Is It Ever Okay to Fake Your Orgasms?

When I first got into feminism, sometime around age 14, I had loud, rigid opinions on everything.

“Women shouldn’t have to shave their legs!”

“Cunnilingus should be standard in all hetero sex!”

“No self-respecting woman would ever fake her orgasms!”

However, when I was 16, I started having sex, and the second time my new partner interacted with my genitals in any way, I… faked an orgasm.

I had my reasons (mostly nervousness and just wanting the awkward encounter to be over already), but I felt incredibly conflicted about the whole thing. Until a sex-positive, feminist friend of mine told me she faked a lot. And she liked it. That conversation blew my mind wide open and got me thinking about “the ethics of faking.”

Here are some of my thoughts on “good” and “bad” reasons to fake your orgasms. I’d love to hear whether you agree or disagree, and if you have other reasons to contribute to the list!

Bad reasons to fake:

• You don’t think you deserve real pleasure. (You do, love.)

• You don’t think you deserve to have a partner put in the time and effort required to give you real pleasure. (You do, love. Seriously.)

• You think you should be able to get off a certain way (e.g. from penetration alone), and that it would be embarrassing or unreasonable if you were to instruct your partner in what really gets you off. (Any partner worth their salt would love to learn how to make you happy. And if it happens to involve a kink they’re not into, well, it’s better to know that, so you can decide whether your incompatibility is a dealbreaker for either of you.)

• You know your partner gets off on your pleasure, and you want to give them that. (Okay, that’s very sweet, but if they like your pleasure, they like your real pleasure. And they’ll be upset when they inevitably find out you’ve been faking.)

Acceptable reasons to fake:

• You actually enjoy doing it. Putting on a show of faux pleasure actually induces real pleasure for you, much like smiling makes a person happier.

• You’re deliberately and knowingly play-acting/role-playing with a partner, and it’s assumed that there will be some “dramatization of events.”

• You’re in an unbalanced, perhaps abusive relationship in which it’s easier and safer to fake. (If this is the case, I wish you strength and luck and helpful resources to get you out of there, and I completely understand your decision. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay safe, end of story.)

I’m sure there are lots of other reasons that could go on either list, but those are the ones that come to mind for me. Have you ever faked? What was/were your reason(s)? Do you have any changes or additions you’d make to my lists?