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Lie Back and Think of England

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"To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, in which the bride is the central attraction in a beautiful and inspiring ceremony, symbolizing her triumph in securing a male to provide for all her needs for the rest of her life. On the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must pay the piper, so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex."
Instruction and Advice for the Young Bride on the Conduct and Procedure of the Intimate and Personal Relationships of the Marriage State for the Greater Spiritual Sanctity of this Blessed Sacrament and the Glory of God.note 

In contemporary society, sex is commonly regarded as a recreational experience, but it's not always so. Often times people have had to endure having sexual intercourse, mentally detaching themselves from the physical act and simply going through the motions and passively allowing the unwanted or unsatisfactory sexual encounter to finish.

While this can happen to someone of any gender, it's far more common to occur with female characters. The phrase "Lie back and think of England" refers to the societal expectation that women should endure or submit to sexual activity with their husbands, even if they are not particularly enthusiastic about it. Although the phrase originated in Britain, this stigma extends globally as it reflects a traditional and repressive view of sexuality and gender norms, where women are expected to prioritize their role as wives and mothers over their own desires. This is often associated with the belief that All Women Are Prudes who are simply incapable of enjoying sex, feigning headaches, stomachaches, and menses to get away from their "marital duties." Today, such beliefs are frequently recognized as sexist and oppressive, undermining female agency and suppressing their sexual autonomy, but many still do believe that it's better for a woman to endure if it will bring her male partner happiness.

Although historically this coping mechanism is more prevalent in marriages (especially of the Arranged Marriage kind or ones where Marital Rape License is invoked), fiction often portrays characters using this type of mental disengagement to deal with several kinds of unwanted sexual encounters, usually of the Questionable Consent nature, if not straight-up sexual harassment or rape. This can include scenarios where characters are forced to have sex by a third party such as Aliens Made Them Do It or Mate or Die situations. Or they may need to engage sex in order to fulfill a specific goal such as a seducer sleeping with a target, participating in a Sex Magic ritual, or simply for reproduction purposes. Sometimes one character may zone out simply because their partner is simply incredibly bad at sex.

This trope is frequently visualized via a Revealing Hug, with the partner on the top "doing all the work," while the other looks to the ceiling with a blank or vacant expression, sometimes with Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, Empty Eyes or a Thousand-Yard Stare.

Not to be confused with: Anorgasmia, for when a character is physically unable to climax during consensual sex; Think Unsexy Thoughts, which is when a character deliberately imagines something unpleasant so as to avoid or delay sexual arousal; Unfocused During Intimacy, which is when two characters have consensual sex for recreational purposes, but at least one of them can't help but be distracted for various reasons.

Contrast The Loins Sleep Tonight or Speed Sex for when a character wants to have sex but is unable to get aroused or has finished too quickly. When the emphasis is on a husband's "right" to force sex on his wife, see Marital Rape License. See also Awful Wedded Life for when nothing about being in a relationship is enjoyable. See British Stuffiness and Stiff Upper Lip for National Stereotypes associated with this trope about the British. See also Incompatible Orientation, Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality, and Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny.


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    Comic Books 
  • Crossed: Played for Drama in one arc where Smokey (a Crossed who's retained his intelligence) realizes he needs to keep a supply of normal humans on hand rather than the easily-distracted, fractious Crossed. So he makes a male captive impregnate the women, who feels like even more of a bastard when they don't try to fight back. In the end it's All for Nothing after the Crossed are unable to restrain themselves and tear the women apart as they're giving birth.

