Faking Orgasms: Women May Exaggerate Sexual Pleasure To End Unwanted, Forced Encounters

Many women have either faked an orgasm once, twice, or multiple times to boost a guy’s confidence, and make him feel like he did a good job. However, mediocre sex isn't the only reason some women fake it: A study presented at the British Psychological Society's Psychology of Women annual conference in Windsor, United Kingdom found that women fake sexual pleasure to speed up their partner's orgasm as a means to end coercive sex.

"While some women spoke about faking orgasm in positive ways, for instance, as a pleasurable experience that heightened their own arousal, many talked about feigning pleasure in the context of unwanted and unpleasurable sexual experiences," said study author Emily Thomas, of Ryerson University in Canada, in a statement.

Originally, Thomas and her colleagues sought to analyze the experiences of 15 women (aged 19 to 28) about faking orgasms in consensual sex. These women were sexually active for at least one year prior to the study. Interestingly, through interviews, the researchers noticed all of the participants correlated faking orgasms to a problematic sexual experience that was unwanted and forced.

Terms such as "rape" and "coercion” were never used by the women to refer to their own experiences, despite how their depiction of the events could fit into those categories. Rather, the women described their experiences of coercive sex in indirect ways. For example, they used the term "bad" to describe sex that was both unwanted and unpleasurable.

Faking sexual pleasure was used as a means to end these unwanted, forced sexual encounters. It became a solution for women who needed to escape problematic sex.

“It appears that faking orgasm is both problematic and helpful at the same time. On one level faking an orgasm may be a useful strategy as it affords some control over ending a sexual encounter," said Thomas.

Woman in alleyway Some women confess that faking orgasms is a solution to getting out of problematic sexual encounters. Pexels, Public Domain

Previous studies have aimed to discover the reasons why some women will not describe their forced sexual encounters as rape. A relationship with the assailant was shown to predict women would not define their experiences as rape. So, if a woman knew the perpetrator well or had a romantic relationship with him, she would be less likely to think of herself as a victim of rape. In addition, some women who don’t define their experiences as rape will often believe rape means being violently attacked by a stranger, which may be different than their own experience. Moreover, these women may depict their experiences with less intensity when they don’t categorize them as rape.

Although faking orgasms can be a useful tactic for some women, the researchers of the current study acknowledge there’s a lack of language to describe women’s sexual experiences that acknowledges, names, and confronts the issues some participants shared in their interviews.

These women also may have avoided using words such as rape or coercion because of the stigma associated with being a rape victim. Victim blaming still exists; some people are more inclined to believe a woman was raped if they think she did something to deserve it, which also affects her ability to get help. The victim may not feel safe or comfortable disclosing a rape or assault, and so may avoid using such terms.

One out of every six American women have been a victim of rape, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. It's important that we create better language that can help women talk more openly about their experiences, and find other means for help, aside from faking orgasms to get out of a bad sexual situation.

Source: Thomas, EJ, Stelzl M, & Lafrance, MN. Faking to finish: Women’s accounts of feigning orgasm to end unwanted sex. British Psychological Society's Psychology of Women annual conference in Windsor, UK. 2016.

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