Moaning: the glorious vocal release of pleasure.
Sometimes it’s because you had a really good steak, sometimes it’s because a certain Canadian Prime Minister marches in a pride parade and speaks out about the Black Lives Matter movement, and sometimes it’s because you’re having damn good sex.
When I began my research into the history of moaning I found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that moaning has been around forever. It’s mentioned at least nine times in the Bible (although not to do with sex, it is found in the same sentence as the word breasts) and people definitely moan in various stories of the 18th century 1001 Arabian Nights. The Vagina Monologues, a collection of stories about women and vaginas, has an entire (unfortunately racist) monologue about it. Almost instantly I found that only women are ever depicted moaning. So, I took to the Internet and social media to figure out why.
There are scientific studies on moaning, but not many. The most prominent is a study, by Gayle Brewer and Colin Hendrie that asks heterosexual women about their moaning patterns during heterosexual intercourse. Some women moaned because something felt good, but this was not the main reason hetero women were moaning. 66% of women because they wanted their partners to hurry up and finish and 87% moaned to boost their male partner’s self-esteem as they reached climax. Moaning was seen more as a tool than as a sign of pleasure and it was exclusively heterosexual cis women moaning for the sake of hetero men.
Completely unsatisfied with this lack of intersectionality, I took to social media and asked everyone I know (and also some people I don’t know) whether they moan and why. And the results were amazing.
A queer woman told me she moaned every time she had sex and couldn’t cum without moaning, even when masturbating. A nonbinary person told me before their transition they were silent, now that they’re out as trans it’s a whole new world of moans. A man told me he wouldn’t call his noises moaning, but more heavy breathing. One woman told me she was consistently silent and insecure about it. Another woman said her male partner felt ashamed of the loud noises he made (but she assured me they turned her on). A lot of people told me they had been asked to be quiet because their partner felt uncomfortable with others knowing they were having sex.
In my survey of social media I made a few main discoveries: Men are far less likely to call it moaning but most certainly are making noises to express pleasure during sex. Women feel societal pressure to make noise (even without pleasure) and men feel the opposite. Both men and women have been asked to stop moaning. Women are much more likely to be told to be quiet or that their moans are a turn off. But mostly I found that a lot people of all shapes and sizes and genders moan when they experience pleasure and the moans increase pleasure for both the moaner and the recipient of the moan.
So what’s the moral of the story here? First, there’s a stigma around pleasure, that’s for sure. The embarrassment felt by people answering my questions was clear; they didn’t necessarily want to admit that they were moaners unless somebody else chimed in first. But once I got people talking, they didn’t want to stop. And second, a lot of people are moaning during sex as communication, which means people are actively communicating their pleasure in bed! Communication is good! Keep it up!
There you have it. Moaning has been around since the beginning of time and while the stigma has built up around it (as stigma has built around sex itself) it can be a completely healthy way to communicate desires while having sex.