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The Modest Orgasm

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"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). 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 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, The Grunting Orgasm for the male version, and Fake Orgasm for deceptive simulation. See Calling Your Orgasms for when a person gets very specific about the timing. On the other side of the coin, euphemistic symbolism for male arousal is covered by Something Else Also Rises.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, Casca does this when she and Guts make love in the third Golden Age movie. Contrast with Princess Charlotte's Immodest Orgasm the previous movie when Griffith takes her virginity.
  • To Love Ru:
    • In one of the bonus chapters from the Darkness series, Yui ends up in a compromising position on a train with a bag containing a vibrating toy pressed up against her crotch. The afterglow in the subsequent scene makes it obvious what happened, but she apparently controlled herself well enough that nobody noticed.
    • Another bonus chapter of the same series has Lala repairing Rito's broken phone and "improving the audio quality". In To Love-Ru terms, that means anyone hearing Rito's voice through his phone starts… feeling strange. Yui (again) has an obvious orgasm by the end of the (long) conversation, and Momo collapses after hearing three words.
    • One episode in the anime version has Tearju bump into Rito and somehow end up sitting on his face, with her panties pulled to the side. His attempts to speak causes Tearju to blush and breathe heavily, as she suddenly convulses on top of him. She barely has time enough time to cup her hand over her mouth as she squirts directly into Rito's mouth. Several droplets spray the screen for emphasis, as Tearju collapses and twitches through the remainder of it.
  • In chapter 11 Boku Girl, due to a prank by Loki, Mizuki is caught above a tug-of-war rope which is pulled very vigorously by both sides, causing this. It's so modest that even Mizuki, recently Gender Bendered as he is, didn't realize what had happened and was wondering if he wet himself.
  • Maken-ki!:
    • Seen during the flashback in chapter 69, when Haruko and Takaki recount what Love Espada did to them at the previous Himekagura Festival. During which, she's shown with her back arched and her hand cupped over her mouth, as Espada was fingering her.
      • Haruko experiences another one during the 111.5 omake chapter, in which Usui dreams of suckling her breasts 'til she goes weak-kneed. She clamps her thighs shut just as she hits her peak and slumps to the floor, with heart-shaped pupils.
    • Espada unexpectedly ends up on the receiving end in chapter 79, when Azuki kicks her with her newly evolved Maken. The attack was strong enough to draw blood, causing Espada to smile with a full-faced blush, while soaking her panties.
    Espada: (internal monologue) "Here she IS ♥! The one who makes me numb... and WET ♥"
    (squirt sound effect hiragana shown between her legs with another ♥)
  • Shimoneta: Tanukichi unintentionally causes Oboro to have one in chapter 10. After pinning him to the floor, Tanukichi realizes something is wrong and uses his foot to be sure. Oboro doesn't make a sound, but in the next panel, his back suddenly arches, along with his foot. Afterward, he's seen blushing with an empty-eyed smile.
  • Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion provides a male example. During the infamous scene of End of Evangelion where he masturbates over the unconscious Asuka, the only sounds he makes are a series of soft sighs.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • An interesting example occurs in Wizard Runemaster. Almost all of the magical races from Earth react to the massive amounts of magic present on Azeroth. But where the Goblins simply act like they've smelled a rather pleasant aroma and the Merfolk become remarkably hyper, the Veela shudder in orgasm.
  • In Stranger Facets of You, Adam and Samus rekindle a past romantic relationship when he is able to use android bodies to move about. Samus's orgasms when she makes love with him are intense in spite of her soft reactions: her strongest reactions are to let out quiet moans, gasps, or sighs as she shudders.
  • In the Violet Evergarden fanfic "Polaris," which takes its inspiration from the light novel continuity rather than the anime, Violet continues to be The Stoic even as she makes love to her Major Gilbert. The only indications of Violet's pleasure are her breathing getting rougher and her body seizing up rock-solid stiff before relaxing as she comes down from her peak.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Several directors are interviewed about this trope in the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated . It goes into quite a bit of detail about the Double Standard and also how incredibly selective it is. One truly bizarre sequence has scenes from films approved by the MPAA contrasted with scenes banned by the same organization. The movie's big overriding question is what exactly the MPAA's rationale is — two naked lesbians under bedsheets are a moral disgrace, but the infamous masturbating into an apple pie scene in American Pie had no apparent problems. One reason is that the former came from an indy studio, while the latter from a major studio, but homosexual content in general seems to be subject to stricter censorship than heterosexual content. Whether this is because of inherent prejudice or, as noted above, the fact that most homosexual content tends to come from independent producers with little negotiating power (or, of course, both) is not fully revealed.
  • The sex scene in Titanic, which occurs off-screen, uses a symbolic fingertip-smearing of a car's windshield in lieu of an orgasm.
  • In Amélie, during the sequence when Amélie is imagining how many people are in the midst of orgasm ("fifteen!"), the last woman's O sound is somewhere between a gasp and a squeak.
  • Pleasantville. "Oh, my." Tree catches fire.
  • The Movie of Watchmen has a sex scene between the second Nite Owl and the second Silk Spectre where a flame thrower is used to imply orgasm. Same scene is in the comic as well, but this trope is mostly for TV and movies.
  • The Fifth Element movie; Ruby Rhod has seduced a flight attendant and is having sex with her while the shuttle's taking off; her silent scream of pleasure is intercut with scenes of the rocket blasting and rocket engines firing, and then we just see her booted legs — sticking out beyond the cubicle curtain — slowly relaxing and slumping.
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall has perhaps the most modest orgasm possible, where the protagonist is trying to forget Sarah Marshall by sleeping around with a multitude of gorgeous models, which is intended to show how models are closer to mannequins than they are to people.
    Model: [dead monotone] Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. I just came. Oh. Oh. Oh.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, the Merovingian illustrates his "Cause and Effect" speech by delivering a specially prepared (programmed?) dessert to a woman in the restaurant. She is somewhat surprised at the effect it has (which is shown to us in Matrix code as a fireball in that region) but maintains her composure with aplomb.
  • Jackie in Red Road displays this, to the point of it creeping out her boyfriend.
    Clyde: Did you finish?
    Jackie: Yeah.
    Clyde: I can never tell.
  • Marie Antoinette (2006): Though this may just be her reaction to sex in general rather than orgasm in specific, Marie Antoinette simply gives a pleasantly surprised "Oh."
  • An extremely passionate hook-up between the hot chick and her not-boyfriend in Cabin Fever ends with a surprisingly mild gasp and hair toss by the woman, who then collapses on to her lover. The guy didn't make any noise at the grand finale, but that's probably because he was being smothered under a couple of 36D pillows. Damn.
  • Shannon Tweed in Hot Dog: The Movie (although with Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" blaring on the soundtrack any screaming would have been drowned out anyway, she clearly, er, comes and goes without saying a word).
  • Shanti Carson in Shortbus. Although in many ways her scene is as immodest as one can get seeing as a) it takes place during an orgy and b) her scene and all the other sex in the mainstream film is famously unsimulated, the actual orgasm itself is quite subtle. According to the behind-the-scenes featurette on the DVD, the orgasm was real, making this one a borderline real-world example, too.
  • In Enemy at the Gates, Vassili and Tania are having sex in the bunker and have to be very quiet so as not to wake their sleeping comrades. She manages to be quiet when she comes but he covers her mouth for good measure anyway.
  • Kiss Me (2011): Mia just gasps quietly when she climaxes while having sex with Frida for the first time.
  • Ammonite: Happens to both Mary and Charlotte when they consummate their romance. Charlotte first performs cunnilingus on Mary, who places her right hand over her mouth to muffle her vocalizations; then Mary returns the favor and Charlotte manages to keep herself almost silent, which is lucky for them because she's pressed up against the wall of their room when she climaxes.
  • À l'aventure: The characters in the film never grow too loud while they're climaxing, even when it's the most intense sexual pleasure they've ever had, just moaning throatily.
  • Vampire Diary: Holly gasps softly while Vicki is eating her out. Vicki later does the same when Holly eats her out as well.

