The XX Factor

A Reasonable Defense of Loud Sex

When you live like this, you are going to hear some stuff.

Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Writing for The Cut, Maureen O’Connor rejects the common wisdom that it’s incumbent on the sex-havers of the world to keep it down, arguing instead that putting up with hearing people have sex is a part of modern life that people living in tighter quarters just have to learn to deal with. Arguing with the folks, including our own Emily Yoffe, who advise you to keep it down for the sake of your neighbors, O’Connor writes, “Because if adults can’t have noisy sex in their own homes, with the doors and windows shut, then where can noisy sex occur?” She adds, “The whole point of being a wage-earning, home-owning (or -renting) adult is that you can do whatever you want to do in the privacy of your home.”

I could not agree more. One of the realities of an increasingly urbanized society is that we all have to suck it up and learn to politely pretend not to know what we learn through the walls and ceilings we share with neighbors. On the issue of public bathrooms, Prudie wisely advises that what goes on in a neighboring stall “is supposed to be off-limits to acknowledgment or conversation.” I recommend the same approach to what you overhear in your neighbors’ apartments. If the noise is short-lived or there’s no reason to think anyone is in trouble, letting bygones be bygones is best practice. I once had a neighbor whose crated dog whined all day long while he was at work. I would gladly have traded that sad dog singing the blues all day for the brief and happy noise of victory that is a loud orgasm. 

However, there should be, for the sake of peace, some limits put on your relative freedom to be as loud as you want when you’re making love. A reasonable curfew of 10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on the weekends, so as to avoid waking people up, is probably for the best. But before then, if you’re one of those people who is bothered instead of amused at the sounds of other people’s pleasure, just turn up the TV volume. It’s not like your neighbors are going to ask you to turn it down.