It's great to be a man in our society. The perks seem to be endless. Everything is built with the intention of accommodating our needs. It's fantastic, really. We men are constantly validated.
And the bedroom is one place where we receive consistent validation. I'm talking about women faking orgasms and giving us the sense that we're the greatest lovers that have ever lived.
What a terrific arrangement for men. We get all the sexual pleasure and the feeling that we have satisfied the woman we're sleeping with, without actually having done so.
A woman faking an orgasm is now sort of just part of the deal, isn't it? You just do it; it's almost like something that's passed down from generation to generation, like makeup tips or a recipe. It's a gift women give to men to keep them satisfied and calm.
I couldn't disagree more.
I think it's a major offense to women and their sexual selves. And it shouldn't be casual water cooler conversation nor should it be reserved for women's magazines like Cosmopolitan.
The fake orgasm should be examined as a systemic problem in our society.
A Temple University study, featured in the CBS News column, "Study: Most Women Fake Orgasms -- But Why?" shows around 60 percent of women have faked an orgasm.
This all comes down to conditioning. From a very early age, women taught to satisfy the fiery male ego. The fake orgasm is just another moment in which a woman sacrifices for a man without receiving anything in return and worse, it leaves her feeling sexually unfulfilled.
Today, when we see the female orgasm covered in the main stream, it's dealt with in a comedic way. We see Meg Ryan's character in When Harry Met Sally screaming at the top of her lungs (in a diner) or we see an Herbal Essences commercial with a woman having a massive orgasm over fabulous shampoo. We find the sound of a woman faking an orgasm to be funny.
It's not. It's the sound of an unsatisfied woman working to satisfy the already exploding male ego.
We don't talk publicly about the orgasm gap in the mainstream -- but that doesn't surprise me. Our male-dominated society would never want to expose that women are faking orgasms, that men really aren't satisfying women in droves.
However, the numbers reveal something more clarifying. According to the ABC News article, "Female Orgasm May Be Tied to 'Rule of Thumb,'" 15 percent of surveyed women have NEVER had an orgasm (I wonder if its much higher in reality). And the same surveys show that 75 percent of women don't reach orgasm during intercourse -- that's right, Gentleman.
So why do women fake it?
Two major reasons stuck out as I spoke with many women over the past two months: feeding the male ego and time.
"It just makes him happy, it feels more complete," said one friend.
"But does it leaving YOU feeling complete?" I asked.
"No, it leaves me feeling like I am just a tool for his orgasm."
That comment reminded me of what my friend D'Andra's grandmother used to tell her, "Sex is for men, sex is for their benefit."
Imagine growing up with that ideology ...
Many women fake their orgasms as a means to end an un-pleasurable sexual process.
"I don't have time. I can't sit here while he plows away like a jack rabbit; it's not fun for me when it's like that."
A woman writer I know mentioned that a man should never ask a woman if she fakes it.
I disagree. The male ego has been coddled for way too long. Enough is enough. We have to blow the cover off the secret world women are living and in this case, it's a world where we get everything we want and they usually get nothing. And we teach women that it's just the way things are and always have been.
This is how I see it: The fake orgasm is not compartmentalized from the rest of what women have to do. It sits at the core of a larger dismissal of a woman's needs and desires, extrapolating across all parts of their lives, work, life, home. Women are not simply a tool for our sexual pleasure, they are ultimately a tool for making every part of our lives easier.
Many of the women I've talked with see faking an orgasm as a little gift, a favor for the man they're with. That makes no sense to me. Faking an orgasm is not like making him a snack after he comes home from work or remembering what kind of beer he likes to drink.
It's not that having an orgasm is critical during every sexual juncture; it's that faking it takes women away from themselves. Faking it with any regularity generally leads to a path of a lifetime of sexual dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction in general.
But too many women treat sex as an activity left in the bedroom -- they see it as an isolated activity. I disagree. Sex is important, and if the man displays a lack of care in the bedroom, is he thoughtful in other areas of a woman's life?