    Fan Works 
  • Mentioned in the Thor fanfic Between Worlds, during a flashback showing Loki taking a young noblewoman to bed. She invokes this (replace England with Asgard), thinking that he will not let her enjoy the experience. She's wrong.
    • There's also a fic that has it that Loki, as the second/lesser prince, was "encouraged" by Odin to use his wiles on various noblemen to make them more amenable to Asgard's interests. Whether he cared to use his body that way or not.
  • Done in the Frozen fanfic Ice on the Rhine, where Elsa has a marriage/procreation agreement with Napoleon (yes, that Napoleon) and on her wedding night, she lies back and thinks of Arendelle. However, in Elsa's case, it's less dislike of sex and more due to political calculus.
  • In Hivefled Mindfang manages to secure protection against Dualscar for herself and The Dolorosa by having both of them have sex with The Grand Highblood, and keeps this sort of attitude during it to keep her disgust at bay. She also thinks to herself that she'll wipe Dolorosa's mind of it afterward to spare her from remembering it.
  • Frozen Hearts Melting:
    Narcissa: And eventually like I said, Lucius only came to my bed quarterly and we have settled into a routine where I am ready and he uses a lubrication and engorgio charm and it's over in about ten minutes. I just stare at the photo of the three of us on my nightstand. It gets me through it.
  • A Rare Male Example in A Northern Dragoness when Jonnel Stark tries to protest about his Arranged Marriage. When he wonders if his bride was refused by the king for being ugly, his father merely answers that Jonnel will have to bed her with his eyes closed.
  • In the RWBY fanfic The First Times, the girls talk about (you guessed it) their first sexual experiences. In Blake's story she had to prostitute herself for food and shelter following a surge in anti-Faunus racism. To distract herself from the act, she tried to count the number of tiles on the ceiling.
  • Used in the Neptunia fanfic Buyout during the Attempted Rape of Blanc, told from her POV. "Just lie back and think of Lowee..."
  • For the sake of the Irken race, Almighty Tallest Purple needs Invader Zim to bear his children in In Short Supply note . Purple makes it clear that he's not doing it for enjoyment, he's not attracted to Zim personally and refers to it as an important mission. Zim is willing but does it for the empire's sake rather than his own. The story doesn't say how they felt during sex, though.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged plays a male example for laughs. In "Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan Abridged", Vegeta gives Broly his blessing to bed "Princess Trunks". When Trunks naturally protests this, Vegeta tells him to shut up and think of the bloodline.
  • As an example of the male version, the Person of Interest fic But here in our hollow we fuse like a family by livenudebigfoot is a Prostitute AU with Fusco as the prostitute, Finch as the client, and Reese as the pimp — instructing Fusco through an earpiece. To ensure that Fusco keeps it up long enough to satisfy his client, Reese keeps an ear on the progress and mentions unsexy things as needed.
    Reese: Hey, have I asked you to picture your grandmother yet, because you definitely should.
  • Another male example appears in A PostGraduate Sitch. Ron, as part of a eugenics program, has to impregnate a few women, but he tries very hard not to enjoy the experience because said women are not Kim.
  • Rocketship Voyager. Captain Janeway gets into an argument with Chakotay over why he became a Maquis rebel. Chakotay brings up an incident where Janeway mutinied against a captain who wanted to use his female crewmembers as a colony's Baby Factory and snarks, "Shouldn't you girls have just closed your eyes and thought of the Tri-World Federation?"
  • In A Spark of Ice and Fire, Lysa Arryn resorts to this when forced to have sex with the much older Lord Arryn. To her misfortune, she's eventually forced to resort to this again when she's captured by the Ironborn, taken to Pyke, and made Aeron Greyjoy's Salt Wife.
  • A Corpse Bride fanfic taking place on Victor and Victoria's wedding night shows that Lady Everglot's advice to her newly-wed daughter was to "think of something pleasant".
  • Watch mentions that Mrs. Granger's stepmother's advice was to close her eyes and think of her marital duty, then hope that her husband would find a mistress or a secretary so she wouldn't have to do her "duty" too often.
  • best served cold (Nyame): Laurel does not enjoy sex with Malcolm in the least, which is unsurprising considering he's almost twice her age and the man who murdered her sister and boyfriend, and only manages to put up with it because it's key to her plan to take her husband down. She even finds a rough quickie with Oliver a million times better than every night she's spent with Malcolm put together.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Like Water for Chocolate, this view is held by both men and women. They have sex only to procreate, they use a special bedsheet between them with just a small hole you-know-where; and before the act they both pray to God, asking forgiveness for any pleasure they might accidentally have while trying to make a baby. This system is used by one of the main characters because he isn't attracted to the woman he is about to have sex with. He married her to become closer to her sister, the one he actually loves. But because he doesn't want to dishonor his wife or fail to fulfill his duties as a man, he agrees to have quick, unenjoyable sex once in a while.
  • The Assignment (1997). As part of an intelligence operation, the protagonist is told he has to have sex with a former lover of his target. As he's Happily Married he's a bit thrown by this. The woman concerned is quite beautiful, so his handlers have fun mocking his reluctance.
    Shaw: Don't think of this as cheating on your wife. Think of it as... fucking for your flag.
    Amos: (With mock gravitas) When in doubt, close your eyes, think of England.
  • Done by James Bond of all people.
  • Parodied and gender-flipped in xXx. When Xander has to sleep with one of the Big Bad's prostitutes to maintain his cover, he smirks and mumbles "Oh, the things I'm gonna do for my country."
  • The Right Stuff: When John Glenn (Ed Harris) has to masturbate for a sperm sample, he's heard humming the Marines' Hymn ("From the halls of Montezuma..."). In the next stall, Air Force pilot Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid) tries to outdo him, humming a spirited rendition of the Air Force Song ("Off we go, into the wild blue yonder...").
  • Invoked word for word in the Rifftrax of The Room (2003). Michelle is trying to convince Lisa that it's wrong to cheat on Johnny. As Michelle leaves, she reminds Lisa to "think about what I said." Kevin says, "Just lie back and think of England." In this case, though, it isn't so much that anyone thinks Lisa shouldn't enjoy sex, but because Johnny looks like "a catfish in a suit."
  • Subverted by Fletcher Christian/Marlin Brando in Mutiny on the Bounty where he is having an affair with the Polynesian chief's daughter. The captain of the Bounty is worried that it will upset the chief and interfere with his mission of buying breadfruit plants. The chief is instead angry at the ending of the affair, saying if his daughter isn't good enough for the British, neither is his breadfruit. The captain tells Christian to resume seeing the girl; after cheekily asking if it's an order, he mock-solemnly promises to 'lie back and think of England' when resuming the affair.
  • Almost literally in the film Disobedience, given that it's set in London. A young Orthodox Jewish woman matter-of-factly undresses and climbs into bed to wait for her husband, then makes clearly practiced moans and murmurs while he mounts her, all the while staring at the ceiling. The difference between her detachment here and the passion she shows with her true love—another Orthodox Jewish woman—is stunning.
  • Gender-flipped and deeply disturbing example in Crimson Peak- Thomas Sharpe is shown closing his eyes and looking remarkably unenthusiastic while having sex with his sister. Evidently this relationship has been going on since he was 12 years old.
  • In Feast, part of Tuffy's job description (if she wants to keep her job as a waitress at Bossman's bar, which she needs to support her son), is servicing Bossman. When the time comes for her to take a "meeting", she just bends over his desk and has a smoke, waiting for it to be over.
  • The Slipper and the Rose: The King mentions that when he married the Queen, he closed his eyes and thought of their kingdom of Euphrania.
  • Possessor: Vos is shown having sex with her husband (who she has separated from) on the night of her visit with him and their son. She appears expressionless and just lies there underneath him.

