Women have been faking orgasms since the beginning of time, the reasoning usually being that it’s just easier to pretend you’ve come when you know a real one is not going to happen. It gives the dude you’re getting down with unspoken permission to finish up himself, without having to say, mid-coitus, “Hey, you know, an orgasm just isn’t in the cards for me today, but you should go ahead and have yours!” (Generally, I encourage people to not mislead their sexual partners and would like to see women be more open about what gets them off so they don’t feel inclined to fake — however, there are just some sexual relationships you don’t want to go that deep with. Whatever. Do you, girl.) But one thing I hadn’t considered, even as an occasional faker myself, is that women might actually get off, in some way, by faking it. Well, a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Archives found that some women fake orgasms for their own pleasure, and upon thinking about it, I realized that I totally relate.
Researchers at Temple University and Kenyon College polled 481 sexually active female students about what factors motivate their decision to fake an orgasm, and these were the top four reasons given:
- Altruistic deceit (faking it out of concern for a partner’s feelings)
- Fear and insecurity (faking it to avoid negative emotions associated with the sexual experience)
- Elevated arousal (attempting increase one’s own arousal through faking orgasm)
- Sexual adjournment (faking orgasm to end sex)
Reason 1, 2 and 4 are pretty obvious and often discussed, but the third most popular reason — elevated arousal — was of particular interest because it indicates that women are more likely to fake an orgasm for their own pleasure than to rush the sexual encounter towards conclusion.
“What is unique about the Faking Orgasm Scale for Women is that, for the first time, we have quantitative evidence suggesting women may also fake orgasm for far more ‘selfish’ reasons, like increasing their own arousal,” wrote Erin Cooper, who co-authored the study, in an email to HuffPost Women. “Deciding to fake orgasm for this motive may have little to nothing to do with a woman’s partner and his sexual experience. I view this strategy as one of the many ‘tools in the toolbox’ women may use to enhance their own sexual experience.”
This actually makes perfect sense to me. I’ve always been more turned on by the sounds associated with sex rather than visuals. I mean, both are great, but, for example, if I had to choose between watching a porn with no audio, or listening to a porn with no visuals, I would choose the latter. I don’t know if this is true for women generally — that we’re more stimulated by audio than visuals — but hearing my partner moan, grunt, dirty talk, whatever has a major impact on how enjoyable a sexual experience is for me. It’s not such a big stretch to consider that the sounds I make might also contribute to my own arousal. Plus, as I’ve written before, whether I have an orgasm or not doesn’t determine whether a sexual experience is good or bad. I mean, if I do have an orgasm, HALLELUJAH, but even if I don’t, I’m still having a good/great/awesome time. (I’ve been lucky that, for the most part, the sex I’ve had has been at the very least pleasant.) There have certainly been times where the very act of “faking it” has made me even more turned on, though I must admit that I never fake it so directly that I’m screaming “Oh my god, I’m coming!” when I’m not. I just find myself moaning louder, talking dirtier, etc. and — I’m guessing, since I generally don’t quiz my sexual partners about it after — that the dude I’m having sex with assumes I came and I don’t say anything to suggest otherwise.
The researchers also looked into whether the type of sex being had — i.e. oral versus penetrative – influenced a woman’s reasons for faking it. Women are way more likely to actually orgasm from oral sex but women tend to also have more anxiety during oral sex since their partner’s attention is focused so intently on their genitals.The study found that the reasons women fake an orgasm during oral sex are first, altruistic deceit, then “insecure avoidance,” with “elevated arousal” in third again. The researchers theorized that insecurity during oral sex has more to do alleviating their own anxiety rather than, as Huffington Post put it, “a submissive act stemming from a negative view of women’s own bodies and sexual responses,” but I don’t think that the two can be easily separated.
As I recently discussed in an episode of Funny Girl Sex Guide (watch below if you haven’t yet!), women are inundated with messages that tell us our bodies, specifically our vaginas, are dirty, smelly, ugly and in need of expensive grooming; oral sex, as a result, is a more intimate act than penetrative sex for many women because of how much more attention and exposure is directed at a part of our bodies that we’ve been taught to be insecure about. This is why complimenting a woman’s vagina is SO FUCKING IMPORTANT. Faking an orgasm because it makes your partner feel good, or because you’re ready to wrap things up, or because it turns you on, are fairly harmless reasons in my opinion; but I would love to see less and less women faking it during sex, oral or penetrative, because they feel insecure and anxious.
If you’ve faked an orgasm before, I’d love to hear some of the reasons why and whether they jive with what these researchers found. Have you ever faked it for your own pleasure? Let’s discuss in the comments!