As I've noted in previous columns, we condition men to maintain women, to keep them satisfied on a periodic basis. We don't condition them to think about their day-to-day needs -- the same basic needs women think about with regard to the men in their life.
Most women have yet to discover their true sexual power -- not their power over others but the power they can feel within themselves. So when men maintain women by doing a little here and there in the bedroom, and women fake it, it just leads to a diminishing of female power.
What I find to be remarkable is the lengths to which this culture will go to ensure men are sexually satisfied. We spend billions of dollars to produce drugs, like Viagra and Cialis, for erectile dysfunction, providing seventy-year-old men with the possibility of a thirty-six hour erection. But discussion about the millions of women who don't have orgasms or are sexually dissatisfied is shoved into the fringes.
Most of the women I spoke to saw porn, and the men who watch it regularly, as a root cause for this need to fake orgasms. For the record, I don't fundamentally see a problem with porn. Rather, my issue is with the kind of porn that is defined as mainstream and is made specifically for men. An entire generation of porn watching men (thanks to the internet), now have this idea that women climax by instantly screaming at the top of their lungs as soon as they see a penis ... give me a break.
My friend Nina Hartley, feminist, registered nurse, and porn icon, has a take on porn that may come as unexpected, given her vocation: "If any person is watching porn to get an idea of how actual people have sex, then they need their heads examined. Porn is FANTASY, like a live-action cartoon, and shouldn't be taken seriously as sex ed."
But there seems to be a bigger issue here: how our society sees women and their needs.
"Women are so complicated," one of my guy friends said, when I asked him about women's sexual needs.
No, actually they're not. While certain women may need more concentration, effort, or focus to reach orgasm, I don't think that makes them complicated.
We persist in this illusion that women are sexually and emotional complicated so we don't have to show them the care and affection they need. We can put it on them. It's really easy to say, "Oh, she's so complicated," as if a woman is a puzzle that only three men in the world can solve.
As a result, we can justify why we don't or can't give her what she needs -- it's just too hard to figure her out!
There's a pretty simple formula here: women want what we men want.
Don't be a jerk. Ask her what she wants, and when she tells you, see it as a fantastic opportunity to please her. Don't think it's a personal assault on your manhood. Basically, do what she does for you.
For most men, sex is carnal; it's about the raw pleasure. But for too many women, sex is often a cerebral process. One in which they have to think and plan when to fake an orgasm, when to make everything perfect for the man in their lives. They are pleasing our massive egos, instead of pleasing themselves.
I'm tired of the fake orgasm being treated by women's magazines like the newest lipstick color or the season's best handbag. We treat a woman faking an orgasm so casually. It is a BIG deal. It should no longer be seen as an act of convenience or consideration, but rather, an act of submission: Submission to the male ego and submission to our screwed up rules about women and sexuality. We condition and encourage women to submit across the board, and in the case of sex, it is the most fundamental part of a woman's identity, whether they know it or not. And by her sexual identity, I am not necessarily saying that it's about sex with others, I am referring to her sexual self.
So how does this all boil down in terms of the role men have to play? I think in terms of our perception of sex, women see it as an experience and men are conditioned to see it as a performance. We see it as a one-man performance, one in which we are the star, the director, the producer -- it's how we condition men to exist in life and relate to women.
It's like the Wizard of Oz. On the surface, you see a lot pomp and circumstance, but if you peek behind the curtain, there's a scared little man who has not only been taught to focus on himself, but has also been taught that focusing and pleasing a woman, on her terms, is an act of submission and weakness.
I try to avoid being and sounding prescriptive in my writing, but in this case I am begging women to put the fake orgasm out of business. Men don't need or deserve more validation -- we get it every day, in many different ways.
It's time for women to seek the sexual (and all other types of) pleasure that has been, for too long, absent or lost in their lives.
And it's time for men to stop automatically assuming that they are fantastic in bed.
Frankly, it's time for men to assume we aren't that great in bed, until we are told otherwise ... and not by a fake orgasm.
This piece originally appeared on The Current Conscience.