All you have to do is watch nearly any depiction of female orgasm on screen to get an idea of how a woman is “supposed” to react during sex.
From “When Harry Met Sally” to “Sex and the City” to your basic porn film, women in the throes of passion aren’t just shouting their ecstasy from the rooftops – they’re moaning with pleasure. Loudly.
But is this just cinematic license, or is there really something to noisy sex?
Experts wondered the same thing. Last year, Gayle Brewer of the University of Central Lancashire and Colin Hendrie of the University of Leeds published their research on the topic – technically known as “copulatory vocalization” – in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. In the study, they asked 71 sexually active heterosexual women between ages 18 and 48 for more details about vocalization during sex.
The researchers found that many of the women did make noise, but not necessarily while they were having an orgasm. Instead, 66% said that they moaned to speed up their partner’s climax, and 87% stated that they vocalized during sex to boost his self-esteem.
“While female orgasms were most commonly experienced during foreplay, copulatory vocalizations were reported to be made most often before and simultaneously with male ejaculation,” write the researchers. Women also reported making noise to relieve boredom, fatigue and pain/discomfort during sex.
So is female vocalization during sex just a performance for a guy’s benefit? (After all, Meg Ryan’s over-the-top moans were meant to prove a point to “Harry” that men are easily duped by a fake orgasm.)
“There isn’t a lot of research in this area,” says Kristen Mark, a sexuality researcher at Indiana University, “but we’re bombarded with images through mainstream media that tell us moaning is associated with orgasm and sexual pleasure. So it would be a fairly wise faking strategy to moan since men already tend to associate moaning with orgasm.”
Of course, there’s nothing smart about faking it.
“If you’re faking an orgasm, you are signaling to your partner that he is doing everything right, when in fact he isn’t,” says sex educator and author Patty Brisben. “Use moaning as a way of signaling that you are excited and things really are feeling good, not as a way to hide that they aren’t.”
Fake or not, women aren’t the only primates who vocalize during sex. Research in the animal kingdom reveals that female baboons, for example, have a variety of copulation calls, which appear to relate to their fertility: The vocalizations tend to become more complex when the females are closer to ovulation, and also vary when a female is mating with a higher-ranked male baboon. And female macaque monkeys give a shout to help trigger their mates’ orgasm, too.
Performances and primatologists aside, vocalizing during sex can actually be a great tool to help women get what they want in bed. As I discussed in my column a couple of weeks ago on the topic of talking about sex, it isn’t always easy to translate sexual thought into action, so a little strategic moaning can definitely help get the point across.
“Women are learning to take responsibility for their own sexual needs and wants in the bedroom,” explains Brisben. “We need to take this one step further and give ourselves permission to become teachers. Use vocalization to teach your partner what feels good. It can help you say, ‘stop, go, yes, more please’ – without sounding like a traffic cop.”
And when it comes to noise, “partner benefit isn’t the only piece of the puzzle,” says Kristen Mark. “Perhaps making noise turns some women on and helps them experience pleasure.”
Brisben concurs: “I think there are many women who need to be vocal to help themselves achieve orgasm – it helps move them and their orgasm along. There are certainly phases. As a woman gets into it, she may become extremely vocal, and then move into a period of quiet as she is on the verge.”
So do what feels right to you. Any other benefits are just a great bonus. And when it comes to “copulatory vocalization,” perhaps men should take a lesson from the ladies.
“Women understand that moaning is a turn-on for guys, and many women ultimately enjoy it because they’ve made an effort to push a little beyond what comes naturally,” says Logan Levkoff, a sex educator and author of a guide for men entitled “How To Get Your Wife to Have Sex With You.”
“But sexual self-esteem is a two-way street, and, for their part during sex, guys should aim for more than a single grunt at the end. It’s not about faking or doing something you don’t want to, but more about being sexually present and in sync with each other.”
So let’s all make some noise.
(C) New York Times
By DAN SLATERA COUPLE of evolutionary psychologists recently published a book about human sexual behavior in prehistory called “Sex at Dawn.”
Upon hearing of the project, one colleague, dubious that a modern scholar could hope to know anything about that period, asked them, “So what do you do, close your eyes and dream?”
