Capsule’s resident sex expert Emma Hewitt (@emintoyland) asks why the hell we’re compelled to fake it ’til we make it when it comes to our own sexuality journey
We’ve all seen it — folks demanding you to STOP FAKING YOUR ORGASMS! It can make you feel really rubbish to hear people scolding you for faking an orgasm. If you have a vulva, having an orgasm is a lot harder than if you have a penis.
A Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy study in 2017 found that nearly 37 percent of women required clitoral stimulation to orgasm. Only 18 percent of women could climax during penetrative sex. I mention it despite how old it is because with 2,000 participants it was one of the largest studies on women’s pleasure I found.
An analysis of more than 30 studies performed over the past 80 years, found only 25 percent of women are consistently reaching orgasm during vaginal sex.
It means only a quarter of people with vulvas are climaxing regularly. Twenty percent of cis women don’t have orgasms when having vaginal sex with a cis man. And five percent of cis women NEVER do. Never. How grim is that?
So, is it any wonder that there is some faking going on? Women are shamed for having sexual desires, shamed for masturbating, shamed for their bodies, the noises they make in bed, the smell and taste of their vaginas and vulvas, their needs, their responses to stimulation. How is it a surprise that someone women fake those responses?
It makes complete sense to me that some women have internalised the shame around them and feel sex is more of a performance than something that is about their pleasure. For a long time, the sexual pleasure of men has taken precedence over that of women.
Men are having orgasms at least 90 percent of the time.
All around us we see unrealistic portrayals of sex in the media. In most of the films and TV shows we consume women climax in seconds through penetrative sex without any foreplay. Women then expect that they should be able to climax this way and climax quickly, and if they can’t there’s something wrong with them.
Many women tell me they’re broken or they feel broken. They’re absolutely not! If you’re reading this and you need to hear it: You are not broken!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The focus on the vaginal orgasm is a bad thing. It puts unnecessary pressure on women. Anne Koedt suggested in 1970 in her ground-breaking essay that “Women have thus been defined sexually in terms of what pleases men; our own biology has not been properly analysed. Instead, we are fed the myth of the liberated woman and her vaginal orgasm — an orgasm which in fact does not exist.”
Sexologist and author Dr Vivienne Cass told ABC there is only one orgasm response in people with vaginas. “There’s not a separate thing called a vaginal orgasm,” says Dr Cass. “I would say there’s not a vaginal orgasm, there’s not a clitoral orgasm, there’s physiologically just one orgasm response. But there are many different ways women can experience that — where they feel it, what they feel, what they feel about it. And there are women who can have an orgasm without being touched at all.”
So — to begin to break down the walls it’s important to move away from orgasms to pleasure seeking. If you seek pleasure you will begin to find out what you do and don’t like in bed. You’ll start to better understand your body and better understand your partner’s body.
A partner will struggle to please you if you don’t know what pleases you. That’s not to say it’s your fault — many cis men need to lift their game. But it’s important to work on understanding your body.
Masturbation is key! There’s a lot of shame in women masturbating so getting over that is your first step. Repeat to yourself as often as you can: Masturbation is healthy. Masturbation is normal. Masturbation is self-care.
Get a toy, get some good lube and spend your time working on yourself. Spend time touching your body — what do you like? What don’t you like?
Once you’re starting to really know what you like, and you’re building neural pathways that lead to orgasm you’re ready to add some more homework.
Society tells us we must prioritise men’s pleasure. It’s part of why you might feel like you need to fake orgasms. Another reason why might be pornography that focuses on acts women generally do not enjoy. Some straight men might be surprised to know women don’t have a G-spot past their tonsils.
If you like porn, consume it ethically. Watch feminist or ethical porn made by women and non-binary and trans folks, for women and non-binary and trans folks.It is not hot to be watching exploitation so make sure you are ethical in your choices.
Watch or listen to porn that makes you feel good within yourself as well as turned on.
Look at the ways the bodies of the people you’re watching react when they climax — every body is different. Don’t be afraid of the weird noises you make, or the strange way your body contorts. Climax doesn’t often look like the movies!
Good porn will show a range of ways to explore your body and your partner’s body without racing to penetration. Avoiding penetration is a good thing!
Another important step on this journey is to be kind to your body and listen to pain signals. In prioritising mens pleasure we often deprioritise our pain which disconnects us from our bodies.
Research shows that 30 percent of women report pain during vaginal sex, 72 percent report pain during anal sex, and “large proportions” don’t tell their partners when sex hurts.
Getting into a cycle of hiding your pain and performing your pleasure during sex is understandable given how we are conditioned as women — so first, forgive yourself for doing that and be kind to yourself.
Secondly, now is a good time to share how you’re feeling with your partner.
Here are some scripts that might help:
– Lately I’ve found that sex is hurting. Can we talk about it before and during?
– The last time we had sex it hurt. This time I really want to make sure that doesn’t happen again so can we really take it slow?
– I found that position wasn’t great for me, let’s try a different one this time and I’ll say if it’s working or not.
Our bodies change month-to-month with our cycles — our clitoris can be more or less sensitive depending on whether we are ovulating, our pelvic floor changes, kids change us, birth changes us, age changes, menopause changes us.
So, it’s important to always keep up a dialogue and make sure you’re having regular conversations about what’s working and what isn’t.
It’s not your fault that you faked orgasms. And you might find you can’t stop performing them in bed easily. That’s OK too. Forgive yourself, be kind to yourself and your body.
Sexuality is a journey — we’re all working on it. Someone yelling at you on Instagram won’t help. And believe it or not — chances are they are only at the start of their journey too. So, let go of guilt and take your first step.
Emma Hewitt is a sex expert, her podcast Electric Rodeo celebrates sexuality, sex toys and healthy sex lives.