  • The Afterward: Kalanthe gasps and covers her mouth to stifle even that while Olsa is eating her out in a past scene.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: Tasia and Mylla, while the two have sex with a double-sided strap-on dildo, both moan as they're climaxing together.
  • Shatter the Sky: The second time they're described as having sex, Kaia cries out very quietly when Maren brings her to climax.

    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 Carnivàle 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.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the 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.
  • From the Based on a True Story Made-for-TV Movie The Marla Hanson Story, one of Marla's roommates, Lyn, asks her other roommate Tawny to turn down the TV set so she can listen on Marla while she's having sex with a guy:
    Lyn: Don't you think the T.V.'s too loud?
    Tawny: Is it bothering you?
    Lyn: Yes. Can't hear what's goin' on in her room.
  • 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...

    Video Games 
  • In 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.

    Web Animation 
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, Descius has one when seeing the Emperor for the first time, although it's more of religious ecstasy than anything sexual. In a flashback, Alicia Dominica was pretty blatantly getting off staring at his ribcage, and it was a lot more sexual; the Emperor and his Companion are still a bit squicked about it 5000 years later.
  • In Episode 60 of Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Android 18 seems to be growing louder and louder as she and Krillin go at it. Krillin eventually explodes into a Multi-Shot, but 18 goes silent for several seconds, before managing a breathless "Oh wow..."

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Æon 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.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In her debut episode "Pretty Poison" we see Poison Ivy insistently lock lips with Batman to "seal his fate." Her passionate moaning while they kiss sounds like a woman experiening a small climax.
  • British porn in Family Guy.
    Man: [in a calm voice] Almost... almost... almost... there we are.
    Woman: Well done.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Modest Orgasm


Ladies Knock!

Serena tries talking to Blair in her bedroom, unaware that Blair has company under the covers.

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