Pay Attention to Your Partner’s Words

Myth-busting Monday (CW: sexual assault): genital response always matches sexual subjective arousal (false).

I’m finishing up my prep for our #SexNerdBookClub (renamed to Let’s Talk About Sex Book Club) that I’m facilitating this evening, re-reading Come As You Are by @enagoski – incredible, life-changing, career-changing book, that I cannot recommend it enough. And it’s full of myth-busting, patriarchy-dismantling sexuality information.

The biggest myth she blows out of the water? (And the one she consistently requests readers and followers to share with everyone?)- the idea that genital response matches sexual subjective arousal. The genital responses (hardness, wetness) are physiological/conditioned reflex, whereas subjective arousal happens between the ears, as sexual interest, desire, or pleasure. Male subjective arousal and genital response overlaps about 50% of the time, while for women, it’s 10%.

What does that mean? Your partner’s bodily response doesn’t indicate their subjective sexual interest or desire. Assuming so perpetuates harmful ideas around sex, including #RapeCulture. Yet, media gets this wrong, even the well-known Fifty Shades of Grey (which from a sexuality education perspective is so problematic I can’t bring myself to read or watch it; I know I’d just get annoyed).

Why does this happen? It’s thought that a woman’s body physiologically responds as a protective mechanism to sexually relevant information (ie if she was assaulted, her tissues would be protected; called the Preparation Hypothesis and and ). Netflix’s Sex Explained, which I had high hopes for, left the hypothesis out as well as Nagoski’s culturally appeal (do better next round, Netflix): “You must pay attention to your partner’s words rather than their genitals” More from Emily Nagoski on this topic here (a #tldr YouTube video):

What are your most frustrating (or most fascinating) sex myths? I think this #MythBustingMonday will become a regular feature on my website and social media, as there are so so many myths we need to offload (for sexuality and wellness in general). Interested in discussing sexuality more? Join us for Pleasure Cafes or one of our Let’s Talk About Sex Book Clubs.  Email or message me to rsvp. Happy myth-busting (and patriarchy-dismantling) y’all! #SexualotyCounselor #ComeAsYouAre #SexualWellbeing #HolisticHealth Picture is from Pexels


Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, copyright protected, please cite accordingly.  Originally posted to social media on 1/25/21.  Picture is from Pexels.

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