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March 22, 2010 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Sex interest filter

Clearly many men enjoy viewing photos or actually watching two females having sex and kissing. Why do straight men so enjoy this? And the reverse: do women enjoy watching two men involved sexually? Is that a turn on, as seems the case for men watching women?

I have heard various explanations but none thus far have fully convinced me.
posted by Postroad to Human Relations (39 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Straight men like sex. Straight men like women. Straight men like women having sex. Straight men have no interest in men having sex, 'cause they don't like them that way. Ergo, females doin' stuff to each other means they get to watch women, and watch sex, without having to insert a party who they're not interested in.

As for the latter: I know several women who'd say "hell yeah!" and others who would disagree, much as the "wooooo lesbians!" is by no means universal among straight (or bi) men.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:59 AM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


do women enjoy watching two men involved sexually?

Yes, some women do.

If you are interested in more than just video representations of sex, I'd like to introduce you to the wonderful world of male/male Slash Fiction, which is primarily written by women about fictionalized gay male relationships or homosexual encounters. Start with Archive of Our Own, nowadays.
posted by muddgirl at 10:59 AM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is something that has puzzled me for years as well -- if I see two men having sex and kissing, it's interesting, because it's sex, but no, I don't find specifically that a super turn-on the way many men seem to find two women doing it to be. Unfortunately, every man I've ever asked about this (maybe 5 or 6) has never been able to get past the "two women doing it" facet of the question long enough to help find an answer.
posted by JanetLand at 11:02 AM on March 22, 2010


I don't know if your question is completely answerable, but two datapoints:

Clearly many men enjoy viewing photos or actually watching two females having sex and kissing. Why do straight men so enjoy this?

I've known straight guys who don't enjoy seeing two women in sexual poses. On questioning, one guy told me that if they were interested in each other, they were probably less interested in him. It was very much an issue of being able to place himself in the scene, which he found impossible with "lesbian" porn.

And the reverse: do women enjoy watching two men involved sexually? Is that a turn on, as seems the case for men watching women?

Yes, some do. But I've also known women who prefer to see two women in sexual poses, despite being mostly or wholly straight.

It's hard to make generalizations by gender and sexuality, there's just so much difference.
posted by Sova at 11:05 AM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hmm... it's a common trope that men really love watching two women get it on but I've talked with a few guys that didn't find that very interesting. I think people's sex turn-ons can be pretty varied. Personally, I do find two guys pretty hot (as a hetero female) but women don't tend to talk as candidly about what they find hot, especially if it's outside the norm. Women aren't supposed to like anything beyond man-centered sex. And, actually, I prefer literature to visuals, so there's that difference as well (in terms of what I find hot -- sometimes visuals just look messy and complicated to me).

I don't know what kind of explanation you're hoping for. Humans generally like sex and find sex stuff sexy. I think that the porn industry has a vested interest in marketing the porn they are producing: "You will find this so HOTTTTT! Buy! Buy! Buy!" That can kind of skew the discussion.
posted by amanda at 11:05 AM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suspect that the whole "two women doin' it" thing has transcended beyond individual preference and into "culturally determined response" territory.
posted by muddgirl at 11:05 AM on March 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


And by "man-centered sex" what I really mean is hetero male-centric sex.
posted by amanda at 11:06 AM on March 22, 2010


i've known (straight) guys who don't like lesbian porn. i 've known girls who only watch lesbian porn even though they're straight. i (bisexual) like watching girl/guy, girl/girl, guy/guy, and trans porn.

really the pairings of genders is the least descriptive part of porn. some people like Vivid and Digital Desire, some people like Bang Bus and Ed Powers, some like Beautiful Agony and I Feel Myself, and some like amateur stuff (just to name a few types).

the only question you can really hope to find an answer to is "why do you specifically like X". the range of human sexuality is too large to say "guys like this" and "girls like this". defining guy and girl could take days and from there, the possibilities are nearly endless.
posted by nadawi at 11:17 AM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to think of where it was -- Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis? -- where the proprietors said their biggest gay-porn customers were lesbian women. Sex is a hugely fluid and complex thing, and the reasoning isn't always logical, so when people think they see a commonality between acts, they figure there must be a rule involved...but more often or not, there isn't, it's just coincidental similarities.
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:21 AM on March 22, 2010


I think Tomorrowful has it, from the purely visual side. In fact I'd say the same but more strongly: for many straight men, the sight of another man naked is not just "not interesting", it's an active turn-off. So watching a scene without such a detraction is better than watching one with.

