comments and replies related to Philosophy of Arousal

From: "Richard"
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Subject: Please help me Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 19:45:51 +0000

Dear Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr,

I have just turned 23 and have a girlfriend that I love very much but I am having a few sexual problems that I hope you can help me with.

I remembered the other day that I used to think about all sorts of sexual thoughts whilst masturbating. 99 % of the time it was about women but sometimes I would think about a man. I don't find men attractive and neither do I want to have any desire to have sexual intercourse with a man. Also when watching pornographic material most of the time I like to watch Lesbians but I remember that I have also watched a porno of a man masturbating and masturbated myself. After I ejaculated I was immediately disgusted with myself same as when I thought about it in my head whilst I masturbated. This happened a few times but not recently. I told my Dad and he said that it was because it was forbidden and supposedly bad for the reasons of why I thought about it. He also said that you cannot control the way the mind thinks and that I have high testosterone levels and that it was part of growing up??

Please help to explain my thoughts because I know I am not homosexual as I am only attracted to women.

I have always been a worrier all my life and am not satisfied unless I find out the reasons behind things.

I am very depressed and it is playing on my mind a lot.

Please help.

Yours Hopefully

Richard

Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 17:15:50 -0500
To: "Richard"
Subject: Re: Please help me Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
From: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

Hi Richard,

I'm not a counselor.

You should probably try to remember that your emotional reactions to nearly everything come from your upbringing. We here in the USA grew up with natural human sexuality suppressed. They told us it was "dirty" and "bad". That "conditioning" doesn't just disappear when we get to the right age for marriage.

If you haven't already done so, please read http://www.xenodochy.org/article/arouse.html It should clear up some questions.

The sexual drive, particularly with teen age boys is very strong, and it is a physiological need, so it can be stronger than the desire to please someone or the desire to behave the way we are told we should. One can be stimulated to the point one needs to take care of it to relieve the drive. The form of the stimulation does not have to agree with our "moral" teaching.

You might find some explanation in the following: http://xenodochy.org/ex/lists/maslow.html

Once the immediate desire is satisfied (at ejaculation), the higher drives and conditioning can come rushing back, and this includes the cultural "moral" teachings that (incorrectly) say it's wrong.

I would have to say that feeling "disgusted" with oneself is probably ok if we really wants to change our behavior, but we back slide. I often felt annoyed with myself when I was trying to quit smoking, and I kept slipping up. You will need to look at your own personal value system and decide if your behavior violates it. If so, then disgust is appropriate. But perhaps you might also see that your behavior does not violate it. Then you would need to be working on overcoming your past cultural conditioning by telling yourself, this feeling isn't right, what I'm doing is really ok.

Seeing a guy masturbate just stimulates the "me too" response. It does not mean you have homosexual tendencies. According to the Kinsey reports and other sexual studies most boys learn to masturbate by being taught or shown by peers, while most girls learn by accident and self exploration. This may have changed in the last 50 years.

Your dad's right. It's part of growing up, especially in a schizophrenic culture that says sex is "bad" or "dirty" while selling sex and selling with sex everywhere.

http://www.xenodochy.org/article/arouse.html should answer many questions.

If you want to be really depressed, just remember that when you get "old" you will look back to the days when your sexual response was rapid and strong with great longing and envy. :-) Enjoy it while you can.

My advise is don't worry about it. Masturbation is safe and it relieves the tension and the pressure. It's actually healthy for the sperm to be cleaned out so new fresh ones can keep coming. Also, remember that a creative mind can make all kinds of associations and thoughts, so don't worry about that either. What's important is what you actually do about it. It's the behavior (including verbal behavior) that counts most. If you masturbate before going on a date, you may be less likely to confuse sexual arousal or desire with genuine affection, and you might be less tempted to do something you might regret. It doesn't matter a great deal what you may find yourself thinking about (at any time about anything, not just sexually), but it is important what you do about it.

I'm told that the natural tendency of men and boys is to think about sex either directly or indirectly on the order of hundreds of times a day or more. Because we are told this is "immoral" many just won't admit to it.

There is a difference between "porn" and "erotic" materials, and different people draw the line in different places. But, you see, "porn" is "bad", but "erotic" is "good". It's a silly distinction, because we humans have drives to mate and to reproduce. It's the culture that tries to teach us how and when is "socially acceptable", but the ways that is taught is often simplistic and can cause the kinds of feelings you experience. It's not very wise in the "taboo" areas that we are "not supposed to talk about".