  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin fears that he may have to do this, as he dreads being married to the daughters of the neighbouring Brindle family. Eventually, he marries a group of sisters, one of whom was raped by her previous husband and does something that looks suspiciously like a "mount him and think of England" variant of this. They do cuddle affectionately, though.
  • In The Alice Network, Eve Gardiner hates Sleeping with the Boss, but puts up with it because she's pretty sure that if she doesn't, he'll fire herand she won't get all this nice information about the Germans he lets slip over a pillow.
  • Instruction and Advice for the Young Bride (etc.) is a 19th century educational pamphlet intended to prepare upright young women for the horrors of sex. It is an obvious hoax, but it's probably one of the most amusing parodies of the trope you'll ever read.
  • In one scene in Hunting Ground, from the Mercy Thompson universe, Anna is taking the lead during sex and being particularly active and assertive. Her husband teases her by saying, "Well, I'll just lie back and think of England, then." Her response is that if he's thinking of England, she's not doing it right, and steps up the action.
  • In Dragon Bones it is implied that that was how sex worked for Ward's parents. At best. Averted with other women; while the marriage bed of the queen is probably this (the king prefers young men, anyway, and he's a jerk), she does have a younger lover who, it seems, is ...talented, judging from the noises that his brother, who sits in the room next to the bedroom where things are happening, complains about.
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, "goodthinkful" women are taught to call sexual intercourse "our duty to the Party". Of course, men are discouraged from enjoying sex as well, and it's the Party's goal to get it seen as a disgusting but necessary act because the Party doesn't want anyone to feel devotion or attachment to anything but the Party. Marriages between Party members have to be approved by a committee that rejects couples who seem to be attracted to one another. It's also mentioned that the Party's scientists are working on altering the nervous system to remove the orgasm entirely.
  • Invoked in The Guardians by Alice when she's trying to convince Jake that she's not attracted to him.
    Jake: "So you'll let me [kiss you]?"
    Alice: "I will if I must. I shall bear it by thinking of England."
  • In the Gemma Doyle books, Felicity mentions this trope when the girls find a picture of a man and woman having sex. However, all four girls have sex drives to some extent (Gemma kisses Kartik and gets aroused, Felicity and Pippa are Lipstick Lesbians), so they laugh when the phrase is brought up.
  • In To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Robert A. Heinlein doesn't use the exact quote (only reasonable, since most of the book is set in the US). But before Maureen's wedding, her mother gives her the "traditional" introduction-to-sex talk and tells her to just lie back and think of her children. Why she bothers is unclear, since Maureen, like most Howard Families brides of that time (including all female relatives whose first marriages are discussed), is pregnant, and her mother is very well aware Maureen has had an active sex life for quite some time.
  • Subverted, justified and gender-switched in Mix Beer With Liquor And You Will Get Sicker. Lauchlan goes into his relationship with near to no knowledge of male-to-male relations beyond tab A goes into slot B. He actually believes that the dominant partner will be the only participant who feels pleasure and resigns himself to perform this trope. Thankfully, Corbin is quick to disillusion him.
  • The protagonist of Moving Mars (except, you know, with Mars instead of England) uses this line to counter a clumsy seduction attempt from her boss.
  • In the Aubrey-Maturin series, Sophie may have been brought up to follow this trope, despite Jack's best efforts to encourage her to enjoy their marital relations. Then again, Jack approaches sex with the same cheerful energy with which he approaches boarding actions, and his idea of foreplay is getting drunk at dinner. Sophie has good reason to not enjoy sex with her husband, though they do love each other dearly.
  • In Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, the heroine, when she was forced to sleep with the man who bid for her virginity, lay back and "put all the force of my mind to work in making a sort of mental barrier between [the man] and me…I searched the shadows on the ceiling for something to distract me."
  • This happens in Froi Of The Exiles where Quintana is forced to be with all the last-born males in the hope of breaking the curse of non-fertility in their country. She just makes shapes in the shadows with her hands while they quickly finish.
  • In the Arly Hanks mysteries by Joan Hess, Mrs. JimBob's mother taught her that a proper wife should lie back and think of England. She takes this recommendation literally, although she'd never understood what England had to do with a small-town Arkansas woman's sex life.
  • Something along these lines is stated to be what the prostitute characters resort to in Redeeming Love, to the point that the heroine, a former prostitute herself, cannot understand why her husband possibly thinks she is capable of enjoying sex. Fortunately, he eventually proves her cynicism wrong.
  • Jace tells Clary to do this before they kiss in front of the fairy court in City of Ashes. More like "Close your eyes and think of England."
