In the classic scene in the film When Harry Met Sally the character Meg Ryan portrays performs the most audacious, guttural, delicious FAKE orgasm in the middle of New York’s famous Katz’s Deli. (If you have never seen it, you HAVE TO, it’s hilarious). Sally does this to prove her point to Harry (played by Billy Crystal) that at one point or another, women have faked an orgasm with a male partner. Before this public fake orgasm, performance she attempts to explain to Harry that despite his arrogant confidence that all his past partners have orgasmed with him, most men don’t realize when a woman has been satisfied nor do they bother to ask what she needs to climax . (Not every woman wants or needs to orgasm but it sure feels good to be asked).
RESEARCH ON FAKING ORGASMS
In a recent study authored by Debby Herbenick and others from Indiana University exploring why women have faked orgasms, it occurred to me that several of the reasons reported are pretty similar to the reasons people express for not telling a gift giver they’d prefer something else. I’m not saying it’s exactly the same, but there are lessons here, humor me a bit.
With Thanksgiving behind us and Black Friday upon us, gifts will now be bought, wrapped, and eventually presented to those we love.
So I decided to focus this month’s blog on giving and receiving gifts AND giving and receiving arousal for orgasms; female orgasms in particular.
I know, you’re reading this, thinking: What is she talking about? Let me explain.
GIFT RECEIVING ETIQUETTE
When you receive a gift, the polite thing to do is of course thank the giver. You may unwrap the gift in front of the giver(s) and many other friends and family gathered for Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa. And then you’re expected to express pleasure and delight at the sight of the gift, even if you’re not that pleased with the gift. Why?
Here are some common reasons:
- you don’t want to be ungrateful (We’ve been rightly taught that “it’s the thought that counts”)
- the person that gave you the gift is someone you really like so you don’t want to hurt their feelings
- you figure the person will figure out what you actually DO like over time
- being the center of attention is so uncomfortable anyway you usually want the whole unwrapping-a-gift-in-public experience to end as quickly as possible
- you want to make the giver feel good about themselves in the choice they made while shopping for you.
- insecurity prevents you from letting the giver know that while you’re thankful, you’d prefer something else and they didn’t offer you the opportunity to exchange or return it.
- having had had little experience in receiving gifts because due to a background of minimal resources and/or poverty where gifts couldn’t be afforded, you don’t know what the protocols are or that you are entitled to ask for what you’d like.
WHY DO WOMEN FAKE ORGASMS?
When a man makes an attempt to pleasure a female-identified partner, the woman may have many of the same reactions when she doesn’t reach an orgasm. In Herbenick’s study, they researched how many women fake their orgasm, the reasons for doing so and women’s histories of not communicating about their sexual needs. They found a whopping 58.8% of women reporting having faked an orgasm with a partner in the past.
Some of the reasons they gave in this study are hauntingly similar:
- 57.1%, wanted their partner to feel successful
- 37.7% liked the person and didn’t want them to feel bad
- being “young and insecure”
- being “young and thought I was ‘suppose’ to,”
- they didn’t know what an orgasm was supposed to be like
- wanted sex to be over “so he would leave me alone,”
There were 4 more reasons women gave in this study that varied from the gift-receiving reasons described above which involve biological, psychological, coercive and/or traumatic reasons:
- 6% wanted sex to end because they were tired
- a partner “almost demanded them,”
- difficulty having orgasm due to being an incest survivor
- no longer felt in love with a partner.
There are those in my field that feel women shouldn’t experience their orgasm as being “given” to them. I do agree that women are responsible for their own advocacy and empowerment when seeking sexual pleasure. It’s this same argument that reminds women that remaining passive is not an option in their workplace if they want the wage gap to be eliminated. As a reminder, when compared to every dollar a white non-Hispanic man earns: a white American woman earns 82 cents, a Black woman is paid 61 cents, a Native woman 58 cents, and a Latinx woman earns 53 cents.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WOMEN’S AND MEN’S ORGASM FREQUENCY
Returning to the subject of women’s pleasure, a recent study of 3,000 single men and women in the US researching the frequency of orgasm during partner sex with a familiar partner, the authors found that 62.9% women reported orgasming while 85.1% of the men reported orgasming.This study proved what is now termed an “orgasm gap” in American women’s sexual pleasure. Based on the above research on women faking orgasms, and the clinical stories heard in our CLS therapy offices, there is an obvious need for sexually active humans to develop more Sex Esteem® in approaching their own pleasure.
SEX ESTEEM® TIPS FOR GIFT GIVING AND RECEIVING
I believe you can both conceive of receiving sexual stimulation and erotic seduction as you would receiving a gift while at the same time, expressing your empowerment. So with this BOTH/AND lens, I created some curated Sex Esteem® mindful techniques to practice in this holiday season as you launch your shopping days this Black Friday and begin to purchase gifts. The tips also include the mindful acts of giving and receiving during Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza. These skills can be then expanded and practiced with your boo as you approach conversations about expanding your sexual relationship. Here are my tips for the giver:
- Ask them if there’s something specific that would make them feel special
- think about what your partner might like by imagining what you’ve seen them wear, use or heard them talk about in past discussions.
- Ensure that you purchase a gift that offers a gift receipt so it’s easy to return
- If you live in a different city be sure that you shop at a national chain that has a location in their town or that makes returns easy if it’s an online purchase.
- When you give it to them let them know you really want them to enjoy the gift and to feel free to return or exchange it .
- Reassure them they shouldn’t feel worried about hurting your feelings by keeping it if they don’t truly like it.
- Let them know their pleasure is the most important aspect of your giving them a gift and you want them to feel excited by the gift.
- Tell them giving them a gift is really all about them, not you.
- If you know they’re shy about being in the center of a group, find a private space to give them their gift. If they’re one on one, they won’t feel “on the spot” and can more authentically express their feelings.
And here are my Sex Esteem® tips for the receiver:
- Thank the giver for giving you the gift and taking the initiative.
- Let them know that you recognize they put a lot of thought, effort and/or expense into the gift.
- Express how much you care or love them for wanting to give you pleasure this holiday season. Let them know how grateful you feel to have them in your life.
- Compliment them on how nice the gift is, but that you may not be able to use/wear it much. Thank them and let them know you’d prefer another color/size/style.
- Let them know you know they are focused on your pleasure and ask them kindly if you showed them something you would enjoy more.
Happy Holidays, I wish you a mindful and pleasurable gift receiving and giving season!