I think anything that does not injure oneself or others either physically or mentally or go against any participants will (including afterthoughts) should be permitted. ("Afterthoughts" - don't do something with someone if you think they or you may regret it aftewards.) Really the "golden rule" applied to sexual behavior.

If you really want to study some thoughts on "right" and "wrong", check this out: http://xenodochy.org/ex/lists/moraldev.html

How does that old song go? "Don't worry, be happy."

Hope this helps,

Best regards,

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

From: "Richard"
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Subject: Thank you
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 12:13:23 +0000

Dear Sir,

Thank you so much for writing back to me. It helped me so much and I value what you say because I know that you are an intelligent person with logical answers.

One last question is why did I ever think about having sex with a man when I was masturbating without the use of pornographic material. I cant understand it fully still, as I am not homosexual and nor do I want to try it out. This was a few years back that I thought about. I asked my Dad and he said that because I considered it bad the thoughts was automatically come into my head and that I had no control over them. Also he said that because it was a different thought it tantalized my brain in a different way to what I normally thought about which was 99% of the time was women. Also I thought about about it when I was a virgin so was I so full of testosterone?

Please help once again

Thank you so much for your time. You are a good man

Richard

P.S. your article on arousal helped a lot too - I really do wish I had read that years ago.

Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 11:04:42 -0500
To: "Richard"
Subject: Re: Thank you
From: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

Hi Richard,

Thanks for the kind words. It's nice to know it can help someone.

Your dad's answer is probably as good as any.

The brain is very associative, and, at the time, you were engaging in an act that you had been programmed to believe was wrong, so, as long as the "door was open" the brain could easily free-associate to other "wrong" behavior possibilities.

One other possibility is that, when boys are still "virginal", girls seem to be untouchable, while the ribald camaraderie between boys or men, where sex talk runs free, makes them seem much more approachable, so the brain could have just been suggesting the "path of least resistance" to some kind of two-person sex.

Now that you have come to realize masturbation is not wrong, the association probably won't happen so much, unless, that is, you keep worrying about it. If that happens, the association could become "burned in"; like when somebody tells you, "Don't think about a flying pink elephant." The mind immediately does what it was told not to. If you keep worrying about it, then when you do masturbate, it just might come back. It's nothing to worry about. Curiosity, the forbidden fruit, etc., can come into mind at any time.

And, now that you have a girlfriend, there will be no need for the brain  to suggest "possibly quick and easy ways to get two-person sex" that does  not involve your girlfriend.

If it happens again, just say to yourself, "Oh, that old thing again.", and dismiss it.  Don't worry about it unless it starts coming back regularly.

Do be aware, however, that the male human evolved from a history that includes multiple sex partners, and the biological urge to procreate shows itself as arousal or just thoughts of sex whenever a female that appears to be capable of child bearing is seen. So don't beat yourself mentally if you find yourself thinking of sex with other women too. The ethics of the situation depends on your value system, and that should determine your behavior. As I said in my article, if you are in a monogamous relationship, and you start to experience arousal from someone else, "transfer" it to your partner.

When you get "old enough" you'll appreciate anything that can produce arousal, so enjoy it while you can.

If you receive the Oxygen cable channel, you can watch the "Sex talk with Sue" show, a candid question and answer show that originates from Canada, and is aired on Oxygen around midnight. Here you can hear the various concerns of listeners and the advice Sue Johansen, a sex counselor with many years of experience.

Best wishes,

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

From: "Richard" 
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Subject: Thanks
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 20:12:51 +0000
Dear Sir,

Once again thank you so much. You really help me. Its nice to know that I can talk to an intelligent man.

I live in England UK and we only have five channels! ha ha. But Ill see if that program is on Sky television and get my mates to tape it for me!

I wish you the very best and hope you a Happy New Year.

Take care

Yours Sincerely

Richard

From: "Richard"
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Subject: Question
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 09:42:10 +0000

Dear Sir,

There is one last question I would like to ask you related to the others which I hope you can help me with. I'm a real worry guts aren't I!

I remember once I was really horny and I was in a chat room on a mobile phone and there was a gay man trying to chat up people. And this is the only time that I did this and all the other times I would talk to women on a chat room. I think I only said Hi to him and left it at that but I cant remember if I said anything dirty or whether I just thought it. If I did write something and wanted a dirty reply what would this mean - Considering I'm not homosexual and don't fancy men at all? Is it because I was so horny and wanted to see something dirty being written to me? I cant explain it - I've got a feeling all I said was hi and think he replied and I ignored it - but what if I said something else??

