It… you know, the big “O.” While everyday discussions of sex and sexual pleasure often conclude that women sometimes fake having orgasms during sexual activity with male partners, some researchers are finding a grain of truth in that assertion. A new study of 71 women provides evidence for when these women were most likely to orgasm (vaginal-penile intercourse was least cited) and whether these women ever fake orgasms.
England-based psychologists Gayle Brewer and Colin A. Hendrie administered a survey to 71 women from their local community, asking them about their current and lifetime sexual and relationship history, how and when they achieved orgasm, whether they moaned or screamed (“copulatory vocalizations”) during sex, and whether they ever forced these vocalizations for a particular reason (e.g., to speed things up due to pain). They found that the majority of these women reported reaching orgasm through self masturbation, vaginal-manual (hand, fingers) stimulation by a partner, and vaginal-oral sex, though they were significantly less likely to report orgasm through vaginal-penile intercourse.
So, Do They Fake It?
The researchers found some inconsistency between the women’s actual sexual pleasure (i.e., orgasm) and moaning and screaming. One-quarter of the 71 women, about 18 women, reported making these vocalizations during sex over 90% of the time, and almost 80% (51 women) reported doing so during sex over half of the time. Well, why do these women fake it? Two-thirds of the women reported making “copulatory vocalizations” to speed up their male partner’s orgasm, primarily to relieve discomfort or pain, or due to boredom or fatigue; for some, this was simply due to time limitations. Nearly 90% reported using these vocalizations to boost their partner’s self esteem.
What About Women’s Pleasure And Orgasm?
Although some in the media have focused just on women’s admission to faking orgasms during sex with male partners, the researchers of this study are also concerned about what seems to be the prioritization of men’s sexual pleasure and orgasm over women’s:
To further emphasize the secondary nature of a female’s orgasm in their motivation towards engaging in sexual intercourse, 68% of females responded positively (i.e., [5 cm approximate mid point on the 10 cm visual analogue scale used) to the question asking whether they would stay with an otherwise satisfactory partner, even if they never reached orgasm with them.
Other researchers, like New Zealand-based psychologist Virginia Braun, have highlighted the centrality of vaginal-penile intercourse in heterosexual sex which, as even Brewer and Hendrie’s study highlights, tends to privilege men’s pleasure and orgasm over women’s. In her research, Braun has found that couples place value on egalitarian sexual activity, giving priority to the pleasure of both female and male partners, but that couples tend to see vaginal-penile intercourse as the “main event.” What she and others have called the “coital imperative,” that is, that sex isn’t actually sex unless vaginal-penile intercourse happens, also implies that sex is officially over for heterosexual couples when the male partner has orgasmed, so, if the female partner had not reached orgasm by that point, she’s out of luck.