Sex Ed(itorial): Fake it Until You Make it

The Gender Politics of Feigning and Demanding Orgasms

Graphic Caroline Tran

When I wrote an article on the orgasm gap between men and women, a number of things happened.

No, I didn’t get any death threats, probably because I held off on some opinions I had—we all know women with opinions get some real spicy fan mail.

What did happen was that a student from the psychology department, male obviously, linked his own research to me on Twitter once my piece got a bit of attention—probably wishing I’d consulted him first about something I’ve seen and heard about firsthand.

This isn’t much of a surprise, but one comment was from a woman, who went off about how we need to take it easy on the men because they have a hard enough time pleasing us as it is.

It was phrased longer and was more cringeworthy, but essentially that was the message.

Think of the men.

On the subject of ladies being denied equal pleasure.

Look, men treat sex like water, food, the need to defecate.

We let guys off with lighter sentences for rape because somehow too many judges and jurors have the attitude that somehow sex is inevitable for men.

Sex is for men.

Women who want pleasure from sex or enjoy it in a context where they’re not the server but the subject, are not framed the same way.

So where does this tie in to orgasms?

For women, they’re optional.

Men must always finish and they almost always do.

Stats can be found by asking any psychology department about studies they’ve done—they’ll gladly oblige, but the gold is in the lived experience. That’s where you find the nuance.

In my golden days of socializing, I found myself in many women’s washrooms.

Women talk to one another quite comfortably when no men are around.

This is where the sauce meets the pasta. The substance.

One woman I spoke to, who is both a sex worker and sexually active in her everyday life, totally enjoys sex most of the time.

She wants it, gets it…but has never had an orgasm.

Not even once.

I have spoken to older ladies, married for years, who have either never had an orgasm, or who did once upon a time with a lover they knew 20 years ago on a vacation.
I wondered then how the men took it.

I wondered also how, with an orgasm gap so huge in the studies, how the men in their lives handle it.

I’ve narrowed it down to about three possibilities: he is too lazy to try, and never asks because he doesn’t know the orgasm exists for women; he has concluded that there is something wrong with his partner despite not ever having figured out the “code to the safe;” or she has faked it every time, and he’s convinced all is well in the world.

Let’s unpack what’s up with this and how power dynamics contribute to this.

If indeed he never asked and assumed sex is accomplished and well done because he came, that’s enough of a power dynamic in itself.

It’s self explanatory in that he truly believes sex is for men, and women are but an instrument to that.

Air? Who needs it? We survive merely by pleasing them.

The belief that sex is something that men do and that it’s something done to women is all wrong; one is the subject and the other is the object.

Sex is a participation activity that should involve mutual enjoyment.

Never asking your partner if they’re satisfied or what they want doesn’t quite fit that.

Now, if he says something is wrong with her because he’s never satisfied her, it’s safe to say he has a whole pack of problems and it doesn’t end there.

Maybe he’s lazy, or maybe he’s a narcissist who can’t accept that he can’t figure it out.

Remember, many men derive a feeling of self satisfaction in making their partner satisfied that they tie deeply to their manhood and masculinity.

That’s also problematic if it’s more important than the partner—at what point is it about her or them and not just him?

So, the moment something challenges his abilities, he would prefer to blame anything but himself.

If that means gaslighting her into thinking she has a sexual dysfunction and playing both doctor and psychologist—so be it.

Some might say their ex could, as a way of saying something is wrong with their partner, but the ex could have been faking.

A wild notion I might introduce here is the possibility that not all women get off the same way—so assuming women are interchangeable and that there’s no learning curve is equally absurd.

Perhaps the ex was faking because he has the kind of character that never accepts criticism or responsibility and she felt uncomfortable being honest with him.

Which leads me to faking.

While many men fume at the thought of women faking and lying, because they’re terrible, I would like to explore why that might be.

If you’re a decent partner at all and you take feedback well, your partner would most likely feel comfortable giving you feedback.

It’s a trust situation. If you ask and assure someone they won’t deal with retaliatory outbursts, gaslighting, or arrogance, they might give you an honest and constructive answer.

But this isn’t always what happens when women give their male partners feedback.

We tire of hearing about how actually, it’s our fault.

Or how actually, his 14 exes could, so he has no idea why you’re not built the same.

We tire of hearing outbursts from men whose masculinity feels threatened by the notion that maybe they can improve enough to hold up their end of the bargain.

The power dynamic is as simple as who controls the arena.

Sex has long been an arena where men reigned supreme, but slowly we have shifted.

To think, once upon a time, the vibrator was invented as a means to control “female hysteria,” which was essentially pent up sexual frustration.

Now, women can have both any partner they wish and any vibrator.

However, as much as we have seen improvements, modern pornography still centres around the male experience, gaze, and desires—the women merely objects to achieving male pleasure.

Sure, femme-friendly options exist now, but most men consume the mainstream and many act the part—seeing women as a means to help them achieve their pleasure.

Women have options, and why settle for options that don’t provide the most basic of things—consideration?

When men can redirect a conversation to attack women’s self esteem when their fabricated self image is attacked, we have a power dynamic that facilitates emotional and psychological abuse.

When men refuse to accept criticism or feedback, to the point where women fear even approaching discussions about wanting their needs met, we have a power dynamic that facilitates fear and that in itself can be abusive in some cases.

There is immense power in communication, but this requires an open channel—free of retaliation, judgement, fear, and power imbalance.