Norm #1 – Sex noise exemption

Near the beginning of the film Wanderlust the charismatic leader says basically, “We don’t call them ‘Communes’ anymore; now they are called ‘Intentional Communities.'” And this is true, we have “rebranded” ourselves, though generally when we are talking among the members we refer to ourselves in the shorter, older form. As in “Let’s head back to the commune now.”  We choose to rebrand, for a number of reasons, including that people have all manner of negative stereotypes associated with the name “commune” from Jonestown to the Waco siege.

Twin Oaks consists of 7 residential buildings with 9 Small Living Groups (SLGs) of about 8 to 18 members (both kids and adults).  Most SLGs have some type of quiet hours.  The exceptions are Tupelo and Ta Chai which prefer a “don’t be an asshole” norm.  Thus if it is late at night don’t play the music too loud and if you do by mistake turn it down when asked.

sex noises

There is an exception, which throws us pretty clearly back to the “commune” branding.  The only acceptable deviation is the noises people make when they are having sex.  These are exempt from the residential quiet hours.  And some people are loud. And while i doubt it was the first norm we agreed to, but certainly one of the early ones and one that we cling to. 


Then what happens depends very much on you.  Sometimes people overhearing these noises will say, “They have really been going at it.” Or people will nervously laugh when loud moaning noises come up.  Some people walk away, in either an effort to give them more privacy, or because the noise is distracting or bothersome.  Others will just ignore the noise, as we are practiced in ignoring all manner of noises living in such close quarters and go about our lives.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Is it Utopia Yet comic - New Name)

As soon as i posted this, sex noise stories started to roll in.  The first is kind of a commune classic.  Someone was having a lot of loud sex in their room, but it was not the human noises which were problematic for the folks who lived downstairs, it was the bed banging around.  So the disturbed downstairs members went into the offending bedroom and bolted the bed to the wall.  Problem solved.

Stay tuned, more funny sex noise stories to come.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

10 responses to “Norm #1 – Sex noise exemption”

  1. Bliss says :

    You know reacting to those sounds as normal and moving on in the commune is so much my habit that I never thought about it till you mentioned it! Still, I lived in one building at EW where everybody knew if I had my vibrator on… that was the only time I wished for thicker walls.

  2. richard w. lisko says :

    i’ve never understood people’s need to let everyone know when they are getting it on. i suspect they are just imitating the porn stars who are paid to make a show of it. i remember you coming to acorn with… anyhow, it sounded like a couple of cats in heat in the green house.

  3. Lauren says :

    Paxus, I am so goddamn glad you posted this, first because I was wondering how Twin Oaks approached noise in general and sex noises in particular since my tour at the Communities Conference I went two a couple of years ago, and second because we have so. much. drama. around this at the community house I am moving out of. People frequently take issue with sex noise (read: me being loud in particular), and I end up feeling repressed and confused about what they expect/are doing with themselves. Argh.

    I so very much look forward to more sex noise stories 🙂

    • paxus says :

      RR Ryders redemption was the one taken by now deceased Rob Mills used as part of a bank robbery i think. Or perhaps i am mixing stories. But i think that is the other. Vans not cars.

  4. Ronia says :

    You neglected to mention the phenomenon that is most common in a building full of couples: the chain reaction effect!

  5. Vermin says :

    At the end of my viz period, during my membership interview, a couple began to ratchet up their lovemaking session nearby. I was in the midst of responding to a question with a fairly long answer when they began to orgasm. It was like an elephant in the room for a few moments, then I just stopped my explanation and said, “this is why i want to live here.”

  6. Cara Ziegel says :

    I still remember hearing someone through an open window at about 4 pm and being baffled because I thought she was on dinner duty. But I guess she’d taken a short break – she showed up in the kitchen not long after. I also remember someones mom and sister staying in Sunnyside (sorry, EW’er here) and apparently leaving after one (loud) night . . . of course, at EW we had a communal shower, too – was kinda funny walking in to the shower as a visitor and meeting someone I didnt know.

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