Actually, it’s a little more involved. Evolutionary psychologists who study mating behavior often begin with a hypothesis about how
modern humans mate: say, that men think about sex more than women do. Then they gather evidence — from studies, statistics and surveys — to support that assumption. Finally, and here’s where the leap occurs, they construct an evolutionary theory to explain why men think about sex more than women, where that gender difference came from, what adaptive purpose it served in antiquity,
and why we’re stuck with the consequences today.
Lately, however, a new cohort of scientists have been challenging the very existence of the gender differences in sexual behavior that
Darwinians have spent the past 40 years trying to explain and justify on evolutionary grounds.
Of course, no fossilized record can really tell us how people behaved or thought back then, much less why they behaved or
thought as they did. Nonetheless, something funny happens when social scientists claim that a behavior is rooted in our evolutionary past. Assumptions about that behavior take on the immutability of a physical trait — they come to seem as biologically rooted as opposable thumbs or ejaculation.
Using evolutionary psychology to back up these assumptions about men and women is nothing new. In “The Descent of Man, and
Selection in Relation to Sex,” Charles Darwin gathered evidence for the notion that, through competition for mates and sustenance, natural selection had encouraged man’s “more inventive genius” while nurturing woman’s “greater tenderness.” In this way, he suggested that the gender differences he saw around him — men sought power and made money; women stayed at home — weren’t simply the way things were in Victorian England. They were the way things had always been.
A century later, a new batch of scientists began applying Darwinian doctrine to the conduct of mating, and specifically to three
assumptions that endure to this day: men are less selective about whom they’ll sleep with; men like casual sex more than women; and men have more sexual partners over a lifetime.
In 1972, Robert L. Trivers, a graduate student at Harvard, addressed that first assumption in one of evolutionary psychology’s
landmark studies, “Parental Investment and Sexual Selection.” He argued that women are more selective about whom they mate with because they’re iologically obliged to invest more in offspring. Given the relative paucity of ova and plenitude of sperm, as well as the unequal feeding duties that fall to women, men invest less in children. Therefore, men should be expected to be less discriminating and more aggressive in competing for females.
It was an elegant, powerful application of evolutionary theory to the mating game. The evolutionary psychologists of the 1980s and ’90s built on Mr. Trivers’s theory to explain a wide array of stereotypical gender differences in mating.
In 1993, David M. Buss and David P. Schmitt used parental investment theory to explain why men should be expected to “devote a
larger proportion of their total mating effort to short-term mating.” Because men invested less time and effort in their offspring, they evolved toward promiscuity, while women evolved away from it. Promiscuity, the researchers hypothesized, would have been more damaging to the female reputation than to the male reputation. If a man mated with a promiscuous woman, he would never be able
to ensure his paternity. Men, on the other hand, could potentially enhance their status by pursuing a short-term mating strategy. (Think Kennedy, Clinton, Spitzer, Letterman and so forth. My space is limited.)
One of the earliest critics of this kind of thinking was Stephen Jay Gould. He wrote in 1997 that parental investment theory “will
not explain the full panoply of supposed sexual differences so dear to pop psychology.” Mr. Gould felt that the field had become overrun with “ultra-Darwinians,” and that evolutionary psychology would be a more fruitful science if it didn’t limit itself “to the blinkered view” that evolutionary explanations accounted for every difference.
BUT if evolution didn’t determine human behavior, what did? The most common explanation is the effect of cultural norms. That, for
instance, society tends to view promiscuous men as normal and promiscuous women as troubled outliers, or that our “social script” requires men to approach women while the pickier women do the selecting. Over the past decade, sociocultural explanations have gained steam.
Take the question of promiscuity. Everyone has always assumed — and early research had shown — that women desired fewer sexual partners over a lifetime than men. But in 2003, two behavioral psychologists, Michele G. Alexander and Terri D. Fisher, published the results of a study that used a “bogus pipeline” — a fake lie detector. When asked about actual sexual
partners, rather than just theoretical desires, the participants who were not attached to the fake lie detector displayed typical gender differences. Men reported having had more sexual partners than women. But when participants believed that lies about their sexual history would be revealed by the fake lie detector, gender differences in reported sexual partners vanished. In fact, women reported slightly more sexual partners (a mean of 4.4) than did men (a mean of 4.0).