Please help me once again so I can rest my guilty worried head!!

Thank you for your time.

Yours Sincerely

Richard

Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 12:47:01 -0500
To: "Richard"
Subject: Re: Question
From: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

Hi Richard,

Not "Sir", just "Ralph", please.

Just saying "hi" to someone is a matter of social civility. If you can't remember what you said, you most likely said or did nothing that would have evoked your previously reported "disgusted with yourself" response.

One of the differences between men and women is that women remember all the details. This is because they have a corpus callosum three times as thick as men. One result of this is that they "think-feel" with both sides of their brains, the so-called "emotional" (right) side and the verbal (left) side. But men, with their thinner corpus callosum tend to remember details only when they had some significant emotional associations. Since you don't remember the details, there was probably no strong emotional reaction to what was said or done, so you most likely did not say or do anything "worth emotionally remembering".

Why do we remember emotionally associated events better? - because they feed into our survival patterns. Positive rewards need to be remembered for finding food and mates, negative rewards need to be remembered to avoid poisons, predators, and other dangers. The rest are mostly irrelevant to survival, but it takes energy to deal with them, so we need to ignore and forget them, so our energy is available for survival.

Remember the five types of arousal? If you were in type one arousal, then the brain would tend to think thoughts related to the possibility of sexual satisfaction. Any feedback that is sexually related would be positive, and increase both the arousal and thinking.

One other thing to remember, is that the "if-then" construction in logic has the following truth table.

Value of A Value of B Value of IF (statement a) THEN (statement b) 
T T T
T F F
F T T
F F T
in compact notation 
A > B
T T T
T F F
F T T
F T F

So, if you start out with an IF clause that is false, then you can "truthfully" get any result at all, and an IF is almost always false. I tell people who say, "If only I had done (something), then (something good) would have happened", "True, but also, if you had done (something), then (something else bad) could have happened instead, is also true." "What if I had done" statements can also be a trap, because we tend to look for the bad when we worry, the good when we hope, and each one stimulates more thoughts - usually even farther from actuality.

Also, "if" is like a wish.

One of my more colorful retorts to "wishes" is, "If wishes were horses, we'd all be armpit deep in horse manure".

So, you can forget about those past chat-room episodes.

If you remember or learn about behaviorism, you will recall that positive rewards tend to cause behavior to repeat, while a lack of reward tends to "extinguish" the behavior. And if you get a sexual thrill, particularly orgasmic satisfaction, the reward factor may stimulate a recurrence [of the behavior]. But if you simply don't do that any more, the inclination will disappear over time, as long as you continue to have healthy heterosexual relationships.

Remember also, that type two arousal can continue to to orgasm, and whatever the context was can be seen as a reward. So, if you got type one arousal while chatting, started touching yourself, you could have transitions to type two, but what was happening around you - the chat context, etc. - could be "remembered" (probably subconsciously) as reward associated with the masturbation that followed.

Look at it this way. A little experimenting, especially to learn how your own body works, is not "bad", it just learning that will be needed later. How can you tell your partner what you like, if you have never learned yourself?

Another point to remember is that "creativity" is, more often than not, "doing something 'wrong', and discovering that it works out better". In mathematics such "creativity" is usually "just plain wrong", but in life situations, it's different. The basis of learning is often trial and error, and we got to be at the top of the phylogenetic scale by being creative fast learners. So, think nothing of occasional thought of variant sexual behavior. If you don't want to go there, don't follow through with the behavior.

If you find yourself continuing to "obsess" about these past events, events that seem fairly insignificant, then it might be time to seek out a counselor.

Have you looked at erotic material together with your girlfriend? Something for you, something for her, something for you both? Creating such new associations could help remove the concern about past ones.

Best regards,

Ralph

From: "Richard" 
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2005 13:31:06 +0000

Dear Ralph,

Hello again! I have decided to see a psychologist about my problems. So far I have told him about my thoughts but next time I see him he is going to help me not to obsess about them. They have caused me to have terrible anxiety attacks. Once I have analysed and figured one out, another worry will come into my head and cause me to have an attack.

One that recently came into my head was something I know deep down to not worry about yet my mind is in a very obsessive and negative mindset at the moment and has trouble rationalising things.

