Earlier this month, porn actor Aurora Snow detailed how difficult it is for her to rent a place to live in Los Angeles. Once she lists her occupation on the rental agreement, landlords become immediately concerned that she’ll be having tons of men over for sex, and that the sex will be so loud it will disturb and alarm the neighbors. In other words, they think that she’ll shoot loud porn on the premises, but that even if she doesn’t film her normal sexcapades, they will be loud, too, because loose women be loud fuckin’.
Women aren’t just discriminated against for loud sex, they’ve also been jailed for it. In 2015, British woman Gemma Wale spent two weeks in jail for “screaming and shouting whilst having sex,” deemed antisocial behavior that disturbed the neighbors.
It’s a strange conundrum when nearly everything culturally tells women that they must make noise during sex or they aren’t doing it right. Also, if you don’t scream your head off, you might risk confusing the poor man who is trying to take you to the heights of pleasure. In other words, if a man fucks a woman in a forest and she doesn’t scream, did he make her cum? It’s a damned if you do scream, damned if you don’t situation.
A few years ago, researchers looked into why women make so much noise when copulating, especially at the end when he’s getting off, and found that it has absolutely zero to do with an actual orgasm she’s having, because most women experience orgasm during foreplay. Turns out some 66 percent of women said that big vocal finish is to make the guy get off faster. A full 87 percent said they do so to boost a man’s self esteem. Others said they do it to relieve boredom or actual pain during the act. Not quite the screaming thumbs up you thought it was, eh?
This is telling: The overwhelming majority of women did not say they moan and scream because it’s a natural, unavoidable vocal response to the pleasure, but because they have to make a lot of noise so men don’t think they aren’t enjoying it. But women don’t expect men to make the same spectacle out of fucking, nor do men feel any pressure whatsoever to perform sex sounds, regardless of whether a woman might want them to for the same reasons.
There is an easy obvious argument that in traditional hetero sex, which begins with a man’s boner and ends with his ejaculate, that women have a more surefire way of knowing he’s enjoying it: he comes. Since a woman’s orgasm may be more elusive, faked, or never happen at all, you could surmise that women putting on an operatic show is the closest thing a man has to getting any feedback. If she’s howling in convulsive pleasure, you can reassure yourself that you’re fucking her good and right.
This is what we call false feedback in music circles — no, you’re not that good at fucking, no, it doesn’t feel as good as she’s pretending, no, you are not the greatest lover she has ever had. You may as well be a middling cover band playing to a roomful of drunks whose favorite song just so happens to be “Wild Thing,” which is why they are going nuts with applause.
But men don’t seem to mind the false feedback if it makes them look like tigers in the sack. So clearly women have taken note, and clearly some women take this cultural imperative way too far. Women’s magazines even encourage this shit: see pieces such as “9 Reasons Why You Should Be Having LOUD Sex.” In the parlance of everything women’s magazines tell women to do: it’s empowering, sister! You’ll have great sex, and everyone will know it, and your partner will have a better orgasm, because you can pretend you’re in a hot sex scene! And again, EVERYONE KNOWS YOU FUCK. Wonderful.
I’m in no way suggesting that making sounds is bad, or that good sex doesn’t produce grunts and groans. I’m saying it’s one thing to hear the banging of a headboard in the room next door with some ecstatic vocalizations; quite another to hear a one-woman show that makes it sound like she’s undergoing an epic erotic larval transformation on par with being sexually reborn all because she came into contact with a dick.
If the pleasure of penetration or touch alone were the impetus to belt out animalistic wails, then we’d all be some noisy-ass masturbators. But most people masturbate in silence and have no trouble concealing the activity in the next room. Likewise, anyone who’s had to have quiet sex in the next room while staying at your parent’s house knows it’s totally possible. You just fuck.
This is why loud sex noises don’t really make any sense. It’s not that no noise makes sense, it’s that there’s obviously a difference between fake and real, and also there has to be some kind of middle ground here that bridges actual feeling with actual sounds. Some noise indicates pleasure on the part of both parties. No noise makes everyone feel weird. Too much noise makes it seem like someone is putting on a show, not experiencing the more organic, authentic build of pleasure that happens over the course of being physically intimate.
But because of this weird expectation, there is a kind of vocal sex sounds double standard: Men are too quiet and women are too loud. And not everyone is dumb enough to be duped by the noise. Men often ask on forums whether the loud sounds are legit. Men answer that the louder the better is alright with them, as long as it’s genuine (it’s not). Others say they find it embarrassing when their lady partners go over the top. Even men who do find it embarrassing feel the need to explain they know it’s “every guy’s dream” to get the girl who acts like a porn star. Some people realize that acting like you are “cumming the whole time” makes it seem — shocker — fake.
Women often ask on forums why their boyfriends are as noisy as a dead man when they are fucking, and if it means he doesn’t like it. The conclusion here is that making some believable noise is an indication that something feels good, and you’re comfortable enough to express it. And guys who don’t are shy or used to silent cumming. It might also just be “how he is,” which women should try to accept. Obviously, don’t go expecting a man to make a bunch of noise just so you don’t feel insecure. Why, that would be just like what women do.
What’s more, studies on copulating vocals never look at men’s sounds, though, just women’s. But we can still glean some kind of truth out of the studies done on women’s vocalizations. In another study, researchers found that lesbian couples did a lot less moaning and groaning compared to women in hetero couples. Not coincidentally in the slightest, lesbian couples also have way more actual orgasms than women in hetero relationships.
You might be tempted to conclude from this that hetero women make more sounds during sex because they feel they have to, and that lesbians don’t need to fake pleasure for other women who will be giving them actual pleasure. This would be the right conclusion.
Hetero women might take a note from that and dial down the performance. It might actually make men wonder if you’re really getting off, which might be the only motivation for them to actually get you off. If you just keep screaming, then he’s just going to keep believing he’s a Wild Thing.