In 2009, another long-assumed gender difference in mating — that women are choosier than men — also came under siege. In speed
dating, as in life, the social norm instructs women to sit in one place, waiting to be approached, while the men rotate tables. But in one study of speed-dating behavior, the evolutionary psychologists Eli J. Finkel and Paul W. Eastwick switched the “rotator” role. The men remained seated and the women rotated. By manipulating this component of the gender script, the researchers discovered
that women became less selective — they behaved more like stereotypical men — while men were more selective and behaved more like stereotypical women. The mere act of physically approaching a potential romantic partner, they argued, engendered more favorable assessments of that person.
Recently, a third pillar appeared to fall. To back up the assumption that an enormous gap exists between men’s and women’s attitudes toward casual sex, evolutionary psychologists typically cite a classic study published in 1989. Men and women on a college campus were approached in public and propositioned with offers of casual sex by “confederates” who worked for the study. The confederate would say: “I have been noticing you around campus and I find you to be very attractive.” The confederate would then ask one of three questions: (1) “Would you go out with me tonight?” (2) “Would you come over to my apartment tonight?” or (3) “Would you go to bed with me tonight?” Roughly equal numbers of men and women agreed to the date. But women were much less likely to agree to go to the confederate’s apartment. As for going to bed with the confederate, zero women said yes, while about 70 percent of males agreed.
Those results seemed definitive — until a few years ago, when Terri D. Conley, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, set out
to re-examine what she calls “one of the largest documented sexuality gender differences,” that men have a greater interest in casual sex than women.
Ms. Conley found the methodology of the 1989 paper to be less than ideal. “No one really comes up to you in the middle of the quad and asks, ‘Will you have sex with me?’ ” she told me recently. “So there needs to be a context for it. If you ask people what they would do in a specific situation, that’s a far more accurate way of getting responses.” In her study, when men and women considered offers of casual sex from famous people, or offers from close friends whom they were told were good in bed, the gender differences in
acceptance of casual-sex proposals evaporated nearly to zero.
IN light of this new research, will Darwinians consider revising their theories to reflect the possibility that our mating behavior is less hard-wired than they had believed?
Probably not. In an article responding to the new studies last year, Mr. Schmitt, a leading voice among hard-line Darwinians,
ceded no ground. Addressing Ms. Conley’s finding that women were more likely to agree to casual sex with a celebrity, Mr. Schmitt argued that this resulted from “women’s (but not men’s) short-term mating psychology being specially designed to obtain good genes from physically attractive short-term partners.” He continued: “When women’s short-term-mating aim is activated (perhaps, temporarily, because of, e.g., high-fertility ovulatory status or desire for an extramarital affair, or more chronically, because of , e.g., a female-biased local sex ratio or a history of insecure parent-child attachment), they appear to express relatively focused desires for genetic traits in ‘sexy men’ that would biologically benefit women when short-term mating.”
In other words: Nothing new here, it’s all evolution.
Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist and popular author, also backs the Darwinians, whom he says still have the weight of
evidence on their side. “A study which shows you can push some phenomenon around a bit at the margins,” he wrote to me in an e-mail, “is of dubious relevance to whether the phenomenon exists.”
But the fact that some gender differences can be manipulated, if not eliminated, by controlling for cultural norms suggests that
the explanatory power of evolution can’t sustain itself when applied to mating behavior. This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve pushed these theories too far. How many stereotypical racial and ethnic differences, once declared evolutionarily determined under the banner of science, have been revealed instead as vestiges of power dynamics from earlier societies?
Citing the speed-dating study, Mr. Pinker added, “The only reason this flawed paper was published was that it challenged an
evolutionary hypothesis … in particular a sex difference — as the Larry Summers incident shows, claims about sex differences are still politically inflammatory in the academy.” Here, he was referring to the much criticized 2005 comments Mr. Summers made when he was Harvard’s president suggesting that women’s underrepresentation in science and engineering was attributable not to
socialization but to “different availability of aptitude at the high end.”
Perhaps these phenomena exist. Perhaps men do, over all, pursue more short-term mating. But given new research, continued rigid
reliance on evolution as an explanation seems to risk elevating a limited guide to teleological status — a way of thinking that scientists should abhor.
