top of page
  • Writer's pictureHailo

Why you should Never Fake an Orgasm & should Always let your BF Cry

It hurts me to even says the word “sex.” I flinch.

I remember being forced to say it a lot when I was fangirling over this Princeton alumna, Stacy Rukeyser (icon), who was the showrunner for the show Sex/Life. We had a long phone call last summer and she gave great advice about life after college. How to navigate the film/tv industry. The industry in LA specifically. I told her how much I admired her show and its female-anchored, steamy narrative and that I made my boyfriend watch it with me.

Well, I’m in New York now and I am single and I have crawled, tooth and nail, back to literary fiction in the form of a novel that I procrastinate on by posting things here, so clearly lots of things have changed since then.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about why I can’t say the word sex with gusto, let alone admit the fact that I have an intimate life of my own (I couldn’t even bring myself to type it in reference to myself). Sure, part of the reason is fair, is normal, like the fact that my father is the first person to read and like each of my posts (maybe don’t read this one Dad), and another reason is that my primary doctor (who never asks me about my sex life or if I even have one) was also my Bible school teacher when I was just a little girl, or that while competing in teenage pageants, our directors (grown-ups mind you) would comb through our social media posts, looking for any pictures that made a teenage girl look “suggestive” (whatever that may mean). Plenty of reasons.

So yes. I blushed whenever someone uttered the word. Giggled uncomfortably at raunchy jokes. All my life.

But my brother. My brash, headstrong, brother. The second he reached adulthood, he would announce that he was going away for the weekend to meet a woman he’d met on an app.

“You’re telling us too much, too much,” I would groan. And sure, there are some things you maybe refrain from telling your mother and little sister, but he was unabashed. He’s always been unabashed. And I’ve always been meek and girly.

And meek and girly has always been a part of my identity.

I remember trying to play soccer with the boys in elementary school. I felt like I couldn’t try too hard. I don’t even know where I picked up that notion. And maybe if I had seriously done a team sport, one that focused on physical strength and a clear, measurable goal, instead of ballet, which lends itself to a teenage-girl-lord-of-the-flies flavor of psychosis and emphasis on aesthetics as the goal, then perhaps I could have seen myself as something other than meek. Perhaps I could have been unabashed. Maybe even shameless.

And, you all know the bit by now (and I can’t say too much on this because the novel really really gets into the pageant stuff with nuance (so far, at least, I’m roughly 1/3 of the way through I think!!!)), I did pageants for six years, where I was literally scored on what people thought of me. What they thought of me when they looked at me and spoke to me. How I made them feel.

And follow me with this train of thought please —

My girlish discomfort with my own body — starting with my attempt to not try too too hard in soccer — and later with my womanish discomfort with my own body and sex (and the word sex) — develops into this female-flavored dissociation from the self.

The non-fiction book I’m reading right now, Reflecting Men at Twice Their Natural Size (which I accidentally sold out bc of a) a viral tiktok and b) the fact that it’s out of print), talks about this female dissociation from the self.

I just finished the chapter “The Mandatory Smile and the Obligatory Orgasm,” which says the following things:

  • “Faking [orgasms and smiles] becomes a way of keeping your real self apart. The trouble is you finally end up distanced even from yourself… it’s humiliating and… lonely” (108).

  • It mentions Arlie Russell Hochschild and her “idea that emotional labour [like faking smiles and orgasms] carries with it increasing self-estrangement and isolation” (108).

And two wives the authors interviewed said the following:

  • “You don’t know the way you’re behaving is false, not when you’re doing it, or not before you go to evening classes and mix with women who talk about things like that. When you’re like I was, a girl with no opinions of your own…” (108).

  • “Faking all the time leaves you without any feelings of your own” (108).

So here, the authors pull out this thread of dissociation. How, because society is framed around patriarchy, women (especially at the time of this book’s publication in the 80s) centered everything around making men feel good.

and this is usually where people get defensive, but wait!!!!!! don’t get defensive because…

This is where I love to bring in evolutionary psychology. How the Pill Changes Everything by Sarah Hill cites some super cool stuff about this. Like how men were the breadwinners in the long history of society as far as we know it. Women have focused for so long on making men feel good because they literally had to in order to survive. But things have shifted! Women are going to college and graduating with degrees at insanely high rates. We’ve had multiple feminist movements and don’t put up with half of the things that we suffered even in the 80s. And, as we imagine something like a solution, I want to bring in bell hooks.

In All About Love, bell hooks says two things about men and women that really stuck with me. She says that women are conditioned to lie in order to trick men and cites self-help and dating books (like the coveted Why Men Love Bitches) in order to make this point. Then she says that men are conditioned to construct a false self in order to attract women — one that is rooted in their ability to make money and provide safety.

I really believe in balance. And things are out of balance. When we look at the points from Reflecting Men and bell hooks and my social allowances toward emotional sensitivity and my brother’s social allowances toward physicality, but not vice versa, I think we can all see that things are out of balance.

The gender binary is, yes, splitting us up into two groups (ish).

But is also making people dissociate in weird ways, I feel like.

Women reflect the desires of men and project their own desires onto men. Like the housewife in the 1970s helping her husband through law school when she really wants to go to law school herself. Or like me dating musicians because I’ve always wanted to be in a band.

And, while I cannot and will not speak for men because I’ve never been in that position, I’d imagine some sort of suppression and projection that is also internally painful and frustrating is happening for them.

So what now what now what now.

Well, for one, I’m twenty-two, so if you’re expecting a clear answer to live by, read with caution, because I’m simply winging it at this point in my life and I definitely cried about my own breakup — which I swore I was over — two days ago, because he was always better at handling crises than myself (but am I projecting???).

But I have a friend/mentor who is much wiser. She just finished her novel. She’s hosting these really cool seminars on myths. And I went to one where we discussed this old myth about a Goddess. And my friend/mentor told the story in an unabashed way in the dim light of her Brooklyn apartment with its crown molding and lots of books.

She acted out the story of a Goddess who ruled over love and war, who took as much as she gave, who was a sprawling, sexual creature, just as much as she was a mother. She had balance. And she didn’t dissociate. She definitely didn’t smile to make others more comfortable. Or fake orgasms. And she could probably say the word sex without giggling.

So I think I’m figuring out how to get that balance back in my life. Now that I’m really pushing the boulder up the hill every day and doing a lot of reflection before it can come back down the other side. I’m trying to achieve balance. And I’m trying to understand why I feel perpetually embarrassed. Why I always feel like Im about to be found out for something. Always afraid of being in trouble, making others comfortable, going on dates and trying to nestle myself in their head, their perspective, trying to see myself through their eyes.


I have my own body.

I have my own sex life. (sorry Dad).

I don’t want to dissociate anymore.

So much, if not all of the joy in life is in living it.

And for the first time in my sentient life, I’m ready to do it on my own terms.

In fact, I feel like I’ll go nuts if I don’t.


bottom of page