The Intersection

by Philip H.

DISCLAIMER – The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author alone. They do NOT represent the official opinion, policy, or action of any governmental agency the author may work for or have ever worked for at the county, state or federal level. If you do not like the content or opinions, contact the author, not your Congressmen.

PARENTAL WARNING – This post is about orgasm. That word is psychologically and socially loaded in American culture. If you don’t want your kids to read about it, go to the next post. Just don’t blame me if they ask you about it anyway.

i-5fd8a5d666fcebe24feaf60d872f7ee9-trout.pngSometimes, my fishy side gets to run amok. Today is one of those days. It turns out Meg Ryan wasn’t the only one faking it. It seems Swedish brown trout also fake orgasm to increase their chances of successfully mating with a fertile male. Not only is this somewhat old news (I guess I need to read a bit more), but since this behavior was first found in Atlantic salmon in 1954, all trout may well fake this behavior at one time or another.

And from the fish perspective, this makes sense. Like all living creatures, fish possess a drive that says you have to reproduce – you have to ensure the next generation comes into existence. So it makes sense that a female fish wants to mate with the most fertile and most physically robust male she can find. After all, when you fertilize externally, and your eggs are subject to the vagaries of stream flow, sun light, and eating by piscivorous species, you want all the advantages for your offspring you can get.

So what does this have to do with humans? How does fish reproduction relate to the human condition? Well, if you hearken back to Meg Ryan’s famous fake O in the dinner for a confused Billy Crystal, you will recall that she was trying to show him that women could actually fake something that men, try as we might, mostly couldn’t. And she was also trying to lead to see how this was actually good for both parties in that he got a sense of satisfaction, and she got to end an activity she wasn’t enjoying all that much. Essentially, the Fake It approach was, in Sally’s mind, a win-win for both parties.

But might it also have a use in human reproductive strategy? First, we as the humans in question need to take a proverbial deep breath and recognize that, since we’re in Kingdom Animalia, we do have the same reproductive imperative as do other species. I know, I know, humans aren’t animals – we have reason, we can choose not to reproduce. Insert pithy anthropocentric quote here. All that doesn’t change certain fundamental parts of our biology, and we shouldn’t be so fearful of it.

But second, given the overly heavy emphasis our society places on all things sexual, I wonder if the faking of orgasm by human females might well be a subconscious adaptation to the mate selection process. As I see it, if a human female wants to reproduce, and she can certainly choose not to for a variety of great reasons, I suspect she wants her offspring to have as much chance to grow and thrive as the brook trout female does. And certainly, as our social science colleagues will remind us, mate selection can have enormous influences on this success (yes, Martha, fathers are important for all sorts of reasons). So maybe, just maybe, the Fake O in human females is an evolutionary hold over to increase reproductive success. Put another way, if a woman isn’t really into the sexual experience with her partner, will she be really into the child rearing experience with him?

Now before all the feminists hunt me down and bludgeon me, this final thought. Humans can reason, and it is one of many important traits that differentiate us from trout (lacking external gills is also an important trait). So maybe the Fake O is just a response to a bad night, or too much booze, or the distractions of the hectic life we lead. But if it contains important biological clues about potential reproductive success, what’s wrong with a woman adding it to her selection criteria?


  1. #1 eddie
    August 17, 2008

    When even the trout fake their orgasms…

    Why am I hearing banjo music allovasudden?

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