Male Fantasy, Female Fantasy. Are We Really So Different?

It’s the final six, the climax of the pageant, and the eyes of America are watching – glued to their media devices. It’s three women and three men up on the stage, as Ms. and Mr. American Fantasy are about to be crowned, lavished, and adored.

(Hey, it’s my dream. Equal opportunity!)

Each in turn is to answer the question, “What is your ultimate fantasy?”

Gowns glittering, smiles sparkling, each perky female contestant grips the mike firmly and coos: “World peace.”

Ah, but then it is time for the men to step up and speak. Each six-packed specimen proclaims with a boyish grin: “A threesome.”

Men and women are different. Let me count the ways…

We all know that men and women think differently, respond differently, and are (still) raised differently when it comes to relationship roles and sexual roles. I’m not speaking about brain power, earning power, political power or any other arena of that sort – but “for” or “against,” it’s undeniable that differences rule in social and interpersonal contexts.

Shall we explore?

Care to begin with the celebrity world, or do you prefer the Girl or Boy Next Door?

Icons of male and female sexual fantasy 

Regardless of your favorite fantasy object of desire, it’s clear that men respond to the visual. Fast. Men also respond to scent. A lingering fragrance left on a pillow can conjure intense emotions, and… mmm… reactions.

We know that men fantasize and admit to it – usually without embarrassment.

As for women? How different are we, really?

Mad Men character Don Draper epitomizes cool and power

A few “fantasy-worthy” celebs? We’ve all got a set in our minds. Here are a handful of my female picks: Salma Hayak, Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz. Catherine Deneuve, who remains a handsome woman even as she grows older.

He-man hotties?

They don’t need steroid-induced bulges or even the most bangin’ bods. But in my fantasies, they do have broad shoulders, long legs, and intelligence flashing fire in their eyes. And it’s a four-alarm affair if it’s Mad Men’s Jon Hamm – that penetrating gaze, the set of his square jaw. He’s the epitome of male confidence set against a 60s backdrop.

What do men find sexy? What do women find sexy?

Salma Hayek Detail 2013But the sexiest part of the human animal truly is the brain, including its capacity to recall or manufacture images – whenever and wherever we might please.

As for a man’s mastery at articulating his fantasies? It’s of interest (and helpful) to a woman. And his interest can be helpful in discreetly inquiring, inspiring, and discerning our unspoken desires.

Where does that get us?

Hopefully to a more exciting place, and a more intimate connection. Don’t we need to know what our partners find sexy? Don’t we want to tap into their fantasies – if compatible with our own?

Hot men, Hot women

Why this selection of sexy icons?

It’s personal taste of course, though I suspect that at least some of the men I know would agree on the appeal of my female choices. As for women, not only might we fantasize about looking like these lovelies, but we also enjoy gazing at their beauty, while appreciating  intelligence, talent, and class.

And women do respond to a visual stimulus, including the beauty of other women. We also respond to the pleasures of the male form – just not necessarily as much, or as quickly.

So guys! Listen up! Here’s the key, at least for most of us: Our timing is different.

We percolate, while you come to a quick boil. So don’t expect us to go from zero to sixty in ten seconds flat.

A significant difference when it comes to male fantasy

Men are happy to talk about their fantasies. Well, some men, and most fantasies, particularly if it’s a fantasy figurea celebrity, for example, with whom they enjoy imagining a sexual liaison. Women are often embarrassed to talk about any of their imagined scenarios. And that’s a shame.

Would a man comment on his most common fantasies? And might these same men have more than a soupçon of hope that we’d follow up by fulfilling them? Yet women typically fall back on more socially and culturally conservative postures. “World peace” was a funny extreme in my dream, but in reality, it might be something sexy – but without controversy – like a bubble bath à deux.

Go on. Give it a shot. Try asking some female friends. You’ll encounter extraordinary reticence, short of providing a pitcher of martinis to loosen those lips.

Women have been raised not to speak up, raised to lie back and accept, and raised to praise the male ego while expecting the man to read our minds and figure out what to touch, how to do so, and all without a GPS.

What if women did speak up? What if we shed our taboos, and shared fantasies with our partner? Might one or two come true? Or will that violate the sanctity of our private pleasures merged with the acts taking place?

What about sexual politics?

