Why Do Women Prioritize Men’s Pleasure?

Only want to please your man?

Only want to please your man?

A lot of women prioritize men’s pleasure over their own.

Instead of focusing on her own pleasure a woman may worry about whether she’s attractive enough. Or she may agree to do things she doesn’t like. Or she may give him a blowjob in his dorm room, or the backseat of his car, without expecting anything in return.

But why is that?

It’s probably tied to the double standard, which says:

  • She must be physically arousing for him (but he needn’t be for her)
  • Men have a huge, untamable sex drive. Women do not.
  • Men’s desire is natural. Women’s is scary… or shameful

And some scientists claim the double standard is grounded in biology. Men seek many partners because, with all that sperm, they will produce more babies if they widely “spread their seed.” But women can only bear a few children, so they must be picky, choosing men with the most resources and the best genes.

The theory has a few problems that I’ve discussed before. But the claims of “science” help convince us that a man’s sex drive is strong and urgent, while a woman’s is not.

So it’s no surprise that we’re more open to men’s pleasure.

No wonder vibrators have been banned in several states or that porn is typically targeted to men. Even “at the movies” men’s pleasure is R-rated while women’s is X-rated. Or at least NC-17. Here’s what actor, Ryan Gosling said about Blue Valentine’s bid to get an R-rating for “a woman’s sexual presentation of self.”

You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen.

The MPAA is OK supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self.

This shaming of women’s sexuality represses it, leaving it typically less strong and urgent than men’s.

Which can leave a woman more concerned with her man’s pleasure than her own.

Related Posts 

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 March 13, 2017, in objectification, sex and sexuality and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. Historically, sex was for offsprings only. Then it because an act of pleasure for the man. Unfortunately this is still true today. Women tend to have sex and worry about the man’s pleasure and when he gets that pleasure and orgasms then it is done. It does not matter if the women gets pleasure from it or if she likes or enjoys it or even orgasms from it. Once the man does then they are done. Sex isn’t for women because if it was, then sex will not be over until she orgasms and it will be a focus on what she likes but instead it is what he likes. Sex should be for the pleasure of both. I can tie this back to the double standard, if women confessed that they feel pleasure by having sex and enjoy it then they will be criticized for it but if men said it then it is just a given because sex is for men and his pleasures. Women should start putting their needs first and be firm with them because if women continue to prioritize men’s pleasures then they will end up being miserable.

    • Yeah, that would be true of our recent past. But probably the earliest humans didn’t realize that sex created children. It just felt good.

      It was after patriarchy that you find all the problems you are describing: Women reduced to sex (and both women and sex shamed – especially for women).

  2. When I was much younger and in some pretty toxic relationships, I definitely focused more on pleasing the guy (s) rather than on my own satisfaction.
    Now I’m in a marriage with somebody who doesn’t like sex at all and when we do it, it’s only when he feels like it.

  3. being a woman myself and always wanting to please my man and only really focusing on pleasuring him does allow me to see what this article is getting at. I do notice that our society is very planted with knowing that men will always have a stronger sex drive. However, in my case, I notice that I simply just want to put my boyfriend’s pleasures first because that really does turn me on in return. I guess the points in this post does not really apply to every woman.

    • Yeah, in a survey of my students I found that sometimes focusing on your partners pleasure is arousing, But other times it’s distracting. Men more commonly experienced the first and women more commonly experience the second.

  4. “Men’s desire is natural. Women’s is scary… or shameful”- there lies the trickery; a Don Juan is a compliment while a nymphomaniac is a derogatory term…

  5. Yasmir Williams

    Very interesting topic and thank you for sharing. It is common for a woman to deprioritize her own sexual needs to please a man. I’ve found that women are more inclined with giving rather than receiving, especially if she is attracted or in love with him. A woman’s sexual desire is connected to emotions, while a man’s desires are connected to sex. Men are known to experience arousal without the emotional attachment, therefore, a woman might feel more entitled to please him because of fear that he may leave for someone else. In today’s society, women are focused on their partner’s enjoyment rather than their own desires. This is because a lot of women are not fully aware of what they want sexually. Women have to be aware of what they want and what they need sexually and romantically. If she hasn’t voiced her desires and feel neglected, then the problem needs to be reevaluated.

