In college, I lived next door to an agonizingly pretty cocktail waitress. Late at night, after she’d come home from work, her boyfriend — he drove a Porsche, naturally — would arrive for his nightly booty call. The walls were thin. Soon, like clockwork, her voice would pierce the drywall like a steam locomotive’s whistle: “hehehehehe” followed by “yesyesyes!” and then an explosion of high-pitched “ohmigodohmigodohmigod!”
While I was envious at the time, now it seems that all her ecstatic vocals might have been just the female equivalent of “Your butt looks great in those jeans, Babe. Honest.” A study released last month in the Archives of Sexual Behavior shows that those seemingly uncontrollable “ohmigods” during apparent orgasm are often play-acting meant to “manipulate” men.
The scientists, Gayle Brewer of the University of Central Lancashire and Colin Hendrie of the University of Leeds, asked 71 women between the ages of 18 and 48 a series of questions. They broke down the vocalizations into categories that included “silence,” “moan/groan,” “scream/shriek/squeal,” “words” (such as “Yes!” or the partner’s name, and “instructional commands” like “more.” Other questions asked why the women made the vocalizations and at what point they themselves had an orgasm, if they had an orgasm at all, and, if not, why they were doing all that shouting.
Well, it turned out that “women were making conscious vocalizations in order to influence their partner rather than as a direct expression of sexual arousal,” Brewer told me.