There's a sad, unfortunate cultural trope of women faking orgasms to please men—who can forget the scene in When Harry Met Sally? Now, unsurprisingly, a new, although small study reveals that women do fake orgasms for a reason: so the sex will be over more quickly.
The study, which was presented at the British Psychological Society, asked 15 women ages 19 to 28 about their experiences with faking it in the bedroom. "Despite being recruited to talk about consensual sex, all women spoke explicitly of a problematic sexual experience," says the press release for the upcoming study.
Notably, the women surveyed never used terms like "rape" to describe sexual experiences where they faked it, but the scenarios they described could be deemed as such. Instead they classified their experiences as "bad sex." Further details about the way women described these sexual experiences have yet to be released.
"Participants said that faking orgasm was one way of exerting more control and getting out of sex when there didn't seem to be other options available," writes Angela Chen for Gizmodo.
Even though this study is small, it points to a larger cultural issue with the way we perceive sex. While active consent in some way—"yes, I want to have sex with you," "yes, I want you to touch me there"—is crucial, it simply does not play out that way all the time, even with consenting couples. And one woman's "bad sex" could easily be another woman's rape.
Still, we live in a culture where when a woman is having sex and wants to stop, it can feel inherently safer to fake an orgasm than to let her partner know, "Hey, I'm not feeling this." Studies like these, no matter how small, clearly indicate our need to shift cultural conceptions of sex enough to make women more comfortable letting their partners know when they don't want to have sex. Maybe a first step would be for men to ask.