There's that scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Billy Crystal – inexplicably cast as some sort of sexual conqueror of women despite a seriously dodgy sweater collection – tells Meg Ryan with all the confidence of a fully average straight white man that no woman has ever faked it with him.
Her response? She fakes it. Slams her hands on the table and screams "YES YES YES!" at the top of her lungs. Right in the middle of the packed-out Katz's Deli.
"I'll have what she's having", says a lady a few tables over as Billy shrinks down inside his monstrous jumper, chastened and embarrassed.
The mistake Billy made in that movie is the same mistake that men are still making 30 years later by not realising that 'faking it' isn't just a trick women pull out of the bag for the odd occasion of bad sex they might have after five Jägerbombs and a night of grinding to slow jams. No, it's a skill that's been in most women's repertoire since they first started having sex, thanks to an ingrained idea that we need to look and act a certain way in order for our partner to buy into the idea that they've just experienced 'good' sex.
It's not just limited to straight women – 59% of lesbians admitted to faking it with a female partner at some point. And it's no wonder – growing up exposed solely to ideals of sexual pleasure dictated by a man's worldview has left many women with the subconscious impression that performing for their partner, rather than zeroing in on their own needs, is how sex is 'done' – a mindset that's not exactly conducive to multiple orgasms.
Things are changing as more women realise that sexual pleasure isn't just a nice bonus, it is their right. It is insane that it's taken until now to realise that we don't have to suffer through awkward fumbles before faking an orgasm out of 'politeness'. And yet here we are.
Recently the conversation about female pleasure feels like it's gone into overdrive. Campaigns like the Pink Protest's #girlswanktoo have been ending the shame many women still feel about masturbation, podcasts like F**ks Given and Laid Bare talk openly and graphically about everything and anything to do with sex, female-led sex tech companies like Dame and Unbound are creating colourful sex toys that look nothing like the phallic rabbit from the Sex and the City era.
In porn, established women filmmakers like Erika Lust and Petra Joy are being joined by a super talented younger generation of wildly artistic and experimental filmmakers (see: Vex Ashley). Elsewhere, lifestyle and health stores like Boots and SODA are adding sex toys to their stock and a huge number of fabulously Instagrammable lubes that wouldn't look out of place next to your Glossier beauty products are popping up left and right. In short, 2019 marks the year that female pleasure takes centre stage. Which is why we're devoting a whole week to talking about it.
We ask where we went wrong in our initial approach, how to get pleasure solo or with a partner and, more importantly, how to ask for it. We're going to be seeking help from tantric practitioners and meditation gurus, hold a celebration of masturbation and check in on what orgasms and pleasure mean to different photographers.
We're also going to put our serious hats on to investigate why female pleasure isn't taught in sex education, look at what antidepressants are doing to our ability to reach orgasm, and we're going to ask why there's not more research into the science of female pleasure.
So strap in (or on) for a week of no-holds-barred, upfront and frank conversation about getting off – because, as you'll find out in one of our upcoming articles, there are 14(!!) different types of orgasm and you, my friend, deserve all of them.