Unpopular Opinion – Fake All The Orgasms You Have To
TW : Emotional abuse, suicide threats, sexual assault/violence.
I know I’m really going against the grain here, but I promise you there’s a good reason – if you’ll just bear with me.
I’m scrolling through instagram while having my lunch today and there it is – or I should say, there another one, one of so very many, is – a screenshot graphic of someone’s tweet that reads “you didnt’ survive a pandemic just to fake an orgasm, it’s tell them their dick is trash summer” and the account that posted it followed it up in the caption with some clapping-hands-emojis and further encouragement to stop faking it. None of this is new or novel or surprising in any way – there’s been literally thousands of “Ladies, it’s time to take back your pleasure! Stop faking it!” calls put out there over the years, and I don’t necessarily disagree with the sentiment behind them – it’s one that’s attempting to empower women to speak up, demand their pleasure be made just as important as their partner’s, demystify and destigmatize our bodies and desires, etc etc – and that’s all well and good, I’m here for it, “go women!”, I have the stickers, I share the memes, I kinda do want that shirt…I get it. The problem I have with it, and the reason I’m saying the complete opposite, is because every single one of these outcries is missing a huge chunk of nuance, an enormous caveat, a footnote bigger than the main text itself.
What these calls to stop faking it in the big bold letters on stock photo backgrounds of women joined together laughing and smiling on a beach, or cartoons of snarling cats, or hands with long nails holding knives (all depending on what the algorithm thinks suits you best) are missing is the piece at the end that says “…if it’s safe.”
And that’s the rub – it’s fucking not. A lot of the time. It’s not safe for women to speak up and tell the person they are having sex with “your dick is trash.” Admittedly that line is harsh and is not actually the reality of the conversations women are trying to have with their partners about how they are failing to provide them a reciprocal satisfactory sexual experience – what’s more common is not even being able to say something like “a little to the left” or “when I said don’t stop I meant keep doing that exact thing, not change what you were doing completely – please go back to doing the thing I like so that I can have an orgasm as well.”
Pulling from my own life, the vast majority of my relationships with men were not emotionally safe spaces, nearly everyone I ever dated was manipulative or abusive in some way (some more than others.) I chalk a lot of it up to the fact that I started dating at 13 and so of course, teenagers obviously fucking suck and those interactions were not going to be healthy, because nobody was teaching us how to be, but just because that shit happened to me in my teens doesn’t mean it couldn’t have easily carried over much later into my adult years if I had made different choices for myself or that other adults are not experiencing the same type of things – I just started early. Simply aging does not by default change a person’s behavior – it’s very likely that the boys I dated in my teens grew into adult men who still act the exact same way, and they’re all married now.
One of those boyfriends really stands out to me when I think about this issue. Let’s call him B, he was among the worst. I was madly in love with B, like any kind-of-outcast with shitty self-esteem teenage girl would be for a boy who paid her the time of day. (A lot of people did not date this early and do not have this experience, but this was the norm for my schools – there was literally nothing else to do besides fucking, drinking, and drugs, and we started all of those early. To NOT be dating meant you were a “loser.” I considered myself lucky to be dating all of my absolute pieces of shit boyfriends, unfortunately.) B said he loved me too. We did that typical teenage love story nonsense of thinking we’d be together forever, my tiny overwhelmed heart couldn’t stand the idea of losing him (despite the fact that I’d already gone through two other breakups in my short dating experience and obviously I survived losing those loves of my life so there was no reason breaking up with him should be any different – teen love’s just not built to be rational.) B pretended in front of his friends to be a real badass, but in private pretended to me to be a very sensitive boy. He would leverage our relationship to get literally anything he wanted out of me. Any pushback, any hint of rejection, anything that was less than ecstatic over the top enthusiasm for whatever he was saying or doing or requesting would be met with “do you not love me anymore?” and threats to end the relationship because I clearly didn’t want it/him. And then he’d cry, which real badasses don’t do so I knew it was serious. Sometimes he’d make thinly-veiled threats to kill himself. And then he’d get exactly whatever it was he wanted as a way for me to prove to him that yes, I really did care for him, and I was so sorry to have made him feel otherwise. More than once he escalated me just not feeling like giving him a blowjob all the way up to ending our relationship and him offing himself with his dads gun because his life was fucking over. Yes, he always wound up getting his “I’m so sorry please don’t make it my fault that you die at 15” blowjob. B was also – if you haven’t guessed it – the exact type of person who would always make sure to tell me I could tell him anything, I just had to open up to him, I could always be honest with him, all I needed to do was just tell him how I was feeling and that would solve whatever conflict we were having. He was the exact type of person who would make me feel like it were my fault if I were honest, but also my fault if I wasn’t, so really my only option was to shut up.
