Faking Orgasm: Sex Is About the Journey as Much as the Destination

BlogHer Original Post

According to a recent slideshow on iVillage based on a piece on AskMen.com by Jasmine Leigh, an estimated 70 percent of women fake orgasms at some point in their lives.

The reasons women do this are simple, Leigh states: she either doesn't want a man to keep trying and thus prolong the encounter, or she doesn't want him to feel bad about not bringing her over the edge. To help men figure out if they're "being duped," Leigh outlines 14 signs to know for certain.

The first sign she tells men to watch out for is the retraction of the clitoral head. She soothes the worries that this will be hard to see if the lights happen to be off, or if a man’s face is not close enough to that part of her anatomy: "Under the guide of giving her some extra special treatment, you can feel whether she's actually close to climaxing or just faking," she writes.

Sign number two that a woman is not faking it is increased breathing and heart rate. "Liars and the truthful alike might clutch at you and moan and groan, but her breathing is the missing link," Leigh writes. "Her thumping heart will also be a sign that it's for real; if she isn't actually excited, her heart rate and her bodily manner will be very ordinary."

Third: dilated pupils. "This might be hard to tell in the dark, but if the lights are on, all you have to do is ask her to look into your eyes as she climaxes," Leigh says. "Chances are she'll be more than willing to oblige to that romantic request. Just make sure to note of what her pupils looked like at the beginning of your romp so you can compare their difference in size at the end."

Does anyone else feel like this is becoming more like a sobriety test than an romantic encounter? I'm all about educating men about pleasure and women's bodies, but how can a man enjoy himself if the entire time he is in bed with a woman, he's also in the middle of an engrossing discovery process to build a case against her?

Worse, the list doesn't stop there. It goes into the reddening of the lips, vaginal muscle spasms (which the author proclaims cannot be faked, though any practitioner of Kegels and pilates might disagree), sudden perspiration, "post-coital bliss" (if she jumps out of bed immediately or makes conversation, she is lying, Leigh declares), and so on.

The last item on iVillage slideshow is a simple "ask her," which in my opinion should have gone first. But the original piece by Leigh is more egregious, suggesting a man quiz his partner about what she feels when she climaxes and use her body language as a make-shift lie-detector test. She also suggests a man ruin a woman's orgasm as she's approaching the edge, suggesting that if a woman is really about to orgasm, she will be cross about being denied release.

At the end, Leigh consoles men who may find they're being deceived and suggests "more quality foreplay."

This has to be the most damaging piece of sexual advice I have ever read in my life, and I've read a lot of bullshit in the fifteen years I have been devouring sex literature.

Firstly, if a man feels his partner is not enjoying herself as much as she could be, the course of action should not be to test and interrogate her, but to initiate a discussion about bringing pleasure to the next level. If a man isn't comfortable discussing sex, he may try declaring an evening is all about his partner's pleasure, call her a goddess and playfully ask her to instruct him in the ways of her pleasure.

I don't like talking about sex outright a lot of the time, either. It goes against my belief that my partner and I are sex gods, born with the ability to make others orgasm with a single touch. So instead, when I first start having sex and every once in a while afterward, I ask him to teach me how to please him. This is done in the context of a sex game, not a serious discussion, but it nevertheless serves to show me things about how he enjoys to be touched -- perhaps even more than a discussion might, as it happens in the heat of moment.

Another good idea is to watch your partner masturbate. If you'd rather go all the way when you're in the same room, try playing together on Skype during a business trip. You will learn a lot about how your partner likes to be touched by watching him or her playing on their own.

Other incredible turn-ons can be discovered outside the bedroom by simply getting to know one another. I write for a living, which means that I am always riding some kind of deadline. In a stroke of genius one night, my boyfriend decided to attack me right before we had to leave for a lecture. We knew what the traffic would be like if we delayed, and he knew I didn't want to be late. He also asserted, correctly, that imposing this deadline would put me over the edge in seconds.

He was right.

Notice that none of these things involve paranoia and creepy information-gathering techniques. They occur naturally in a relationship, basing themselves on knowledge of ourselves and our partners. That is how sex should be approached.

Because, let me tell you something, hounding someone about whether or not they're orgasming is not going to help them get there any faster. Also, I think people put an unnecessary amount of stress on the destination and often forget that a big part of sex is the journey. Orgasm isn't the only pleasure of sex.

My friend and favorite sex doctor, Madeleine Castellanos wrote a great post on her blog some time ago that echoes this last point brilliantly:

The predominant message that is promoted by the media is that orgasm is the pinnacle of sexual pleasure. It is seen as the goal of sex and the marker by which people often judge their own ability to please their partners. But this is not necessarily so. Because pleasing one’s partner is a very subjective thing, each person has different criteria for what pleases them. Also, what pleases them and what they crave at any particular moment may be different from the day before. But people get stuck on this idea of “Did you cum?” Ironically, this same focus on orgasm creates the very pressure that influences some people to fake it. For others, the anxiety about whether or not they will produce an orgasm for their partner is enough to keep it from happening smoothly.

I have always thought that if you are faking orgasms on a regular basis, you are really cheating yourself. By faking it, you are not giving your partner an honest message, but instead allowing them to believe that a certain set of circumstances is what toots your horn. If this continues, it becomes more and more difficult to eventually be truthful about the situation, so you may never get around to the alternative sexual activities/positions that actually do allow you to reach orgasm. It also perpetuates the idea that orgasm is the be-all and end-all of sex. That simply devalues the enjoyment of the other 99% of sex.

This is something I beg Jasmine Leigh to consider the next time she sits down to help men with their sex lives.

AV Flox is the editor of Sex and the 405 -- what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

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