Why WOMEN make more NOISE during sex
by George Michelsen Foy
Published on March 22, 2010
Women make more noise while having sex. Let me qualify that: my women have tended to make more noise than I did.
I admit this is a small and not exactly random sample; Louis Harris and Shere Hite would spit on my conclusions.
Also, having made that bald statement, and after thinking about it some, I must qualify it further: some of my sexual partners have not been much noisier than me. One or two have even been quieter. But those who were noisy made up for the rest in volume and enthusiasm.
(There was one woman I had to ask, politely, to put a pillow over her head, so as not to involve law enforcement.)
I recently expanded my polling to a handful of friends of both sexes. They were unequivocal. “99% of women [are noisier],” one emailed back. “95 out of 100 [ditto],” said another. “Louder … by an order of magnitude,” a (bisexual) female friend wrote.
Hunting down noise + sex (and similar Boolean targets) online, I found zero scientific polling on the subject. However the large majority of online references to people making lots of noise during sex were about women.
In England, there have been a couple of notorious cases in which women were convicted in court of making so much noise in bed that they disturbed the peace.
Caroline Cartwright, of northeast England, was given a twelve-month suspended sentence last November and warned that if she couldn’t keep the sex noise down she would go to jail. (To be fair, her partner’s cries were mentioned also, but he wasn’t sanctioned.)
Even in the Royal Navy, that bastion of “hearts of oak” and “England expects every man to do his duty,” one of Her Majesty’s officers was court-martialled in part because of the noise she made while having it off on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.
“Lieutenant Colonel Keith Pople, 42, [said] his lover, Lieutenant Commander Karen Pearce, admitted [the noise of Harrier jets taking off] had helped hide her affair with a third officer, Lieutenant Nigel McTear,” the Independent newspaper reported.
” … ‘I asked her how it was possible to have sex … on a warship with so many people close by because I knew she was quite vocal when she had sex,’ Col. Pople said.”
These cases surprise me because of my own experience with quiet British women. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised: maybe the fact that these women were prosecuted for making sex noises reveals how much the English find such noises bothersome.
In any case let’s assume, for the purposes of argument, that women are the noisier sex partner, at least in Anglophone Western society. The question then arises, Why would women yelp and shriek more loudly in the throes of passion?
There is some scientific evidence that “female vocalization,” as it is known to the type of person who studies this stuff, is evolutionarily useful to mammals.
I mentioned in the last blog that when the female Barbary macaque makes joyous noise during sex the male ejaculates 56% of the time, vs. less than 2% if she doesn’t. Researchers from St. Andrews University in Scotland found that female chimpanzees use sex sounds to attract more, and more powerful, males (who also protect them from rival females). It appears that, for female monkeys, there is some evolutionary advantage to screaming “Give it to me harder, Cheeta!” at the climactic moment.
Humans are primates and it could be this holds true for us also, although via trickier pathways than with chimps. If women’s arousal increases men’s enjoyment-I think we can assume this, for most couples-then signalling such excitement boosts male pleasure.
For example, if Brittney is known-either because everyone hears her yowl during sex or through word of mouth-to be better in bed than Tiffany (in part because Britt is loud), then Brittney theoretically is more likely to attract sex partners, and thus to procreate, than Tiffany.
Here’s another angle: one study indicates that women who have orgasms during sex retain more sperm in their uterus than those who don’t. This also increases their chances of procreating. Sexologists report that female orgasms are typically associated with increased “vocalization.” It follows that orgasmic (and thus vocal) women, because of the sperm-retention factor, would be evolutionarily favored over their less orgasmic, less noisy counterparts.
The conclusion? Women who howl in bed have more children. Since their daughters are more likely to share that trait, there will be more and more women who rattle the windows while making love. Good news for most of us.
I suspect, however, that Darwinian theory does not explain everything here. I think back to the most famous Hollywood example of a woman making sex noises: in When Harry Met Sally, Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm for Billy Crystal in the middle of Katz’s Deli, in New York. Meg was demonstrating to an incredulous Billy how easy it was for women to fake orgasm, simply by making the right noises.
The scene was hilarious (“I’ll have what she’s having,” a stranger in the deli famously comments). Sales of pastrami spiked nationwide…
But this scene would not have worked if the genders had been reversed. For one thing, men can’t really fake orgasm, because women can measure the evidence in cubic centimeters. For another, based on how men’s orgasms are depicted in film-based also on how little attention is paid in the media to noises men make during sex-a man faking orgasm would seem out of the ordinary, even bizarre.
Which brings us, I think, closer to the heart of the matter. Despite women’s lib and some loosening of gender stereotypes since the 1960s, Western Anglo society is still savagely male dominated. Men retain the bulk of overt power in politics, business, and society at large. Women in such a culture are still forced to exert most of their power at home, and in personal relationships.
The classic male interpretation of how females act in response to this state of affairs is to say women are passive. “The continuity of the ideal of female inferiority and the accompanying stress of passivity is shown through Aeschylus and Moses … to Freud and Hugh Hefner,” says an article in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
From this viewpoint, female noisiness during sex would be an affirmation of submission, even gratitude, toward the male.
The male’s relative lack of vocalization, on the other hand, would supposedly demonstrate his cool, his self-control.
The latter interpretation makes sense, given what I know of men’s hyper-macho self-image in this society. But I don’t buy the female submission bit. The women I have been close to are seldom passive, in bed or out.
While the male is usually physically stronger and psychologically more aggressive, the game of love and sex, in my experience, seems to be led more by the female than by the male,
She tends to call the shots in selecting the male she wants: she tends to run things in the bedroom.
Perhaps this power is what gives her the freedom to yell if she feels like yelling, while the poor bloody man, hampered by his pathetic need to act like James Bond, is reduced to the occasional constipated grunt.