“Some sexual features are deeply rooted in evolutionary heritage, such as the sex response and how quickly it takes men and
women to become aroused,” said Paul Eastwick, a co-author of the speed-dating study. “However, if you’re looking at features such as how men and women regulate themselves in society to achieve specific goals, I believe those features are unlikely to have evolved sex differences. I consider myself an evolutionary psychologist. But many evolutionary psychologists don’t think this way. They think these features are getting shaped and honed by natural selection all the time.” How far does Darwin go in explaining human
Dan Slater is the author of the forthcoming “Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and
Written by Kim Droze
(C) Kim DrozeMaybe you just got dumped, haven’t had sex in longer than you’d like to admit or are just really horny. Whatever the reason, a one-night stand could be the cure. However, if you’re new to sex with strangers, you might be a little leery. Before you hit the clubs on the prowl, check out these pros and cons to make sure the experience is really what you want.
Let’s start with the pros of a one-night stand. The benefits of a tryst with a sexy stranger can include:
•Mind-blowing Sex – One-night stands are often the result of body shots and beer buckets, which can lower shyness and increase
experimentation. You’re never going to see him again, so go ahead and try that pretzel-twist or fake British accent if that’s what gets you going.
•Ego Boost – Feeling like you’ve lost your mojo? Making eyes from across the room and closing the deal with ease can make you feel like the world’s sexiest woman.
•Feeling Liberated – Been shackled to the missionary position and polite kissing with boring dudes? Use this as a way to break out of the mold of the “good girl” and enjoy sex like a man.
•”No really, baby, I did it for you.” – A recent study published in the Journal of Human Sexuality showed that friends with benefits, one-night stands and booty calls can actually help people make better decisions when they finally decide to enter long-term relationships.
On the other hand, exploring the sexual playground could leave you getting sand kicked in your face. The cons could come along with
•Sexually Transmitted Diseases – You don’t know this person very well and therefore are in the dark about his or her sexual health and history. You may also be inebriated, which can cause you to do things, like have sex without protection, that you normally would not
•You Could Become Depressed – Making one-night stands a regular thing could mean you’re seeking something you can’t get from regular relationships. Beware of these interactions if you start feeling used or guilty.
•Becoming Attached – Sorry, ladies, but some of us have a hard time separating sex and emotions. If the thought of a guy sneaking out in the night or not taking you to brunch after you’ve spent the night doing the nasty makes you upset, you should skip the one-night stand.
Got the good and bad and you’re still ready to go? When trolling for a one-time night of passion, you can put these tactics to the test to get what you are looking for.
•Put yourself in the right situation – Places like weddings, holiday parties, dance clubs and hotels are breeding grounds for one-night stands. People are in high spirits, drinking and ready to have a good time.
•Look Like You’re Having Fun – No one is going to hit on you if you look like your dog just died. Get out on the dance floor, tell jokes, do a shot – show guys that up for anything and looking to have fun.
•Protect Yourself – Keep an eye on your drink, and if you leave with a guy, let your friends know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Pop a few condoms in your clutch – nothing makes a temporary experience more permanent than a baby or
•Play it Cool – Even if you are new to one-night stands, don’t tell your potential hookup, and don’t expect a relationship. By keeping your expectations in check you can prevent possible disappointment.
•Be Mysterious – The point of this exercise is to be anonymous and fleeting. Don’t even use your real name if you can help it, and refrain from contacting him on social media post-coitus.
•Don’t Feel Guilty – Society has programmed women to feel bad about exploring and embracing their sexuality. You won’t feel sexy or be able to enjoy the experience if you’re worried about looking like a “slut” the whole time.
•Stick with a Stranger – Hooking up with a friend, coworker or a relative of a friend can cause awkwardness in the light of day. Keeping it strictly-stranger can help you avoid problems and embarrassing run-ins.
In the end, you should do what you feel comfortable with and not feel pressured. If you find yourself in a situation that scares you or makes you feel uncomfortable, get out of there. Just because you started something with a guy doesn’t mean you have to finish it. On the other hand, it can be a great exercise in pushing your personal boundaries and creating new life experiences to do something out of the ordinary and challenge yourself.
By thinking through the options beforehand you can ensure that you are making the right decision – even if you feel bad about it later, don’t beat yourself up for too long. After all, you will never see that person again and you don’t even need to tell your friends about the one-night stand if you don’t want to. Keeping it to yourself can be a great little secret that adds to your mystery and relationship wisdom.
Susan- “the Bottom line is that internet men use women for sex and internet women use men for cash. The women are going out with a different guy each night. The men buy dinner in order to sit next to a cute girl that night. That is how it works, it is no more complicated than that. Use a condom. All your friends are doing it. You can live a lonely righteous life or you can LIVE.”