Why women should fake orgasms
It's OK to fake an orgasm and let him look at other women. Don't nag, just smile sweetly at him for his funny little ways. From FAY WELDON, one of Britain's best-known feminists, a provocative recipe for modern male fulfilment
Yes, I am a comparatively happy woman. I speak cautiously because even as I write I am picking a sliver of glass out of my foot. My husband and I had an argument and he hurled a wine glass across the floor.
I do not believe he wanted to injure me. But then he threw another glass, and another, until the floor was covered by tiny, glittering shards. I came upstairs, barefoot, and opened a new folder on my computer and then saw a little speck of blood on my bare ankle.
It is a beautiful morning in Dorset, the windows have been been cleaned and everything seems to glisten. The roses are in full pink and scarlet bloom, and white hollyhocks stand proud against newly planted yews.
On the lawn, birds peck at worms. All things are transitory. Let us be happy while we can.
But how? What makes women happy? Ask them and they'll reply, in roughly this order: sex, food, friends, family, shopping, chocolate. There are more subtle pleasures, too, of course. The sense of virtue when you don't have an eclair can be more satisfactory than flavour and texture against the tongue.
Rejecting a lover can give you more gratification than the physical pleasures of love-making. Being right when others are wrong can make you very happy indeed. We're not necessarily nice people.
Nice or not, women can be wonderfully happy — when they're in love, when someone gives them flowers, when they've finally found the right pair of shoes and they truly fit.
I remember once, in love and properly loved, dancing round a room singing: 'They can't take this away from me.'
I remember holding a pair of green shoes with green satin ribbons (it was the Sixties) to my bosom and rejoicing.
I remember my joy when the midwife said: 'But this is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. Look at him — he's golden.'
The wonderful happiness lasts for ten minutes or so. After that, little niggles begin to arise. Will he think I'm too fat? Are the flowers his way of saying goodbye? Do the shoes pinch? Is it time to get the children from school? Is solitary dancing a sign of insanity? How come I've produced so wonderful a baby: did they get the name tags wrong?
So the brutal answer as to what makes women happy is 'Nothing, not for more than ten minutes at a time.'
But the perfect ten minutes are worth living for, and the almost perfect hours that circle them are worth fighting for, and examining, the better to prolong them.
What is it that breaks the spell? Three things: anxiety, doubt and guilt. We women are poised between nature and nurture; between what instinct insists we do, and mind and soul instruct us not to do. They pull us in different directions, just as they have always done. We are still creatures of the cave, though we live in loft apartments.
Even going through the motions of procreation, in the midst of our greatest pleasure, the conflict is there. Sex with the new true love brings unguarded delight and then: 'I must clean the cave, keep the baby safe, check the food stores. What's that rustling at the back of the cave? Can it be a sabre-tooth tiger?
'We can't just lie here enjoying ourselves! Isn't he finished yet? What's the woman in the next cave up to? Has he noticed my spare tyre? Is she better than me? Will he go to her?'
Our instincts overlap and contradict each other: the one to make babies struggles with the need to look after the ones already there; the one to compete against our friends with our need to have them at our side.
It leaves us confused and anxious and full of doubt — while he, the man, is thinking solely about pleasure and completion.
With the wedding, it's all: 'Will the flowers arrive? Should I have worn this tatty veil? Should I really be doing this?' With the promotion: 'Will my friends hate me? Will my new office be OK? Will my partner leave me if I earn more than him?'
Blame nature for all of this, it's the hormones that do it. Like it or not, we are an animal species. The human female is born and bred to select a mate, have babies, nurture them and, having completed this task, to die. That is why we adorn ourselves, sweep the cave, attract the best man we can.
Whether a woman wants babies or she doesn't is irrelevant. Her physio-logy and emotions behave as if she does. Her hormones are all set up to make her behave like a female member of the tribe. To fall in love is to succumb to instinct. Common sense may tell us it's a daft thing to do. Still, we do it. We can't help it, most of us, once or twice in a lifetime. Nature means us to procreate.
Any good feminist would dismiss all this as 'biologism' — the suggestion that women are helpless in the face of their physiology. Of course we are not, but it's no use denying it's at the root of a great deal of our behaviour and, indeed, our miseries.