It was concerning a memory when I was about 13 - 16. I remember seeing a boy about the same age as me and kept looking at him. I put it down to that he was good looking and that I was testing myself out at an early age possibly to see if I found him attractive?? Or that I was uncomfortable with myself because I noticed that he was good looking. I know when I was younger I had a real fear of homosexuality even though I knew I wasn't?? I cant explain why I looked at this boy. It worries me. I know I'm not homosexual because I went to boys school and never in the time of being there was I attracted to another boy. I showered with boys and I never got aroused or attracted in any way??

I could have also put it down to me just looking at him like one would look at a good painting? Or was I in a type of arousal that can happen at any time and happened to occur when I saw the boy and I immediately thought it was him that aroused me??

Please help. I appreciate your help so much. It really has helped me before. Hopefully with your help and the help of a psychologist I can learn more about myself and not be distressed about it in the way I do.

Thank you so much.

Take care

Richard

Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2005 11:27:16 -0500
To: "Richard"
Subject: Re: Hello again!
From: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

Hi Richard,

How are things going with your girlfriend? Do you have good psychological rapport?

Women are "strange creatures" to men, and they may appear "even stranger" to someone who grew up in a boys school.  A lack of opposite-sex peers during many formative years activities can create a greater "psychological distance" than for one who grew up in close association with opposite-sex peers.  As a result of this history you might feel somewhat less comfortable with women in general and in intimate circumstances in particular.  (There is a biological basis to this, because you would have years of less familiarity with the opposite sex.  See On the Foundations of Prejudice for an in-depth discussion of these factors that can create sub-conscious anxiety.)  One who "grew up" in an all boys school would have much more experiences learning about boys and men, so he would likely feel much more comfortable around members of his sex.  This feeling could be completely subconscious. As a result, desirable activities, including sex, might appear "less risky" from a subconscious anxiety producing perspective than the possibility of (more) intimate contacts with the less-well-known gender, that mysterious female of the species.

Do you feel that you understand men much better than you understand women? Can you compare notes with a close male friend who did not grow up in a boys school? It would be a significant project to learn subtle differences in each others general expectations about women's behaviors, attitudes, feelings, etc.

Mechanically, male-male sex acts involving oral or anal activities would be physically similar to the male role in the same male-female acts. Acting the part of the female, however would be quite different. Psychologically, however, on the one hand, there would be the weight of the cultural prohibitions and homophobia, and on the other hand, women being so much different from men, there could be some feelings of "comfort" just from having the idea that a guy might have a better feeling about "where another guy was 'at'" in terms of outlook on life as well as the mechanics of sex.

Can you considered the possibility that you might have a subconscious curiosity about what a same-sex experience might be like? It would certainly be very upsetting if you have been thoroughly conditioned along homophobic lines, because your conscious mind would reject any such hints, while the subconscious would keep trying to raise the possibility. I can't advise you what to do about it. Obviously, you are experiencing some discomfort from having thoughts about past experiences. If they keep coming, and you cannot seem to let them go, then it's probably a good idea to look for possible causes. It might be the general discomfort with women and curiosity stemming from your up-bringing in a boys school. It could also be from some suppressed unpleasant memories - not necessarily sexual in nature.

Please accept my best wishes for your coming to a point of comfortable self-knowledge free from anxiety.

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr

From: "Richard" 
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2005 17:27:41 +0000

Dear Ralph,

Thanks once again for your reply. I get on with my girlfriend brilliantly. We really understand each other. But there are definitely some issues that affect our relationship. She is [...] years older than me. And in all honesty I don't find her physically attractive mainly due to her weight problem. But we connect so well and I love her very much.

Women were very scary to me especially girls my own age. All the mind games they play and I find them immature and materialistic. That's why I get on so much better with my girlfriend because she isn't like that. I find I get on better with older people in general.

I definitely had a problem asking out girls. I found them extremely scary. And yes I was curious and experimental in my head about doing all sorts of sexual activity like most boys do when growing up. But these were all unconscious fantasies and not ones that I had any desire to do. I have found another man attractive and that's really why I couldn't understand why I looked at this boy so much?

[...]

Thanks so much!

Richard

Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2005 12:10:48 -0500
To: "Richard"
Subject: Our conversations
From: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

Hi Richard,

I thought I'd probably better let you know. I have taken the liberty of putting our emails on the Internet, because other readers might benefit from the questions and answers. Don't worry, I have not including any real identifying information, so no confidentiality has been breached. Your first name only appears on the emails. If the discussion helps even one person, it will have been worth it. You can review the entire conversation at any time at <url:http://www.xenodochy.org/mail/qarearouse.html>, and it might also be good to give the URL to your psychologist. He (or she) can read our conversation.

