We hear a lot these days about the orgasm gap, and how closing it is a way to achieve gender equity in the bedroom. But it’s more so the attitude behind it that we’re focused on, knowing that you deserve to enjoy sex, explore what you like, and ask for what you want.
Why do people fake orgasms?
Over half of all American women have faked orgasms at some point. Sometimes we think that if it didn’t happen, the sex wasn’t good. And sure, it’s easy to think that if your aim the whole time was to finish; which is why we suggest that you take that all-or-nothing attitude elsewhere. Sex is about exploration, intimacy, being vulnerable, getting in tune with your body, and enjoying yourself at the moment. People fake orgasms for a variety of reasons, but the most popular is to avoid hurting their partners’ feelings, and the other most popular: to end sex that may be unenjoyable or painful. Others fake it to dispel thoughts that they may be abnormal, even though only 25% of women (but 75% of men) consistently orgasm during intercourse and as little as 8% of women do so consistently without assistance.
As we know, reaching orgasm, either alone or with someone else, is just as mental as it is physiological. Unfortunately, it is common practice to fake it in order to avoid a difficult conversation with a partner or with ourselves. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves during sex already: to please our partner, to say the right things, to look or sound a certain way, and the list goes on. Many women feel like they have to live up to society or porn’s expectations of being orgasmic creatures in any position. According to Indiana University’s national sample, only 65% of heterosexual women usually or always orgasm during sex, that’s including with or without sex toys, anal, oral, penetrative, you name it. That’s the lowest percentage compared to both men and women who identify as gay or bisexual. It also comes as no surprise that heterosexual men have the most consistent orgasms, while about 10-15% of women have never had an orgasm alone or with a partner.
The many faces of pleasure
In Breanne Fahs’ book, Performing Sex, she emphasizes countless forms of pleasure that women can experience, and an orgasm is just one of them. She says that if we “stop commodifying the female orgasm or treating it as a trophy of sexual prowess” we can focus on all the other enjoyable parts of sex, like kissing, teasing, touching, power play, dirty talk, etc. “This lessening of urgency might facilitate better communication between partners about orgasm and increased pleasure more broadly.”
Kate McCombs, sex educator, and empathy expert swears by better communication as the key to better sex. She says having sex shouldn’t be goal-oriented, and that it’s really about “mindfulness and being present.” To help you stay in the moment while keeping connected with each other, Kate suggests simple statements like, “I love the way your hands look on my body,” or “wow, I get so wet when you touch me like that.” Since it has been ingrained that orgasms are the peak of pleasure, it can be difficult to aim for anything else.
Luckily, Kate has some tips on keeping the conversation focused on pleasure rather than orgasm: “Try asking them, ‘What would feel really good/sexy right now?’ rather than, ‘What will get you off?’ You can also make a direct offer for a type of touch you want to give. For example, you could say, ‘I would love to give you a massage. Does that sound good?’”
Avoidance is not the answer
Faking orgasms allows you avoid honest conversations about sex. If sex could exist in a gender-equal orbit, then neither party would feel like they have to fake it. As long as you both know you deserve to have satisfying sex, the conversation doesn’t have to be a blame game. Rather, it’s an opportunity to discuss what works for you, or ask your partner, “How can I help you get in the right headspace to fully enjoy yourself?” Sometimes it’s as simple as adding more foreplay or drinking less alcohol before hooking up. Other times, stress from school or work could be keeping you from getting in the zone.
Honesty IS sex ed
Faking it is like handing out misinformation to your partners. With a consistent hookup, you’re making it more difficult to figure out how your body (and mind) work during sex, so why restrict yourself from that potential bond? Pretending to orgasm with a one-time encounter is one of the main reasons why we have 85% of men saying the last person they hooked up with had an orgasm, but only 64% of women report actually having an orgasm during their last hookup. Faking it then makes them think that 30 seconds of foreplay is sufficient, or missionary works for everyone. We can only bridge that disconnect with honesty.
If we stop thinking that orgasm is the only sure sign of good sex, then we don’t have to feel like a failure if it didn’t happen, and we can take the pressure off our partner and ourselves to have it- or to fake it. This begins with a dialogue that may be difficult to start, but if we focus on pleasure for both parties, and help each other understand the nuances of female pleasure, then being up front about what you want will become commonplace.
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