Women are from Venus and men are from Mars: most people are familiar with this saying, which is intended to illustrate how different men and women are. What we now know to be true, however, is that there are more differences among men and among women, than between men and women.
But, there are some things that are distinctly different; one of those things being men’s and women’s responses to erotic media. When men view erotic media – aka, porn – they tend to get aroused watching the gender/sex they’re sexually attracted to, whereas they do not become aroused by their non-desired gender/sex. This goes for both gay and straight men.
Women, on the other hand, tend to become physiologically aroused in response to anything sexual, regardless of their sexual orientation. This can even include animals having sex.
Now this doesn’t mean that women WANT to have sex with everything! Physiological sexual arousal response is not the same as psychological desire or arousal.
Several studies have shown that women have what’s called lower mind-body concordance than men. What this means is that sometimes there can be a disconnect between what the brain is thinking and feeling sexually, and what’s happening in the genitals.
It’s thought that this is an adaptation that happened way back in our evolutionary history, when unwanted sex was the norm.
To protect itself from being damaged, the vagina lubricates in response to anything sexual, even if unwanted and upsetting. This also helps to explain why many women will report physiological sexual arousal (but not desire or psychological arousal) while being sexually assaulted; this often leads to confusion, misattribution of responsibility, and a whole whack of guilt and shame.
Safron, A., Sylva, D., Klimaj, V., Rosenthal, A. M., & Bailey, J. M. (2020). Neural Responses to Sexual Stimuli in Heterosexual and Homosexual Men and Women: Men’s Responses Are More Specific. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(2), 433-445.
Chivers, M. L., Rieger, G., Latty, E., & Bailey, J. M. (2004). A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal. Psychological Science, 15(11), 736–744