However, I think for a lot of us there's more to it than just the visual aspect. There's a whole emotional aspect (stated, implied, or just plain imagined) that is fun too. We remember what it was like when we first started feeling attraction to women, and how awesome it is to have sex with a woman, so there's a kind of vicarious enjoyment from watching or reading about a woman experiencing that too. Hence the popularity of "first time" fiction of this nature, for example.

If one happens to actually know and like either or both of the women, then there's even just the plain old "someone I like is enjoying herself, and that makes me happy" aspect to it. For this you'd think it wouldn't make any difference if she was having fun with a man or a woman, but maybe it "works" better for us because the presence of another male is more threatening to either a current or a (hoped for) future relationship? Or just a plain old turn-off, too, in the visual sense again.
posted by FishBike at 11:21 AM on March 22, 2010


do women enjoy watching two men involved sexually?

Yes, some do. I have known straight women who prefer gay porn to straight because 1) the men are often better looking, and 2) the female porn star look can be offputting.
posted by Mavri at 11:23 AM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Men in general enjoy watching more than just two women kissing. Two, three, four .... it's all good.

From a biological "Why is this arousing to men" standpoint it represents multiple females that are all prepared to be mated with. You can spread your seed to several partners without having to leave the house.

Conversely, multiple men aren't going to do it for women. They can only be impregnated by one at a time regardless of how many there are.

That a basic biological argument anyway. Human sexuality is obviously a lot more complex than that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:31 AM on March 22, 2010


I am a homosexual woman and I enjoy watching men have sex with each other. Go figure.
posted by serazin at 11:38 AM on March 22, 2010


More vaginas, less cocks. It's pretty much a win/win for me.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:41 AM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is totally oversimplified, but:

Some straight dudes watch porn where women have sex with women because they want to fantasize about a situation that they would like to find in their bedroom, like two girls and zero dudes. Some straight dudes watch porn where men have sex with women because they want to fantasize about the kind of sex they like: sex where a dude has sex with a woman.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:51 AM on March 22, 2010


(I'm a woman.) The guys in porn are often butt ugly*. The girls tend to be less so. Fewer ugly people makes for better porn.

*I don't get this, either. In theory there's a much larger pool of guys to pick from, so it would be easier to find ones that don't suck.
posted by anaelith at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In general, when you're looking at porn, you have to recognize that most of the audience is only really INTO a subset of what they see on screen. The producers' goal is to include something for everyone without completely ruining anyone's day.

So if you're looking at a woman in high-heeled shoes smoking a cigarette and watching her friend masturbate, it's because one segment of the audience is going to go "OMG MASTURBATION" and ignore the rest; another is going to go "OMG CIGARETTE" and ignore the rest; another is going to go "OMG SHOES" and ignore the rest; and so on. Maybe a few of 'em happen to be into the whole combination — but you shouldn't assume that they all are.

It's the same way with girl-on-girl scenes in straight porn. Some guys love them. Some guys are indifferent to them. But very few guys are totally turned off by them — and that means that producers include them, because why not? It's one more segment of the audience that you're pleasing, at no cost to the rest.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:13 PM on March 22, 2010


An explanation that I've heard was that historically, male-male homosexuality is threatening to the social hierarchy; men deciding to be with men instead of women means their lines will not be carried on. Women, on the other hand, have historically lacked the power to get out of the patriarchal system, and so if they are lesbians on the side-- with co-wives, for example-- it is not something that damages the overall social structure. This is more of an explanation for why society as a whole finds lesbians far less threatening than gay men, but being less threatening does make men more able to find them hot.

It's also possible (likely?) that this is what informed the social construction/culturally determined response that muddgirl is talking about.
posted by NoraReed at 12:16 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


My male friend theorized that when men are watching porn, of course they are imagining themselves participating. Two girls having sex with them means twice as much sex, and that is good; basically the seed thing mentioned above.