    • This deprioritizing that commonly happens probably plays a role in the nearly half of American women who have low or no interest in sex. Why be interested when you don’t get much out of it?

  6. Our culture has a history that goes back hundred of years where men’s needs have always been more important than women’s. It’s no surprise that this deeply imbedded imbalance is still somewhat prevalent today. However, women have a better chance of a fulfilling sexual relationship today than almost any other time in history. Both sexes have seemingly endless information, especially online, on a subject that would have been taboo even 30 years ago. And I think most women today will be sexually satisfied because a good partner will want to do that for them. Information the the key solution to any sort of inequality and imbalance. And as for sex, I think there is plenty of information out there that this imbalance will be gone hopefully very soon. It it our responsibility now to educate those who do not know this information, which is why resources like this blog are so important.

  7. Pirre Katriina Blom

    There is an obvious double-standard in the sex drive between men and women; Men are considered to have a sex drive that is acute and beyond control whereas women’s sex drive is thought to be disgraceful or even frightening. Having said that, it is even commonly believed that ejaculating often is beneficial for men’s health, however studies show that there is no evidence that daily masturbation is beneficial for health apart from a claim that it improves cardiovascular health. This kind of set-up puts men’s sex drive first; Women might also put men’s pleasure first because of personal confidence issues which can be appearance related as women – especially younger women – often contemplate whether they are good looking enough for men. This might lead into women performing sexual favors for men even when they would prefer not. Women might think that if they do not, their men might try to find someone who will. As women get older they often learn to appreciate themselves more and are more in connection with their own sexuality and needs.

  8. Richard Shakir

    First and foremost, the gender difference between males and females are seen through anatomy and physiology. Women’s sexuality, over-all, may be driven by outside factors, such as the desire to start or preserve a passionate relationship, than by innate factors such as sexual intercourse. Sexual yearning and expression differ greatly from person to person.

    Experience a rest period, after the release and before they are able to become ithyphallic
    Easier way of showing if they are sexually aroused (penis erects)
    Aroused by women’s bodies (Chivers, Seto, & Blanchard, 2007)
    Less flexible and hold relatively fixed attitudes to sexuality
    Masturbation “initially” sexual pleasure (Carpenter, Nathanson, & Kim, 2009)
    Physical pleasure of sex occurs before relationship
    More lenient with regards to their attitudes towards sex (casual sex)
    Accepting of sex, taking place within an non-committed relationship
    Think about sex often
    Report more frequent sex fantasies and more frequent feelings of sexual desires
    •Involves strangers
    •Anonymous partners
    •Multiple partners
    •Focuses on explicit sex acts or sexual organs
    (Peplau, L. A., 2003)

    Experience multiple orgasms
    No clear sign
    Aroused by graphic depictions of either sex (Chivers, Seto, & Blanchard, 2007)
    More flexible about sexual preference and sexual behaviors
    Sexual pleasure for the first time is with another partner (Carpenter, Nathanson, & Kim, 2009)
    Sexual pleasure is experienced after relationship occurs
    •Familiar partners
    •Includes warmth and commitment
    (Peplau, L. A., 2003)

    From my personal experience, I can put my feelings aside and perform; while the women, I am sexually active with, cannot put their feelings aside. Even when a woman says, she can held casual sex; the moment I show pseudo-passionate in terms of emotions, the women falls head over heels and gets attached.

