Willow ([info]the_willow) wrote,
@ 2011-08-24 15:36:00

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Current mood: introspective
Entry tags:thinky thoughts

Chewing On Thoughts
Mostly inspired by a link via Kaz: Lavvyan: Sexuality It Doesn't Work That Way. This may seem like a fundamental and simple question. But well, reading some things I find myself confused and needing some input: What is Sexual Attraction?

I think I know what romantic attraction might be. Enough so I can stick a pin in it for now - given that having people writing about asexuality or talking about it in my general net vincinity for the past 5 or so years led to me going "Oh, sexuality and romance aren't/don't have to be linked."

Actually I think I have a two part question: What Is Sexual Attraction & How Is It Different From Sexual Arousal?

I'm guessing this is some 101 type stuff. But, I have read enough to know that trying to research that over the net could get me into some very scary, shaming, confused places. So... input would be nice. The more starting data I have, the more I can wrap my hands around the question, enough to try and hunt down an answer.

ETA: **head tilt** Is Sexual Attraction the piece that leads to objectification? Ok, I realize I can get this stuff theoretically. But more personally/locally - the whole lusting after the bare assess of various actors (m & f).



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[info]yeloson
2011-08-25 12:21 am UTC (link)
I don't have any full definitions, but I think it's worth noting that sexual arousal can happen from a bunch of things and sometimes nothing at all.

In adolescence, hormones meant having an erection nearly 2/3rds the day and at random. Sometimes now, just walking down the street it kicks off.

Sexual attraction, I would think, would be different in that there's some acknowledgement by the conscious about what's stimulating you, instead of it just being, "I don't even know. Nothing really. I'm actually not really in the mood for sex, despite all the other physiological signals being there."

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[info]the_willow
2011-08-25 12:33 am UTC (link)
Thinking on things, I'm finding a whole lot of should and expectations which is often a clue to me to pull off the trap and see what's under there. And at the very basic is that arousal somehow equals attraction.

And I'm stunned. Because since I was young, I got very mad at orgasm = no rape. Not that I saw it that way, my more intimate experience was tickling. You can be laughing and giggling, but that doesn't mean you're enjoying someone in your space. Body reaction doesn't 'win' - except for when expectations are set up to make you believe so, perhaps.

**chewing the thoughts**

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[info]yeloson
2011-08-25 12:48 am UTC (link)
I got very mad at orgasm = no rape.

Yeah. This the other side of the that conversation. You can press parts of the body and make things go numb, force the body to drop it's blood pressure, just because the body is wired for these reactions doesn't mean it's what you want.

A lot of my friends who are sexual assault and rape survivors end up having to work through a lot because they then have to disambiguate the issues of how their body reacted vs. how they were feeling as people. It really messes with the whole shame issues, because people often find the physiological response is completely at odds with what they really feel.

The analogy I use is imagine if someone ran up and stabbed you with a needle full of heroin. No one would point to the physical response and then go, "Oh clearly it's your fault, you wanted this", but when it comes to rape, people act as if somehow we live completely in control of our bodies. (Mind you, these people then turn around and say, "Oh, they couldn't help themselves/boys will be boys/you shouldn't dress like that" etc. so that tells you they don't even believe their own premise...)

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[info]rydra-wong.dreamwidth.org
2011-08-25 12:52 am UTC (link)
Hrm.

All strictly IMHO, obviously:

I'd say that for me, "sexual arousal" describes an immediate state. It's a physical response (and can be a mental one too, but doesn't have to be), the body getting interested in sex (with self or other) in the near-ish future. Which doesn't necessarily have to go anywhere, and as yeloson says, it can be kind of random. But it describes a response that's happening at the present moment.

Whereas "sexual attraction" is more about how how I think/imagine I could enjoy relating to a particular person. If I say I'm sexually attracted to someone, or find them attractive, it's more like my brain and body are going: yeah, if the situation came up and it was right in all other respects, I might want to have sex with this person (for the sake of the sex, not for other reasons like "to make them happy", though the other reasons might be there too).

Which can involve a lot of hypotheticals or even counter-factuals: I might want to have sex with this person, if only they weren't already in a monogamous relationship/kind of an asshole/fictional/dead, or if I was looking for a partner, or if it wasn't all too complicated, etc. People can be celibate by choice, or committed to a monogamous relationship, and still experience sexual attraction to other people, for example. You can find someone sexually attractive and have no wish at all to act on the attraction.

Attraction can lead to arousal, but it doesn't have to. If I'm attracted to someone, it doesn't mean I'm going to be in a permanent state of arousal any time I'm near them.

IMHO, the difference between sexual arousal and sexual attraction is kind of like the difference between "I'm hungry" and "I really like coffee icecream". If that makes any sense. I really like coffee icecream, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily hungry right now, or that I'll eat coffee icecream any time it's available.

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[info]the_willow
2011-08-25 01:41 am UTC (link)
...

If I follow what you're saying - actually I get confused. Is there affection arousal and affection attraction? Or does that leap right into the whole romantic vs sexual thing again?

And wow, I'm just kind of staring at that whole 'it makes them happy'. And poking it with a long stick while wind whistles through my ears.