  • More common than not in The Kingdom of Little Wounds. Sex is often something the female characters need to endure, not enjoy. Princess Sophia in particular does her best to knock herself out with wine before consummating her marriage.
  • A rare mutual version occurs in Shogun, part of the Asian Saga. Fujiko has been assigned to Blackthorne as a consort by their feudal overlord. In general, they actually like each other pretty well, but not in a romantic way because Fujiko finds Blackthorne's culture shock extremely stressful and Blackthorne thinks Fujiko isn't very attractive. For appearance's sake, they have dutiful and uninspiring sex anyway.
  • In The Red Tent, Zilpah views sex with Jacob like this, because she Does Not Like Men. It is hinted that she may be a lesbian or asexual, or it may have something to do with her father molesting her and Leah as children. In any case, she only sleeps with Jacob because Leah (whom she is a Lady-In-Waiting to) has asked her to, and makes it clear that she did not enjoy it when her sisters ask how it was. After she very nearly dies giving birth to the twin sons from that union, she tells Jacob that she doesn't want to have sex with him ever again.
  • People who live in the crushing theocracy of Holyland in The Gate to Women's Country refer to sex as a man "doing his duty". No one's supposed to enjoy any of it, of course.
  • Warbreaker: When Siri is wed to the God King Susebron and told to produce an heir, the palace administrator Bluefingers warns her that Susebron could have her killed for any reason. Although she is the only one allowed to touch the God King, Bluefingers suggests not touching him too much and just letting him handle everything. She spends every night of the next week kneeling naked in front of the God King, waiting for him to ravish her. She eventually snaps and yells at him. The priests blame her for the whole affair, and not-so-subtly threaten her homeland with war. As it turns out, Susebron knows absolutely nothing about sex. His only education is a children's book his mother left him. He was therefore completely bewildered at Siri's behavior. The reason the priests got mad at Siri is that it was her duty to seduce Susebron. Unfortunately, Bluefingers was secretly a rebel trying to distract the empire from his own homeland, so he deliberately gave Siri incorrect instructions in order to delay the birth of the heir and foster distrust between both sides.
  • In The Handmaid's Tale, the protagonist is assigned to a high-ranking official and has to have ritualized, emotionless sex with him in order to conceive. She thinks of the phrase "close your eyes and think of England" during one such encounter and mistakenly attributes it to Queen Victoria.
  • The Stone Diaries: One of the running themes of the book is how men, in general, are clueless and useless, and part of this manifests in how women don't seem to get pleasure from the sex act. While Cuyler Goodwill is greatly turned on by his wife, the book describes "her inability to feel love", and how she basically just lies there while her husband humps away. Several chapters later, a lengthy passage describes how Daisy similarly just lies there, accepting "a few minutes of rhythmic rocking" from her husband while she's thinking about how a magazine gave advice on how to fake sexual pleasure...and then, while her husband is still bonking her, her mind wanders to the movie she just saw, The Best Years of Our Lives. Clarentine Flett thinks of being bored when she hears "a kind of grunt" at the moment of her husband's climax.
  • Coral Lansbury's Sweet Alice:
    Nobody had told her much about sex, and what she had seen on the neighbouring farms had hardly filled her with any joyful anticipation. Aunt Matilda told her that a decent woman closed her eyes and spelled chrysanthemum slowly while it was going on, and if it was still continuing then you spelled herbaceous and bougainvillea in that order. No man, Aunt Matilda had said with considerable satisfaction, had ever been able to outlast a bougainvillea.
  • The Jenkinsverse: Variant. Most aliens don't have any real sex drive to speak of; since the vast majority of worlds are ecologically simple and non-competitive, they don't need a hard-coded drive to propagate the species. They reproduce only when they decide that more children are needed. Kirk is a little jealous when he realizes that humans get a lot more out of sex than his species does.
  • The Fifth Season: The feeling is mutual between Syenite and The Archmage Alabaster since they've been instructed to conceive a child for a Super Breeding Program in a setting that doesn't classify people with Functional Magic as human. Alabaster's Straight Gay but long since resigned to being put out to stud, while the best thing Syenite can say about the experience is that Alabaster lets her get it over with quickly.
  • The Eyes of The Dragon: A rare male example; King Roland is uninterested in women (and might possibly be asexual) and the narrator says that he's rather afraid of them. Nevertheless, he's the king, so he has to marry and produce an heir, and ends up married to a teenage noblewoman named Sasha. Though the two quickly grow to genuinely love each other, their sex life is dependent on a potion prepared by Roland's court magician Flagg because Roland can't become aroused without it, except on one very exceptional occasion - after Roland killed a dragon during a hunt, he was so invigorated by the experience that he didn't need the potion, and the resulting tryst led to the conception of their first son, Peter.
  • Spinning Silver: Gender-flipped with the Staryk King, who feels duty-bound to take his new wife Miryem to bed even though neither of them wants to. Debts and responsibilities are so important to the Staryk that he only stops when she trades her "rights" to him for a different favour.