B was not safe for me to be honest with. Ever. Not about anything that could in any way shape or form be construed as a slight to him, his ego, his ability or skill, his talent, his looks, his body – literally anything to do with him. He couldn’t handle it, he refused to try to handle it, it was easier and better for him to just manipulate people into never making him confront his shortcomings. Obviously. If you’re a shitty teenage boy who can choose that option, why wouldn’t you? We had terrible sex, and not just the run-of-the-mill teenagers don’t know what the fuck they’re doing sex – actually terrible sex. Horrible interactions. The boy would rub my inner thigh for 22.8 seconds and then ask me if I came. It was not safe for me to say “actually no because you haven’t even touched my genitals yet.” It was not safe for me to say “actually no because a single minute of sloppy PIV isn’t what gets me off at all.” It was not safe to say “your dick is trash.” Not because he was going to physically hurt me (though I’ve had those situations too,) but he would definitely have blown my life up. He would have dumped me, broken my heart, told everyone we knew lies about me and spread nasty rumors that my shitty friends and shitty potential future boyfriends would believe because that’s highschool for ya, and however unlikely it really was, maybe make me the reason a teenage boy “with everything to live for” or whatever, killed himself. That’s a lot. That’s way too much. That’s not a safe environment to be honest in. I faked it, I always faked it, I faked it so fucking much because I felt like there was nothing else I could do and yes that sounds silly now, as an adult, but I wasn’t then, I was a teenager doing the best I could. (and no, the solution to this isn’t that I shouldn’t have been dating or fucking, it’s that we should be teaching our boys a whole lot better.)
I blamed B’s ex-girlfriends a lot at the time. I had no other explanation for where someone like him could have accumulated such an outrageous amount of completely unearned and undeserved confidence. While he was shaming me for not (fake) cumming quickly and enthusiastically enough he’d tell me that whatever he was doing “worked on everyone else he’d fucked” and he didn’t understand why it wasn’t working for me, while I was then stuck in my head comparing myself to handfuls of other girls who were obviously better than me in every way. He’d very heavily imply there was something wrong with me, something broken in my body, or that I wasn’t sexually satisfied because I wasn’t actually into him and then we’d have the “you don’t love me we have to break up” fight. I resented my body and began to believe what he (and the boyfriends before him and most of the boyfriends after him) were saying about there being something wrong with me, I resented him for being such an ass all while still feeling hopelessly in love with the jerk, and I really really really resented whoever I thought put it in his head that he was a natural born sex god, because now, because of them I thought, I was suffering.
I could easily write several more blog posts on how I got into the routine of faking-it-by-default even with casual hookups where I didn’t have anything to lose, because of the impact that body shaming had on me and how it was still easier and safer for me to fake it and get it over with than have yet another person behave as if I was impossibly broken and couldn’t be pleased. I could write about how incredibly hard that routine is to break, how incredibly hard finding out what real pleasure for me actually felt like to achieve. I have written a bit about how that shame still exists in parts today and prevents me from reaching my full potential even with very caring and attentive partners and how I still resent the way my body does or does not function. B is only one of MANY examples I have to pull from, B is part of a pattern that I could deeply elaborate on. I could write about how almost every person I dated weaponized their own self-esteem and mental health against me, making me responsible for whether they’d kill themselves or not, and the way they’d link literally any and every small grievance or criticism or request for something different (but especially sex because sex is already so complicated for women to navigate and imbalanced to start with) into how I was damaging them which made me terrified to speak up. How all of that made me feel too needy, too demanding, always wrong in my feelings and desires and how its taken me so much work to not just stop faking orgasms but unpack years of trauma and partner abuse. On the other hand, others have also written on the merits of “faking it till you make it” and how faking it helped them become more comfortable in their genuine sexual responses, or how some people fake it because they don’t care about their orgasm but like making their partner feel like rockstars. There’s a lot of different takes on faking it, but let’s for now stick with this specific train of thought. Back to B –