  9. I really enjoyed reading this blog because this was something I was just discussing with some friends recently. My friend asked us–a group of ladies’ “Just curious, the guy always finishes first, right?” I feel like this blog answers that question and how, unfortunately, friends that I have do not think about their pleasure first. I agree that the double standards for women’s sexuality is what affects the way women prioritizes men’s pleasure. I think that it is important to find a man that cares for a women’s pleasure first and to be a woman that cares for their own pleasure as well. It’s also important to not be scared to ask for and focus on one’s own pleasure. I think that once all these double standards begin to get knocked down, it will become less scary for women to want their pleasure to come first. Men will also begin to learn that satisfying their partner is just as important as satisfying themselves, if not more important since women tend to suppress that part of themselves.

  10. Growing up, I thought it was more about the guy because I was unaware/unsure of how aroused I was, what that meant, and how to deal with it. If the guy didn’t care about me and showing me what pleasure felt like, then I also didn’t care much about it. I was just observing at first how things were done, like a fly on the wall. But when I got with people who cared more about giving me pleasure, it made me self-conscious! I was scared because all the attention was on me, and almost pressure-like, because now I felt like I had to orgasm to make the guy feel good about himself and his skills. Sometimes, they were awful… And I didn’t really voice it out because that would crush them and break their morale. One time I told my long time boyfriend and then we didn’t sleep together for three months after that. In the movie industry, even on instagram, you cannot show a breast, a nipple,- anything related to the female reproductive system yet you can see male counterparts everywhere- it is acceptable and normative. It’s all about what the media/CEOs (white males) decide they want to see and bare as acceptable. I hate this misogynistic world…

    • Yeah, I think that a lot of the reason why women focus more on their partners pleasure is because they are often out of touch with their own sexual desire. And that happens in societies like ours that so often punish women’s sexuality so much that they lose touch with desire. Explaining why nearly half of American women have no or low interest in sex.

  11. I personally think that being with a man that wants his pleasure over mine is all right at times. I think it is easier to satisfy a man’s needs. It makes me feel good knowing that I can make him feel pleasured while still turning me on. I’ve had some experiences with getting pleasure from my side and I would just rather not do it. It is not because I do not like it. I would just rather fulfill the man’s needs. This being said I do not think it is necessarily a double standard if one feels the same way I do. And I know this may should dumb, but if a woman really wanted to be pleasured couldn’t she just say so to begin with? I also disagree with the whole men have a bigger sex drive. I’ve met other women that love having sex. And in one of my relationships I grew over time to have the stronger sex drive. I think people believe that men do because they wouldn’t get put down for wanting a ton of sex. Concluding that yes a man can have a high sex drive, but so can a women if she wants. And either gender should not be afraid to ask for what they really want.

    • In societies where women’s sexuality is not punished and objectified they seem to be as interested in sex as men are.

      But in the United States almost half of women have low to no interest in sex. That is lower interest than men in our society express.

      If we don’t acknowledge that women’s sexuality is harmed by objectification, punishment and even rape, none of those things are likely to change.

      I don’t think it’s a problem for partners to take turns focusing on their own pleasure. But when it is constantly one-sided there does seem to be a problem. And it seems odd that a woman would continue wanting to have sex when she was never pleasured. So I guess I’m a bit confused by your response.

  12. The reason women prioritize a mans pleasure before their own is due to the old fashion, never ending stereotype that a women does not have any purpose without a man and that women are meant to please their man before all other things. Today it is not nearly as severe as that but I think this is where it stems. As straight women are always self consciously trying to impress men, performing sexual actions for them also help them feel useful and needed. Therefore in return, women feel as though they will not be as desirable if they were to ask for sexual favors in return. It all is based on a womens self conscious desire to want to feel wanted, needed, sexually desired by putting a male’s needs over their own.

    • True. Additionally we tend to be taught that men are more entitled to sext than women are. And women’s sexuality is more punished and women are more objectified — leaving them distracted over how they look or what they’re doing. And women are more likely to be, or fear being, sexually assaulted, which can tinge sex with negativity or even make it traumatic.