  • The Lovers: in the Haijac Union people are supposed to have sex only for reproductive purposes and take no pleasure out of it, though they must still have it out of love between husband and wife. One of the things that draw Hal away from his Sigmenite beliefs is that Jeannette, with whom he has sex out of actual love, is much better at it than his wife (that he divorced when he became an astronaut) ever was.
  • The War Against the Chtorr. Jim McCarthy is so nervous about making love to Colonel Badass 'Liz' Tirelli that to get him to lighten up she strips naked, wraps herself in the American flag, and orders him to make love for his country. The next day McCarthy is miffed when the colonel reverts to her usual Ice Queen demeanor in public, only to crack up laughing on seeing she's wearing a tiny flag pin.
  • Anna from There's More Than One Way Home has her own version for sex with her politician husband Alex: "Close your eyes and think of the next election."
  • Record of Grancrest War: Milza Kuces demands Marrine Kriesche sleep with him as the price of his support, which he casts as a test of whether she truly has the resolve to unite the lands of Atlatan under her banner. She accepts, but she definitely doesn't enjoy it and is only doing it to further her conquest: not only is she a virgin, but her thoughts are still with her estranged True Love Alexis Doucet. This is contrasted in the same episode with Theo and Siluca becoming the Official Couple elsewhere.
  • In The City Who Fought, the invading Kolnari are not considerate lovers, tending to bite and being concerned about little more than spreading their "Divine Seed". Stationers put up with it in part because they're giving the invaders a dose of a Synthetic Plague. Channa Hap is of particular interest to the Faux Affably Evil leader of the Kolnari and decides, just before setting off the revolt, to have semi-willing sex with him partly to spread the disease, partly out of curiosity. It's a twenty-minute session that he clearly thinks should have blown her mind, but Channa found it tiring and annoying more than anything.
  • The Howling (1977): Karyn's psychological trauma from being raped just two months ago results in her no longer enjoying sex with her husband. She feigns enjoyment because she wants to please him and desperately hopes things will just go back to normal, but Roy notices she's faking. The one time she genuinely starts to feel desire for Roy and enthusiastically initiates sex, they're disrupted by the sound of howling.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used jokingly by Franklin in the Babylon 5 episode "Acts of Sacrifice". When Ivanova learns that an alien diplomat will only seal a potential alliance through sex with her, he suggests, "You could put a bag over his head and do it for Babylon 5!"
  • Gender-inverted in Blott on the Landscape. Lady Maud wants children and is griping that her husband isn't interested in having sex with her (because she's a Big Beautiful Woman, while he's more interested in kinky sex with his young mistress).
    Lady Maud: Women have always been expected to lie back and think of England.
    Solicitor: I'm not sure thinking of England has the same effect on a man.
    Lady Maud: I don't care what he thinks about, as long as he lies back! I'll do the rest.
  • In the Miniseries Children Of The Dust, a woman is advised by her overbearing mother-in-law that she must "relax and think lovely thoughts'' because it's her duty to give her husband a son.
  • Dempsey and Makepeace, episode "The Squeeze":
    "Besides, he's only with us for 12 months. Lie back and enjoy it. Think of England."
  • Discussed and invoked again in Desperate Housewives. Gabrielle says that their mothers had the right idea. By convincing men that sex was an unpleasant chore they didn't enjoy, they were able to use it as a bargaining tool. When men realized that women enjoy it as much as men, it eliminated some of their power.
  • One episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman finds the women of the town sitting in their quilting circle. Dr. Quinn outright says that her mother only described "it" as "the wifely duty". However, it turns out that she finds marriage "very agreeable", to which all the other women readily concur. One of them even slyly comments that "if men knew we find it just as agreeable as they do, they'd be very upset."
  • In The End of the F***ing World (season 1, episode 2), the phrase is used by Phil.
    Phil: It's easier for women, they get to lie back and think of England. Men... we have to BE England.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Daenerys has to go through this during the early days of her marriage. Drogo would simply flip her over and go to town on a whim, with no real thought to her enjoyment. After Dany learns some secrets of lovemaking, however, her marriage improves greatly both in and out of the bedroom.
    • The High Sparrow seems to see this as the normal state of affairs for women. Sex is only for producing heirs, and pleasure is irrelevant.
      Margaery: I no longer have such desires.
      High Sparrow: Congress does not require desire on the woman's part. Only patience.
    • A very dark version of this trope is presented when Jaime advises Brienne to think of Renly when her would-be rapists have their way with her, knowing she will be killed if she resists.
  • Gilmore Girls