Comments are welcome.

Again, best wishes.

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

From: "Richard" 
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Subject: RE: Our conversations
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 16:41:32 +0000

Dear Ralph,

I'm really pleased that you have put our conversations on your website. Like you said if it helps only one person it will be worth it undoubtedly.

A few questions I hope you can answer for me concerning sexual arousal that are troubling me slightly. I once heard a boy making sexual noises and it aroused me to the point where I masturbated later on. Is it normal to get aroused by sexual noises by either a man or a woman??

My second question is linked to some of my previous. Is it normal to be aroused by thinking about any sexual thought in your imagination be it gay sex, lesbian sex or straight sex. Because I think I could probably still be aroused by thinking of a homosexual act even thou I wouldn't want to do it physically??

Although I wouldn't choose to think about those sort of thoughts now, I'm still worried that if I did I might still get aroused by them??

I know now that that when I thought about those past thoughts that I was simply experimenting in my head and testing myself in a way. I was told by my psychologist that studies have shown that probably 90% of men have thought about homosexual sex in their head which helped me feel a lot better.

Thanks once again for your time.

Not sure how to get to our conversations on your website without the link you gave me?

Take care

Richard

Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 17:56:08 -0500
To: "Richard"
Subject: Re: Our conversations
From: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

Hi Richard,

It has been said that our brain is our biggest sex organ and that sex is 90% in the brain. So, the answer to both your questions is yes, it's perfectly natural. The brain is associative, so hearing or thinking about sex in any way can and most likely will cause some or much arousal, depending on your age, health, and general psychological condition. As they say, "your mileage may vary". :-)

What you do about the arousal will depend upon many things, including your circumstances and your value system.

The conversation link is under the word "comments" on the "Would you care to read and/or make comments about this site?" page. It can also be found by using the site map or the search page.

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

From: "Richard" 
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Subject: Another question
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 20:24:28 +0000

Dear Ralph,

Sorry for bombarding you with questions. I really hope you don't mind. Its so good that I can talk to you about it.

I keep remembering other things that bother me. I remember once when I watching a porno with two men having sex with a woman and they both put their penises in the woman's mouth and their penises touched each others which aroused me. Again this is something that I would never wish to do but still it aroused me more that they did this and their penises touched. Do you think it was because it was something that I had never seen before and was DIFFERENT or do you think its because I perceived it to be more naughty for the reason I got more aroused.

1. So really the big question is why do I get aroused by things I don't wish to do and
2. does watching new and different things increase arousal.

Sorry for being quite explicit. I hope I don't offend you.

Once again thank you so much for listening

Richard

Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 18:22:27 -0500
To: "Richard"
Subject: Re: Another question
From: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

Hi Richard,

The answer to both questions may have to do with how we respond to experiences in general. New situations are always more "interesting" neurologically, in that they provide greater stimulation in the nervous system, and that stimulation travels further up the hierarchy of processing. See my article on prejudice for some detailed descriptions.

"Forbidden fruit" is, by its very nature, stimulating, because there has been limited exposure. If you watched such videos many times, you just might find yourself getting bored with the sequence and, as a result, experience less arousal.

You can also look inward and see if your first idea about the "shocking possibility" of penis to penis contact was the major factor, or the likelihood that such a woman as you describe would be "much more accessible", and stimulating on that account. If you try to be too objective in analyzing the experience, you just might inhibit the arousal significantly.

Back in the 60's the flower-children had the attitude, "if it feels good, do it"; they did not worry much about cultural prohibitions or what was considered by some to be good or bad. It was the free-sex era before AIDS and even herpes became a problem. The most famous images were probably the Woodstock rock concert.

You might need to look deep within yourself, and ask yourself, what, exactly, is it that you are really worried about. Who would care? What would that matter? Putting things in the perspective of clarified values can simplify life. In other words, if you really know who you are and what you want, then the path to take will be clear.

Best regards,

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

From: "Richard" 
To: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2005 15:59:49 +0000

Dear Ralph,

You are helping me to understand so much more about arousal. Thank you.

I know I've already asked this question but I'm going to ask it just once more in a more direct and exact way.

Is it normal or would most heterosexual men be aroused when watching a gay porno or imagine gay sex. And the same question for whether a heterosexual woman would get aroused by watching a lesbian porno film?

I don't find men attractive but I think I would get aroused if I saw a gay porno maybe not as much as watching a lesbian one but still netherless aroused? My girlfriend said that she gets aroused when watching a lesbian porno yet has no interest in women?

