11 Movie Sex Scenes That Are Empowering For Women
What makes a movie sex scene empowering for women? Everyone finds different things to be sexy, but in the end, far too many fictional sex scenes spend too much time focusing on the male gaze and not enough on letting women be in charge of their own sexual agency. And since fiction often bleeds into real life and influences what we think of as "normal" or important, it's crucial that more of what we see on screen centers on women and their pleasure and power. Fortunately, there are a few scenes that are already leading the way. Check out some of our favorite empowering sex scenes that actively focus on giving women as much agency as they can.
So, yeah, Titanic's sex scene has become a cultural joke and a ubiquitous meme because of the whole "steamy handprint on a window" shot. But reducing the scene to a joke takes away the incredible female empowerment of the scene. It's Rose, not Jack, who drives the scene forward. She initiates the intimacy, she tells him to put his hands on her, and she soothes his nerves, instead of the other way around. In a society where she's being shamed for knowing her own mind, Rose doubles down and takes charge of her own body as well.
Blue Is the Warmest Color
Adèle and Emma's connection is the root of the movie's intensity, which makes their sex scenes all the more important. There's a balance between the awkwardness of exploring new things and the palpable chemistry between them. Most important, though, is the clear trust that develops between them and the way the movie avoids the male gaze of all too many sex scenes involving women.
In some ways, you can read The Notebook as the story of Allie taking charge of her own sexual agency. In a flashback, when she and Noah first try to have sex, the scene puts her feelings and her needs front and center — and, even better, Noah does as well. She's awkward (they both are) and nervous, but she knows what she wants. The innocence and hesitancy of this scene is the polar opposite of their intense, no-holds-barred sex scene when they meet again years later, but it lays the groundwork for their intimacy always making sure both of them are in it together.
Superhero movies aren't exactly known for having well-rounded romances, but Wonder Woman is the exception. Diana isn't hypersexualized, and despite their intense chemistry after sharing a dance in the snow, Steve is shown to be fully willing to just say goodnight. It's only when Diana wordlessly invites him in that the spark between them ignites, but it's not painted as some faux chivalry — it signals just how sexy mutual respect and a woman's bodily autonomy can be.
Love and Basketball
How many rom-coms manage to pull off the "their first time" trope in a way that emphasizes mutual care and ensuring a woman's pleasure? BFFs-turned-lovers Monica and Quincy take their time figuring things out, and the focus of the scene is all about checking in with each other to make sure they're both OK and enjoying it — and those very actions are what make it so sexy.
When the young Queen Marie finally takes up some agency after her marriage turns out to be unfulfilling, one of her first acts is to start an affair with Fersen, a handsome count who adores her. After being rejected by her husband and forced to be formal in a way that doesn't suit her exuberance, Marie finally gets to find joy in life and in sex. She calls the shots, she laughs with how happy she is about it, and Fersen seems to adore her for it.
Just how dedicated was Blue Valentine to depicting women receiving pleasure and not just being the means to someone else's pleasure? Ahead of its 2010 release date, the movie was slapped with a rare NC-17 rating from the MPAA, mainly because of a scene of a woman receiving oral sex. The rating was successfully appealed down to an R, but the important scene remains.
The Netflix rom-com is packed with quite a few excellent, realistic, and empowering sex scenes for all of the women in the story. The biggie, though, has to be between Jenny and Nate, whose relationship is told in nonlinear fashion throughout the movie. The atmospheric neon lighting amps up the sexy, but it's the obvious focus on Jenny's pleasure (and her memory of the hookup) that proves this is a movie that cares about women's experiences of their own sexuality.
All too often, it's the women who are more physically vulnerable or stripped off during movie sex scenes. That's one of the reasons the sex scene in this Gothic drama is so empowering: not only does Edith initiate the intimacy with her husband, Thomas, but she's also the one who remains almost fully dressed while he strips off eagerly.
The dreamy nature and back-and-forth cuts of this scene can't disguise the intense sexuality, and it's all focused on Anna's experience. Both in storytelling and in the camera angles, the scene is all about repressed Anna finally taking charge and taking what she wants — which, in this case, is the handsome officer Vronsky.
Crazy Stupid Love
When Hannah finally decides to go home with Jacob, what results is a scene that's 50 percent hilarious, 50 percent sexy, and 100 percent centering Hannah's wants and needs. There's a tension-laden Dirty Dancing reenactment and a standard-issue shadowy makeout session, but there are also several breaks when Hannah gets nervous and a shockingly tender conversation. It's all about Hannah learning to be comfortable, and it's all the more sexy for that.