Myth Debunked: Men are more visual than women

It never ceases to amaze me the stories I’m told when I mention to someone, particularly a female, that I’m interested in sexuality. It’s as if they don’t have a friend to confide in and they know I won’t judge them for what they’re about to tell me.

Whatever their reasoning, I’m certainly not complaining. Besides making my life a heck of a lot more interesting,  it gives me additional experiences, besides simply my own, to use to debunk popular assumptions such as, “Men are more visual than women.” But we can even break it down a bit more than that…

Women are fully capable of being visually attracted to a man’s body.

Case in point.

Last week one of my co-workers and I got together for lunch. She is also a Christian and happened to graduate from the same small, private, liberal arts, Christian college that I attended. We hadn’t known each other while in school and this lunch was the first time we had ever gotten together to talk. After I mentioned my interest in sexuality she proceeded to tell me that during her time in college, she was often distracted in one of her theology classes by her male professor’s butt. She often had to remind herself throughout class to stop looking at it.

Women are fully capable of seeing an attractive man and objectifying him.

Here are just two examples from my own life:

  1. Guy runs by with his shirt off, his body glistening with sweat. I find my eyes following him down the path. My mind jumps to all the things I could do to him if I could just reach out and touch him= man as sex toy.
  2. Want to know why “Think Like a Man” is one of my favorite movies ever (besides Kevin Hart being hilarious of course)! Michael Ealy.

Enough said. And trust me, his eyes aren’t the only parts of his body that are to die for. Do you know how badly I want to be Taraji Henson’s character in that movie? Every day of my life! That may be a tad over dramatic, but probably not by much.

Women are fully capable of replaying sexual fantasies or pornographic scenes in their minds.

One of my male friends recently told me that the first time he realized that women were as visual as men was when one of his female friends told him that she replayed movie scenes in her head while running. These movie scenes weren’t erotic in any way. I guess he had taken the idea that women weren’t visual to mean that we didn’t have the ability to visualize images in our minds.

Now I don’t know how other people interpret the idea that women aren’t visual, but interpreting it in that way is certainly not true. And not only can we replay scenes we’ve watched or pull up pictures we’ve seen (both erotic and otherwise), we’ve also got a fantastic imagination. Just because I’ve never seen it, doesn’t mean I can’t watch it happen in my head.


As human beings, male and female, we are all wired to notice and be attracted to beauty. With regards to our sexuality, we are all designed to be attracted to people we find physically attractive. I won’t pretend to know how it works for you, but usually I notice someone is physically attractive because I see them. Just saying.

As Christians, we are called to live holy lives and this comes into play with how we deal with the visual stimulus around us. How do I react to my attraction to the half naked man running down my street? How do I react to the erotic image that just popped up in my head? The fact these things happen is part of our sexual nature. How we choose to react to them has to come from our understanding of what is means to live a holy life.


Also, I don’t want it to go unsaid that women can be physically aroused by visual stimulus. Don’t assume we aren’t or can’t be. Carry on.


9 thoughts on “Myth Debunked: Men are more visual than women

  1. Truth! Sometimes I wish I could turn it all off… but I love how you said, “As human beings, male and female, we are all wired to notice and be attracted to beauty.” Yet and still, as saved children of God, we are given the choice to cast down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (i.e. what I know He stands for) Claim the victory in the midst of the battle and fight it… a lot of what feels good is not good for you! Keep your mind pure. Cool off somewhere…

    • Sometimes it does seem like it would be easier to turn it off. There are many things in life I wish I could control in that way, but it’s all or nothing and I’d rather it all then have none of it. What a sad life that would. We are broken and as such will struggle and fall at times, but we also have the power and victory of Christ and we can have hope in that! Hope that every day we are being molded more into God’s likeness and hope in his promise that he will be faithful to us!

      • I wonder if anyone has ever considered the social implications of all of this. What I mean is that what we find attractive visually and how we respond to it is extremely influenced by our culture. And, in my opinion, the standards we are given for beauty in our culture (and our subsequent trained responses to that “beauty”) are very limited and based on status/power. Beauty is often seen as a symbol of status to be possessed, used, and discarded for something more beautiful later. It seems unwise to categorize people based on this restricted definition of beauty.

        I am female and I am often visually stimulated throughout life – not just in my sex life – and notice all sorts of interesting (to me) shapes, lines, colors, compositions, juxtapositions, textures, little details, etc. This might have to do with being an artist, but it definitely also intersects with my erotic life. However, for me, what I interpret as beautiful can be very broad. It’s not about someone else’s idea of beauty at all but instead based on how I feel in the presence of someone or something that makes me feel that there is beauty to be seen. Then how I look at that person is influenced by those feelings, by something real and more than just on the surface.

