A mist of goodwill, well-being and lazy relaxation temporarily obscures reality. Both sexes may experience a burst of creative thought as orgasm produces a near lightning storm in the right, creative-thinking side of the brain. Biological duty fulfilled, there normally follows a lengthy period of exhaustion, rest, and – frequently – sleep.
Edited extract from O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm by Jonathan Margolis (I urge you to take a look a the link – fascinating piece).
Men. Faking. Orgasm. Three concepts we don’t usually put together, but looking around online to inspire this week’s post, I came across an interesting study about men doing just that in the Journal of Sex Research, read it, and searched for more information.
The more I read, the more I remembered, and I do believe that I have experienced this before. I’m having memories of a couple of old boyfriends and orgasms past that just didn’t have the depth they should have, as if they felt obligatory and forced. Perhaps there is something to this male faking phenomena.
Charlene L. Muehlenhard and Sheena K. Shippee of the Department of Psychology at the University of Kansas, published the findings of their surveys of college students to discover if, how, and why men pretend orgasm and what faking men and women reveal about their social sexual scripts and the orgasms within these scripts in “Men’s and Women’s Reports of Pretending Orgasm”.
Who’s faking and why?
The participants of the orgasm study were mixed gender mostly Caucasian heterosexual students, average age 19. A thin slice of society but a slice carved at a time when a young man hovers around his sexual peak. Given their age, one would think that the guys in the study would be grappling for orgasms, but it turns out that some of them are only pretending to have them. Of the study’s sexually experienced participants, 67% of the women and a surprising 28% of men pretended to orgasm during intercourse, oral sex, manual stimulation, or phone sex.
Most frequently, the reasons behind the orgasmic charades for both sexes were that they were tired and/or wanted sex to end, orgasms seemed unlikely, they wanted to avoid negative consequences (e.g., hurting their partner’s feelings), or to obtain positive consequences (e.g., pleasing their partner).
Because there are always exceptions to the rule, the study’s findings gained new insights: some men used a make-believe orgasm to cover their premature ejaculation; 37% of all participants reported frequently or always feeling pressure to orgasm. One young man in the study faked because his inexperienced girlfriend didn’t have the right technique to bring him to a full-on orgasm. Others pretended to come because they were “not in the mood” or that they weren’t attracted to their partner and “Just wanted to get it over with.”
The study showed more men than women having been intoxicated when they pretended to orgasm. One male participant reported, “One night after a couple hours of heavy drinking I was talking to this girl on my ﬂoor and apparently I was hitting on her. One thing led to another and I started sobering up during sex so I faked to make her go away…. She is unattractive/annoying [and I] wanted to get her off me… when my senses came about and I took my drunk goggles off.” (Beware the booze, boys.)
The methods men used most often to fake their orgasms were moaning or making other sounds, saying that they were orgasming, moving or thrusting faster or harder, freezing or clenching their muscles, and acting spent or exhausted. (Women used more vocalization and heavier and faster breathing.)
Why she faked
Women are quite different creatures as we know, and the women in the U of Kansas study faked for reasons unique to their gender and to their bodies, which to me, drip with social and emotional connotations:
- More women than men faked because their partner was unskilled;
- More women faked out of boredom;
- More women than men faked to get a positive response – i.e. being perceived as “sexy” and to please their partner/boost his self-confidence;
- Women used orgasm to avoid conflict or explanation and in an effort to keep their partner from leaving or straying;
- Women frequently mentioned that they faked because they didn’t want to appear abnormal or inadequate;
- Women often pretended to orgasm to meet their partner’s expectations.
We’ve got our own set of psycho-social pressures to deal with when it comes to sex, but we’re all under pressure and social expectation if we decide to cater to those pressures that may only exist in our mind (and remember, you always have a choice).
Pressure to perform
Our unquestioned and accepted sexual norm is that men always want sex and because of this, should always be able to perform. The study suggests that the myth of the perpetual sex drive, getting an erection, and having an orgasm can lead men to fake an orgasm if they really can’t or don’t want to orgasm, in an attempt to support the myth, perhaps believing that their partner supports (or perhaps expects) it, and might go through with the unfulfilled sex even though they might be tired or really aren’t into it. (This pressure is not reserved for straight men – gay men will be under the same kind of pressure, perhaps a product of living in a penile-centric society.)
This online article describes social influences that pressure men to feel as though they have to come no matter what. It describes men feeling “a strong need to perform, and this pressure is based on the influence of porn culture, media, advertising, and magazine articles. Bombarded with pornographic images, commercials touting erection-enhancing drugs like Viagra, and magazine articles about how to keep thrusting until she screams for mercy, men are under a tremendous amount of pressure to come hard, come fast, and give their partners orgasms so intense that plaster falls off the walls.”
Muehlenhard and Shippee nodded their agreement with the observation that ‘‘many men appear to feel that it is a refection on their adequacy if the female partner does not come to orgasm.’’ I expect that this could be a heavy load for men who agree with this way of thinking. I’ve personally experienced men chastising themselves for not fulfilling what I think of as a socially-imposed sexual expectation – I certainly didn’t criticize them.
I see absolutely no reason for anyone to take something like that personally; there are so many outside forces affecting sexual performances – our partners could be tired, under stress, hungry, preoccupied, time-constrained, or any other reason under the sun that you don’t necessarily know about. In other words, guys, there are lots of different reasons that your partner didn’t reach orgasm – it’s not necessarily all about you.
Prescribed sexual script
Many study participants mentioned pretending because they did not know how else to end sex. The patriarchal sexual script that the researchers describe is, she orgasms, he orgasms, then sex is over. Indeed, Roberts, Kippax, Waldby, and Crawford (1995) described an ‘‘‘orgasm for work’ economy of heterosexuality’’ in which the man’s job is to give the woman an orgasm, and her orgasm proves the quality of his work.” There’s that pesky ego again giving a guy extra pressure to perform work he may not have the proper training for – women are complex and so is their sexuality – we’re not all sure how we work!
Luckily for everyone, the sexual climate is changing and is changing rapidly. No longer are women relying on men for orgasm (real ones this time), women are becoming more and more sexually empowered and expanding their erotic horizons. As a matter of fact, in today’s research, I read about Patty Brisben, an amazing woman who has risen from the depths of misfortune to build a wonderful sex-positive women’s toy/party company called Pure Romance.
She explains in her article, Why You Shouldn’t Fake An Orgasm, that “by faking pleasure, you’re not only neglecting your needs, but you aren’t being honest with your [partner]. Let’s face it, if you’re faking in the bedroom, where else are you faking? Being in a committed relationship is about being open enough to communicate about all aspects, especially the tougher topics that may embarrass you like issues regarding your sexuality.”
I can honestly tell you that I do not believe I’ve ever faked an orgasm. What I like to do instead is be honest with my partner and tell him where I’m at and communicate what I need. I’m not sure why people go to all of the trouble of putting on a performance when they could just as easily come out and say “Sorry, it’s just not going to happen tonight” or “I’m too tired”, then be asleep and dreaming in the arms of Morhpeus faster than you can z-z-z-z-z…