  13. Elaine Gastelum

    I have to say, I’ve never thought about this and I have to fully agree with this argument. Yes, I have noticed that women tend to worry more about the pleasure of the men rather than their own, but why? To be completely honest, I’m always worrying about whether I’m attractive enough or not. Why is that women have to be attractive to please a man, but it doesn’t work like that the other way around? I totally have to agree that this is because of the double standard. I actually didn’t know vibrators have been banned in several states, which is a shame because men aren’t the only ones that can have pleasure. Going back to another blog from a while back, for some reason in this society men are praised for their sexuality when women are shamed for it. It all goes down to gender inequality. Reasons like that make a women more concerned of the pleasure for their men than being concerned of their own pleasure.

    • Yeah, a lot of young women have told me that they had never realized they do this until I started talking about it in lecture.

      And yes, it all boils down to gender inequality.

  14. I really enjoyed reading this post! I think along with the reasons of double standards when it comes to women and men in the bedroom, a big reason that women are so worried about making sure their man is happy, without thinking of themselves, is due to self esteem. When these women are growing up being shown that they are inferior to men, or to submit, or that their job is to please their husband (sexually or not), they have the constant worry if they are enough for him. I do not think this issue of women prioritizing men over themselves when it comes to sex will change, until women know that they deserve to have good sex, the way they like it, just as much as men do. I could even argue that they deserve it more than men, because if someone is having sex to get pregnant and push a child out of their vagina and they do not even get an orgasm for it, something is wrong.

  15. The prevailing notion of “boys will be boys” insidiously reinforces (and glorifies, may I add) rape culture. I unfortunately grew up consuming popular film, television, music and literature that normalized men’s pleasure- often to the disadvantage of women. Women I most identified with in media were often slim, svelte young white girls that “went down on men” and gave them everything they needed- including a nice face to stare at. I internalized this as a teenager but felt as if something was wrong- I knew that I needed to seek pleasure on my own terms. As a teen (eighteen/nineteen), I started asking for reciprocal fellatio and received severe backlash from sexual partners. Looks of stigmatizing confusion often permeated private rooms between the other person and I- the underlying implication of hetero sex (which I did not understand at the time) was that women started with fellatio and worked their way up.. for the man! If women were to ask for something orally reciprocal, they’d risk alienating themselves as slutty bitches- mainly because they asked for something in return. Also, cisgendered, heterosexual women who refused or did not feel comfortable with certain sexual acts are often met with passive aggression and disappointment. Too prudish to put out, but too slutty to give in. Women who typically assert themselves sexually are stigmatized for it, and the word “bitch” surely doesn’t help their progress.

  16. Women are giving pleasure to men with out expecting anything? Really?
    Let’s try it the other way.

    Do women pay for dinners, buy drinks, buy gifts and presents, make the arrangements and pay for vacation and travel expenses, offer jewelry to men?

    • Ahh, you make it sound like prostitutes. Do you think these things are really worth sex you don’t enjoy? Especially when women can make them own money?

      Keep in mind that I’m not blaming either men or women for the situation. I’m blaming the culture. We have a culture that objectifies women – which too often leaves them worrying about how they look instead of how they feel. And a culture that sexually represses them so that many women lose touch with their desire and sexual feeling, generally.

      That won’t change unless both women and men become aware of the problem and how it hurts us and make conscious decisions to do things differently.

      • Still it’s always “the men have to ask out and pay for dinners and gifts”

      • As I’ve written before I think that that should be equalized.

      • But it will never be equalized because a) women don’t want it to be equalized. They want men who provide them resources. b) men are genetically programmed to provide resources to women.

        Sorry but it’s true. Men would go a long way and go through a lot of trouble to find a female partner. Women may be interested in finding a male partner but they wouldn’t bother at the same degree.

        That’s why women demand from men to court them. They want to see if he is good enough to provide them resources.
        It’s very difficult for men to please women. Always say and do what women would like. On the other hand it’s easy for men to get pleased.

      • I have students from some parts of East Asia who tell me that in their cultures it’s the women who buy men the gifts. I think it’s because of men being more valued than women. That gender ranking can show up in a variety of ways, which can even be contradictory.

