Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, September 28, 2006
The Difference Between the Male and Female Brain
by Mark Kastleman
Significant differences exist between the male and female brains. Although what follows has been meticulously gathered from the research and writings of leading scientists and psychologists, it is by no means a hard and fast rule or description of every man and every woman. Every person is different and unique.
However, the facts clearly bear out that for nearly all men and women there are significant differences between the male and female brain. This means that in most cases, men and women do not behave, feel, think, or respond in the same ways, either on the inside or on the outside.
The male brain is highly specialized, using specific parts of one hemisphere or the other to accomplish specific tasks. The female brain is more diffused and utilizes significant portions of both hemispheres for a variety of tasks.
Men are able to focus on narrow issues and block out unrelated information and distractions. Women naturally see everyday things from a broader, “big-picture” vantage point.
Men can narrowly focus their brains on specific tasks or activities for long periods of time without tiring. Women are better equipped to divide their attention among multiple activities or tasks.
Men are able to separate information, stimulus, emotions, relationships, etc. into separate compartments in their brains, while women tend to link everything together.
Men see individual issues with parts of their brain, while women look at the holistic or multiple issues with their whole brain (both hemispheres).
Men have as much as 20 times more testosterone in their systems than do women. This makes men typically more aggressive, dominant and more narrowly focused on the physical aspects of sex.
In men, the dominant perceptual sense is vision, which is typically not the case with women. All of a woman’s senses are, in some respects, more finely tuned than those of a man.
Pornographers incorporate male/female differences into the design and marketing of their wares. Just because something might not appeal to a man doesn’t mean that a woman won’t be attracted to it and vice versa.
Perhaps the greatest impact of the male/female brain differences is how men and women view sexuality and intimacy. It is important to understand the differences in these views in order to comprehend the vulnerabilities men and women have to Internet pornography and cybersex chatrooms. Internet pornographers are cognizant of these differences and market differently to each set of potential customers.
Again, the insights that follow are not absolutes but represent what most therapists, psychologists, and scientists consider to be the majority of men and women. The facts are not listed in any particular order and are not intended to be a complete study. Rather, they are intended to help you understand the unique male and female views of sexual intimacy as a result of the differences in their respective brain structures.
Special Note: The descriptions that follow are the findings of professionals who have dedicated their lives to the study of male and female sexuality. You will note that some of the male descriptions are not very flattering; many paint a downright cold, animalistic picture. Unfortunately, the descriptions represent a large cross section of the male population in our society. And with Internet porn and cybersex in the forefront, these common attitudes are growing.
Let me clearly state that I do not believe that men (or women) are locked into these negative stereotypes. We each have the inner capacity, strength, and innate goodness to rise above animal/sexual instinct if we choose to. We are not dogs; we are not forced into the reactive-impulse mode from which the Internet pornographers profit. I believe that we are so much better than that. I believe that the potential of human intimacy is light-years ahead of what is portrayed on the sterile screen of Internet porn.
Women See Relationships, Men See Body Parts
Anne Moir and David Jessel, in their book Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women, write:
Women are not, in the main, turned on by pictures of nudes . . . Women may be aroused by pictures of couples coupling—because what they are seeing, in however sterile a sexual context, is a relationship in action. Women are not excited by a picture of male genitalia by itself . . . Men like female genital close-ups in porn magazines because it is a thing to which they can imagine doing things. Sex for men is vastly impersonal—pornography is simply meat for men. Do they ever wonder who the nude is? Not for a moment. They wonder what they would do to her.
Men want sex, and women want relationships. Men want flesh and women want love. Just as boys wanted balloons, toys, and carburetors, the girls have always wanted contact, and communion, and company.
The female mind is organized to place priority on relationship, the male on achievement. Men keep a tally of their sexual conquests. The female brain is not organized to keep sex in a separate compartment. This is a male model—as if his brain has a specific filing cabinet for sex, completely unrelated to emotion.