What’s more likely is that he didn’t even have sex with those other girls. B was an enormous liar and I’d experienced it first hand with him randomly choosing to brag about his dick size or sexual exploits with me – in front of me and expecting me to back him up – for no fucking reason. No one was asking, ever. No one was challenging him, ever. No one was bragging about their dicks or sex lives and making him feel pressured to chime in, ever. He’d just bring it up out of thin air simply because he could. It’s a bold move to rope your girlfriend into a lie she knows for a fact is false in front of dozens of people who could seriously humiliate you if you were exposed, if I ever finally decided that one day he’d pushed me too far and I’d finally tell everyone the truth, which just goes to show how well his emotional manipulations worked. The unspoken message was if I did not join in on his lies, I’d lose everything, he’d use whatever credibility he still had (which would be plenty because it would take nothing for him to convince everyone I was a lying bitter slut, because again, that’s highschool and also our whole fucking society’s view on women for ya) to destroy me, and maybe kill himself (the worst case scenario that was always on the table) What’s more likely than these other girls he’d dated being “selfish” or lazily contributing to B’s toxic masculinity with absolutely no regard for the women who’d come after them and what they’d have to put up with…is that he’d made it just as unsafe for them to speak up as he had made it for me. But I was a kid at the time and did not understand any of this, no one was teaching teenagers like me about toxic relationships, emotional abuse, rape culture, patriarchy, etc, so I blamed the other girls for the mess I was in. Maybe if someone else had spoken up he would have changed. Or at least maybe I would have heard someone say he was a complete asshat before I started dating him and dodged the bullet. Either way I really wasn’t feeling the solidarity, there was no “girl power” looking out for each other, at the very same time that I was lying to him and faking it, I felt that everyone else’s acts of lying and faking it had caused this disaster of a human being I was dating.
I still see that resentment being passed around in adults. All these memes aren’t being made by bitter teenagers, the “stop faking it already!” campaigns are being led by grown adults who are still looking back at men’s past partners and asking those women “how did you expect him to ever learn?” To that I say, I don’t know exactly how, it’s going to be a different route for every individual, but I can guarantee that men learning to be better lovers should not come at the expense of any girl’s or woman’s sense of self-worth or safety. None of us should have to take the hits so that eventually a shitbag evolves into a decent person and will care about someone else. None of a man’s past partners should be held responsible for not raising him right – we’re not replacements for parents and teachers. That’s wildly unfair and decidedly not feminist as these slogans position themselves to be.
Rather than constantly screaming at women to change their approach to the sex they’re having, the focus should be on men who are not creating environments where women feel safe to be honest with them in the first place. It should be on tackling the fragility that prevents them from being able to receive feedback and the toxic culture around sex that they help uphold with one another. We should be asking men “why have you made your partner feel like she has to fake it with you?” instead of asking women “well what do you expect when you’re lying and rewarding bad behaviour?”
I conceded earlier that while most of my experiences with faking it were when I was younger and I was dealing with emotional abuse (which is super fucking damaging and totally valid in its own right by the way), there have been a few times I was also in physical danger. Telling someone who is assaulting you that their dick is trash is not safe. Telling someone who would assault you if you told them their dick is trash is not safe. This is also a very common reality that a lot of people are experiencing and of course the situation is not as simple as “if you don’t want to say anything then just stop/get up and leave.”
I’m not sorry for all the times I faked it, regardless of how that may have continued to boost some crappy boy or man’s ego. I’m not sorry I kept myself safe in a difficult situation. I’m not sorry I faked it to get out of worse situations. I’m not sorry I faked it to make an assault end faster. I’m not sorry I faked it to hold onto a relationship I didn’t feel strong enough to leave or lose. I absolutely believe that we should stop faking it, I believe in women being in control of their pleasure, I believe in demanding that the care and attention we give our partners be given back to us, I believe in the societal shifts that are happening to better empower women in their sexualities, I believe that honesty and communication is actually best, I believe in all of that. But I also believe in people doing what they need to do in order to keep themselves safe because it’s not always as simple as “well just don’t fuck those men, then.” I believe in men being held accountable, I believe in men being called on to change so there are less and less of “those men” we somehow have to expertly weed out and avoid so we don’t have to fake an orgasm or risk our safety. I believe in calling on men to examine their actions and their egos, I believe in demanding that they are making sure they’re creating and upholding a space where there partner can be safe and vulnerable with them in their honesty and desires.
We’ll stop faking orgasms when our partner’s actually become genuinely interested in facilitating real ones in safe and nurturing environments, how about that? Until then, ladies, do what ya gotta do.