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Bound by Patriarchy

The renowned portrayal of “real� lesbian sex portrays both butch and femme lesbians engaged in sexual intercourse which is primarily dominated by the femme lesbian, Violet. Corky and Violet are set side by side, in a way that depicts a more equal sharing of power. This egalitarian placement in their lovemaking is significant, because although Corky wears her sexuality “on her arm� whereas Violet’s sexuality is questioned by Corky, who initially insists that they are “different,� (inferring that her commitment to lesbianism is greater because Violet sleeps with men) they are at this point put on an equal sexual plane with one another. Further, the fact that Violet is the one penetrating Corky “troubles� societal notions of patriarchy as it applies to sexuality. That is, the male dominates sexual encounters. This is translated into notions of lesbian sexuality as Corky, who is butch and is more commonly associated with the male role due to her manual labor job as well as her mode of dress, is expected to dominate the situation over a more “femme� mafia-girlfriend Violet, who dresses in a way that is more commonly associated with females. If these roles were reversed, and Corky had been penetrating Violet, this would have been more in line with this patriarchal and heteronormative idea of lesbian sexuality. Jean Noble identifies this approach to the scene as a confrontation over sexual and identity politics in the way that the two seemingly different women are synchronized for the first time in terms of their sexual orientation, imprisonment, and power. The way in which this scene, as Noble puts it, “ruptures� these patriarchal notions on sexuality is decidedly feminist, as it distributes power in a way that is much more equal and applies it to sexuality, gender and choice.