He also said that in some cases, including himself sometimes, a man's ego liked to believe that the women were just SO turned on by him that they just couldn't help themselves, and had to do each other to be satisfied.

Just reporting on what others have said to me. :)
posted by Melismata at 12:29 PM on March 22, 2010


Where I was raised (which is a modern, liberal country) men learn not to be gay. Watching two guys perform will generally be considered a gay act. Not so for two girls.
posted by oxit at 12:34 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a human sexuality class I took, the theory they gave for "why guys like to watch two girls" was that subconsciously, there was the fantasy that it could turn into a threesome.

In an article I read about "why are straight women into gay fanfiction", one of the women interviewed offered this anecdotal explanation: "Imagine one guy is like a scoop of ice cream. Now - one scoop of ice cream is good. But if you put a second scoop on TOP of that first scoop, it's even better." In other words: watching one guy do sexythings is hot. So watching two guys have sex means you're watching double the guys doing double the sexythings.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:01 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


anaelith - ron jeremy famously talks about how he started earning more and being in more demand when he got heavier. the thought behind this was that men watching at home would like to believe that a totally ugly dude could bed the hottest girl in town. now, in ron jeremy's case, having an absurdly huge penis and the ability to get hard and shoot on demand didn't hurt. your comment about there being an assumed larger pool of guys to pull from seems sound, but when you think about guys that are hung, able to perform under porn shoot conditions, and don't mind making 1/4 (or less) of what the girls make - that pool shrinks (haha).

the trend in ugly guys seems to be reversing. i think it's a combination of more women and bi guys watching/buying porn (and more female/bi-guys directors/producers), myspace culture (easier for guys to post pictures, get noticed, etc without having to have connections) and viagra. there's still certainly some of the old guard performing - the classics never go out of style - but the industry seems to have a lot more of the dane cook, james deen, lexington steele type guys now.
posted by nadawi at 1:13 PM on March 22, 2010


All these attempts at explanation are really cracking me up. I mean, I suppose there's a reason we are into whatever we are into and you could maybe make a matrix and everyone would fall into some category eventually. But, it would be a pretty big chart and I don't know what real conclusions you could draw from it.

I don't watch much porn but whenever I do, I'm constantly asking: "Why!? Why are they doing that? What are they wearing? How is that even remotely pleasurable?" Because frequently what I see there is stuff that seems so very divorced from reality that I can't quite contemplate why it's there in the first place. Though, to be fair, putting sexy feelings that happen in our brains on screen is, I suppose, a pretty difficult endeavor.

Discussing what makes porn marketable verses what turns people on is two very different discussions. This is why muddgirl's comment deserved so many favorites -- nail on the head, in my opinion.
posted by amanda at 1:31 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whenever it appears on my screen, (meaning whenever I have willingly sought it out) I am wondering about the "shoot," and if there is a f/f scene, I figure it's part of a days work for those people, and they'll probably go home or go out for drinks afterward in Encino or Reseda, whatever, it's a job or a way to score the next hit or something.

Somewhat of a buzzkill.
posted by Danf at 1:46 PM on March 22, 2010


I have no interest in in watching lesbian sex acts. That said, 4 boobs are better than 2, so thumbs up to lesbian porn.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:52 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Currently google-fu is failing to find a study I recall reading from several years ago about a controlled study with physical arousal in response to different types of pornography in straight, bi and gay self-identified men and women, and 2 transgendered people (M to F). This study was new and different because of the inclusion of transgendered, and physical sexual response measurements (as opposed to self-reporting). I believe there was an infrared device placed on clitorises which measured blood flow, and a device which measured changes in penis circumference.

More or less, what it showed was that in male brains (and in those that were formerly male) there was a black and white sexual response: You got turned on by naked men, or you did not. You preferred one gender or the other. Women had a much more mixed response, being able to be aroused by both genders fairly equally, no matter the self-idendified sexual orientation. The exception to this was transgendered women (formerly male), who were aroused only by one gender.

The study had a somewhat explosive response from bi-sexual communities, who felt the study concluded that bi-sexual men didn't exist. I'm not suggesting any such conclusion, sexual identity being a whole lot more involved than penile blood flow, but it would seem to suggest that women as an abstract whole, could be aroused by male-male porn, while straight men would not.