(This ability to compartmentalize is why a man can put his involvement with pornography in one compartment—or cellular-memory group—in his brain, and his relationship with his wife in another. He may consider the two to be completely unrelated. Many men can’t understand why their wife makes such a big emotional fuss when she finds out he has been viewing pornography.)
In her book The First Sex, Helen Fisher writes:
In a 1920s study of several hundred American men and women, 65 percent of the men said that they had done some peering through a bedroom window. Only 20 percent of the women had done any stealthy ogling. Men are more turned on by visual stimuli. They use pornographic materials of every kind more frequently than women do. When they fantasize, they conjure up more images of coitus and body parts, the explicit details of sex itself.
Women, too, are excited by visual erotica, although women are not as turned on by it as men are. Women are much more aroused than men by romantic words, images, and themes in films and stories. Women’s sexual fantasies include more affection and commitment. Women often dwell on their own emotional reactions. And they are more than twice as likely to think about a sex partner’s emotional characteristics. . . . Flowers, oils, candlelight, satin sheets, fluffy towels: when women fantasize about sex, they conjure up the textures, sounds, and smells, all of the ambience surrounding sex, more regularly than men. Women also like more kissing, hugging, stroking, and cuddling during sex. In short, women place the act of intercourse within a wider physical context.
“Men think having orgasm is having sex. That’s the difference,” remarked one woman in a recent survey. There is a kernel of truth in what she says. Female sexuality is nested in a broader lattice of emotions, a wider range of physical sensations, and a more extensive social and environmental context—all reflections of feminine web thinking. Men’s sex drive is far more focused on the act of copulation itself—yet another example of men’s propensity to compartmentalize the world around them and focus their attention on specific elements.
Diane Hales, in her book Just Like a Woman, quotes Beverly Whipple, president of the American Association of Sex Education Counselors and Therapists, and mixes in her own insights:
“Women have a variety of sexual responses, and not all fit in with the monolithic pattern described by Masters and Johnson,” says Whipple. “Female sexual response may be much more complex than anyone ever guessed.” Men, she notes, tend to view sex—like many other things—in a linear way. To them, a sexual encounter is like descending a staircase that leads step by step to only one endpoint: ejaculation. Woman’s sexuality, like our ways of taking in and thinking about the world, is more holistic.
“I see female sexual response in a circle, with every aspect of sexual interaction—touching, kissing, hugging—as a pleasurable endpoint in itself,” Whipple says. For women, the process of making love—the holding and the hugging and the tenderness—can be as emotionally gratifying as orgasm itself, and sometimes even more so.
When women experience sex not as a ten-nine-eight countdown to climax, not as quest or test, but in terms of sensing, knowing, and feeling what one poet calls “the song of life singing” through them, then Eros offers more than mere physical gratification. This may indeed be what sex was meant to be—an experience that touches the essence of who we are in ways not unlike a spiritual revelation.
The structure of the male brain vs. the female brain is very different. As a result, men and women and teenage boys and girls, do not react to nor view sexuality and intimacy the same ways. Pornographers approach the male and female markets differently. What seems harmless, uninteresting, or meaningless to a woman may be extremely powerful and addictive to a man or vice versa. We must be aware of what materials, stimuli, and circumstances make men and women and teenage boys and girls, most vulnerable and at greatest risk when it comes to pornography, chatrooms, movies, TV programs, etc.
In another article I will discuss how Internet pornographers, knowing male and female brain differences, use different techniques to attract male and female customers. I will also discuss one of the most important concepts you will ever learn regarding the impact of pornography on the human brain: The Funnel of Sexual Intimacy.
Mark B. Kastleman is the author of the revolutionary new book titled The Drug of the New Millennium—the Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body—A Guide for Parents, Spouses, Clergy and Counselors. Many leading scientists, psychologists, therapists and religious leaders consider this book to be one of the most important works ever written on this subject, and a must-read for parents, spouses, clergy and counselors.