November 17, 2013

Faking It While Making It: What’s With Faked Orgasms?

By Alexa Day

My mind has been on the orgasm this week, and not for the usual reasons. I blame Slate, in a good-natured, shoulder-slapping way. This week’s article about the faked orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally started me thinking.

Are we women still faking orgasms? And, presuming the answer is yes, why are we doing that?

Considering that the faked orgasm is itself an act of deception, and a sexual one at that, it’s not altogether surprising that its proponents are less than forthcoming about their motivations. What might make it easier to pretend to have an orgasm than to actually have one? Fatigue? Boredom? How many women who are faking orgasms have never experienced one?

If our partners aren’t getting us to climax, isn’t it better for the relationship if we’re all honest about it? I might be looking at the world through romance-novel-colored glasses, but I think our partners genuinely want to give us … well … genuine pleasure. If they’re not hitting the mark, so to speak, aren’t we better served if we help out? If they’re not open to advice, aren’t we better served if we find partners who are? If we’ve never experienced pleasure in this way, why not begin to pursue it with a partner who’s also invested in it?

Are we really so inhibited about even the discussion of sex that we can’t find a way around the faked orgasm?

What *is* she having, anyway?
What *is* she having, anyway?

I think there might be an answer or two to all these questions in another Slate article. As I write this, I feel better about having orgasm on the brain this week. Not that I’m ashamed of that sort of thing – it is my line of work, in a way – but I’ve only written one orgasm-themed article this week. So there.

Slate interviewed Dr. Debby Herbenick about studies that revealed an “orgasm gap” between the genders. The study shows that 40 percent of women achieve orgasm during casual sexual experiences, compared to 80 percent of men.

Before we go even a second farther, you should know that the study only includes college students. It still makes a valid point or two about orgasm, but still, you should just know.

It’s easy to be discouraged by the lower number for women, but consider these factors. As we women get older – you know, older than college age – I think we become more sexually aware. When we learn more about ourselves, orgasm becomes a little easier to reach. Hookups leave so little space for communication, far less than a growing, developing relationship does. In addition, the study only covers hooking up with intercourse, which results in orgasm far less frequently than we often give it credit for. (As a romance writer, I will take some responsibility for that.)

But isn’t it possible that the young women in this study have figured out something that often eludes their more experienced counterparts? Maybe they realize that the orgasm isn’t the point of every sexual encounter. If that’s the case, we might just be looking at a future without faked orgasms, better real ones, and a richer spectrum of experiences in between. That’s a future worth exploring both in reality and in fiction.

I’d love to hear what you think about faking it while making it. Want to have what we’re having? All you have to do is follow us.

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  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    I had a link up in Sexy Saturday Round Up about this same study via NYTimes. Here it is: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/11/women-find-orgasms-elusive-in-hookups/?ref=health&_r=0

    They said it may have more to do with having sex with a stranger — and not being comfortable enough/familiar enough to say “no, just your dick isn’t going to do it, can you try…” etc.

    They also said that for some women the other benefits of the hook up (bragging rights?) outweighed the need for the big O. As CMK would say 0_o.

    They also wondered about whether it’s simply harder for women to get off with a stranger (listen up erotic romance readers) when the connection is all physical, not emotional.

    So there it is. I have a lot of friends who want to put it out there to be bold and edgy, and then feel they have to follow through even though they’re not super feeling it. It’s a complicated scene out there, Alexa, no doubt about it!

    Anyway, my point is that if you’re not feeling it, and the guy is — you know–waiting–then maybe you just want to moan a little and get it over with. However the NYTimes article also focused on how a) a lot of women said the guys didn’t care at all–or seem to care and b) a lot of guys said they didn’t care so much about the woman’s pleasure if he wasn’t in a relationship with her.

    So not only is it a complicated scene out there, it’s a cold scene. I’ll said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate dating, I hate dating, I hate dating.

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      I couldn’t figure out how I missed your link! But it was the very last one. My reading comprehension skills have taken a beating this month; my eyes must have passed over it. But it looks like you got the better article!

      I’m definitely intrigued by the sex-as-currency mindset starting to take hold in the hookup culture, but I’m equally dismayed by this reliance on the men and their attitudes with regard to their partners’ orgasm. Sure, he might not care, but that’s a constant hazard. Honestly, they don’t have to care. That’s why we have to care about our climaxes more.

      Still, the fake-out is a cop-out. It passes the problem along to The Next Woman … which leads me to the same conclusion as you! Dating … if only it were living up to its full potential. 🙂

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    It’s a very interesting topic — I mean, in a perfect world, women would negotiate for what they want as much as men do and not settle — after all, it’s usually a guy dying to get off in these situations.

    But politeness (“Yes, I came, thank you for asking”) and insecurity that the guy (after all you don’t know him) is going to take a toll. Worrying that he’ll think you’re being too pushy, etc. or not cool enough makes a woman save face, rather than go for some super-honest conversation.

    Luckily, we’re here to model with our writing something a bit more ideal. If we can dream it, we can make it come true in the future. That’s what I believe. (Within reason.)

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      You’re so right! It’s easy to forget what all that was actually like in college. 🙂 It is kind of difficult to say afterwards, “Well, no, I didn’t. But it’s cool. It is! Yes, it is.” I always think of stopping in the middle. “Hey, you should, because I won’t.” Which is really not any easier.

      See, now I want to write some of this. I love complicated conversations in the hot fiction. 🙂

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    Such an interesting post, Alexa! Yes, of course it’s better if the communication is totally open and honest. It just makes for a better experience all around. That said, it can be embarrassing for some women to ask for what they want. Maybe they feel it’s just easier to fake it, get it over with, and then take care of their own needs in private. I know some women who do that. Sad but true.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      I know some, too, and it is sad. I’m just dismayed by the thought that anyone who wants more is settling for less because less is easy.

      Reply to Alexa Day
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