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Social Psychology

Women who hold anti-feminist attitudes tend to fake orgasms more frequently, study finds

New research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior provides evidence that women’s beliefs about gender are related to their faking orgasm behavior.

“I think of sex as a very private, intimate event, and one in which people don’t have a great deal of guidance. People know that it’s normative to have sex, but I don’t think there is a common understanding of exactly how to have sex and what to do,” said study author Emily A. Harris, a postdoctoral research fellow at Queen’s University in Canada.

“It can be a vulnerable time. I think our ideologies — our views about the world, including our views about men and women — help to guide what we do in the bedroom. I was interested in how these ideologies might explain whether or not women fake their orgasm.”

“I have my co-author, Hannah Larsen to thank for starting our discussion of faking orgasm, who has an interest in the topic from an evolutionary psychology perspective.”

The researchers surveyed 462 heterosexual women from the United Kingdom who had been in a relationship for at least four months. The scientific questionnaires assessed the women’s political ideology, religiosity, sexist beliefs, gendered beliefs about sex and orgasm, relationship history, ability to orgasm, partner sexual skill, and fidelity concerns.

“My study, and many others, show that faking orgasms is relatively common (77% of women in my sample had faked an orgasm at least once),” Harris noted.

Unsurprisingly, women who found it easy to orgasm and women who rated their partner’s sexual skill highly tended to fake their orgasm less frequently. Women who were more concerned about their partner cheating were, on the other hand, were more likely to have faked an orgasm.

But ideological factors and beliefs about gender also predicted how often women faked their orgasms.

“These final pieces are what interest me the most — women’s beliefs about gender are associated with their likelihood of faking orgasm. Specifically, women who think that a man needs them to orgasm in order for that man to feel satisfied are going to feel greater pressure to orgasm, and will be more likely to fake her orgasms,” Harris told PsyPost.

Women also tended to fake orgasms more frequently if they scored higher on a measure of hostile sexism, which describes the belief that women who challenge men’s power are manipulative and subversive.

“Women who hold anti-feminist attitudes don’t have anything holding them back from faking orgasm, whereas women who adopt a feminist worldview may not fake orgasm because it goes against her belief in a woman’s right to pleasure, and her right to talk about sex openly,” Harris explained.

Of course, the reasons for faking an orgasm are multifaceted. “It’s important to keep in mind that some of these effect sizes are small, and we are not trying to tell the whole story of why some women are more likely to fake orgasm than others,” Harris said.

Reasons for faking an orgasm can vary from one situation to another. For example, previous research has found that women sometimes fake an orgasm to speed up their male partner and put an end to bad sex.

“A major caveat is that my data can only speak to the experience of heterosexual women. We know very little about the experiences of faking orgasm among women who aren’t partnered with men. Another question that needs to be addressed is what are the consequences of faking orgasm? How does it make the ‘faker’ feel, and how does it make her partner feel (if they were to find out),” Harris added.

The study, “Beliefs About Gender Predict Faking Orgasm in Heterosexual Women“, was authored by Emily A. Harris, Matthew J. Hornsey, Hannah F. Larsen, and Fiona Kate Barlow.