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Ever Wonder What The Sounds You Make During Sex Mean?

"All sex is about energy, and sound brings energy."—Barbara Carrellas

Sex

The best lovers know that the best kind of sex incorporates all five of our senses—sight, touch, taste, smell and yes, hearing. And so, on my constant quest to make sure that couples (continue to) have the best sex possible, one day, I found myself wondering why we make some of the "sex sounds" that we do. While that might seem like a bit of an odd question, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were quite a few published articles on the topic (including one on TIME's website entitled, "What Our Sex Sounds Say About Us").

While on the surface, it might seem like we're moaning or even screaming, "just because", as with most things that have to do with sex, it actually goes a little bit deeper than that. As someone shared in the TIME piece, "sound serves as a type of communication". So, if you're curious about what you—or your partner—is actually "saying" during throes of passion, here's a little cheat sheet that could make you see how your sex life is going a little bit differently.

1. Heavy Breathing

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Chances are, you've probably heard of the phases of an orgasm before— excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. In order to work up to the orgasm or climax, deep or heavy breathing is required. Is sex good without orgasms? It can be. But let's not act like climaxing ain't our preference. When you make or hear a lot of heavy breathing going on, oftentimes that's an indicator that some plateaus are transitioning over to the orgasms portion of the program. Yeah, heavy breathing is like music to a lover's ears.

2. Moaning

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Moaning is an interesting—and very common—sex sound. The reason why I say "interesting" is because the definition of moan is actually about a sound that we make in response to physical or mental suffering. The only real exception is when it comes to sex. In that case, it's typically a response to super intense or inexplicable pleasure. It's when something feels so good and incomparable that there really is nothing else that can be said; all that comes out are random low-pitched hums that translate into being moans.

3. Panting

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Out of all of the sounds that can be made during sex, probably my personal favorite is panting. While it does consist of heavy breathing, when you pant, it's more than just a physical response to sexual stimulation.

Panting for your partner means that you deeply desire them; that you yearn for more of…whatever it is they are doing (or are about to do).

I once penned an article for the site entitled, "Experts Believe Passion (Not Love) Makes Sex Better. You Agree?" I'd venture to say that all of the heavy pant-ers around the world would totally agree.

4. Grunting

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If your man ain't doing, at least a little bit of grunting, I'll be blunt—he needs to put in more work. In short, grunting is what we tend to naturally do when we're exerting effort. When it comes to sex, it oftentimes happens while thrusting is going down. If a man never grunts, I've got questions. And a few side-eyes. I'm just sayin'.

5. Screaming

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Although screaming is oftentimes incorporated with fear, there tends to be another reason why we do it; it's in order to release any suppressed emotions that we might have. That said, one of the reasons why I encourage the wives that I work with to be cognizant of how they turn down their husband when they aren't in the mood is sex is one space where a lot of women are 100 percent vulnerable. Rejecting the sex sometimes translates as rejecting them and that doesn't just bruise their ego; it can literally hurt their feelings.

But you know what? A lot of us pin up certain thoughts and feelings until coitus is going down. Then we totally let loose. So, if you're a screamer, while it could be that you're in the middle of having a really intense orgasm, what it can also mean is you're a big time suppressor and sex is the only place where you're comfortable "losing it". Definitely something to think about.

6. Laughing

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Any die-hard Insecure fan will remember the episode where Issa was having a Tinder date with Luke James's character. As he was trying to seduce her, she started incessantly giggling (bless her heart). It was basically her first time getting back out there since she broke up with Lawrence, so things were a bit awkward. So yeah, sometimes we laugh during sex because we're self-conscious. However, another reason why we do it is because we're actually overjoyed. We either feel so safe or so satisfied in the moment that we don't know what to do but laugh. How precious is that?

7. Dirty Talking

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I've got a girlfriend who absolutely hates the word "p—sy". She thinks it sounds gross and is totally degrading. That is, until it's time to have sex. Then she and her husband are suddenly fluent in it. Dirty talking is interesting because it's basically a way for you and your partner to gas each other up, cheer each other on…tap into one another's "nasty" side.

There's a scientific angle to all of this as well.

Did you know that when we dirty talk during sex, it activates the same side of our brain that cussing comes from? They say that folks who cuss are more honest and people who dirty talk during sex are way more open and relaxed.

It's a surefire way to heighten arousal, tap into each other's fantasies, and express yourself in a way that doesn't really "fit" other than when it comes to bedroom action.

8. Words of Affirmation

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Let's see. When I think of words of affirmation as it relates to sex, Kelly Rowland's song "Motivation" comes to mind. It's not about barking instructions or stressing your partner out with incessant demands (oh, those kinds of partners exist, y'all. I counsel them often); it's about letting your partner know what you adore about them, what turns you on and what they are doing right. It's about esteeming them so much that they want to give you more of what you need to get more of what you want. Words of affirmation definitely has its place in the bedroom. Great sex partners speak it frequently.

9. Silence

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There's a guy that I know who actually hates to make any sounds during sex. He grew up believing that sex outside of marriage was wrong (not so "wrong" that he's not doing it, though) and so he has some guilt during the act. Hmph. The interesting thing is that a lot of people who are silent during sex also carry some level of fear, apprehension, self-consciousness or yep—guilt. When sex is good, it's hard to not say anything, so if you are playing the "quiet as a mouse" game (and you don't have kids), chances are that either you're scared to totally let lose or—and this one really sucks—the sex is bad. I mean, really bad.

Just think about it—it's hard to watch a 30-minute sitcom in complete silence. You're gonna laugh, say "hmph" or something. That's because the show entertained or stimulated you in some way. How is it that a program can pull something out of you, but copulation can't? Yeah, exactly.

10. Faking

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When it comes to faking orgasms, women do it. Men do it too. And while a lot of people "pride" themselves on how well they are able to pull that off, I personally believe that if a person is truly in tune with their partner, they can tell, even if it's via subtle differences, when something is…off.

And just why do people fake it? The answers vary. Sometimes it's to hurry up and get the act over with. Sometimes it's to avoid hurting their partner's feelings. Sometimes it's because someone would rather act like they are pleased than actually show their partner how to please them. Whatever the reason, at the end of the day, it's pretty counterproductive. Plus, just think about what faking it means. It means that you are being deceptive and fraudulent. Not only that, but a lot of times, folks who fake orgasms are being super over the top, unnecessarily so, too. Out of all of the sounds that I've shared, since sex sounds are a form of communication, why would you want to convey to your spouse that you are being disingenuous? That's not helping your relationship or your sex life. Not one bit.

Like I said at the top of all of this, nothing that we do (or don't do) during sex is for naught. Whether we realize it or not, we've got the reasons for what we do—and how we sound. Think about that the next time you're with your partner and sex sounds start coming out. You both may be communicating some things that you never considered before; some things that, for the sake of your connection—both in and out of the bedroom—you both need to hear.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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