When instincts conflict, when nature and nurture pull us different ways, that's when the trouble starts.
There are so many things to be anxious about.
Sheer pleasure can trigger anxiety. When you're nibbling caviar, or taking a taxi home loaded or spaced out at a concert — I shouldn't be here, I am going to be punished, I shouldn't be doing this. Something terrible is about to happen. I do not deserve to be happy.
Well, maybe you don't? That may be the trouble. We are more than creatures of the cave, ruled by instinct. We are moral beings as well.
Guilt is relentless. Shouldn't have done this, shouldn't have done that. Had a one-night stand, ate chocolate. It is instinctive, hard-wired; it applies itself to any number of situations. But there is a truly simple answer to the pains of guilt. If you feel bad about it, don't do it.
Now there's an old-fashioned doctrine. Step by step, little by little, do what you should, not what you want. Conscience is to the soul as pain is to the body. It keeps you out of harm's way.
I'd say it was OK to sleep with your best friend's boyfriend once (that's nature), but not twice (that's nurture). To have one eclair (that's hunger), but not two (that's greed). As it is with eclairs and treats, so it is with sex.
Guilt is stronger in women than in men, which is rather unfair. But what you are after is happiness, not fairness, so best accept it.
You can take the proud and defiant path through life, of course. Some do and get away with it. My friend Valerie went to an assertiveness class, complaining that other people walked all over her. My own feeling was that she was the one who normally did the trampling.
Valerie was told to give voice to her anger (or she'd get cancer), speak emotional truths (it was only fair to herself), never fake orgasm (it's a lie, an indignity) and seek justice in the home and at work.
When she returned after her two-week course, she bullied more, smiled less and her self-esteem was sky high. It's true she got a rise, but she lost her boyfriend. Justice was on her side, but life wasn't.
Resenting men, a familiar emotion in most women, is understandable but pointless. It is not fair that for men — or at least 98 per cent of them — the culmination of sex is an orgasm. For women, it is not. Just 10 per cent of us always, always have one, or so the figures say. The statistics change. But the broad pattern is clear. Orgasm, the pleasure so liberally bestowed upon men by nature, is only grudgingly given to women.
Of course, women resent it. Listen to any conversation between women when men aren't there: at the hen night, on the factory floor, over the garden fence, at the English Literature tutorial.
Women may laugh and joke, but actually they're furious. They can, we can't, unfair, unfair. They may not know what's biting them — but that's it. But facts are facts and there we are. Deal with it. Life is not fair. Resenting the fact is no recipe for happiness.
Indeed, the less you think about orgasms the better, since the greatest bar to having one, if we're to believe research, is wanting one. Best if they creep up on you unawares. Which is ironic, since what you want most you're going to least get.
But a lot of life is like that. Want too much and it's snatched away. An attitude of careless insouciance is more likely to pay dividends. Because really it doesn't matter in the great scheme of things, just as having an eclair or not doesn't matter. Life goes on pretty much the same with or without.
There are other pleasures. There's true love, trust and sensual pleasure. Or if you're that sort of person, and I hope you are not, the victory of disdain. 'See, knew you were no good in bed.' But it's likely to be your doing, not his.
Sexual repletion is not a necessary ingredient for happiness. Sexual satisfaction can happen anyway, and is not dependent on orgasm. If women were not so often described as 'achieving orgasm' then there would be no sense of failure when they didn't.
Better, more conducive to happiness, to see orgasm as an additional extra, something special that happens, a bonus. Just fake. Happy, generous- minded women, who are not too hung up about emotional honesty, fake.
The more highly educated you are, the more likely you are to fake orgasm. I am not sure what we deduce from that. Is too much intellectual stimulation bad for the love life?
Or does it just occur to clever women pretty soon that it's only sensible to fake it. Not stand upon ceremony and insist it's the real thing or nothing.
Half the pleasure of sex is being nice to the other person. Remember you are not in pursuit of justice; you are seeking what makes women happy. Faking is kind to male partners of the New Man kind, who like to think they have done their duty by you.
Do yourself and him a favour, sister, fake it. Then, who knows, as a reward for your kindness, sublime pleasure may creep up on you unawares.
