It may have been a little before my time, and so I’m not sure what the critical reception of Meg Ryan’s demo on how to fake an orgasm in When Harry Met Sally may have been upon the film’s release. But what I am sure of is that her disingenuous performance is one that has been heralded by everyone from the likes of Frank Ocean on his first album, to the countless Berkeley 50-somethings who, I imagine, have taken to citing the film with something to the effect of, “That Meg Ryan is just so jarring!” The elephant in the room, however, is that, saucy as Meg Ryan may be—the phenomenon of the faked orgasm is, by no means, one that is confined to the fair sex. In my time, I’m certainly guilty of having faked more than one—but I’ve also only met one other guy in my life who’s been candid enough to admit that he’s done the same. “But guys are ALWAYS raring to go, right? They NEVER have to fake it.” But we do, ladies. Here’s why:
1. It’s the masculine thing to do.
Because the myth exists that, across the board, the human man can rapaciously fire out DNA at 4,000psi, without a lot of provocation—there, all of a sudden, becomes something wrong with me if I can’t finish on your command. I may even appear stunted, like a whale with a collapsed dorsal fin—when, in reality, I just read your “Hitting the gym” text as my cue to have a date with YouPorn. And there will inevitably be a short layover period before I can make that part happen again. How was I to know you’d get bored on the elliptical after twenty minutes and roll through?
2. You’ll get hurt feelings if we don’t.
As a young man, a very formative change takes place somewhere in your teens–mid 20s. You go from asking yourself why women don’t want your semen inside them, to women actually wanting your semen inside them. (I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say that this one came as a bit of a surprise to me.) But with this privilege comes great expectations. And you should be warned: mid-coital honesty can be the world’s biggest turnoff. Take it from me—if you’re having carnal knowledge of a woman, and she looks up at you doe-eyed to ask, “Are you gonna come for me?”, DO NOT, under any circumstances, use this as an opportunity for full disclosure and say, “No, I watched porn before you got here so I wouldn’t finish too fast.” She will feel like there’s something wrong with her, and you don’t want that on your conscience.
3. We get stage fright.
Sex is like a Greek comedy. It’s terribly serious subject matter, acted out with such severity by its players that it just comes off as farcical. I laugh now, to keep from cringing, at some of the absolutely ludicrous things I’ve said in complete seriousness during sex. (“You LIKE pretending I’m your cousin, don’t you?” comes to mind.) But apart from that, the orgasm itself can be a very nerve-racking production—and for guys, the moments leading up to it are very similar to the moments leading up to vomiting. Lots of whinnies and squirming. Except in this case, all my least flattering bits are out there, sometimes even on top, for the whole world to see. And it takes a little soul-searching for me to work up a performance like that.
4. You tell us to.
Now, as many contemporary gentlemen already know, there comes a point in this awful comedy where the sly question about your seed becomes a seething “COME FOR ME” interjection—the kind that sounds like it could result in considerable discomfort for you if not adhered to. Now, look, if I had the capacity to ejaculate on command, I am certain there would be a well-paying job in that for me, somewhere. But the fact is I can’t. And I’d probably do well by not trying to, lest I should really hurt myself. But so long as that expectation exists, men will continue to fake it, much as women have claimed to do since time immemorial.