Anyway, seeing as how we had plenty of time on our hands, Sarah and I had the opportunity to discuss a great many things that we have in common. After we had talked about football, movies, music and planned our next photo project, the topic of conversation of course turned to sex (because I'm so damn hot, you see). Sarah told me about a conversation she had with friends of hers about the way people behave when they're having sex. Namely, she theorized that while having sex you are in essence always "performing" for the other person.
Her theory is based around the premise that the sounds you make while fucking, from the moans to the dirty talk are all learned and not actually natural. While she accepted that some physical reaction is of course innate, she believed that the majority of the things people say or do is based on subconscious emulation of porn stars and isn't so much a biological of your own body as it is an attempt to entice and turn-on your partner.
I think the idea showed some merit, however I think its kind of a simplification. Everything I've learned about science from watching Mythbusters has taught me that before I can really understand the science of an event I have to break it down and go small scale. So, let's take sex out of the equation for a moment and examine a simpler response to stimuli. Raise your right foot off the ground about 18-24 inches, position it directly over left foot and swiftly and decisively stomp down as hard as you can. I would submit that in all likelihood upon contact between your feet you found yourself involuntarily screaming something to effect of "OW," "OUCH," or perhaps "MOTHERFUCKER!" Even if there was no one in your immediate vicinity, you probably made the same exclamation. So you aren't really screaming for the benefit of a second party so much as involuntarily verbally expressing a response to stimuli agnostic to audience.
Now find an infant child. I wouldn't use a newborn (we're not savages here); any child from about 6 weeks to 18 months will probably do. Now provide a similar pain stimulus to the foot of the child (again, as we are not savages, it is not necessary to stomp from the full 18 inches, 6-8 should do nicely). I surmise, that the child will have a similar verbal response to pain, however the response will likely come in the form of an unintelligible scream of some sort.
What we can learn from these experiments is that not only is the human response to pain innate, but the specific expressions used to convey that pain are learned. The infant does not know the words ow, ouch or motherfucker yet expresses pain verbally nonetheless. The adult on the other hand uses those terms regardless of audience. I therefore postulate that even though expressive terms to intense physical stimuli are learned, their use is involuntary to a large extent nonetheless.
Now leaving our small scale experiment we can again turn to the full scale problem of sex. I'd argue that while Sarah is right, and a large part of the sexual act, from lingerie, mood setting and makeup to positioning, foreplay and movement and even to verbalizations is designed to entice the other partner, and while I will also accept that a large portion of it is learned, the degree to which it is internalized is so severe that it is effectively indistinguishable from any other sexual response that is written into our genetic code. Yelling out a nice heavy "ohmigodohmigodohmigodimgonnacum!!!" is just as instinctive as contractions of the vaginal walls or penis.
Obviously, much like physical orgasmic response varies from individual ro individual, verbal response will vary as well. And again, much like physical actions during the sex act are intentionally performed (I don't think there's a genetic marker that tells someone to bite down on their partner's neck and shove an 18 inch vibrator up their ass at "just the right time"), some verbal responses are of course done intentionally and deliberately for the benefit of the second party (or perhaps third party observers). I don't dispute that. However, I don't think the responses can be simplified to the point that we can consider it a performance per se.
So anyway, like always, I want to know what you think. So give me your thoughts. Or give us your thoughts I should say. As I know Sarah is quite curious to hear what people think too. I originally promised her that I'd post this rant a month ago when we first had the conversation. It's quite possible that I misrepresented her opinions through the haze of memory somewhere here as well. She's welcome to correct me, and hopefully she'll respond to your comments as well with her thoughts as I will.
In the interest of science, I am willing to explore this further. As such, I'd like to have say, 20 female subjects, 10 of whom are porn fans, 10 of whom have never seen any, volunteer to have sex with me on video tape so that we can examine the results and present the findings in a followup journal article. The world is counting on us people. In the meantime, I'd just love to hear what people think.