Men Tell Each Other Weird Sexual Lies

Nadia Bokody says the pressure on men to manifest their masculinity through sex has toxic consequences inside and outside the bedroom.

A few weeks ago, I met a guy at a party with whom I immediately hit it off.

After a lot of dancing and way too many glasses of rose, we decided to meet for a purely platonic dinner (we’re both gay) the following week.

Between bites of pasta, he told me about the many investment properties he owned, his seven-figure trust fund, and the Tesla he had just purchased. I assumed it was a monologue meant to impress me, but I found it all very boring and superficial.

As the night wore on, he relaxed and opened up about his strained relationship with his parents since coming out as gay, and the loneliness he felt because he had few close friends. . It was an unexpected display of vulnerability that prompted me to reach across the table, place a hand on his arm, and say, “you’ve got me now.”

It would have been the start of a beautiful friendship story, except that a week later someone who had seen us together on Instagram anonymously made me google him, and I found out that he’s was actually a fraudster, under investigation for conning people into giving him money after convincing them he was rich.

Although we tend to think of lying as a habit of scammers and sleazy types, it’s actually ubiquitous – we all do it, every day – although its usefulness tends to differ between men and women .

To research suggests that women mostly lie for prosocial reasons (i.e. they are dishonest with others to spare their feelings – “Don’t be ridiculous, I LOVE that sweater you bought me!” ), while men tend to manipulate the truth in more selfish ways.

Most of us know the old joke about women not being able to parallel park because we’ve been lied to about how tall six inches actually are (*Ba-Dum-Tss!*); it’s an archaic sexist gag, but it reflects a universal truth about the kind of tall tales men are most likely to employ.

We know, for example, that the majority of women have faked an orgasm at some point, and yet there seem to be almost no men who think they’ve fallen victim to this trick.

Whenever I write about performative female sexual pleasure, I’m overwhelmed with protests from guys on social media stating that I’m inflating a very rare issue.

“You’ve clearly never been with the right person!” is a popular trope among men who seem convinced that every sexual encounter they’ve ever had has resulted in a woman’s climax.

This self-deception – and even more so, the compulsion to make these kinds of claims so publicly – is likely due to the fact that our cultural definition of masculinity is tied to sexual performance, and in particular the acknowledgment of that. here by men.

To acknowledge the existence of sexual disappointment in heterosexual women is to risk the ejection of a code of manhood based on gaining sexual approval not from women, but from other men. And the fear of what it means to be kicked out of this club is so great that many men go to extreme – and often bizarre – lengths to avoid it.

Take, for example, men who insist that the female orgasm is mythical.

“I’ve fucked dozens and dozens of women and not one has been able to c**. It’s biologically impossible for women to orgasm,” read one tweet that went viral l ‘last year.

“Women may claim to like sex, but you really don’t. You WILL tolerate it in LIMITED circumstances,” another Tweeter by a man reads.

This is what feminists mean when we talk about toxic masculinity: no, as is often misunderstood, that men themselves are inherently toxic. It is the pressure that the societal construction of what it means to be a “real man” places on men to demonstrate their masculinity in detrimental ways.

In his groundbreaking book, Boys and sexauthor and researcher Peggy Orenstein explains why this pressure forces men to be inauthentic about their sexual experiences.

“If emotional suppression and denigration of the feminine are the two legs of the tool that sustains ‘toxic masculinity,’ the third boasts of sexual conquest,” writes Orenstein.

“The beauty of ‘locker room jokes’ is that it’s not really about sex…These exaggerated stories are really about power: the assertion of masculinity through control of women’s bodies.”

And it is this very pressure to affirm and fulfill masculinity among other men that contributes to a culture of distorting the truth around sex.

A study Posted in The Journal of Sex Research noted that men consistently overestimate the number of sexual partners they have had, while other research reported that they tend to do the same when it comes to self-reported penis size. Even the vernacular that men use to talk to each other about sex is rooted in hyperbole and self-deception.

We often hear young men bragging about “punching”, “nailing” and “smashing” women as if talking about being on a construction site, theatrically describing their sexual partners being unable to walk after sex. . We rarely hear men talk about pleasure, vulnerability, and connection, or their bedroom insecurities and sexual shortcomings.

In a culture that equates sexual conquest with manhood, it’s easier for men to tell themselves that these things don’t really matter, or even don’t even exist at all.

And this is the ultimate consequence of toxic masculinity – it makes sex a transactional act used to demonstrate power among other men, as Orenstein writes, rather than a vehicle for intimacy and self-expression. .

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that few men are honest with themselves about sex, or that the compulsion to perpetually adopt status spills over into myriad other aspects of their lives.

In a way, my almost-friend the crook is an extreme example. One of the last things he said to me before I blocked him was that he honestly said he felt lonely, and maybe I’m an idealist, but I did. believed.

Perhaps because while white lies (like telling our partner we love the terrible present he gave us for our anniversary) can help sustain our relationships, bigger lies – those that compel us to act ‘in a way contrary to our own values ​​- thwarts preventing us from having meaningful relationships; not just with each other, but with ourselves.

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