Ask a dozen different women why they fake an orgasm and you’ll probably get a dozen different answers.
But it’s not that we lie that really matters, it’s the fact that too many of us feel like we have to.
But why? Why do we feel that pressure? Why has having an orgasm become the gold standard of a sexual experience?
When I was about 14 years old and becoming interested in boys, my older sister was the one with all the advice. I peppered her with questions, eager to soak up her knowledge. I don’t remember the details of those conversations—aside from some of what I perceived as salacious stories—but I am assuming it was all quite accurate in terms of logistics, telling me about protection and what a first time might be like.
What I do remember though, very clearly, is her telling me about intimacy; about how she hopes my first time is with a guy who I care about and who cares about me. She told me that sex with someone you love is wonderful, that the intimacy created makes it all the more enjoyable and special. She said I should be with guys who care about my experience and who want me to be comfortable and to enjoy it.
You know what she didn’t say?
That without an orgasm it wasn’t pleasurable. Nor did she mention anything about having to get to that big O for him to enjoy it. In fact, I’m not sure female orgasms really came up at all.
The day after those conversations I’d share my newly acquired wisdom with my friends in giggly, hushed voices over lunch. They would tell me what they have heard, and oh my gosh, their sister said the same thing! That was why our late-night sleepover conversations about our future first times centred on who they’d be with, what our boyfriends would look like, how many months into dating we think we’d be ready, and how special it would be because we’d be in love.
You know what we didn’t strive for in our daydreams?
You can probably guess.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to enjoy myself, I wanted to experience the pleasure everyone talked about when it comes to sex. I still do, of course, and there is a valid reason why the sex toy industry is worth so much. Women owning their pleasure and being able to give it to themselves is important.
But if it’s about us, about how we feel, then why fake it? It doesn’t seem to be helping anything or anyone.
Recently, I had conversations with some of my male friends about this exact thing. I asked if they can enjoy sex without finishing, and if they think women can. For the first part, most of them said something along the lines of that if they don’t finish, it simply gets painful so anything pleasurable before is sort of eradicated. The response to the second question was less straightforward; a lot more varied. Some did say they think we can. But some were genuinely surprised when I told them that having an orgasm isn’t the same end all be all as it seems to be for most men.
I don’t want to get into the specifics of how relatively few women ever actually orgasm from vaginal sex, nor talk about the fact that shockingly, many women have never even experienced one with a man at all. As women, we know all that. We’ve heard it before, we’ve talked about it at length over brunch.
However, that still does not answer why we fake it. If it is such a normal thing not to come, why pretend it isn’t?
I am sure most women would cite the patriarchy as the main reason, but I think that’s oversimplifying it. Even if a large percentage of misinformed men think we don’t enjoy ourselves without orgasms and therefore women feel pressured to fake it, that still doesn’t explain it all. If it really were only men’s fault, then lesbians wouldn’t ever fake it. A woman would know that pleasure and orgasms are not synonymous, so the pressure would be off. But you know what? I would bet anything that they fake it too.
Like so many things in life, it definitely is not just due to one thing, one single component that explains it all. It is psychology and biology, society and how we feel about ourselves; and, honestly, probably half a dozen other things. Ask a dozen different women why they fake it and you’ll probably get a dozen different answers; a dozen different elements that make us feel pressured to fake it.
We cannot only blame men. Well, we could, but we shouldn’t. It’s women too, and not just the ones some of us may sleep with, but also those of us who do fake it. Hiding the fact that it’s okay for us not to come, and that we can still have an amazing time and enjoy ourselves without an orgasm, sets unrealistic expectations for everyone.
Men will think we didn’t find it pleasurable, and we don’t want them to think that (because it isn’t true). So we fake it more often than not, which, in turn, will reinforce their misguided idea. It’s a cycle that we have to break.
If you won’t stop faking an orgasm for your own sake, do it for every other woman that the man you’re sleeping with may have sex with in the future. Although, truly, you should also do it for yourself. If a guy thinks you come every time, when you really didn’t, why would he change things up? And if what he is doing is not working, you’re standing in your own way by making him believe it is.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I really do. I’ve been there too. But the older I get, the more I know myself and what I want out of an experience with a partner, the less I care.
If someone interprets my reactions as an orgasm, that’s up to them. But none of them are fake. If my body doesn’t respond, I won’t force it to. There is no need to add the pressure of an Oscar-worthy performance to something that is meant to be fun.
So, to do my little part for all the women out there, will I ever be faking an orgasm again? O hell no.