Sex and the City happens to be my second favorite TV show (the first, of course, being Buffy). One particular scene stands out to me as particularly relevant if we care at all about sexual education; one that’s real, by the way, not the ‘you’ll get chlamydia and die’ kind.
“The pressure on women to orgasm during intercourse is so great that an enormous number of women fake orgasms- some infrequently, most ‘sometimes’ but some women said they do it every time.”
Faking orgasms has become the elephant in the room of many, if not most, sexual encounters. Of the 1,664 women Shere Hite (a German sex educator and feminist who conducted a nationwide study of female sexuality in 1974) surveyed, 567 confessed that they fake orgasms, not just that they ‘have faked one’ once or twice but that they do and probably continue to fake orgasms. Hopefully this number has changed (as in decreased) since then.
My question is simple. Why do it? The answer, according to Hite, stems from a twofold misunderstanding of what it means to be a woman. 1) That women have been historically conditioned to believe in their own socially ‘correct’ disinterest towards sex, instead substituting their desire for sexual fulfillment with the classically feminine need for ’emotions’ and that 2) The female orgasm has been perceived as ‘mystical’ enough such that men and women believe it to not exist or at the very least exist under very specific conditions (i.e. it takes longer for women to orgasm, that they must be ’emotionally attached’ to their partner to climax due to psychological delicateness, or that they are simply physically incapable of orgasm) Not surprisingly, all of these things couldn’t be further from the truth. (For more information consult the Alfred Kinsey report) The truth, of course, being that women are indeed sexual beings who are capable of experiencing uncomplicated pleasure from their partners quickly, efficiently, and euphorically with sufficient stimulation. Arguing otherwise is not only antifeminist but just plain wrong.
A few common justifications for faking orgasms from the women Hite interviewed are as follows:
1. They simply did not know what an orgasm was or felt like
2. They want to avoid conflict with their partner (sparing their ego, pride, etc.)
3. Hesitancy to articulate what it is that they really want sexually
Of course, there were plenty of women (775) who said that they do not fake orgasms, 318 who said that they ‘used to’ and only 4 who said that ‘it’s no use, it’s not convincing.’ But faking orgasms largely seems to emerge out of a certain type of ignorance about feminine sexuality (that female orgasms do not exist/are harder to obtain) and a disturbingly frequent devaluation of the partner’s (in this study, that partner was typically a man) own desire not just to please himself but also his partner. What would really obliterate the fragile male ego would be faking an orgasm. A step is missing here for both people, one that requires figuring out *together* what the best means are in order to achieve the most sublime ends. In short, communication is key. Faking orgasms thus comes predictably from a choking insecurity, the inability to stray from those dominant social norms which suggest that sex is wrong, dirty, or sinful for one reason or another, speak up, and communicate to a partner exactly what is necessary to climax.
Sex is and should be an epic win for all parties involved. Denying oneself of pleasure and sexual fulfillment does infinitely more damage that good. Ladies, recognize that as women we have every right to a top-notch sex life and that we are not, contrary to what a blatantly repressive history has told us, ‘psychologically delicate’, incapable of orgasm, or only ‘in it’ to please our partner. We have every right to an orgasm as men do. And if your partner happens to deprive you of any of those rights, maybe they’re not worth keeping around.