Psychology Subconscious Sexual Attraction Term Paper

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Sexual Attraction

Subconscious Sexual Attraction and Gender

Sexual desire is a complex science, perhaps equally impacted by sociological imperatives as by innate biological imperatives. While physical attractiveness constitutes one basic and salient reason that individuals are drawn to one another, this feature only serves as part of the explanation for what causes unilateral or mutual desire. A host of other subconscious factors enter into the reaction that is triggered when one individuals is sexually attracted to another. As the discussion hereafter will demonstrate, sexual attraction is influenced by a subconscious-level reading of DNA and a fulfillment of gender-loaded biological imperatives. The discussion will additionally demonstrate that while procreation is often the biological and the subconscious engine driving sexual attraction, sociological forces such as control and patriarchy have also long played a part in how gendered sexuality is studied, discussed and even how it is manifested. These sociological and biological forces converge to create the subconscious level of desire that is at issue in the present discussion.


Part and parcel to understanding sexual attraction is recognizing that several distinct characteristics separate the sexual behavior of men and women. Among these characteristic, the male gender is far more prone to a wide range of non-committed sexual behaviors that suggest attraction is driven by surface desires for sexual gratification. To this point, according to the article by Schmitt (2003), "among those men and women who are actively pursuing short-term mates, over 50% of men (but less than 20% of women) desire more than one sexual partner in the next month." (Schmitt, 14) This is a finding that is largely consistent with studies across cultures and experimental frameworks, indicating that male sexual desire creates a greater propensity toward multiple partners, toward promiscuity and toward attraction that is more primal than rational, if one presumes that procreation is the rational desire of sexual gratification.

At the base of a discussion on the relationship between gender difference and a differential in sexual attraction is a basic recognition that male and female humans are primarily differentiated by sexual organs and the functions of these organs. A historical product of a reigning patriarchy in sexual science was the common perspective that women could be differentiated from men primarily in their role as the vessel for procreation. It was widely held that where female sex organs were constructed for fertilization and procreation, male sex organs were contrarily designed for the purpose of sexual intercourse. Such is to imply that historically, biologists have generally framed discussions of sexual desire in a context to suggest that such was typically exhibited by men as a product of hormonal instinct, and in contrast to women, who it was believed were likely to be of a more sexually conservative nature by that very same chemical imperative.

An evolution in the discussion of sexual desire has gradually recast our collective understanding of female desire as far more nuanced, complex and, like male sexuality, not inherently driven only by the urge to procreate. However, as this combines with the sociological forces that define, qualify and moralize our sexual behavior, certain pressures do differentiate the sexual behavior of the genders. Specifically, the text by Jensen (2007) asserts that as a consequence of the "patriarchal system in which we live, a key site of men's oppression of women -- a key method of control and domination -- is sexuality." (Jensen, p. 48) In other words, because our society is so notably tilted to favor the empowerment of men and the sublimation of female desires, sexual intercourse will frequently function as an extension of this imbalance of power. This remains a powerful force driving subconscious male sexual attraction and, simultaneously, repressing female sexual attraction.

This is not a strictly sociological phenomenon however. Research demonstrates that in fact, we may be wired as genders to reach a point of sexual attraction in decidedly different ways. The subconscious desires driving us to choose partners are at once different and, by virtue of this difference, often compatible. The research by The Esybron Institute Female Sexuality Research Center (EIFSRC) (2007) argues that the core difference between male and female sexual attraction is the ability of the former to achieve sexual gratification without establishing emotional intimacy. According to the EIFSRC, "man's sexual desire is typically omnipresent, ready to spring into action at the slightest hint of a sexual encounter. His desire is, for all practical…[continue]

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