"Not everybody makes much noise about love. Oh, I know some people are huffers an' puffers, but others are silent lovers.
The female orgasm comes in many shapes and sizes, from loud and vigorous to soft and subtle. Well, it does in Real Life
at any rate.
In television and movies however, the various censors don't like female orgasms. Or at the very least, not loud and boisterous
ones (Herbal Essences commercials notwithstanding). As you might imagine, this is something of a Double Standard
, since male orgasms don't suffer the same treatment (mostly, they don't get shown.)
So rather than show a woman in the throes of pleasure, the orgasm is either muted or replaced altogether with a symbolic substitute. This is the "acceptable" PG-13 way of showing a female orgasm- the only exception to this is when the orgasm is made ridiculously loud for effect.
Due to the widening of markets in recent years and the preponderance of R-rated movies and even television shows, this trope is getting to be much more out of vogue. See The Immodest Orgasm
for this trope's successor and The Grunting Orgasm
, the male version. On the other side of the coin, euphemistic symbolism for male
arousal is covered by Something Else Also Rises
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Live Action TV
- In Firefly, Inara (the Companion) is actually introduced mid-intercourse, with very muted sounds from both her and her client. The actual moment of orgasm is very brief; Inara softly gasps "Oh my God," and a moment later the camera goes softly out of focus and then back in (double entendre completely unintentional). This is very artsy, and actually quite a beautiful scene (irrespective of its content).
- Battlestar Galactica was apparently asked to reduce an orgasm scene, only to respond that they had a Cylon orgasm (with flashing lights in her spine!) in the pilot. This was eventually retconned, since it had implications for the ease of Cylon detecting. Human spines can't light up. How can you miss a luminescent spine in an examination?
- Played with across two seasons of Desperate Housewives. Andrew talks about "mm-mm!" being the only sound Bree makes during an orgasm, shortly before we hear her make the same sound over a slice of pie. The next season, we find out she never actually has had an orgasm, and is afraid she's sick after her first one.
- Sofie in Carnivŕle in "Road to Damascus." While with Ben in a truck cab, Sofie starts gasping and squeaking, and then there is a bright bolt of lightning and a loud crack of thunder.
- It also hints at Sofie's true nature as Brother Justin's daughter, with the same avataric abilities as Ben, (who similarly used them to alter the weather in the first season) which the entire second season was leading up to. And then it was cancelled.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Musical Episode, "Once More, With Feeling", Willow and Tara have metaphoric sex at the climax of Tara's song "Under Your Spell". Tara's orgasm is represented by her being levitated, which ties into the magic-as-lesbianism metaphor that has been playing throughout their relationship.
- Kind of a weird juxtaposition of modest and immodest: her orgasm is levitating, but she is also singing "You make me COM-plete!".
- When Willow and Kennedy have sex in the Season Seven episode "Touched", their sex scene is juxtaposed with Robin and Faith having sex, Xander and Anya having sex, and Buffy and Spike lying in bed holding each other, with music playing over the whole thing. Willow's orgasm is shown by her eyes going very wide.
- In the Made-for-TV Movie The Marla Hanson Story, one of Marla's roommates asks the other roommate to turn down the TV set so she can listen on Marla while she's having sex with a guy.
- A season four episode of Gossip Girl opens with Blair lying in bed, making smiling faces and a content sigh here or there. Then we find out Chuck was under the covers, getting a head start on their morning...
- In the first Mass Effect, during the encounter with the Consort, the camera cuts from the characters' faces to the Consort's hand as it reaches for the sky, then falls.
- Whenever Beautiful Grunty is talking during the Game Over cutscene from Banjo-Kazooie.
- An episode of Ćon Flux had a woman screaming during a sexual encounter, but MTV only allowed this on the condition that it sounded like a scream of pain rather than pleasure. As if that helps. What makes this whole fact more amusing is that the method of "intercourse" involved is direct stimulation (using tools like forceps) of the exposed spinal nerves inside a surgical opening the woman had in her back. The lesson learned: That it's okay to have decidedly-disturbing sex scenes, but it's not okay to make it appear that someone's actually enjoying it.
- British porn in Family Guy.