As I observed in my book mentioned above, it is known that the self-erotic and narcissist feature of female sexuality is very strong. The manner and the effort with which the most feminine and elegant women care for their bodies and seek to beautify themselves by far surpasses the natural vanity related to the body that also exists in men. It is obvious that this attitude, in part, serves to attract men, since the male sexual desire is mostly stimulated by the sight and the aesthetics of the woman's body.
However, here, the highly developed self-eroticism typical of the female sex also plays an important role, given the pleasure that women feel in exhibiting their bodies. Only by doing this many women often feel a considerable degree of sexual satisfaction - though, obviously, this is not all. Quoting Gikovate: "...starting with puberty, this pleasure is strongly reinforced by the fact that the female body becomes desirable to men; thus, for women, the pleasure in exhibiting themselves interweaves with the pleasure of feeling desired, in a way that this aspect of sexuality might assume a fundamental importance" ( Gikovate, F. - "O Instinto Sexual" ["The Sexual Instinct"] -, MG Editores, São Paulo, Brazil, 1980 ).
I believe it is possible to consider women as being, to a considerable extent, sexual objects for themselves ( see Note 1, below ). "Symmetry" is something that does not seem to exist between the female sexual desire and the male one. In men, the physical sense that first arouses desire is sight, specifically the sight of the female body. Conversely, in women, sight seems to have less importance in arousing the sexual impulse, since there are indications that they are much more attracted by the features of men's personalities than by male bodies ( though presently some women "pretend" to feel as much attracted by men's bodies as men are by women's bodies ). Quoting Gikovate once again: "A woman (...) is not sexually attracted by a man's body; her enchantment is more related to some characteristics that are capable of arousing a feeling of love. As love is a feeling that originates from admiration, the interest of a woman in a man occurs essentially because he possesses characteristics that she considers as positive..."
There are also indications that, for arousing the sexual impulse in women, the tactile stimulation of their bodies is of greater importance than sight ( see Note 2, below ). We also may say that, while men desire women directly, women, to a considerable extent, seem to desire the desire that men feel for them - though, of course, this is not all. In any case, this women's desire of the desire they arouse in men is one more remarkable and evident feature of female sexual psychology.
While the male sexual libido directs itself straight to women, the woman's sexual libido starts from herself, "envelops" and uses the man to return, through him, to the woman herself. Maybe we could say that, to some extent, through men women admire themselves. The following observation by G.A. Martin is very suggestive: "...the glance is a support for the female narcissism, so a woman has to look obliquely ( ... ), mostly to observe if she is being looked at" ( Martin, G.A. - "Moira o la Sexualidad Femenina" - Helguero, Argentina, 1980 ).
Making an incursion in the philosophical, mythological and archetypal aspects of sexual psychology, I think that, from these points of view, we can consider women as being and possessing the "erotic body" by nature. While the principle of Eros predominates in women, the principle of Logos predominates in men. Both are principles of diverse and complementary nature. Nevertheless, I must remark that, obviously, Logos is also present in women, as well as Eros is also present in men. Therefore, the differences lie mostly in the principle that predominates in each sex - that is, in the quantitative, and not in the qualitative in absolute terms. This also means that in the female psychology there are elements of male psychology and vice versa.
Considering that Eros predominates in female nature, it is in women that men search for this principle. On the other hand, women search for Logos in men, since from the archetypal point of view this principle seems to predominate in male nature ( though the existence of a very typical and specifically female kind of Logos has always been traditionally evident and widely known in most cultures ).
The Jungian concepts of Anima and Animus are also very appropriate to this subject. According to C. G.Jung, the Anima archetype corresponds to the primal images of women existing in male psychology, and the Animus archetype to the primal images of men existing in female psychology. In accordance with the Jungian school, Anima is projected by men on women, and Animus is projected by women on men. In other words, men search for the personification of Anima in women, and women search for the personification of Animus in men.
As to the Anima archetype, Jung observes: "There is a collective woman's image in the unconscious of men, with the help of which they can understand women's nature. The whole male being, body and spirit, presupposes the woman's being. He is oriented 'a priori' to her ..." ( Jung, C.G. - "O Eu e o Inconsciente" ["The Self and the Unconscious"] - Vozes, Petrópolis, Brazil, 1978 ). Regarding Animus, Jung says: "The woman is counterbalanced with a male nature and, because of this, her unconscious has a male signal ... I named the factor that determines projections in women as Animus. This word means reason or spirit" ( Jung, C.G. - "Aion - Estudos sobre o Simbolismo do Si-Mesmo" ["Aion - Studies on the Symbolism of the Self"] - Vozes, Petrópolis, Brazil, 1982 ).
Joining all of these data, we easily verify a relation between the Anima archetype and the philosophical principle of Eros, as well as an equal one between Animus and Logos.
Though this subject is too complex to be deeply discussed in this article ( being also capable of generating several serious misunderstandings ), I hope that these observations have added something to the understanding of several aspects of female sexuality as well as stimulated new reflections on the subject. In spite of women as our theme, in order to reach a better understanding of some peculiarities of their sexual psychology, a comparative analysis with some aspects of the male one was necessary.
Note 1: Comparing drawings and paintings by artists from both sexes, I have a very significant observation regarding this subject of women's narcissism related to their own bodies and the typical female self-eroticism : women artists tend to draw and paint mostly women. That is, instead of portraying men ( who naturally should be their main "objects" of desire ), they seem to prefer portraying themselves. As plastic arts are fundamentally related to visual images of bodies and objects, I consider this fact especially remarkable for our subject.
Note 2: As already said, in women, the sense of sight seems to have less importance in arousing the sexual desire than it does in men ( though, considering the strong self-erotic feature of women's sexuality, a possible exception could be the sight of their own bodies ). Regarding the capacity of arousing the sexual desire, the physical sense that seems to have the major importance for women is touch, mostly referred to women themselves - that is, to the physical stimulation of their bodies by men. Besides, in the female body there seems to exist a much greater quantity of erogenous zones than in the male one.
P.S.: See also "The Female Sexual Response".
is a gynecologist dedicated to Clinical, Preventive and Psychosomatic
Gynecology. Graduated in 1974 by Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade
Federal do Rio de Janeiro, he is the author of several articles published
in medical journals and of the books "Novas
Perspectivas em Ginecologia" ("New Perspectives in Gynecology")
and "Os Órgãos Sexuais Femininos:
Forma, Função, Símbolo e Arquétipo" ("The
Female Sexual Organs: Shape, Function, Symbol and Archetype"),
published by Imago Editora, Rio de Janeiro, 1990, 1993.