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This book of about 200 pages discusses two very different kinds of erotic sensibility which, to a large extent, correspond to the masculine and feminine. While male eroticism is basically visual, genital and promiscuous, the female kind is more general, involving all the senses, and is directed towards someone outstanding, of value. Male eroticism is excited by physical forms, the vision of the sexual relationship, while the female is more influenced by feelings, passion and worth. A male often desires a sexual relationship with a woman even when he has no sentimental interest in her, or even any desire for dialogue (think of prostitutes). A woman, on the contrary, always looks for a psychological relationship with a man, or at least some moral or social quality in him. So she can be strongly attracted to an important man, a sports champion, a star, and desire to make love with him, but only because he is worth something. She may desire a good-looking man, but only because she sees good looks as a sign of excellence.

Consequently pornography, made up of the mere succession of sexual acts between different men amd women, is a basically male genre. Its female equivalent is the soap opera, sentimental romance in which, on the contrary, the individual characters, the story and the difficulties to be overcome are very important. Erotic memory follows the same rules. For men there is a precise memory of the sexual pleasure, while for women the memory is usually of the erotic relationship as a whole.

These differences appear at an early age. Little girls discuss and analyze love situations far more than boys do. In males sexuality often arrives as something from outside. A boy may be in love with a girl and still get excited by a pornographic magazine. In girls, on the contrary, with the awakening of puberty eroticism attaches itself to feeling and dreams. Boys are sexually attracted to all women with certain physical characteristics, while girls demand some kind of excellence, if only sporting ability or a screaming scooter. Boys admire stars because they are beautiful and, if they are not, they do not hesitate to prefer anonymous beauties to them. Girls, instead, tend to fall in love with the best-known stars in show business. Even later on women keep this particular propensity for someone who stands out, is successful, and on the whole are more “demanding” than males. Males and females are equally unfaithful, but while males are ready to betray with any kind of woman, women only do so with someone they consider worthwhile. In the courting process a woman always puts her man to the test. For example she expects him to work out whether her refusal is real or just an invitation to go on courting her.

These differences only disappear if the individual actually falls in love. The nascent state is identical in both sexes, and each transfigures the loved one. But while falling in love for men is sudden and disconcerting, women are able to analyze and understand their feelings better, accept their love better. For this reason a woman in love is radiant, while a man often appears disturbed and embarrassed.

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