Men feel manlier when the woman they are having sex with has an orgasm, according to new research. The study of 810 men (average age 25) found that women’s orgasms often function as a masculinity achievement. The participants said that making a female partner orgasm enhanced their feeling of masculinity, and this effect was exacerbated among men who reported more stress about their gender roles.
Orgasms have been promoted as symbols of sexual fulfillment for women, and have perhaps become the symbol of a woman’s healthy sex life. However, some research has suggested that this focus on women’s orgasms, though ostensibly for women, may actually serve men; but the mechanisms of this are unclear. In the present experiment, we hypothesized that women’s orgasms specifically function as a masculinity achievement for men. To test this, we randomly assigned 810 men (M age = 25.44, SD = 8.31) to read a vignette where they imagined that an attractive woman either did or did not orgasm during a sexual encounter with them. Participants then rated their sexual esteem and the extent to which they would feel masculine after experiencing the given situation. Our results showed that men felt more masculine and reported higher sexual esteem when they imagined that a woman orgasmed during sexual encounters with them, and that this effect was exacerbated for men with high masculine gender role stress. These results suggest that women’s orgasms do function—at least in part—as a masculinity achievement for men.