And now I'm going to need to look up 'When one finds sexual arousal annoying or irritating'.

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[info]rydra-wong.dreamwidth.org
2011-08-25 11:41 am UTC (link)
Is there affection arousal and affection attraction?

I can't think of a meaning for "affection arousal", because "arousal" is so much a physical (or partly-physical) response that's specific to sex: it's the body gearing up to have sex (whether that's appropriate to the situation or not).

But IMHO you can absolutely be attracted to someone in a non-sexual way, the sort of "hey, I would really enjoy being friends with this person!" feeling. Or "friendcrushes", etc.

Sexual attraction is a lot like that, only (obviously) about sex.

And wow, I'm just kind of staring at that whole 'it makes them happy'.

Well, there are various reasons why humans sometimes have sex even when they aren't sexually attracted to someone.

So I was trying to make a distinction between those and actually wanting to have sex with someone for the sake of the sex-having. *g*

And now I'm going to need to look up 'When one finds sexual arousal annoying or irritating'.

I'd imagine pretty much everyone has experienced it that way at some point. Sometimes your body can get sexually aroused at points when it has nothing to do with what's going on in your head, and when relieving it isn't a convenient option.

And I'd guess that for some people, it's always going to feel that way and never anything but.

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[info]the_willow
2011-08-25 12:24 pm UTC (link)
I ended up going to bed early, for me, because my head wouldn't stop running. Didn't sleep though. Still... pondering and quite a bit freaked out actually.

It's laughable, really. I never had any freaking about things revolving around being a lesbian; liking girls, etc. Weird world.

Thank you for the comment.

I'm going to guess people like arousal because it leads to happy funtimes?

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[info]rydra-wong.dreamwidth.org
2011-08-25 01:18 pm UTC (link)
Still... pondering and quite a bit freaked out actually.

Please do say if it's all overloading you and you need people to shut up while you process.

I'm going to guess people like arousal because it leads to happy funtimes?

When it's in the right situation, yeah. If you're anticipating happy funtimes in the immediate future, and your body's getting in gear for happy funtimes -- w00t! It's like: there's a really great meal on the table, and you're feeling really hungry.

OTOH, as yeloson said, sometimes you can be walking down the street and your body goes, "Happy funtimes!" and you're like "WTF? No, not now, body, false alarm, really." Then it's annoying, like an itch you can't scratch, until it goes away.

Or as stewardess says, you can be in a sexual situation with someone you're attracted to, and your body fails to get with the happy funtimes program.

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[info]stewardess
2011-08-25 01:23 am UTC (link)
I separate the two into an emotional/mental state (sexual attraction) and a physical state (sexual arousal).

For instance: when I buy a vibrator online, I'm not feeling either sexual attraction or sexual arousal about the vibrator. When the vibrator arrives and I use it, I don't experience sexual attraction, but I will feel sexual arousal.

But just a slight shift in circumstances alters everything. If I help a partner shop for a vibrator (online or at a store), I experience sexual attraction to my partner and the vibrator during the experience, and I will be aroused just by *thinking* of my partner using it.

So I think that, depending on the circumstances, sexual attraction and sexual arousal can be very easily differentiated, but at other times it is murky as hell.

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[info]the_willow
2011-08-25 01:36 am UTC (link)
...

**squinty eyes**

Ok that hurt my brain. Oh complex humanity.

Sexual arousal; physical response to some sort of stimuli.

Sexual attraction....?

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[info]stewardess
2011-08-25 02:02 am UTC (link)
Yeah, I'm not sure my brain can grasp the complexity. Dividing the two states into "physical" and "not physical" is about the best it can do. I also think of the two states as "urgent" and "non-urgent."

I know I can experience the two states independently of each other, but I'm not sure how I'm able to.

I think the most difficult thing to grasp is this scenario: I'm sexually attracted to someone. After X amount of time, we try to have sex. But it doesn't work because I'm not aroused. My brain is all "this person is hot," but my body disagrees. AWKWARD.

One thing that totally kills arousal for me is smell. There are people who smell wrong - not bad, but wrong. And if they smoke forgetaboutit. But do they smell wrong because I'm not aroused, the way food doesn't smell as good after you've had a huge meal? I just don't know. Gah.

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[info]kita0610
2011-08-25 04:12 am UTC (link)
Most simply, for me it means: If I am sexually attracted to someone, I would like to participate in sexual arousal with them.

Attraction=feeling, arousal=more doing.

Again, YMMV.

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[info]the_willow
2011-08-25 04:13 am UTC (link)
"I would like to participate in sexual arousal with them" - I do not know why this phrasing makes me crack up and giggle. It just does.

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[info]kita0610
2011-08-25 04:14 am UTC (link)
Ha! Well, I wouldn't use it as a pick up line...

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[info]the_willow
2011-08-25 04:15 am UTC (link)
Maybe for Illyria.

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[info]kita0610
2011-08-25 04:16 am UTC (link)
LOL!

Yes, that would totally work. Also maybe for Bones.

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[info]tigerpetals
2011-08-25 05:18 pm UTC (link)
Or Anya.

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