50 Shades of Wrong: Cinema and the Female Orgasm

HQ /
Feb 27, 2017 / Film & TV

It’s about an hour into Fifty Shades Darker and Ana is having a boobgasm. Her head is tilted backwards and she’s moaning uncontrollably. Christian Grey, the sex god, is doing his thing.

Of course, it’s scenes like this that sell the tickets – fourteen scenes, to be exact. But nobody actually believes that sex is really like this, do they?  It’s all good fun to pretend that women can orgasm at the click of the finger, but his lips have barely touched her breast and she’s already writhing on the bed, groaning and panting as if she’s about to combust. I mean, please Christian, you might have skills but you’re not a magician.

According to Bonnie Bullough, the famous sexologist, it takes an average of twenty minutes for a woman to climax. But so many films choose to blissfully ignore this cold, hard truth. Sure, Fifty Shades might be an obvious example – it’s a fantasy movie after all – but the issue doesn’t stop there. You only have to look at some of our most loved and revered Hollywood blockbusters to see that the way in which cinema portrays female sexuality is not only inaccurate, but deeply problematic.

Take Ghost (1990), for example, where during a sensual pottery class, Demi Moore theatrically reaches orgasm just one minute and five seconds after she kisses Patrick Swayze; or The Notebook (2004), where Rachel McAdams succumbs to Ryan Gosling after just one minute eighteen. Fifty Shades is just the latest example in a torrent of unrealistic portrayals of female orgasm, and it can’t help but beg the question: are we ever going to learn?

Now granted, the moment might somewhat fizzle out if we had to wait twenty minutes for things to heat up on the big screen, but the fact that the female orgasm is so over dramatised is a very real issue. By painting a woman as nothing more than swooning beauty who melts at the touch of a man, we’re not doing anything to make sexual standards fairer. Basically, we’re only further perpetuating a culture where female sexual pleasure is a given – she’ll feel it from the word go – and therefore the aim of the event is for her partner to pop his cork.

The main issue is that people are impressionable. Yes, Fifty Shades Darker might be rated an 18, but according to Durex, this is also the average age that a Brit loses their virginity. Other movies with sex scenes, though admittedly less graphic, can be 15s, or even 12s, and they still raise the same fundamental problem.

At the beginning of her sex life – or at any point, for that matter – a woman shouldn’t feel like there’s anything wrong with her if she’s not overcome with lust at the first glimmer of physical contact. She shouldn’t feel that having to wait for pleasure makes things any less enjoyable.

You might say that people know what they’re getting when they go to see a movie – that it’s not real life. But we can’t ignore the fact it has an impact. In a survey conducted just last year, seventy per cent of teenagers said they felt that online porn led to “an unrealistic attitude towards sex”, and when you think about it, presenting the idea of an ‘easy orgasm’ on a big glamorous movie screen is far more damaging than doing so via a sleazy tape on Pornhub. It’s a public confirmation to everybody watching that sex should always be so picture perfect.

And it’s not just women who are being blinded. Creating the illusion that all blokes can whip a woman into a frenzy at the touch of a thigh is not only wrong, but irresponsible too. With each dramatic sigh, it further entitles men to treat the female orgasm as a given, rather than something tangible that takes legwork. Plus, it might go somewhere to explaining why 1 in 3 women struggle to climax on a regular basis.

Now men, I know what you’re thinking: You’re the exception. When you do the deed it’s exactly like the movies.

But frankly, the chances are it’s not. As Meg Ryan so famously demonstrates in When Harry Met Sally, “most women, at one time or another, fake it.”

And she’s not wrong. Statistics show that 80% of women have faked an orgasm, and most of the time, you’re none the wiser. If Fifty Shades was real life then Christian would have more chance of walking in on Ana with a vibrator than he would of making her come fourteen times in a row. And yet she does. Every. Single. Time.

But that’s the thing isn’t it. Like porn, or any other rom-com, it’s all just a better version of reality; and until the movie industry accepts that men aren’t always great in bed, we could all do well to remember that.

Words by HQ

Find Your
Closest Store

Use our store finder to locate your closest tmrw stockist.

Get a Copy of Our Printed Magazine

£9.99 (Excl. Delivery)

Take a look at our shop for current and back catalogue volumes to get yourself a copy of our printed magazine now. 2

2 Products avaliable as long as stocks last.