Not only is it possible, it's common. And it's a sign of the times.
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Professor Abraham Morgentaler thought he’d seen it all when one day, in 1997, a guy of 25 walked in – we’ll call him Dick – with a whole new complaint, one that most of us don’t even believe is possible.
“He had trouble achieving orgasm during intercourse,” says Morgentaler. “And he was worried that his girlfriend would think it was her fault. So he started faking it.”
A professor of urology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Morgentaler had been treating male sexual problems for just over 20 years ago at this stage – “I’ve seen more guys with their pants down than anybody”. But he’d never seen this before. A man faking an orgasm? How is it even possible?
“Everybody asks me that,” says Morgentaler. “But what’s interesting to me is why – it turns out men and women are…”
No, hold up – we need to know how. Is it like a special effects thing?
“I don’t want to get too graphic for your…”
Seriously – HOW?
“OK. So if during intercourse, a man wears a condom, then afterwards, if he makes it to the bathroom quickly enough, he can dispose of the condom and no one will know whether there was any fluid or not.”
It turned out that Dick wasn’t alone. There were lots of Dicks out there, scurrying to the bathroom in the dark. A University of Kansas study in 2010 found that 25% of their sample of 180 men had faked it. A survey on the men’s website, Askmen.com found that 34% of men had faked it at least once. Here’s a GQ guy explaining what it’s all about. It’s out there.
So Dr Morgentaler wrote a book about them, which came out last week: Why Men Fake It.
Evidently, men fake it for the same reasons women fake it – to protect the partner’s feelings. But for Morgentaler, this opens up a whole can of worms – the untold story of men and their lives of quiet desperation.
The picture Morgentaler paints is in some ways the flipside of the more common narrative about the rise of women, in the workplace and at home – the whole end of men business, we hear so much about. Apparently, men faking orgasms and women out-earning their spouses are closely related.
“Men want to be providers,” he says. “But there are more and more relationships now where the woman has the higher paying job, so it’s hard for men to take on that role. And that makes it harder for men to be the provider in the sexual realm too. And this flies in the face of the standard narrative about men.”
The standard narrative is a lie we see in popular culture – that men are perpetually horny mandolescents, constantly hunting for new conquests and ready to go at every opportunity. That the female orgasm is this wondrous mysterious garden of ecstasy that even women aren’t sure how to access, but the male orgasm? Easy as pie. In fact, for some guys, a pie is all it takes.
“We hear that men are the products of moment-by-moment changes in testosterone, but that’s just nonsense,” says Morgentaler. “We hear in the scandal sheets, about the bad behavior of all these men, who cheat and so on. And it’s easy for people to extrapolate and generalize. But that’s not what I see. Men want attachment and commitment, they want to love and to be loved. They want to be accepted for who they are.”
These defenders of modern manhood, they pop up every now and again – some of us remember Iron John, banging drums in the woods and crying. This time, masculinity’s greatest champion is a Jewish doctor from Boston, who looks more than a bit like Eugene Levy. He’s a divorced father of two incidentally, but he’s not about to get into all that. The point is that men aren’t as selfish as you’d think from watching the TV.
“If a man who has adequate erections asks for Viagra, ask yourself, ‘what does a bit of extra firmness do for him?’ The answer is – it’s not about him. He’s doing it for his partner.”
And spare a thought, ladies, for those afflicted with actual sexual dysfunction. It’s rough out there. Pre-Viagra, in 1994, it was estimated that 52% of men between 40-70 have some form of erectile dysfunction (and pills only help 2/3 of them). About 20% of men have premature ejaculation, and 1/3 of men over 45 have low testosterone.
“Lots of women are partnered with men with sexual issues, and they wonder whether or not the problem is them,” says Morgentaler. “And it’s not a fact, but in many relationships, individual women often have more sex drive, when the conventional wisdom is that men are the ones who are always after sex.”
So the moral of the story is be understanding to your guy. Let him carry your bags, let him feel like a provider. And remember that men aren’t the way you’ve been told. In fact, it sounds like they’re more like women than they care to admit.
They aren’t always up for sex. They fake orgasms to please their partners. They want committed relationships, they love to settle down. Next thing you know, they’ll be having periods every month.
Dr Abraham Morgentaler is the founder and director of Mens Health Boston.
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