Thanks so much. Your helping me more than the psychologist is in understanding things!

Take care

Richard

Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2005 12:32:03 -0500
To: "Richard"
From: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Hi Richard,

The simplest answer is that when you see sexual behavior (of any kind) your mating instinct is likely to be aroused, so yes, it should be "normal" from a physiological and evolutionary perspective.

Think about our brains responding to stimuli in two (or more) levels. One level is the lower, more primitive, level that comes from our biological evolution. Another level is our cultural conditioning.

According to Maslow's need hierarchy, the lower need levels normally take precedence over higher levels, so physiological needs tend to be urgent and demand satisfaction. I am inclined to think that anything that is related to sexual behavior, regardless of whether it is with one person or with two or more persons of any combination of genders, will have a tendency to stimulate arousal. I would think that it would be a normal physiological response to stimulate arousal whenever you see, hear, or think about sexual behavior of any kind.

The higher levels of cultural conditioning can suppress these feelings of arousal, sometimes totally, sometimes hardly at all, depending on the upbringing and values of the person. The "forbidden fruit" situation falls into Type 3 arousal; whenever we are participating in or even possibly just contemplating "taboo" behavior, we naturally have heightened neurological stimulation of the fear response - fear that we will be discovered, fear that we will be disapproved of, fear that we will be punished, etc., and associated adrenalin responses. Consciously, we probably don't think so, so what we actually experience in the situation will be that it is "exciting". Because the brain is all wired together, all the other emotional circuits and possibilities are also experiencing higher neurological stimulation. In the "forbidden sex" context, it's natural to think that these responses "transfer" to heightened sexual arousal. So, one would expect that looking at explicit erotic materials in general (for which there is a general cultural prohibition) and explicit erotic materials depicting same gender acts (for which there is a strong cultural prohibition) would have a strong stimulating effect, and that it would highly likely be expressed, through transference, as type 3 arousal (in combination with type 6 arousal).

The "mind", however, now has to make sense of this physiological experience, so the brain begins to conjure up words and sentences to describe it. It also has to reconcile the arousal and the sub-verbalizations with the cultural prohibitions. If you feel aroused, but your brain says you should not be (because of cultural prohibitions), this can cause "cognitive dissonance", which can be expressed as feelings of being "wrong" or "bad", or of worrying about one's own sexual identity.

If one is watching same-sex activity, one has the choice of "identifying with" the actor whose behavior is most compatible with one's own gender. A woman watching female-female activity could identify with the passive partner receiving attention while "imagining" that the active partner was actually male. A man watching male-male activity could identify with the actor exhibiting predominately male sexual behavior while "imagining" that the other partner was actually female. The "imagining" could take the form of just not thinking about the other partner's gender. Sexual arousal is a very intensely self-oriented experience, so it's easy to not give importance to the other partner, especially when it involves vicarious experience through strangers. The "real thing", however, with a know, close, person is a completely different matter. The brain is not so free in such a situation.

With strong levels of cultural conditioning, the arousal can be suppressed, both cognitively and physiologically. Our learned experiences contribute to our responses.

One thing to note. The (American) culture has a much stronger prohibitions against male-male sexual behavior than against female-female behavior. I'm inclined to think this is partly due to it being a (more) male-dominated society harboring the largely suppressed desire of males to have multiple partners.

Another possibility is that sexual behavior can be relatively divorced from gender and relationship considerations. One can treat sexual behavior as a "purely recreational" activity where the only thing that matters is experiencing arousal and satisfaction, and the more the better. At least one organization exists which advocates this view. I've heard of groups which get together for male-male sex but do not consider themselves homosexual or even bisexual. Some participants are even alleged to be homophobic.

It's partly what one thinks the word "homosexual" means. For some people, it mean just having thoughts of same-sex behavior. For others it only applies to a total lifestyle involving the equivalent of marriage. Having thoughts of same-sex behavior, or even experimenting with it, does not mean that one must commit to a life of loving and living with a person of the same sex.

One added note. The human body has been the subject of art, poetry, song, desire, etc., for as long as civilization has existed. We are inclined to experience a positive response by just looking at such art, regardless of gender. We should see the best as attractive, and we are genetically predisposed to do so. Consider the statues of Venus and of David. Why should we not feel pleasure at seeing such great art, and if some type 3 arousal creeps in, why should that be a problem?

As we get older our ability to become aroused fades, so enjoy your arousal while you can.

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

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