This NYT "sciency digest" report seems to be talking about a similar study, but as I said, I'm currently unable to find the article I recall.
posted by fontophilic at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The book Bonk delves into studies like the one fontophilic us talking about. I recall there was one about watching Bonobos (monkey) go at it and though women claimed it was not sexy, for some of them their arrousal betrayed them. Men were more apt (I think) to have their stated arrousal match the physical signs. Therefore, I think we can all deduce that there's an untapped market for women-centered bonobo nsfw material. I do think it's pretty interesting that our brains can be doing one thing while our bodies do another. If you're interested in this topic, read Bonk - hilarious and enlightening!
posted by amanda at 4:08 PM on March 22, 2010


I like penises

OH THERE ARE TWO PENISES? TELL ME MORE! This is the attraction of man-man sex for me.

Straight guys like all sorts of things, some guys like women kissing, some don't. There's no explanation for it that will convince you if you, personally, don't like it. Some part of me will never understand straight people (or gay people) because I'm neither. It's okay. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

There are much weirder fetishes/turn-ons out there! Vive la différence!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:15 PM on March 22, 2010


Female with amorphous/nonspecific sexual preferences here: I like watching hot humans get it on with other hot humans.

In the event of extraterrestrial contact, I will probably enjoy watching hot humanoid aliens getting it on with hot humans or other hot humanoid aliens. For this, I blame James T. Kirk.
posted by elizardbits at 4:20 PM on March 22, 2010


All these attempts at explanation are really cracking me up.

I don't watch much porn but whenever I do, I'm constantly asking: "Why!? Why are they doing that? What are they wearing? How is that even remotely pleasurable?" Because frequently what I see there is stuff that seems so very divorced from reality that I can't quite contemplate why it's there in the first place. Though, to be fair, putting sexy feelings that happen in our brains on screen is, I suppose, a pretty difficult endeavor.

Discussing what makes porn marketable verses what turns people on is two very different discussions. This is why muddgirl's comment deserved so many favorites -- nail on the head, in my opinion.


The fact that you don't happen to understand why some people are aroused by it doesn't mean there's no explanation for other people's arousal. As a straight man, I don't necessarily understand why some men are attracted to other men, but I assume there's some explanation. Maybe it's considered more acceptable to ridicule straight men's arousal tendencies than to ridicule those of gay men (or women), but that doesn't mean there's no legitimate explanation to be given.

Muddgirl's answer that it's "culturally determined" is highly suspect. I mean, are we supposed to imagine that, say, the media (being one example of "culture") just up and decided to send a message that straight men are aroused by lesbian sex? Why would the media want to do that if not to make money off of what men are actually aroused by? There's no question that the media does send this message, and I'm sure it has some influence on what men get turned on by (or, definitely, what they claim to get turned on by). But the media wouldn't be capitalizing on that idea if it didn't tap into straight men's actual sexuality. I don't see the point in denying that this sexuality is genuine. Of course you're right that marketing isn't the same as what people are actually turned on by (I'll be the first to complain that supermodels and movie actresses don't have much connection to my tastes in women), but the two aren't unrelated either.

Here are my explanations -- I'll bet these are all factors though I'm not claiming that any/all of these are the full explanation:

1. As noted above, it's an opportunity to see a woman (well, women, but that's begging the question) doing a sexual act, and it's pretty obvious why that's arousing to straight men. But there's also no man involved, which is a bonus because straight men might be turned off or just bored by seeing another man. We could debate whether that's "biological" or "cultural" (I don't know why it can't be both), but I don't think anyone would seriously deny that this is the case.

2. There may be an unconscious reaction, and I'm not saying this is at all rational: "Wow, these girls are wild and deviant! They're open to any kind of sexual experimentation!" Subtext: they'd be open to doing all sorts of wild sexual things with me. I wouldn't agree with these statements if someone said them literally, but these are just my attempts to capture a pre-reflective impulse. For whatever reason, there is a tendency to assume that lesbians aren't really lesbians but are just experimenting.

