The orgasm library: what does happiness sound like?

The 8th of August marks the International Female Orgasm Day, a celebration that originated in the northeastern Brazilian town of

The story that the Councillor Arimateia Dantas wanted to compensate his wife for some sexual debts, due to his premature ejaculation.

The holiday is aimed at encouraging women to explore their sexuality and gain greater confidence about their bodies in a culturally free, open and accepting environment, by promoting sexual health and raising awareness about a still-mysterious phenomenon.

Female orgasm, penalised for its only purpose of giving pleasure, has been living in the shadow of male orgasm – evolutionary crucial for the continuation of the species – for long, ending up being suffocated and silenced by popular culture’s stigma, social taboos, lack of knowledge.

 Meg Ryan e Billy Crystal in the popular fake orgasm scene in When Harry meets Sally

Things are changing and female orgasm will be on everyone’s lips soon, thanks to the increasing number of women who break the silence and open up about their sexuality, encouraging other women to do the same, and thanks to projects like the Orgasm Library.

Two years ago, the founders of Bijoux IndiscretsBijoux Indiscrets , Spanish brand of erotic accessories and cosmetics, launched, a collection of hundreds of recordings of real people having real orgasms.

The project is part of a study entitled “Fiction vs Reality in Sex” and is aimed at giving a portrayal of female pleasure more realistic than the representation that cinema, from romantic comedies to porn, is selling us, and showing that pleasure comes in many shapes and sounds and is both plural and diverse.

Each orgasm in the library is a piece of art to observe and listen to, illustrated by colourful visual sound maps made of circles that pulse and get bigger to every peak of pleasure and dissolve into the silent valleys of the whispered sexual sounds.

rappresentazione grafica suono orgasmo
Visual sound map of an orgasm of the library

It’s hard to tell if every orgasm is spontaneous and real: the repertoire of porn-style screams, contortions and facial expressions of deep pleasure has surely influenced the way women think they are meant to show their pleasure.

But the project’s value is positively related to the number of recordings uploaded on the site: the varied mosaic of orgasms’ shapes and colours paints a picture of the vastly different ways every woman experiences sex and can help women to feel comfortable with the sound of their own pleasure and make a clean sweep of expectations, anxiety and shame.

If you were looking for a way to celebrate this International Female Orgasm Day, just know that everyone can anonymously contribute to the growth of this project: clear your voice and keep a device handy; then indulge in a session of pure and free pleasure, loud and clear or soft and muffled; record your orgasm and upload the audio track on the website. Remember to give your orgasm an original name so you can recognise it later and listen to it again so you don’t forget what your happiness sounds like.

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