      • Ask any bar or club owner. Male customers are considered of lower value than female customers even if men spend more money on drinking. That’s why there are “ladies night” trying to have more female customers in their club. No one (men re women) wants to go to a bar or club full of men but a bar or club full of women is of high value.
        Also that’s why the media are full of sexy women but ignore men. Women are considered of higher value and are more desired.

      • Sure. But it’s a social construction.

  17. I agree with the points you’ve made in this post. Among my guy friends who’ve had sex, they tell me that they don’t leave the female partner hanging and finish her off if they orgasm first. That is, if it’s a big deal for her or they really like their partner. I had one friend who shared one of his sexual experience with me where the woman dressed up in really cute lingere for him yet he didn’t care much for it. For a woman to be comfortable and make herself sexy for him to react that way seems like wasted effort and disappointing to hear.. I find it ironic that society sexualizes women the most yet men receive the most pleasure out of it.

    • Seems ironic and yet that’s exactly what happens when we objectify women — make men and women alike feel like women exist for men’s pleasure visually, the things they do…

  18. This topic is very interesting and so true. I have a friend she is just a normal college student with good grades. She has a boyfriend who plays on the soccer team who is very good an might go places. She feels like she has to please him without feeling pleased herself. She does this so he doesn’t leave her, because he is, as she put “too good for her.” He asks her for sexual favors all the time and never returns the favor or thinks about her feelings. The thing is I don’t know what tell her, but to put her foot down and do something about it. However, like I said before, she doesn’t want to lose him. I personally believe that if a man doesn’t want to take the time to please his woman or if consider her feelings, he’s not a real man. Especially if its sexually, woman have needs too and I believe that if two people are in a relationship both should contribute and be equal. With my fiance I make sure she is satisfied, before anything else happens. We are equal in every aspect of our relationship and it has done nothing but strengthen our love for each other.

    • Yay you!

      Yes, it can be difficult to know what to say to your friend. Maybe if we get more of a conversation going on this topic you won’t have to be the one to tell her.

  19. I feel like women prioritizing a mans pleasure over hers has to do with the idea of having to conform into these gender roles a women must play and a man must play in relationship roles. This has been going on for ages now, where women have to attend to the needs of men such as cooking for him, cleaning, doing his laundry, etc. With women having to conform into providing/assisting/supporting her man pleasure falls under this. And all of this is influenced by the actions and influence that society sets up for women in the world. There are young girls that grow up thinking that they have to rely on a man, when in reality they don’t. Men need women more than women need men, therefore women do not need men. In order for change, we must change the perception that society sets up for women, which must be done by providing more reading and information to the younger generations on how society creates “expectation” from women that is unjust and unequal.

    • Yeah, and you find this sort of thing — double standards, sexual repression of women, And sexual objectification of women -– to be fairly common in patriarchal cultures. But not in gender-equal societies.

    • “Men need women more than women need men, therefore women do not need men.”

      Wow! I Really?

      Let’s have a day without men and see how America function. No police officers. No utility repairmen. No trash collectors No airline pilots…etc.

      Men and women need each other, period. If each sex wishes to go it alone so to speak, then they surely can do so.

      The problem as it see it is one of utility. Women want to have it both ways. Women want the utility that we men provide. Yet, at the same time women also want to keep men at arms length. This is why the general attitude of so many women is that we men are both interchangeable and disposable.

      Men need to lower their expectations of women. Men also must focus of becoming the very best versions of themselves. Instead of lamenting and despairing over the lack of female companionship, we men must look within ourselves to become better men. A woman can no longer to the primary focus of our lives. Sex cannot be the primary focus. In a nutshell, men have to resort to treating women in kind. Treat women the way women treat us men.

      • We need both women and men in society. You mentioned all of the things that would be harmed if men dropped out. And they are largely things involving the public sphere. Imagine if women dropped out of both the public and private sphere. Women are more likely to take care of children, for instance.