We’re stuck in limbo so often – caught somewhere in the tangle of sexual desires, sexual politics, and political correctness. In other words, both men and women confuse a belief in gender equality with sexual fantasy. Not only are they not the same, but they seemingly conflict – a conundrum for both sexes.

Disclaimer: heads and beds

Let’s be clear. I’m talking about what takes place in our heads and our beds.

This is not to be confused with the very real issues of gender inequality that persist in our society (and elsewhere). Nor is fantasy to be confused with issues of violence (towards anyone) that may take form in sexual behaviors.

Romantic fantasies we all enjoy

There are certainly different types of fantasies – some are idealistic and romantic.

Those fantasies, you may get a woman to mention; who wouldn’t want world peace, not to mention a happy and healthy family, and a loving relationship that comes with bubble baths and candlelit dinners?

On the other hand, when it comes to sexual fantasies, a steady diet of baths and tea lights gets old if that’s all there is – which is part of the problem for both sexes.

We want a bit of spice, even if only now and then… which is exactly where fantasy lends a hand.

Truth time – talking about sexual fantasy

For any number of reasons, men more willingly reveal their fantasies. Are they likely to change as we mature and gain experience, and also as we “check things off” a proverbial list?

Of course. The top 10 sexual fantasies for men and women will change and evolve. But let’s take a look at a few that always seem to come out on top, pulled from polls, interviews, and online forums.

Top 10 sexual fantasies for men

Male Fantasy Two Beautiful Women bw

Girl-on-girl threesome: You may be the middle man, but in this instance, it’s to be relished. As the manager of the sexy sandwich, in this fantasy the guy gets his girl – and then some! Make it identical twins, and 7th heaven rapidly races to Nirvana.

Location, location, location – and we’re not talking real estate! In the car, in the kitchen, in the dunes –  anywhere that’s not at home, in bed.

Particular about public policy. No, not politics. Public displays of affection. Very public, and very affectionate. It’s a variant of locational change + the risk of getting caught – an elevator on the move, your office during business hours, in a dark corner of a fashionable bar.

(Just keep in mind – if you actually take this one on the road, be careful to consider the local laws!)

Multiplicity, thy name is women. If two women to one man is good, a passel of pretties is better. This is the harem fantasy, each luscious lovely attending to her pasha’s every need. He doesn’t lift a finger, though his playmates certainly raise his spirits.

Older woman, take me in hand! There’s a reason The Graduate still holds up – up to a certain age, that is. It seems every “boy” wants his Mrs. Robinson to show him the ropes. And the ladies? Are they imagining their responsibilities guiding and mentoring, for the future benefit of other women?

And speaking of ropes – take me I’m yours. Whether it’s the man hoping for the woman to dominate sexually, taking her pleasure (and thus prolonging his) or, the opposite scenario, the ties that bind might include ribbons, ropes or pink handcuffs; playful partners in domination and submission are a common fantasy that goes both ways.  And often, involving a mysterious stranger…

Roles in the hay: French maid, Nurse Nancy, or Naughty Schoolgirl. It’s a matter of coming with costumes, not just coming as you are.

Luxury LingeriePeeking Tom. You may not peep, but you sure want to peek. Watching your partner with another – man or woman – is a fantasy that comes with numerous variations. This one is particularly tricky for those who would turn imagination into reality. There’s a reason that fantasy is fantasy, and not necessarily taken to execution.

Shoes, hose, and then some. Sexy lingerie and the slow peel is an age old fantasy; the styles may have changed, but the principle is the same. Woman is shown to her advantage, complete with lacy and satiny accoutrements. And for many, footwear is an essential part of the equation.

Gang bang. Admittedly controversial, the gang bang or rape fantasy is more than a little “politically incorrect.” But very common.

This certainly underscores the difference between fantasy and reality; whatever you may think of it, this common fantasy of multiple men and one woman is presumed to deliver pleasure to all parties.

Top 10 sexual fantasies for women

Women – you may leave it to the “experts” in the field to speak about your fantasies, or save your revelations for the privacy of special moments. Or, you may keep it all close to the vest, revealing little verbally, but expressing your appreciation for tapping into taboos with… engaged participation.

Here are some of the most written about, common sources of mind-conjured pleasure – and surprise, surprise – there’s plenty of overlap with the guys!

Sandwiches, female style. Yes, two men, one woman. And for most (straight) women, the attention of the enthusiastic consorts is entirely on her needs, not on each other. Must I add – don’t forget the pickles?