3. Related to #2: men are often excited at the idea that a woman enjoys the kinds of things that you'd think only guys enjoy, like sports. And having sex with women is one of those things. (Of course, you wouldn't rationally think that only men enjoy sex with women, or sports for that matter, but I'm not talking about rational thought here.) Now, I personally was nauseated by Tucker Carlson gushing over the announcement of Palin as McCain's running mate and saying he's excited about the idea of a woman who goes hunting. But I can't deny that he was expressing something that many men feel.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:21 PM on March 22, 2010


A lot of people seem to derive enjoyment from porn by mentally inserting themselves into the scenario. For male/female porn, men can mentally take on the role of the man, and for female/female, they can add themselves to the action. Which they find easier will have some effect on their preferences.

On the other hand, lots of people just like looking at sexy sex happening. I'm a straight female, and I get turned on by male/female, female/female, male/male, trans, and nature documentaries.
posted by miagaille at 4:36 PM on March 22, 2010


I mean, are we supposed to imagine that, say, the media (being one example of "culture") just up and decided to send a message that straight men are aroused by lesbian sex? Why would the media want to do that if not to make money off of what men are actually aroused by?

There's a pretty complex interaction between consumers and producers of media, and it's no different for porn than it is for any other product. Yes, content producers do attempt to drive demand. I am not. NOT. arguing that there aren't lots of men who love or even prefer woman-on-woman pornography. But also think there's a lot of men who don't care one way or another about it, enjoy it if they see it, but are sort of swept up in this "Lesbians are hotttt" meme.
posted by muddgirl at 5:00 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do straight men so enjoy this?

Not all straight men are hugely turned on by "lesbian" porn. I like naked women; seeing two naked women together is nice because there are two of them, which is twice the nakedness. Their kissing each other is not a turn on for me, either because it is totally fakey (eg most porn) or totally separated from me (eg actual lesbians). For many other guys, two women together is hot, for all the reasons mentioned above. The point being, it's not actually universal, despite what Maxim will tell you.

And the reverse: do women enjoy watching two men involved sexually? Is that a turn on, as seems the case for men watching women?

Some yes, some no, as the answers above will tell you. Equally, some hetero women like watching "lesbian" porn, straight porn, or whatever other kind of porn. The market for porn can be kind of funny, especially in the internet age where it is possible to drill down to your most particular interest and bypass everything else.
posted by Forktine at 5:21 PM on March 22, 2010


For example, we can at the same time admit that many men are turned on by "two lesbians doing it" and also question "Why did Randall Munroe chose that specific fantasy for this comic?"

Maybe two women having sex is a safer, less x-rated fantasy? Compared to, say, anal? (another interesting sex act to study in relation to its popularity and pornography)
posted by muddgirl at 6:59 PM on March 22, 2010


I should have written "Maybe two women having sex is perceived as a safer, less x-rated fantasy."
posted by muddgirl at 7:00 PM on March 22, 2010


For me, and me only*, the girl-girl scene has to be "believable" (within my fantasy world) to be sexy, same as all other porn.

If there's a decent-looking guy between, say, 25 and 50 yo (I'm 45), in the scene, I can "be" him, and it can work for my libido. If the guy's too young (twinkish), too old, too fat, too ugly (hey, it's my fantasy - I don't want to be ugly in it!), deal's off.

Same problem for porn involving black or Asian guys. I don't have the racial-cuckold thing going on in my head, and I can't believe myself as that AA dude or the Japanese guy, so the porn has no spice.

It even extends to the women - as I age, I find porn with 20-yo babes less appealing, since they're not women I could see myself getting it on with. 40yo's with real-body flaws have become very erotic, by contrast.

So, yeah: I guess I definitely project myself into all-girl sex scenes.

* True for me only. I'm one in a million. So, it's true for at least 7 million people. Maybe more.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:18 PM on March 22, 2010


I and probably most men get turned on by the fantasy/suggestion of a threesome.
posted by spacefire at 8:11 PM on March 22, 2010


This nytimes article may be an interesting read:

What Do Women Want?
posted by TheOtherSide at 6:04 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's the bonobo story! Thanks, TheOtherSide!
posted by amanda at 9:45 AM on March 23, 2010


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