Meg Ryan did it in “When Harry Met Sally.” Miranda did it on “Sex and the City.” Heck, even Kramer on “Seinfeld” admitted to doing it.
Faking orgasms seems to have become an expected part of life for a sexually active person – especially if that person is a woman. According to the 2004 Durex Global Sex survey, only 16 percent of women ages 21 to 24 reported having an orgasm every time they have sex. But as much as people hear about “faking it,” what we hear far less often is why.
According to Chong-Suk Han, professor of sociology at Temple, women often fake orgasms to live up to their partners’ expectations.
“For men, sex becomes a performance of manhood,” he said. Han believes that men learn this sense of performing from competitive sports and may sometimes carry this mentality into the bedroom.
“To some extent, for a man, getting a woman to orgasm is a sense of accomplishment,”
he explained. Female students at Temple concur.
“[Girls fake it] so the guy feels confident, so he’s not embarrassed the next time around,” said Laura Janos, a junior speech and pathology major. “It’s for the sake of the relationship.”
A sophomore who asked to remain anonymous
agreed. “For a guy, it’s very embarrassing if they can’t [make you climax],” she said.
Faking an orgasm, then, is not necessarily
a precursor to a breakup as much as it is an attempt to please a partner.
Although there are no well-known statistics
on the frequency of orgasms for women in same-sex relationships, Han hypothesized that less faking goes on.
“Hopefully they wouldn’t feel the need to validate the other person’s self-worth during
performance,” he said. Biologically, levels of testosterone peak for women in their late teens and early 20s, but a number of factors, such as stress, relationship problems or a bad body image can shrink sex drives. For many women, sex and sex drives are emotionally based.
Sandra Leiblum, Ph.D., who studies sexuality and relationships at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said in the June 2005 issue of “Glamour” magazine, “[W]omen need to have their minds engaged – to feel relaxed, cared for and emotionally connected with their partner.”
However, sometimes not having an orgasm
has more to do with the act of sex and the foreplay that may or may not lead up to it. Most women need a decent amount of foreplay, but “for men, getting aroused is almost instantaneous,” Han said.
As far as positions go, it turns out that the missionaries were not quite so knowledgeable about sex education.
“The way we engage in sex – man on top, woman on bottom – isn’t really the best sex position for women,” Han said. Most experts agree that having sex with the woman on top is the most likely position to lead to the female orgasm. For whatever reason women fake orgasms, some think it’s not in their best interests.
Doing so will mislead the partner to believe that what he is doing is working and, subsequently, reinforce bad habits.
“Faking makes the partner think [their girlfriend is] getting pleasure, when [she] just feels bad,” said Caitlin McGrother, a senior art history major.
Mike Ryan, a senior mechanical engineering
major at Drexel University, said that most men would prefer to know if their girlfriends are not entirely satisfied so they can fix the problem.
“The guy wouldn’t like that it’s being faked, because it’s not really any fun for you, and there’s no point in doing it if it’s no fun for the other person,” he said.
“It should be fun for both.”
Katie Ionata can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.