    • Referenced in one storyline. Lane says that the only thing that stuck from her ultra-religious mother is waiting to have sex until she's married, even though she does want to. When Lane is about to be married, her mom sits her down to have The Talk. Her advice basically consists of "You'll have to 'do it' with this boy. If you're lucky, like me, it will only happen once" while Lane tries not to die of embarrassment.
    • After she's married and home from her honeymoon, Lane tells Rory that her first time was so awful (on the beach at sunrise, with the cold water and the sand...) that she's convinced no woman ever sincerely enjoys it.
    • In another (humorous) reference to this, Rory gives Lorelai advice in the Living Pictures episode that, in order to stay still, she should "Close your eyes and think of England".
  • House of the Dragon: Queen Alicent clearly takes no pleasure in having sex with King Viserys, as seen with her Thousand-Yard Stare as he humps away on top of her. But she still knows it's her duty to endure it and doesn't show her displeasure to him, giving him a fake smile when he looks at her.
  • An episode of How I Met Your Mother had a Flashback to Barney's youth, wherein his brother James, who at this point in time didn't yet realize that he is gay, reveals that he always thinks of his favorite sports team while having sex with women — in order to finish quicker.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): By the middle of "Like Angels Put in Hell by God", sex with his boyfriend Lestat de Lioncourt has become a chore for Louis de Pointe du Lac, so he chats telepathically with Claudia (who's in another room) because he'd rather think about anything else besides what Lestat is doing to his body. When the psychic conversation with Claudia ends, Louis then stares blankly at the ceiling and remains mostly unresponsive to Lestat's lovemaking.
    Louis: (in 2022 narrating to Daniel) The numbness remained, hardened somehow into a dissociative shell, a vessel of acceptance, tortured rationalization.
  • In Into the Badlands, Lydia tries to counsel Veil with her inevitable Forced Marriage to Quinn, telling her that she has to go through with it for her and her infant son's sake. Luckily, the marriage is not consummated.
  • Kaamelott:
    • Zigzagged: Men and women alike see sex as necessary for pumping out kids, but very few seem to be that interested in it. The main exceptions are Arthur (who spent his formative years in Rome and has several mistresses but doesn't seem to view sex as a particularly worthwhile goal) and one of his mistresses, who thinks being good in bed is a good if not the most important trait in a queen.
    • Ever on the lookout for new ways to antagonize his son-in-law Arthur, Leodegrance gets him to participate in a clan tradition after pacifying rebels: the victorious leader must rape the defeated chief's eldest daughter (Arthur is understandably disgusted but Leodegrance threatens to secede if the king refuses to honor his allies' traditions). So Arthur enters and explains to the girl that he's willing to act as though he'd raped her, but it turns out the girl is the chief's second-eldest daughter who was very much looking forward to it (Arthur being known as one of the few men in Britain who bathes and has romantic ideals), to the point that she'd persuaded her sister to switch places. As Arthur continues to refuse to do the deed after they come to an agreement (he'll make her one of his official mistresses and she'll live at Kaamelott), she ends up threatening to rape him at swordpoint.
      Arthur: Touch me and I'll scream.
  • In one episode of The New Statesman, one of the conditions that a depraved older man puts on doing a deal with Alan is having sex with Alan's flunky Piers.
    Alan: Now, Piers, just bite the pillow and think of England!
    Piers: Ohhh no! I had enough of that in boarding school!
  • Played with in Scrubs; generally, any time they pull out the "women have power over men because they can go longer without sex" joke plays it straight. One episode, less so: Carla's hoop for Turk is to prove to her that he truly knows her, which he does by giving her a gift that is relevant to who she is as a person rather than the generic flowers or chocolate (in this case, a pen, because she loves to write everything down). So when he learns, and subsequently puts off sex to tell her, that it turns out the lost-and-found box where he got it is actually an " ass-and-found box", she almost tells him he doesn't get any... until she realizes he pretty much just did exactly what she told him better than any gift ever could. What's weird with this series is that they had one episode where Carla freaks out because she wasn't able to have an orgasm and apparently that had never happened to her before. Clearly, she does enjoy sex.
  • Discussed and invoked on That '70s Show. Jackie knows that the trope isn't true, but pretends it is anyway. If the guys find out that girls enjoy it too, Jackie will lose one of her "buy me stuff" bargaining tools.
  • True Blood: Pam says "Lie back and think of Estonia" to Eric's new Estonian dancer, while giving her oral sex (it is unknown if any blood-sucking was involved). The girl was clearly enjoying Pam's "services."
  • Veronica Mars:
    • V suggests this as a way for Mac to get through prom with her goober of a date.
    • Mac is excited/nervous about getting a hotel room after prom; Veronica says this jokingly to calm her down.
  • In Will & Grace, when Jack is dating Beverly Leslie (Karen was forcing him to be with Beverly because she was broke and he was rich) he mentions that he doesn't really want to stay with him and doesn't want to "do it." Karen simply replies, "Oh, you'll do it. You'll do it the same way any self-respecting woman does. Get on your back, point your heels to Jesus and think of handbags."

