6. Random, I came across this article and noticed that many of the people that comment are pretty intelligent so I’d figure I’d ask a question… I’m a 25 yr old guy and I get sexually aroused and masturbate to male bodybuilders daily (and female bodybuilders but only the ones that look like men and have pecs) I’m not attracted to breast or vagina but I am to penis, but emotionally I’m only attracted to women… Am I gay? Please give me as many answers as possible… Thanks.

    • Well, who do you want to have sex with? It sounds like you want to have sex with women and not men. If that’s the case then you are straight but have an interesting fetish. Some guys get aroused by shoes. But they want to have sex with a woman. So I would say they are hetero but have an interesting fetish.

      Just my opinion.

  7. I really like your blog and agree with the fact that we can respond to women’s bodies because they are heavily linked to sex. We can see men topless doing non-sexual things like swimming, running, hanging out with friends drinking beers on the patio, playing basketball or mowing the lawn.
    Women are usually only seen topless when something sexual is about to happen.

    I saw “The Wolf on Wall Street” recently that showed a sex scene and they showed the woman’s body frontal and completely nude but the guy’s body was largely covered with the bed sheets. The rest of the movie also showed lots of other women nude having sex with other guys. The women had perfect bodies. The men looked average. I saw the movie with a gay friend and he said that the guys that they showed are not even the ones you would want to see naked.

    I noticed that you and other bloggers talk about the Merideth Chivers experiment with the vaginal probes. I am curious what you think about this article:

  8. I am surprised at the research. I remember doing research on Nudism and Nude Beaches and many women responded in a study that they enjoyed and got a little aroused at looking at nude men and their genitals on the beach. But apparently quite a few woman admitted to getting aroused at some nude men on the beach.Here is a link I found that could help.

    As far as the strippers study, I am somewhat suprised as well. I remember Chippendales being very popular with loud aggressive women some years ago.
    Also I have a cousin (female) who lives in London who went to a Bachelorette party (called hen party in England) called” Loverboys USA,” (google it) where there were male strippers. My cousin said the women were just as aggressive to the male strippers as any man would be in a all female strip club.
    These examples maybe exceptional or maybe not but they may exemplify that women can get aroused at a male nude body as a man does to a female nude body.

    • Women who are comfortable enough with nudity to do nude beaches may be a different, and more unusual demographic.

      Also, just because women are screaming, it doesn’t mean that they’re sexually turned on. When I’m turned on I don’t scream the way they do (maybe “Oh, god! but that’s different). It’s more like they’re “having fun” objectifying men for a change.

      Don’t recall if I sent this, but in one study hetero women said in survey that they found nude men more arousing than nude women, but their bodies said something different when wired up. When they put on glasses that tracked eye movement and looked at a nude couple in foreplay, they pretty much ignored the male body, spending half their time looking at the man’s face and the other half looking at the female’s body.

      Women Learn the Breast Fetish, Too

      More on the topic, trying to explain why:
      Women Seeing Women as Sexier than Men

      • Well I read about some stories where women would throw wet (as in, sexually wet) underwear onto the stage.
        If they weren’t aroused I don’t know how the underwear got wet.

      • Are they strippers playing to a male audience or Women worshiping rock stars — or something of that sort? I’m not sure what your point is.

      • Strippers.
        My point was that *some* women must get sexually aroused by male strippers. It may not be norm, but, yeah.

      • So do they take their underwear off right there in public? Or do they apply something to the underwear and throw it? Or do male strippers just make it up?

  9. I’m also more aroused by images of women than men and knew for the longest time that it’s been *conditioned* out of me… oddly though I’ve found that I’m more aroused by men with their shirts on than off!

  10. Elizabeth Hall Magill

    I’m writing about this subject this week as well, and I’m wondering: does the research ever show women reacting to men with erections? It seems like reactions might be a bit different then, but I haven’t read the data.

    • I haven’t seen data on this in terms of blood rush to the vagina, but in terms of women’s emotional reactions consider that the way women respond to sexted penises or flashers with erections is typically repulsion, nausa or laughter.

      • Elizabeth Hall Magill

        Good point! But often that is unwanted attention, even sexual harassment. And you make an excellent point about slut-shaming and women not being comfortable feeling desire. I was just curious if women were presented with a picture of an aroused man in a way that took the female gaze into account–like the photographer was a heterosexual woman and the man was just being himself, not necessarily trying to get her attention, so that the woman viewing the picture doesn’t feel harassed or shamed–the data would be different. It seems to me that a “flipped world” would have to see things from this perspective.

      • Haven’t seen any data on that.

        I do know that Cosmo and Playgirl both kept the male member under wraps for years and that few women seem to do a penis search to get aroused, although that’s certainly available to them. See Ogi Ogas’ book “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” on male/female/straight/gay-lesbian searches.

      • Elizabeth Hall Magill

        Thanks for the resource! I’ll check it out!

    • That Chivers study did show that women were aroused by erections.

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