A few words on porn. They will not be enough, I know, to convince some women that for a husband or lover to watch porn is not a matter for shock-horror.
But look at it like this. In males, the instinct for love and the need for sexual gratification overlap, but do not necessarily coincide.
If you are lucky, the needs coincide in acts of domestic love; if you are not, his head turns automatically after girls in the street or he goes to the porn sites on the computer.
He is not to be blamed. Nor does it affect his relationship with you. Love is satisfied, sex isn't quite. Porn is sex in theory, not in practice. It just helps a man get through the day. Just accept that men are different. The fight for gender equality is bad for the looks. It makes no one happy.
It will simply develop your jaw, wrinkle your brow even beyond the capacity of Botox to unravel it, muddy your complexion so no amount of Clarins Beauty Flash will clear it, and in general do you no good.
Fight for political justice by all means, reform and re-educate. Fight for domestic justice — your turn to clean the loo — if you must, though personally I don't recommend too much of it; it's too exhausting. But do not fight for physiological equality, because it does not exist.
If you have a period pain, you have one. Accept it. Don't fight it. Sit down. Take a pill.
A male voice raised is impressive: a female voice raised creates antipathy. Accept it.
You are not trying to be a man. You are proud to be a woman. Do not shout your enemies down at the client meeting; leave that to the men. Get your way by smiling sweetly. The end is more important than the means.
Accept that for women, happiness comes in short bursts and the ten-minute rule applies. For men, it can last as long as a football match, before they realise they're late picking up the child from school.
So the sum of human happiness is greater for the man than for the woman? I suspect so. Lucky old them. Be generous. You can afford to be. At least you occupy the moral high ground, and men know it.
To have to accept your genetic make-up, the femaleness of your body, its irritating habit of keeping menstrual time with the moon, is not so bad a fate.
These cosmic forces are too great for you to take on single-handed, anyway. It isn't fair, but it's a fact.
It's a dreadful assumption to make that just because a woman is a woman she must need a man. I know many a female who has lived happily ever after without one.
But if you still believe that only with a man can you be truly happy, then you had better find one. There are two ways of doing it. One: they chase and you run. This requires nerve, and you to be higher on the scale of partner desirability than he.
If you are convinced you are — your beauty outweighing his wealth, for example — then give it a go.
Female disdain is attractive, but you need to have looks to get away with it. Your handbook will be The Rules.
Two: you sit quietly and smile. Never when in the company of the man you're after do you give him a hard time.
You never argue, quarrel, demand your rights, reproach or give him one iota of emotional, intellectual or physical discomfort.
This is the best ploy for the 80 per cent of women who were not born with symmetrical features and a sexy body, who have wiry not silky hair, and a muddy complexion — and cannot be bothered to have cosmetic surgery. Your handbook will be The Surrendered Wife.
A man, research tells us, plays the sexual field until he decides he's ready to settle down. Then he looks round the field of his female acquaintance and picks the one he likes the most. Let it be you. If that's what you want.
A word of warning. Category two women fail when they behave as if they were in category one. A woman's vision of herself can be inflated (Because I'm worth it!), her standards higher than is practical.
That is why we have so many talented, beautiful, high-earning, intelligent, single young women about, while their male compatriots are safely tucked away in the suburbs, shacked up with some dim and dozy wife.
Only in romantic novels does Mr Darcy marry Elizabeth Bennet. He ran, she ran faster, he turned round and caught her.
In real life, he might have set her up as his mistress in London's Maida Vale, but marriage? No. On the scale of partner desirability, they did not match.
And me? I spent last night in the spare room. But I am just so pleased to be alive; the morning sun beats in the window. It seems churlish and ungrateful to the maker of all things to lament one's fate.
I did not hurl glasses in return. I did not call names and break things as children do. I bit back my anger and left the room. I slept alone, without worrying about snoring or the way your tummy falls as you lie on your side. I enjoyed the morning writing this.
I hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner downstairs. Soon it will be safe to go down and have breakfast, without even putting on my shoes. What the quarrel was about I cannot for the life of me remember. Storms pass, the sun shines again. I know I am a happy person. I may not be a good person. But I try.