Doctor, doctor, come quickly! Women enjoy role play as much as men, and apparently, that includes passing the stethoscope. There’s no question that this particular childhood game palpates and palpitates its way into adulthood, bringing new meaning to doctor-patient privilege.

Hot lingerie and great heels. Feathers optional. Who wouldn’t feel sexy imagining herself in gorgeous underthings and heels? Especially if it’s fantasy, and your feet don’t actually hurt in your stilettos!

This is another shared fantasy, one he enjoys, and she’s happy to deliver.

Women are watchers, too. Voyeurism isn’t a dirty word, and it isn’t just for men. Both sexes fantasize about a sneak peek, shared on the page or screen, or more daring scenarios of clubs, other couples, or watching your partner with another lover.

Water, water, everywhere. Another variant of location, location – water scenes figure heavily in fantasy: swimming pools, jacuzzis, showers, secluded coves.  And if your personal water park isn’t that secluded? Then this fantasy merges with the titillation of playing in public. This one’s common for both sexes, too!

More is better: the woman’s version of the harem theme. As with the male fantasy, if two is good, three is better… or however many she cares to imagine, all there to serve her needs.

Stranger than fiction: Women frequently fantasize about lovemaking with a stranger, whether in trains, planes or automobiles. In exotic locations, or your local restaurant, the sexy stranger is hard to resist.

A business trip, a mysterious man, staring admiringly across the room. The thrill? In this fantasy, you can do anything. Inhibitions are gone with the wind; after all, you’re strangers. You’ll never see each other again.

Window dressing, and undressing. Surprisingly common, the flip side of watching is being watched. Many women fantasize about being on display, either simply observed, or while engaged in exquisite acts of sexual activity.

Girl times two. Yep, just like the male fantasy, where men want to watch two women, it’s not uncommon for women to imagine what it’s like to go girl-on-girl.

Force of nature. The notion of being taken by force is another common fantasy. Sometimes blended with the “stranger” theme or a desire for domination. Force can be as benign as raising her arms over her head and making love against a wall – passionately,  where the operative term is passion, not violence. The man’s ardor is fueled by the woman’s response, and her response, by his primal need to have her.

There are a host of reasons these fantasies play in the imagination of men and women both. And that very fact is one of the reasons that they are fantasy – and often private. If your partner, male or female, wants to indulge, enjoy, and not discuss themrespect that privacy.

Torrid, not trashy

Torrid and trashy are two very different things.

Do you want your partner wearing a sexy little something next to her skin? And willing to enjoy you enjoying her in it, and out of it? Then pick up something silky, not slutty. Generally, a little quality goes a long way.

Thinking of taking one of your fantasies a few steps towards reality, with a tryst in a little hotel? Don’t pick a seedy room. Make it memorable.

A caveat

I’m not a psychologist, a sexologist, a sociologist or any other “ologist.” Nor am I a self-proclaimed advice columnist. So what qualifies me to write about this?

I’m a woman of a certain age, expressing my observations and opinions – the result of a great deal of, mmm… scholarly reading and research. Of course, there is also a tiny slice of life experience, and delicious discussions with men and women friends.

Some of my experience originates in periods of time when I resided or worked in France – where eroticism and sexuality are embraced more naturally, addressed more openly, and with considerable humor and playfulness.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we enjoyed a dash of laughter with our sex? Or a bit of whimsy in our fantasy?

And when it comes right down to it, who isn’t interested in hearing about others’ fantasies, if for no other reason than to know how common – and natural – they are. Fantasizing is a private pleasure indulged in by pretty much everyone, and yes, gentlemen, even women.

One more tidbit? It’s enjoyed not only in adolescence or your twenties or thirties – it needn’t stop at any age, for either sex.

One final critical note:

Fantasy is a powerful instrument of arousal and pleasure. When it stays private, it doesn’t place anyone in physical danger. Taking it the next step is a decision for consenting adults, to be exercised with appropriate care.

Image of Salma Hayek, Bigstockphoto. Image of Jon Hamm, courtesy All other images, Bigstockphoto.



  1. says

    the sexiest part of the human animal truly is the brain

    Ms. Wolf, I love your cerebral cortex. Your neurons are striking and the firing of your synapses is electrifying. The center of the nervous system of this vertebrate is quite taken with your ideas. You have my attention. I’m reading.

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