# Understanding Arousal Nonconcordance: Exploring the Relationship Between Genital Response, Desire and Pleasure
>[!example] 12 Feb 2023 #articles
%% [[both porn and mainstream culture continue to perpetuate the myth that genital response = desire and pleasure]] %%
There is a myth that genital response equals desire and pleasure, a myth that both porn and mainstream culture continue to perpetuate. But again, this is just a myth. Put simply: genital response ≠ desire & pleasure. This is what is known as arousal nonconcordance and is one of the most important things we can learn about and share when it comes to sex.
## What is arousal nonconcordance?
%% [[nonconcordance is about the relationship between the peripheral system and the central system]] %%
According to [Emily Nagoski in her book "Come As You Are"](https://www.amazon.co.uk/Come-You-Are-surprising-transform/dp/1925228010), nonconcordance is about the relationship between the peripheral system and the central system which are two separate but interconnected systems. In the case of *arousal* nonconcordance this is between the genitals (the peripheral system) and the brain (the central system).
## Arousal nonconcordance affects men and women differently
%% [[there is a 50% overlap between a man's genital response and his subjective arousal]] %%
As Nagoski explains in her book, men experience a 50% overlap between genital response and subjective arousal. This means that there is a predictive relationship between how aroused a man feels and how much his genitals respond, half of the time.
%% [[there is a 10% overlap between a woman's genital response and her subjective arousal]] %%
In women however, there is only a 10% overlap between genital response and her subjective arousal, which means that there is literally *no* predictive relationship between how aroused a woman feels and how much her genitals respond.
## So what?
Firstly, knowing about arousal nonconcordance can help us understand the menstrual cycle & perimenopause
%% [[arousal nonconcordance during the luteal phase can mean we are dry even when we want sex]] %%
When hormones are low we tend to experience vaginal dryness even if we are sexually excited. So if you have a partner who associates wetness with desire and pleasure this could lead to some confusion.
%% [[a woman's wetness does not correlate with pleasure or desire]] %%
On the other hand around ovulation when our hormones peak we may experience an [[Observing Your Cervical Mucus|uncontrollable wetness]]. But a woman's wetness does not correlate with pleasure or desire. Which brings me on to my next point...
%% [[not understanding arousal nonconcordance can lead to gaslighting]] %%
Not understanding arousal nonconcordance can lead to gaslighting. If a partner recognises and articulates what they want and like and their partner told them they were wrong because of how their genitals were responding, this, according to Negoski, is gaslighting.
%% [[genital response is not consent]] %%
Finally, arousal nonconcordance reminds us that genital response is not consent. In a case presented by Nagoski in her [TedTalk "The Truth About Unwanted Arousal"](https://youtu.be/L-q-tSHo9Ho) (which everyone should watch) a victim experienced orgasms and "the perpetrator’s lawyer made sure the jury knew about those orgasms because he thought the orgasms could be construed as consent".
But the truth is, as she says, "Genital response just means it was a sex-related stimulus; doesn't mean it was wanted or liked, certainly doesn't mean it was consented to"
## Arousal nonconcordance needs to be talked about
%% [[arousal nonconcordance needs to be talked about]] %%
I want to finish just as Nagoski does in her TedTalk by asking you to have one brave conversation.
To explain arousal nonconcordance to someone you know who has experienced sexual violence, to anyone who might sit on a jury in a sexual assault case, to the confused teenager in your life who is just trying to figure out what is happening.
Say "Genital response means it's a sex-related stimulus.It doesn't mean it was wanted or liked."
And finally, explain it to your partner. Say "My genitals do not tell you what I want or like. I do!"