  • Used in Emilie Autumn's "I Know Where You Sleep": 'God Save The Queen, I fucked you, I can never live it down, I can never live it down...'
    • Specifically, it sounds like whoever she's singing to is an utterly repulsive person (at least in behavior). It's unclear if the attitude is exclusive to that person or is universal.
    • "Marry Me" takes this attitude towards the ugly husband, whom she married for his money, but she has a lover on the side and maintains that "I'll fuck who I choose/ For I've nothing to lose!", implying that she's pretty active otherwise.
  • Implied in The Lonely Island's "I Just Had Sex", where one woman is mentioned as constantly looking at her watch during the act.
  • In the Garfunkel and Oates song "The Loophole", an Evangelical Christian girl has anal sex with her boyfriend in order to preserve her technical virginity. While the song itself makes it sound like she enjoys it well enough ("Give me that sweet sensation of a throbbing rationalization"), the characters the singers play in the video are clearly not having a good time. The song does acknowledge why this might be when it mentions "of all my holes, this one's the driest".


    Video Games 
  • In Divinity: Dragon Commander, you may marry the cold and practical Princess Camilla, who also serves as the Supreme Justice of her people. If you encourage her to be a Hanging Judge in her rulings, she will harden into a more Lawful Neutral character. Eventually, she will tell you that if the issue of heirs should arise, she will simply close her eyes "and think of Justice."
  • Dragon Age
    • The Qunari religion forbids the traditional family unit in favor of raising children in state-run orphanages, and this is part of that. Qunari are told who to breed with and when; they have no choice in the matter and are encouraged to treat it the same as any other duty to the state. That being said, recreational sex is allowed. It's treated as an appetite that needs to be filled, no different than hunger or thirst, and given no special importance. The Qunari seem to find the way everyone else considers sex the most important thing to be very strange ("We have friends, we just don't have sex with them"). In fact, the same caste that takes care of children, the elderly, and medical needs has people who specialize in providing sex when Qunari need it.
      Iron Bull: It's like going to a healer. Sometimes it's this long, involved thing. It takes all day and leaves you walking funny. Sometimes you're in and out in five minutes. [click clack] Thank you, see you next week.
    • This also comes up when people find themselves in an undesired Arranged Marriage. Dorian discusses the matter with how his own parents utterly despised each other and only did the bare minimum to preserve their status, neatly explaining Dorian's lack of siblings. They in turn expected Dorian to do the same with his betrothed, not seeming to be able to comprehend that this idea repulsed him on a much deeper level.
    • In a rare male example, Loghain tells Morrigan that he hopes she doesn't mind if he thinks of his late wife during her ritual. She snarkily questions why he'd rather make love to a desiccated corpse than to her. One could also argue this may or may not be the case with Alistair should the player choose to have him go through with it instead.
  • In another male example, Drakengard 3's supplementary materials reveal this is the case with Dito, the Disciple of Five. Five has an Extreme Libido even for an Intoner, and makes Dito try out new kinks with her whether he likes them or not, and no matter how much he privately finds her disgusting. But between her self-absorption and lack of sexual technique, Five is such as lousy lover that Dito considers her a "frigid nymphomaniac." As a result, Dito spends their time in bed studying the cracks in the walls until Five exhausts herself and lets him leave.

