8 Empowering Feminist Sex Scenes In Literature

by Alex Weiss

A feminist sex scene sounds tricky to define, but it's really just an intimate moment between two (or maybe more) people that's consensual and most importantly is empowering for the woman. It's confident-driven for her, and she's getting what she wants by taking matters into her own hands. She says how she feels, not letting bad sex get in the way of her and her partner feeling great.

While you can find plenty of great sex scenes in novels, most of them are not overly feminist, meaning it's not always the woman initiating the act. However, as more and more amazing female writers grace the pages of our favorite books it's becoming clear that there are many more body-positive and encouraging sex scenes to look out for.

Whatever you fancy most under the sheets, remember the most important thing: be confident in yourself. Feminist sex is about you and your partner being on equal terms and feeling comfortable expressing your wants with one another. In case you're looking for some feminist sex scenes in books, here are some of the most empowering ones:

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I forget that he is another person; instead it feels like he is another part of me, just as essential as a heart or an eye or an arm. I pull his shirt up and over his head. I run my hands over the skin I expose like it is my own.

In the beginning of the Divergent series, main character Tris was terrified of sleeping with Tobias, the guy she'd fallen for quickly after joining the Dauntless faction. Even though the movie adaptation of Insurgent shows the two characters having sex, that technically doesn't happen until the third installment. Either way, Tris makes that decision (while also knowing Four wants to) and they both make each other feel more confident together. Roth's series is all about a strong-willed girl, and this scene only helped accentuate that fact.

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2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

We took each other then, in a savage, urgent silence, thrusting fiercely and finishing within moments, driven by a compulsion I didn't understand, but knew we must obey, or be lost to each other forever. It was not an act of love, but one of necessity, as though we knew that left alone, neither of us could stand. Our only strength lay in fusion, drowning the memories of death and non-rape in the flooding of the senses.

This book is fully steamy sex scenes, but what makes them feminist? Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser indulge in each other in more ways than one, and Claire happens to be the more experienced one, but doesn't boast about it. The two learn together, fumble and laugh, grip and hold on. It's an adventure, and it shows just how enjoyable passionate sex can be when you're with someone you can't get enough of. And you can't forget this steamy quote: "If I were a horse, I'd let him ride me anywhere."

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3. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

"I held the part of him that Mr. Harvey had forced inside me. Inside my head I said the word gentle, and then I said the word man."

Maybe you forgot about this scene, but Susie Salmon, a girl whose life has been taken away from her by rape and murder, magically comes back (in another body) so that she can fulfill her desire to sleep with the boy she's always loved and face her fear of sex. Yes, it's out there, but her definition of growing up and moving on involved having this experience and doing it by her own terms, not being forced. It doesn't get much more feminist than that.

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4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

He leaned forward and kissed me again and I kissed him back with more fervor than I had before, and we stood there kissing and kissing between his tent and his car with the corn and the flowers and the stars and the moon all around us and it felt like the nicest thing in the world, my hands running slowly up into his curly hair and down over his thick shoulders and along his strong arms and around to his brawny back, holding his gorgeous male body against mine. There hasn't ever been a time that I’ve done that that I haven’t remembered all over again how much I love men.

Strayed knows just how easily sex can become abusive and harmful in life, but she also shows how empowering it can be. In the scene where Strayed is out in the wilderness having sex with a guy who actually appreciates her, she slowly realizes how it's healing her. She takes control and enjoys ever second of it, even when it means just caressing one another, talking, and remembering why she loves herself and men so much.

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5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

"My leg," he said. "Just so you're prepared in case, I mean, in case you see it or what—"

"Oh, get over yourself," I said, and took the two steps I needed to get to him. I kissed him, hard pressing him against the wall, and I kept kissing him as he fumbled for the room key.

The sex scene between Hazel and Augustus isn't dirty and crazy, but it's heartwarming and adorable in ways that you usually don't find in written sex scenes. Augustus is nervous about his amputated leg, and Hazel has to maneuver around her breathing mask, yet they still get to experience something they both figured they never would in their short lives all while having fun.

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6. After You by Jojo Moyes

I wanted to kiss him forever. I blocked out all thought about what this was, what it might mean, what further mess I might create for myself... And I kissed him until reason seeped out through my pores and I became a living pulse, conscious only of hat I wanted to do to him ... And suddenly we were crashing around the little railway carriage, all hands and lips and, oh, God, the scent and taste and feel of him. It was like tiny fireworks going off all over me, bits of me I'd thought dead reigniting to life.

Louisa Clark and Sam Fielding totally get it on feminist style in After You . Louisa takes full control, even though she knows how big of a mess she might be making in her life by doing this. A woman who knows what she wants, goes after it, and faces the consequences that may come because of it is one strong person to look out for.

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7. Forever by Judy Blume

I slipped my nightgown over my head and dropped it to the floor. Then there were just my bikini pants and Michael’s pajama bottoms between us. We kissed again. Feeling him against me that way made me so excited I couldn’t lie still. He rolled over on top of me and we moved together again and again and it felt so good I didn’t ever want to stop — until I came.

Judy Blume definitely blew your mind the first time you read Forever, because for once, sex was being talked about in a super positive and feminist way. I mean, the first line of the book is: "Sybil Davison has a genius I.Q. and has been laid by at least six different guys." As a teenager reading that, it was the first time anyone had pointed out to me that girls can have sex, be smart, and not be shamed for it. Katherine, our main character in Forever , was open to exploring sex, but also not afraid to say that she wasn't "mentally ready" even when her body was.

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8. Forgive Me if I've Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Her black eyes flew upward and caught mine. Her face remained expressionless. She took my hand in hers, and we danced to those hard angry songs. We barely touched. Only the outline of our movements intersected. She leaned back, and I leaned forward. She drew an arc in the air, and I followed her motion with my hand. She whirled to my right, and I circled to her left, interlacing the circles of our movement. We were like fire dancers, tracing the air around each other’s bodies. I felt so finely tuned to the world, I thought I could feel the heat her hands left in the air. I knew if she actually caressed me, I would die.

Granted, this scene is just while Triinu and Chloe are dancing, but it's more passionate than many sex scenes out there. This particular moment is especially important because Triinu is facing her fears, diving headfirst into love, and gaining independence within feminist self.

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Image: Bustle