        So basically, beauty is an experience not unlike the viewing of a painting. Perhaps that painting has not been created in some traditional way. Maybe it’s abstract and we’re not sure what to make of it at first. But then after a while of being with that painting we begin to experience a pull, a draw towards it that we can’t really put into words. Something about it starts to affect us and it makes us *feel* something unique and internal. We find it appealing but aren’t sure why or how to explain it. After that experience, that feeling, we decide this painting is beautiful even though (or perhaps even because) it doesn’t conform to the traditional “rules” we’ve come to expect from paintings. Looking at that painting can then be a source of joy and comfort for us. It can make us feel like coming home after a long day and being right where we belong. No line ever seems out of place, no color the wrong shade, no mark ever seen as an artist’s mistake. We accept it for everything it is and isn’t.

        This is how I feel about human beauty. There may be the initial recognition of “traditional” beauty standards but after a while of experiencing that person we may truly and holistically begin to see them as beautiful based on how that particular person makes us feel – based on how we experience them as other human beings. If that experience goes poorly and we decide this person is not holistically beautiful yet we still find them desirable, I believe this points to a bifurcation of the human psyche where we have been taught to separate affection from arousal (or love from sex) creating unhealthy states of mind and being. Objectification (or making a human being into an object for our own selfish, gratuitous pleasure) is the only way to continue to see incredible beauty where subjectively there is only a person whom we might not even like.

        Our culture is hell-bent on objectifying everyone and so we learn that behavior within our social confines. That doesn’t mean that objectification is our normal way of looking but only how we’ve been taught to look. I think we would do better learning other ways, taking the time to discover other techniques for looking that don’t conform to all of the usual standards, status symbols, and selfish responses.

  2. “Also, I don’t want it to go unsaid that women can be physically aroused by visual stimulus. Don’t assume we aren’t or can’t be. ”

    It is a clinically proven fact that women can experience phyical sexual arousal while viewing stimulating imagery. The catch is, they may not necesarily be emotionally aroused. They will involutarily lubricate and their bloodpressure, heart and respiratory indicators will increase accordingly, but though aroused, they will not necessarily manifest sexual desire or act upon it. I wish I could cite the study but do not have the information readily available. I possibly read it in some of David Schnarch’s writings.

    • Hi userdand! Thanks for commenting and adding that info. I will definitely look for that study, but if you ever remember what it’s called I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know. I would love to read it! I wonder if a reason that women don’t act upon their sexual desire is because of the narratives that society tells us about how men and women should behave- particularly with regards to their sexuality and sexual expression. I’m assuming that there are similar studies showing that men are more apt to act upon their sexual desires.

      • I have done soooo much reading on sexuality latey without taking notes but I don’t have the source readily avialable, I will do some sleuthing when time permits.It was a study where women college students (Whom else? A bunch of women in a chruch group? The sample population alone, because of hormonal and cognitive differences from the broader population as a whole, could skew the data) They had instrumentation attached and “inserted” and were studied as they observed images of bonobos copulating. Although not emotionally stimulated or aroused, the women did experience vulvar, and vaginal responses including lubrication and vaginal distension. They also experienced other subtle physiological responses of a cardio and respiratory nature typical of sexual arousal. Again, they did not experience arousal of the nature they did when looking at pornographic imagesor sexual partners,,i.e. they did not feel the urge to sexually satisfy themselves or be sexually satisfied by another. The point being that the visual stmulus did create arousal. Women are also susceptible to visual cues to the point of reaching arousal threshold if not including orgasmic threshold. Well, DUH!?

        As a clinical aside that somewhat ties to your quesions as to acting out upon stimulus and arousal by women, I was wondering about another possible study. I am sure you too have been caught in the embarrassed crowd when the male monkey at the zoo begins masturbating. or spanking the monkey. It got me to wondering. Since male monkeys are so open about masturbating, are females the same?. I realize they may have to be in season to experience the necessary hormonal impetus, but do they masturbate, even if they are more discreet about it and less frequent. You can see where I feel that may provide information critical to your questions.

        I have also wonderd if ANYBODY has done an even simple survey asking this one quesion of women: How many times in a day do you have sexual thoughts? God forbid the question should have to be worded “time in a week” instead, ruling out the possibility of daily. The answer to that one question could be so depressing for men to hear. The problem is it is difficult to ask they quesion to a broad spectrum of the population. How may over 40’s would answer truthfully, if at all. And how may hormonal under 40’s would skew the data?

  3. I am going to have to establish another gravatr account I guess. There are times I want to comment without the image outing me to others and it seems to follow the email address without an instant “don’t use now” option when on any wordpress site.

  4. Pingback: » 5 ways a woman can watch

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