Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Biology of Dirty Talk

During past decades, there was an interesting coincidence between societal developments on one hand and science on the other when it comes to sex.

Women have become increasingly independent from traditional relationship models thanks to their own incomes, birth control and anti-male bias in public thought.

But, surprising to mainstream thought, they do not use their newly gained liberty to (just) chose the lovey-dovey long lasting romantic relationships that Hollywood movies ascribe to their dreams.

Instead, they engage in reckless bad boy chasing and soft harem volunteering (unless they get too old to keep up their market value).

A woman who can (afford to) chose will follow the "rather second woman to a strong man than first woman to a weak guy", rule and not feel bad about it.

At the same time, one of the biggest discoveries in evolutionary science following Darwin was made by studying female sexual behavior within "monogamous" species. It is called postcopulatory sexual selection (or: cryptic female choice).

It comes about thanks to well hidden female promiscuity. The more monogamous the animal species, the better the females at hiding their infidelities. In fact, most females are so sneaky, it takes DNA evidence to track down the actual paternity - and that is exactly why this phenomenon had been missed by Darwin and many of its successors.

The cryptic female choice of one guys sperm out of a large cum pool in a single vagina following the prototypical sperm fests of females all across the animal kingdom is the very basis of sperm competition and has had quite a footprint on male genital morphology - and behavior.

As we all know there are courtship displays and fights (male-male competition) for the "alpha throne" of heavy copulation. Yet, females do not need to rely on a single, potentially premature decision if they can also go around, collect semen from multiple partners and then chose the worthiest and best DNA carried by their sperm.

So thanks to cryptic female choice (since it literally happens inside of her), males
a) lose a good deal of paternity security
b) need to keep competing after the copulatory act.

And the latter leads to the evolution of such wonderful things such as... dirty talk (maybe).

Calling postcopulatory mating calls in insects "dirty talk" might seem like a poor anthropomorphic nerd joke, but since the evidence of cryptic female choice in humans is overwhelming, it makes sense to think about the possibility for a second.

Most men I talked with about the issue (which is not that easy, since in contrast to women, we guys do not feel comfortable talking about our sex lives), agreed that many aspects of rough sex such as calling your lover derogatory names are far bigger turn-ons for girls than for guys. In fact, the common naivety of regular guys as to their women's need for submission to the degree of degradation is one of the main reasons girls are drawn to fuck the bad boys.

Dirty talk is a way to establish male dominance throughout the sexual act, and that is certainly why women like it so much. But, wasn't his social dominance what brought her to open her legs in the first place? Why would a man need to continue to prove his alpha status during coitus?

Well, what works for insects might work for homo sapiens as well. Given the possibility that a woman had just been inseminated by the guy next door, paired with the fact that she can decide which sperm she is going to (subconsciously) "suck up" into her uterus, a man might do well to show off his dominance even when he thinks "the job is done".

PS: According to David Shade, dirty talk is the most powerful tool in the bedroom. He sure is the number one expert on the topic, so you might want to check out what he has to say (pun intended).

PPS: As always there is the caveat of "just-so story telling" when coming up with evolutionary explanations of behavior. But you know that already.


  1. spot on about chicks often liking the derogatory names...reminds me of one of my ex's (Indian) she loved nothing more than for me to call her a whore, she used the damn word more than I did when we were having sex....that and she loved to practically fight me off/wanted me to really dominate her...i would imagine the rough sex bit i've overhead a few girls is part of this process as well - they equate a good hard fucking with an alpha dude to deposits then bounces, in an evolutionary sense of course.

  2. Does the dirty talk have to come from the male?I mean,what if the male orders the female to call or describe herself as a "slut?" To verbally degrade herself upon prompting,or even spontaneously.Does that operate according to the same dynamic?

  3. @Anonymous - you answered the question yourself.

    Dirty talk is more than just calling names - according to the framework outlined above it's all about establishing dominance. Degrading is one way to gain higher status over another person (this is one reason why negs work). And making someone call themselves names is even more degrading than doing it yourself.

    This is also why women never say "Call me a slut!" ("Talk to me!" or "Say something naughty!" is as far as they go) even in he heat of the moment. It would reverse the social hierarchy since she took charge and made you do things she demanded you to do.

  4. @Anonymous:

    That can be a really powerful way to dominate a woman, though you should probably take care to work your way up to it, so as not to shock her into getting weirded out suddenly (anti-slut defence)


    Yeah, once I have crossed the dirty-talk boundary with a woman, I sometimes find that they ask for it. I have found that some women do actually ask for this, but it obviously comes from them correlating a past experience of pleasure with that behavior, and they want to replicate the feeling without having understood the underlying dynamic that made it possible. I personally find this a bit of a turn-off, because it does exactly what you are talking about: it takes away some of the alpha-ness of doing it.

    My standard response is, "Don't tell me what to do." And then wait a while and surprise her with it when she's not expecting it. Works with spanking and hair-pulling, too.

  5. @Master Dogen

    My standard response is, "Don't tell me what to do."

    Funny, I've used that line a couple of times, too. I've also tried "Shut the fuck up!". The problem is that both of these are rather reactive.

    In my experience it's best to not react at all (and then surprise her, as you said).

  6. With me, in my situation it was completely spontaneous... it wasn't forced but the comment was completely over the top. It surprised me as much as it did her ... six months later she still talks about it(she loved it). I had been drinking .. it seems as if it came from a subconscious, instinctual part of my mind. I am very much interested in the part the subconscious mind plays in all this.

  7. @Anonymous - You should drop me a line if you feel strongly about finding out the subconscious contribution to all this if you have an undergrad in psych, science or engineering and you are looking for a lab to get an advanced degree.

  8. 11minutes- Actually, my interest is more literary, I live in NYC and work at the New York Public Library. I read alot and writers such as Henry Miller, James Joyce, and the Beat writers (Jack Kerouac,William Burroughs) have interested me. They seem to have raised to act of dirty talking to an art form.