Most women fake orgasms.
I can’t even fake a smile, so I’ve never bothered trying to fake an orgasm. And anyway, I don’t want to have to fake it.
I want to want sex, and I want to enjoy sex.
If I pretend I’m enjoying it, when I’m really not, then my partner will carry on as usual. He’ll be lulled into thinking he’s rocking my world, when the reality is, I’m lying there bored or in pain or wondering if this will be as good as it gets for me.
What’s disturbing is, research has found that more than 50% of women have faked at least one orgasm while having sex. And I think we all know, as women, that the actual number is far higher.
I only have to survey my girlfriends to know that most women fake orgasms at some point in their life. Usually when we’re younger, more inexperienced and eager to please; but sometimes when we’re older and know better, too.
So, why do so many women continue to pretend like they’re experiencing real pleasure during sex, when they’re not?
I’ve got a few ideas why.
Porn is a lie, and it’s making men terrible in bed
Porn teaches men that women moan and scream when they’re enjoying themselves. It teaches them that zero foreplay is needed to take them there. And that female pleasure – how the woman feels from start to finish – is irrelevant.
It also teaches men that women enjoy being in pain. And maybe some women do, but I think the majority of women don’t enjoy painful sex.
The problem is, porn actresses are quite often in pain during the scenes they film. So when guys watch porn, they learn to equate the facial expressions of a woman in pain with a woman who is experiencing pleasure. And then they take this back to the bedroom in real life with them.
They see their partner making similar facial expressions, and think she’s enjoying herself. When the reality is often that she’s in pain or uncomfortable or just waiting for it to end. I’ve been the woman just waiting for it to end, too.
These days, porn is often the first – and sometimes the only – form of sexual education that men get. And it’s a big fat lie. Men want to emulate the sex they view in porn, and women want to please men, so they often go along with it.
A nation of masturbating people who are looking at screens rather than at one another – who are consuming sex like any other product and who are rewiring their brains to find less and less abandon and joy in one another’s arms, and to bond more and more with pixels – is a subjugated, not a liberated, population.
— Naomi Wolf, Vagina: A New Biography
I think sometimes, women fake orgasms just to hurry things along and get the whole sex thing over with. And I don’t blame them. Because where’s the joy in a man choking you, cumming on your face, or ramming himself into you as hard as he can, and leaving your vagina raw?
We’re afraid of speaking up and voicing what we want and need
More than half of women desperately want to open up and talk to their partner about sex, but decide not to. Usually because they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings, or they don’t feel comfortable speaking about their sexual needs.
Of course they don’t. Because this is exactly the kind of woman that our patriarchal society celebrates. A woman who is submissive, utterly selfless, and eager to please. A woman who is accommodating and good and doesn’t rock the boat.
This is how we learn to be. And it sticks with us.
It’s why I stayed quiet for years. So many times I planned on having that conversation, but the words would get stuck in my throat. I didn’t know to begin explaining what I needed, and I was scared of losing someone I loved.
Women fake orgasms because they’re afraid to raise their voice and say what they need, because they live in a world that has forever taught them not to.
We want to please men
A lot of men want to know that they’re good at sex, and able to sexually satisfy a woman. And we know this as women. We know they want their egos stroked. So when a woman fakes an orgasm, they choose to believe it – because their ego wants to believe it.
And sex becomes yet another thing women do to please men.
But this is detrimental to all women everywhere.
Faking an orgasm is like treating your child to ice cream after they’ve just hit another kid in the park. You’re rewarding them for a negative action, and teaching them that what they did is something to cheer about.
So what do they do? They go and do it again, and again, and again. Until someone stops them and explains that what they’re doing isn’t okay, and why.
So when women fake orgasms, they’re teaching their partner that they’re doing something right. And this means he’ll continue doing what he’s doing with every other woman after you.
This leads to a world of men who are terrible in bed, but falsely believe they’re rock-stars. And a world of women pretending they’re happy, while being robbed of the sexual pleasure they deserve.
This is what they mean when they say faking an orgasm is anti-feminist. But I think that’s just another way of placing blame and shame on women for something that is not their fault.
If we don’t fake it, then we’re made to feel like we’re prude or dysfunctional. And if we do fake it, then we’re screwing women over. It’s a game that we can never win.
Female pleasure is ignored and stigmatised
Women fake orgasms because they think it’s selfish to ask their partner to devote time to their own pleasure.
Both porn and our collective society chronically ignore female pleasure. Like an obedient, controlled child, it’s not seen, and it’s not heard.
I didn’t hear words that were accurate, much less prideful. For example, I never once heard the word clitoris. It would be years before I learned that females possessed the only organ in the human body with no function than to feel pleasure. (If such an organ were unique to the male body, can you imagine how much we would hear about it—and what it would be used to justify?)
— Gloria Steinem (The Vagina Monologues)
In a lot of communities – even in western, seemingly “developed” countries – it’s still seen as taboo. And I think the popularisation of certain religions has greatly contributed to this dated stigma around women and sex, which we just can’t seem to get rid off.
Women are taught to fear their own sexuality, feel shame around it, and often repress it.
On top of this, young girls are taught that being assertive makes them bossy, or controlling, or a “bitch.” While boys are taught that being assertive makes them strong, powerful, and confident.
And there’s only one way this can lead – to women learning to dismiss or sacrifice their own needs and wants, in favour of his. Because we don’t want to emasculate him, or be too much for him to handle. We’re taught that women like that end up as spinsters who die alone with cats.
We think there’s something wrong with us for not being able to get there with a partner
When I met my partner, I was far more inexperienced with sex than he was, and that made me wonder if the problem was me.
Was I not enjoying the sex we were having because of something I was doing, or not doing?
Because surely one of his previous partners would have had this conversation with him by now, if they felt like something was missing or lacking when they had sex?
And of course, I now know that chances are, they were probably faking it most of the time; leading him to believe he was a sex superstar, and didn’t need to change a damn thing. Totally not his fault, or hers.
Sex is something I’m very much still exploring. I’m figuring out what I like, and what I want. And not being able to experience an orgasm with him – when I can take myself there in minutes – does sometimes leave me feeling like I’m broken. Like I’ve failed.
Because every magazine and article out there tells me about all these women who are enjoying mind-blowing multiple orgasms on a daily basis, and I can’t manage one.
So I get it. I totally understand why women fake orgasms.
I understand the desire to feel like you’re good enough, and hot enough, and sexy enough in bed – whatever that means – and that making him think he’s gotten you there helps you feel that way, at least for a moment.
Yet despite all of this, I still can’t fake it. I know no other way to be, than to be myself. To be authentic, and voice how I feel, even when that means bruising someone else’s pride. Someone that I love very much.
I would make a terrible actress.
And I’m not parading around with my authenticity up here, looking down on anyone who struggles to be so transparent.
I am the way I am today after years of editing, and hiding, and wilting myself down to feel accepted. To feel good enough and worthy and to finally learn to love myself – the real me, I mean.
It’s easy to hide and run from who you are, and what you really want. It’s much harder to find comfort and acceptance and the courage to show up as yourself, and make no apologies for it.
Some of us aren’t ready for that.
Some of us are still working on it.