Men, Let's Hear You Moan!

After a recent surge in the “y’all afraid to moan, and I be up in my girl’s ear like…” memes *cue a six second clip of National Geographic episode,* I can’t help but address the elephant in the room, the unavoidable “Wait, what? There are really men out there that aren’t moaning during sex?” Despite my initial surprise, suddenly, all at once, like war flashbacks, I realized that I too, had been victimized by the silent, but deadly lover. While one of my more consistent sexual partners, better known as my first boyfriend/first love, was significantly more expressive in between the sheets than he ever was in the streets, the other “love of my life” gave me perhaps the world’s greatest mystery to solve: whether or not he was about to have an orgasm.  I, then, unwillingly become the Colonel Mustard of Sex: did she give him an orgasm with a blowjob in the study? Stay tuned!

In fact, in one particular sexual encounter, I remember audibly begging for any clue that I was taking steps in the right direction (euphemism of the century, am I right?). Turns out I hadn’t outgrown my prepubescent need for gold stars and A++’s, I had just adopted new needs for validation: sexual tokens of gratitude like “yes, baby” and “oh f*ck.” But beyond flattering my ego, moans are like a much-needed treasure map in the search of ejaculation (come on kids, X marks the G-spot). But really fellas, give me a sign. Am I hot or cold? Yes or no? Am I even sort of close? Is this a scavenger hunt? Phone a friend? “About to orgasm for 500,” Alex.

All jokes aside, this meme’s spike in popularity may just be emblematic of much larger issues: aka toxic masculinity hindering men’s sexual expression, and thereby hindering the potential for great sex lives to form. To be completely transparent, toxic masculinity has erected countless barriers in my life (pun only slightly intended), but I refuse (yes, refuse) to let hegemonic ideals stand in the way of great sex, specifically the great sex awaiting in my own life. So how do we make progress, and fight the hegemonic ideals of masculinity that penetrate our sexual experiences? Firstly, we need to encourage men to be emotionally and sexually expressive, no matter how “uncomfortable” it may feel, at first. Remember, communication is key (in and outside the bedroom). Secondly, we need to combat notions of masculinity which suggest that any and all expressions of pleasure are inherently feminine. Lastly, we must address the incompatibility of pornography’s logic, which puts male orgasm at its center, but only features female moans, and female expressions of sexual satisfaction—a creative decision symbolic of larger, more general sexual dynamics in the U.S. today.

Delving deeper into the contradictory expectations of male sexual pleasure, the problems with suppressed male expression are fully realized. Returning to the example of pornography, it’s not at all unusual to find a video where the male in heterosexual encounter makes little to no noise at all. Instead, the female, submissive role dominates the audio, but not much else. With this in mind, the viewers only seem to be looking for physical signs of pleasure (erections and ejaculation), rather than seeking out the elusive, but extremely sexy male moan.  Surprise folks, the phrase “be seen, not heard” was actually about ejaculation. But this silence from our male partners isn’t incredibly shocking when we consider how men are expected to act in performative arenas other than the bedroom. Any expressions of pleasure, or excitement, or happiness are often coded as “gay,” or “feminine, or worse, unfairly roped into the dangerous game of fag discourse. Men are expected to be cool, calm, and collected at all times, and are institutionally/socially punished when they stray from this stoic model. These harmful expectations unwillingly imposed on men in all stages of the cycle is not only dangerous for their sexual health, but their mental health, as well. 

However, I do want to stop, and remind you that I am completely aware that my platform of celebrating the male moan may, admittedly, stem (at least in part) from my own selfish sexual wants and my own primary love language of verbal affirmation. And no, I am not afraid to admit that I want validation and compliments from the time I wake up, till the second I give you an orgasm  But I don’t believe this detracts from my argument, in fact, I believe it strengthens it. Because if sex really is an act of love, said act of love should naturally appeal to the five primary love languages: verbal affirmation, physical affection, quality time, acts of service (in this case the term service can include innumerable possibilities), and receiving gifts (after all, giving good head is the gift that keeps on giving). But even more importantly than partner validation or sexual fun, is the male moan’s role in discussions of consent. Educators often advise that we search for verbal and non-verbal cues of consensual sex. But when we have effectively silenced heterosexual men by endangering their masculinity with each “ooh baby,” how then are we supposed to retrieve the very vital verbal/non-verbal cues necessary for determining what is consensual and what is not?

Though, unfortunately, male consent will never be highlighted or emphasized like female consent often is. That doesn’t mean it’s any less important, but only reflection of the hard truth that women, unlike men, are more considerate towards the consent of their sexual partners. Go ahead, and tell me that I’m making unfair generalizations, because I know what’s true. And if you really are dedicated to giving male consent the fame it deserves, you must, first, work to debunk the myth that men simply want sex on a “wherever, whenever, whoever” basis. We, as a collective, must abandon lazy judgments of sexual satisfaction like the very misleading (and very infamous boner), and instead, opt for more complex perspectives of male sexual pleasure. Because the reality is, the there is so much at stake in the male moan: a compatible and communicative sex life, proper consent, and maybe, just maybe, my ego as a lover. So to all you men, relinquish your masculinity, and let me hear you moan like you never have moaned before.

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