        I would hope that we would all treat one another better. All be our best selves. I have a different notion of what that would look like than you do.

  20. deeply powerful, complex of topic which indeed is an important question to ask. The problem in a nutshell: Men don’t have a clue how to get a woman off unless the tried-and-true just happens to work. Women, in turn, have little idea how to guide a man to achieving their own satisfaction–they’re not sure what goes on “down there.” This is decreasingly true with age and experience but for most remains true for all their life.

    • Yeah, sexual repression still keeps a lot of women from understanding their own bodies and their own right to pleasure. And sexual objectification too often keeps women focusing on whether or not they’re pleasing their guys — which can leave her completely distracted from her own pleasure.

      And that’s not so great for most guys, either. Since most men want their partners to enjoy themselves.

  21. I mean it’s common for a woman to have to please a man. It’s rare when the man likes to please the woman. First things first, if a man enjoys giving you pleasure, keep him. Although I do find it annoying that no matter what, the girls focus is to please the man, that’s how it’s been for decades. All women think about is pleasing the man, I do agree that while women have sex, it’s all about how good they look for them. I think women should take a turnabout and really focus on their pleasure. I also think that if a woman never gives pleasure to herself then “she’s never had good sex”. I think both people should.be able to enjoy sexual intercorse. It’s not fair that most things like porn are mostly directed to seek men’s pleasure.

    • I guess it’s a good way to figure out who the good guys are. But I think some guys are just clueless. Maybe these sorts of conversations will clue some of them in.

      • “But I think some guys are just clueless.”

        Yes! I would agree.

        This is what happens to men in a society where large numbers of women, if not most, have a bias for relatively small percentage of men for sex. So, is it really the fault of men? Seriously.

      • I’m not blaming either men or women here. I’m blaming a society that represses women’s sexuality so that they lose touch with desire. And then it takes an awful lot to get most women interested.

  22. I read a recent article about how straight women are the ones having the least amount of orgasms.


    We need to take back our orgasms!

  23. Women have had a history of doing sexual things for men (or just anything in general, really) and not expect anything in return. They have it drilled into their minds that they don’t need anything in return for pleasuring men, and that shouldn’t be the case. Women’s sexuality is so repressed, and even shameful in some places. Women are conditioned to think that their sex drive shouldn’t be high, and that if it is, to suppress it as much as possible. For some reason, it is completely acceptable for a man to have sex all the time, while if a woman even has sex a few times, it is seen as disgusting and vile. This ideology is completely ridiculous. Women should be able to do whatever they want and should be allowed to have a high sex drive without being looked down upon or resented by society.

    • The first step to change is becoming consciously aware of things we have unconsciously internalized.

    • “They have it drilled into their minds that they don’t need anything in return for pleasuring men, and that shouldn’t be the case.”

      Hmmmm. Must be in a different country. Not here in America for sure.

      Women ONLY do things for men whom they like and find attractive. As we all know that is not a lot of men. Even married men have difficulty getting their wives to have sex.

      So, I am not sure just why you some how think women do all these sexual things for their men that go unrequited.

      Yes, women should be able to do whatever they wish with whomever they wish. At the same time so should men. As a man, I should be able to judge a women for her sexual behavior just as a woman should be able to do the same. Just because women seem not to really care about male sexual behavior is the problem of women.

      Lastly, most men do NOT get to have sex “all the time.” If so, then we would not see so many prostitutes.

      • Well, different people have different experiences with this sort of thing. There is plenty of evidence that can hook up culture, anyway, women rarely get any pleasure from it. Why do they put up with that? And then there is the sexual object if Acacian and Repression that also play roles, so that even in a relationship women can’t be worrying over how they look instead of enjoying how they feel. Or it takes an awful lot to get them interested in the first place.

        The problem isn’t men per se or women per se. The problem is a culture that needs to change. And the only way it will change is for people to be aware of the problem and start to change themselves. Women and men alike.

  24. i totally agree with your points….hope things will change !!

Thoughts? (Comments will appear after moderation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: