Why audio erotica has become so popular

Martha Alexander

With the huge popularity of both podcasts and apps like Audible—and that women are finally taking control of what they want—or not—from pornography, is it any surprise that there is a growing hunger for audio erotica?  

Sunsets, handsome strangers, illicit liaisons, tanned physiques, honed biceps, rippling abs, handcuffs—all of this and more, but you don’t get to see any of it. Not a peep. For this is the selling point when it comes to audio erotica.  

Over the last few years there has been an uptick in apps specialising in the medium, in many cases specifically targeting female audiences. This year alone—as COVID-19 gripped the world and our social lives reduced—many such apps have reported listener or subscriber figures rising. Emjoy, the sexual wellbeing audio app for women has over 150,000 active users globally since its launch in January 2020 and has reported that engagement with erotic stories increased by 30 percent since lockdown began in mid-March. 

Apps and platforms like Emjoy, Frolic Me, Dipsea and Quinn offer short steamy stories—with male or female narrators. Listeners report enjoying the stories alone at home or as part of foreplay with a partner.   

"I first listened to audio porn with my partner on a saucy hotel trip,” explains Tabitha Raine—writer and inventor of the Ruby Glow ride-on sex toy. “Listening to the erotic words was truly arousing and because we weren't having to watch the screen, we could completely focus on each other… It's even more fun to try out the scenes the narrator is describing." 

However, some even listen when they’re out and about.  

“I listen to Dipsea on the train,” says Deborah, 41, from London. “It’s a bit of a buzz knowing that I’m listening to explicit stuff in a public settling.” 

Anna Richards—who sounds a little like the sensual Marks & Spencer voiceover lady from the now-iconic TV adverts—set up Frolic Me in 2015—an online erotica platform boasting videos, literature and audio stories after being disappointed by the gratuitous, extreme nature of online mainstream porn. 

She describes audio erotica as “sexual yoga”, believing the genre appeals so much to women because it affords them control and allows them to tap into their own imaginations.  

“Listening is often much more of an intimate experience because it becomes fantasy-filled,” she says. “The listener is no longer a bystander—instead you’re involved in setting the scene. You are creating your own erotic porn of choice.” 

Mia Sabat, in-house Sex Therapist at Emjoy agrees: 

“One of audio erotica’s primary functions is to appeal to the body’s most important, and often neglected, sex organ: the brain. Research has actually shown that listening to erotica can be one of the most successful practices women can utilise to achieve sexual satisfaction. This is because audio erotica focuses on arousing the mind so the body can gently follow suit, all through the magic of fantasy.” 

In fact, all of the women we spoke to about their consumption of audio erotica, cited owning the narrative as a factor which both attracts them—and keeps them coming back for more.  

Audio is also proving to be an alternative to pornography, which traditionally tends to view sex from a male perspective and often relegates women to being little more than a prop.  

It’s important to understand the distinction between pornography and erotica. Sabat explains that the former is derived from the Greek porni meaning prostitute while erotica is derived from eros, the Ancient Greek term meaning “sexual love”. 

“The very nature of the words, pornography and erotica, have entirely different connotations—with erotica equalising and empowering those of all genders and sexualities, unlike pornography,” she says. 

While “what does feminist audio erotica sound like?” has proven too simplistic a question—after all, no two imaginations or kinks are the same, right?—there are a number of points to consider when it comes to considering the feminist credentials of any erotic media.  

Sabat’s take it that it’s about women being involved in the production. 

“To ensure that erotica is pro-female and feminist, we must involve women in all aspects of its creation,” says Sabat. “That isn’t to say that men can’t be part of the process, but women must be involved.” 

Richards believes that by its very nature audio erotica specifically, is feminist.  

“The listener creates the image and in this way it isn’t all about the man,” she says.   

There is also something to be said for the removal of aesthetics that audio affords—and the positive impact this can have on body confidence.  

 

“I find myself making negative comparisons between my body and that of some 21-year-old performer when I watch porn,” says Amy, 38. “It’s a bit of a buzzkill.” 

The body-positive, feminist and empowering messaging that underpins erotic audio apps and platforms has been a long time coming.  

“Emjoy appeals to adult women of all ages and backgrounds,” says its CEO and co-founder Andrea Oliver Garcia. “We purposefully create content that appeals to everyone: women deserve to feel sensual, beautiful and powerful at any age.” 

It’s important to state that audio erotica is not a female-only domain. Richards reports that 61 percent of the audio audiences are women, which might be a majority but means some 39 percent of the listeners are men. This is pretty cheering news because it proves that men are not solely interested in porn which serves the male experience—and both sexes have finally been given an opportunity to allow female desire to come first—pun absolutely intended.  

Read more: 7 Ways to stop feeling guilty about masturbation

Read more: How to build a sexual soul connection


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