    Web Animation 
  • Stolas from Helluva Boss is a rare male example; as he was forcibly engaged to Stella since he was a pre-teen to birth Octavia as a precautionary heir to the Goetia family name, this has lead to him leading a generally unhappy and lonely life until Blitzo comes along.


    Western Animation 
  • King of the Hill:
    • A female police officer attracted to Hank feels him up during a frisking. For the duration, he sings the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the National Anthem.
    • In another episode, Peggy has to be a substitute teacher for... (dramatic chord) ...a sex-ed class. She discusses her concerns about whether she can teach it with some of her female friends, and one of them brings up a book that apparently a lot of them were given when they were young by their parents instead of an actual talk or class — which just contained pictures of "flowers", according to a young Peggy in a flashback. Peggy dismisses the book as "worthless", while one of her friends says she "got a lot out of it"... because she could close her eyes and imagine the flowers while her husband was having sex with her.
      Peggy: Oh Bonnie, you poor poor woman...
  • In Moral Orel, Nurse Bendy has been sexually abused by both Principal Fakey and Joe's father, Dr. Secondopinionson, resulting in Joe's birth and is implied to have been the case with others in the past. When we see Principal Fakey having sex with her she has a very bored expression on her face, at one point even eating a sandwich during. This also leads her to having PTSD issues from the abuse.
  • The Futurama episode "All the Presidents' Heads" gender-flips it. During some time travel, Fry goofs and causes America to lose the Revolution. After returning to a ridiculously British 31st century America, Farnsworth doesn't want to try and fix it, since he's now a duke and wealthy beyond his wildest dreams... until he finds out that he's also the consort of the horrifically ugly Queen.
    Queen of England: That's right, love. For centuries, the Farnsworth gentlemen have provided service to the Queen. Now, close your eyes and think of England.
  • Family Guy: Parodied in "V Is For Mystery", which is a parody of Sherlock Holmes. Dr Watson (Brian) is talking about his upcoming wedding, and describes the wedding night this way, making it sound thoroughly unpleasant for both participants, but is actually excited about it.
    Watson: And then, five months later, a stillborn, premature baby the size of a digestive biscuit!

"I think I'll paint the ceiling beige... Yeah, beige, to match the curtains."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Close Your Eyes And Think Of England


Stolas & Stella's Sex Life

Stella claims Stolas is a dead fish in bed to her friends, all while he's standing right beside them.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / LieBackAndThinkOfEngland

Media sources: