December 3, 2008


It is in the movie Bound that I have realized for the first time how many lesbian sex scenes reminded me of and reified the conventional ideas of heterosexual sex acts. With the combination of the Kessler and Noble reading and watching Bound after that, I was able to complicate my own understanding of queer sexuality in a heterosexually dominated film industry. It is for this reason I believe that the sex scene is definitely feminist in many aspects. Throughout the movie Both Corky and Violet are consistently placed into the stereotypical understanding of femininity and masculinity. This act of placing them into the typical understanding of gender had made me at first very uncomfortable and disappointed, however after our class discussion I had realized that the very understanding of the social construction of the “male� and “female� gender roles was being put under strict scrutiny by this movie. Throughout the movie and especially in the sex scene these roles of gender are put on display and yet in the same time complicated. While the sex scenes stayed true to the reality of lesbian sex the directors still worked on keeping their mostly heterosexual audience captivated and interested. While I understand that the movie wasn’t just targeted towards a lesbian audience, I still wonder would specific changes or decisions were made in order to make the heteronormative audience feel comfortable. Kessler mentions this by explaining that “Bound to draw favor from both heterosexual and lesbiancrowds: (1) images of desire that work for both lesbian and heterosexual viewers, (2) strategic use of stereotypes, and (3) camp or parody of the prototypical
Hollywood gangster� Even though this movie drew in the heterosexual crowd it was able to stay true to the reality of the lesbian sexuality. For example in the first sex scene the positioning of the two female bodies doesn’t try to replicate heterosexual sex. Intercourse is not defined by some phallic object or any type of penetration by a symbol of masculinity. The “butch� female is the one that is shown to be penetrated by the “femme�. “This scene presents a type of lesbian sexuality that is not often shown in heterosexual films: lesbian sex without the need of any phallic object.� (Kessler) It seems that the usual concentration on the breast and the typical male gaze and close up shots looking at the butt or breast was also omitted in the scene. It was interesting to know that this scene was viewed by many lesbians as authentic, since one is exposed to so many male driven images of lesbians.

December 1, 2008


I don’t think that scene was feminist, it showed that there can be a sexual relationship between persons- that is not necessarily men and woman. However what was most surprising was how intimate the scene was, it was not vulgar, it was romantic. I think that if the scene was pornographic or trashy, that it could be feminist because it would represent woman in a bad light, but it shows that there can be a bond between women that is just as significant as a bond between a man and a woman. Also as one of the articles stated is that it is stereotypical in that the roles change when Violet, the femme, is the sexual aggressor. It is Violet who initiates the action even though Corky, the butch, is the physically stronger and sexual aggressor. This shows a culture change, tying them to modern lesbian culture. The characters are clearly represented as Corky being the butch and Violet being the femme which is significant in that in shows that stereotypically Corky would be the “man� and Violet being the “woman�. But as stated before the roles switch when it comes to the sexual act, and for that

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November 25, 2008

Bound-Sex Scene

I found the sex scene in the film Bound to be feminist because it challenged stereotypes that society may have of butch/femme, relating to patriarchal sex. During the scene the stereotypical gender roles of patriarchy were challenged. The distinction between butch/femme is important because the scene “stages a struggle over hegemonic interpretations of female sexual iconography�. (Noble) Violet is portrayed as a femme; she wears high heels, short skirts and make-up. Corky, on the other hand, is butch; she wears boots, men's underwear, has tattoos, and does manual labor. These characteristics would lead many to believe that Corky is the "man" and Violet is the "woman". However, these characteristics are only physical, in reality the identity of the character is more complex. Violet is femme, but she is not submissive (she mainly pretends to be submissive and weak to the men around her), she can be seen as more "masculine" through her sexual advances to Corky, and her dominance in the sex scene. Specifically, during the sex scene we see Violet in control and on top, while Corky is submissive and is on bottom.

Bound #1

The sex scene in Bound could be considered feminist, although you must read into the characters to come to this conclusion. Corky is considered to be butch because of how she looks; she wears work boots, short hair, no make-up, has dirty hands, and big pants, and Violet is considered to be femme because she wears make-up, tight dresses, high heels and has fixed hair all the time. But beyond their appearances, a bigger statement is being made in this film, one that blurs the boundaries of gender role stereotypes. This is because Violet, although femme, acts aggressively towards Corky, and truly plays a major role in the plot of the film. Corky is somewhat passive when Violet is so aggressively pursuing her sexual interest with Corky. The sex scene shows two people making love and changing between them the roles of “masculine� dominance and “feminine� subordination. They both pleasure each other, although one is more on top of the other, it’s not clear dominance the entire time. After all, Violet is the one that makes the moves on Corky in the first place and asks if Corky has a bed somewhere... Like Kessler talks about in her article “Bound Together,� the sex scene gives lesbian sex some visibility in mainstream media, which is very important. This is not very common, and the fact that there is no man involved and no phallic object really makes the scene eligible to represent accurate lesbian sex. It is a Hollywood film, so of course, the women are both beautiful and have great bodies, but besides that, I think that their exchanging of gender roles throughout the film, and specifically in the sex scene, illustrate that it can be considered a feminist film.


I think that this scene is feminine for 3 reasons. One is that there are obviously two women and no men in the scene. Another is that the women seem more sensual than if there was a male involved, except for the first experience. The final reason is that I feel most people, specifically men, invision lesbian sex as using sex toys or things of that nature. I think that the use of those actually makes the sex between the two women more masculine. As far as butch and femininity goes I feel both characters demonstrate aspects of both. Just based on the physical appearance Violet is clearly more feminine than Corky. However, Violet does make the first move on Corky and is more dominant making Corky more feminine when it comes to stereotyped sexual roles. Also, in the end of the film Violet is calling the shots further conflicted who plays the more feminine role in the film. If the roles of the women were switched around and Corky appeared all girly and Violet was butch I think it would be a lot easier to tell who was more feminine. I feel like as a whole we tend to judge people more based on their appearences rather than their actions. Until the it was brought up in the class discussion I wouldn't have even thought as Corky being feminine simply becasue the stereotypes are really set for me. But if the women fit their physical appearances and were not conflicting than the film wouldn't be so interesting to interpret.


The sex scenes in Bound are definitely feminist. In the first sex scene, Corky pleasures Violet. In the second, Violet pleasures Corky. Until Violet returned the favor, I was going to label the film non-feminist. Towards the beginning, we see an image of Violet’s legs behind Corky. I was inclined to think that that was a move meant to attract the male audience, but as time went on, I didn’t see it that way at all. The camera didn’t gaze up and down her legs; it was simply (un)focused on them to give us an idea of what Corky was seeing/thinking about.

The fact that they were each given a scene to please the other really showed how equal the two women were. It didn’t matter that one of them was butch and one was femme. They were passionate for one another and truly wanted to satisfy each other’s needs. I wouldn’t even say that one of them played the dominant role while the other played the submissive role, because that would place them in a hierarchy that I simply don’t think they participate in.

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The Unknown

While watching the lesbian sex scenes in Bound, one is enlightened into a realm of homosexual unknown with regards to the media. Besides in pornography, lesbian sex is not regularly displayed in the media today. I can not easily place these scenes under a feminist ideal. I can place them as homosexual activism, making homosexuality portrayed in present media like heterosexuality already is. In her article Bound Together, Kelly Kessler stated, “I do not deny that it provides images to titillate heterosexual men, but at the same time I believe that it creates much needed empowering and erotic images for lesbians.� Although outward appearance immediately categorized Corky as the butch lesbian and Violet as the femme lesbian, these images were obsolete during the sex scene. Violet did lead for the majority of the sex scene but I do not think the scene would have been significantly different if Corky was the leader. Frequently, the camera angles made identification blurred regarding who was doing what. Throughout the film I think that the women shared power in the relationship contradicting the hetersexualized

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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.

Bound and feminist sex scene

The sex scene in Bound is definitely feminist. Kessler states “it creates much needed empowering and erotic images for lesbians,� which was very true. Since Bright choreographed it, it was definitely not intended for the heterosexual male to derive pleasure from, although they may. The scene instead focused on the complete lack of the male/phallic presence. Especially with its lack of the stereotypical view of lesbian sex involving all kinds of toys and dildos. These women were able to please each other completely without a phallic presence. This sexual power in itself is threatening to heterosexual men, because it shows that they are not necessary. The first encounters of Violet and Corky establish them as femme and butch, respectively. Violet is all dolled up, tight dress, thigh highs and heels, while Corky is in a leather jacket, unkempt hair, men’s briefs, and boots. This is further reinforced when Caesar walks in on Violent and Corky, and perceives Corky to be male and is relieved when he sees Violet is not

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Bound #1

I completely believe that every part of bound is part of a feminist film. The sex scene is offers us something that most other lesbian sex scenes do not: reality. While the characters in this film are often displayed in stereotypical fashion (butch and femme) they often break out of those roles. This is apparent in Corky and Violet's sex scene. Violet is seen as the aggressor and Corky is the one being pleasured. Kelly Kessler says it best when she writes, "In the bedroom scene, it is Violet who is on top and controlling the sex while Corky is the passive receiver." Most people who buy into making overall assumptions of others would not expect this placement. Because Corky is the more "masculine" character they would expect her to take on a typical movie male role. But in this sex scene she is seen for what she is- a woman. They are both women and they both are sexual beings. Male and female "roles" have no part in their sex life. This is what makes the scene believable. While many people can fit into stereotypes they also have more moments where they go against said stereotypes. This film helps acknowledge this.


Masculinity and Femininity are depicted in this movie like the typical stereotypes of what masculinity and femininity in the way that men and women are suppose to look. For example Corky is dressed like what a "man" who is doing construction work and Violet is dress like a "feminine women" is suppose to dress with dresses and fitted outfits. But something that was different with this movie in my opinion is the characters that are supposedly suppose to be playing these stereotypes of masculinity and femininity act as the other one would. Violet initiated to have sex something supposedly a "man" is suppose to do not a women and Violet is the one on top in the sex scene and taking charge again supposedly what a "man" is suppose to do. While we see Corky acting how a "women" is suppose to act with being more passive in the scenes we see. Jean Noble talks about in her essay about the movie that in the beginning of the movie it is setting up you to think Corky is a "masculine" by what she is wearing the boots, pants, the tattoos she has etc. So with the movie setting up in the very first scenes for us to already think Corky is a suppose to be masculine without giving us the chance to decide that for ourselves. I just think it is really too bad that we have these stereotypes of what a man and women should be and it is hard to break that sometimes and that is what this movie falls victim too.

Un-Bound and out of the closet

Besides being a highly entertaining film in its own right, Bound addresses the issue of femme invisibility and the limitations of gender 'roles' in making them visible. Violet is portrayed as highly feminine yet equally aggressive and initiatory, while Corky, with the typical butch appearance, is the receiver of Violet's affections. This flipping and mixing of perceived gender 'roles' confuses the heterosexual viewer and helps give queer women a more realistic portrayal than is usually rendered in film. I don't know if it is necessarily feminist, though I can't see why not, but it is definitely female-queer-friendly. In the sex scenes between the two women, there is no man waiting for his turn, and there is no phallic object used. This takes lesbian desire out of male fantasy and into reality, showing how women can love each other as women, not as pseudo-men. The film does overlook, however, female bodies that do not fit into mainstream ideas of beauty: neither woman is hairy, plump, disfigured, plain..but, alas, one cannot expect everything to be addressed in one film. Femininity and masculinity, as social constructs, are challenged here because of Violet and Corky's refusals to conform to it, and because of the ease with which they vacilate between 'masculine' and 'feminine' traits and behaviors.

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Just as Kessler writes in the article Bound Together, I did find the sex scene between Violet and Corky in the film Bound to be one that was decidedly feminist. Kessler writes that “Bound portrays the intimacies and technicalities of lesbian sex without the fuzzy romanticism of other lesbian love scenes or the hyper-feminine trashiness of heterosexual pornography� (16), straying away from the image of the lesbian as heterosexual male fantasy. Instead of the women being portrayed as underwear models playing the role of queerness, the scene is extremely sexually charged and passionate. Additionally, in breaking with another norm often seen in lesbian fantasies or narratives, it is not Corky, who is placed squarely in the role of butch, who initiates their first sexual contact. Violet, who oozes a stylized retro sex appeal, is the first to express her desire by coercing and seducing Corky under the guise of needing a sink unclogged.

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It is in the movie Bound that I have realized for the first time how many lesbian sex scenes reminded me of and reified the conventional ideas of heterosexual sex acts. With the combination of the Kessler and Noble reading and watching Bound after that, I was able to complicate my own understanding of queer sexuality in a heterosexually dominated film industry. It is for this reason I believe that the sex scene is definitely feminist in many aspects. Throughout the movie Both Corky and Violet are consistently placed into the typ

Bound Sex Scene

There is no doubt that Bound asks us to place Violet and Corky within the categories of either butch or femme, as the film is full of signifiers which code their bodies either way. Corky can be seen as butch, as evidenced by her leather jacket, tattoos, and boots, while Violet is portrayed as femme in her short skirts and high heels. Kessler claims that Bound's use of these recognizable roles allows the viewer to place the characters in comparison to oneself, alleviating "discomfort caused by cultural uncertainty". I tend to find black/white divisions like these uninteresting. It seems too constricting to place people in one category or the other. I was relieved to see that Bound's sex scene allowed for the characters to redefine what is normally thought of as traditional butch/femme roles. Violet's placement on top is significant in that it allows for a femme lesbian to be seen as the sexual aggressor. There were no real signs of masculinity or femininity within this scene, and instead we see them as equals engaging in a truer portrayal of lesbian sex.

Feminist Sex Scene

I would say that the sex scenes in Bound are very feminist. There are several reasons why I believe that these scenes are feminist. As Kessler points out in her essay, the scenes avoid phallocentrism. Although there is penetration occurring it is done in a way that does not lend itself to the power of the phallus. The focus of the scenes is not done around the actual action of penetration but the expressions of pleasure on each woman’s face. Both scenes also show both women in each shot which avoids any specific points of view especially a male gaze. Also Corky and Violet switch positions of masculinity and femininity. The first scene Corky is seen as a masculine as she pleasures Violet but in the second scene the roles are switched and Corky is seen in a feminine way. This shows how masculinity and butch are not concretely linked together as the butch Corky and the femme Violet can switch who has the role of masculinity and who has the role of femininity. As Kessler discusses in her essay, voyeurism is what lends this seen to be a feminist display of lesbian sex. The viewer is allowed to watch the scenes from a view that excludes phallocentrism and the male gaze and allows them to follow the movements of each character and their pleasure which does not produce a notion of one character having more power over the other. So in my opinion, using Susie Bright in the choreography of these sex scenes helped to bring the screen a truly feminist lesbian sex scene.


I think the movie Bound depicts lesbian sex in the most positive way I've ever seen it. Both the women were actively engaged in the act, and though there may have been masculine and feminine characteristics assigned to the women, I saw them as completely equal in the sex scene they shared. I believe the scene to be feminist, because the depiction is not about domination, but intimacy and passion, unlike that of Basic Instinct. Because Corky is seen as the butch, and Violet as a femme, I expected the scene to show Corky in a more dominant role, but the opposite was true, when Violet was seductive, and even a bit more aggressive in bed. If Corky and Violet were to trade positions in the scene, it would have been more typical of heterosexual sex, due to there characteristics they emit. The notion of masculinity and femininity in lesbian relationships has changed for me after seeing and discussing this particular scene. I think I just assumed what lesbian sex was, but now have a better grasp on what it is, and how it should be viewed.

Bound’s main sex scene does strike me as feminist in many ways, although as addressed in Kelly Kessler’s article it seems to appeal to a male heterosexual audience as well. The panning shots up and down their bodies during the scene definitely carry a voyeuristic quality which fall in line with conventional sex scenes, but as Kessler also mentions in her article- there are no masculine symbols and thus it seems to me there would be no really strong way in which a man could envision himself as part of the action. Yes, both the women are beautiful and that will appeal to the male hetero viewer. However, the scene ends up on Corky’s face as she orgasms- and in this moment the camera sticks with her and her expressions are not the typical breathy, half screaming Hollywood woman orgasm. Violet is in the active position during the scene and because of this Corky’s masculine qualities and Violet’s feminine ones seem less rigid than they might have appeared at first. Up to this point in the film each character has been presented with stereotypical symbols which identify Corky as “butch� and Violet as “femme,� but Violet as initiator and driver of the sexual encounter and then later as the one driving the action forward serves to remind us that she should be viewed on (at least) equal terms with Corky and the men in the film. If Corky and Violet had switched positions in the scene, it would have seemed over the top in characterizing Violet as the ultra-feminine, passive receiver and Corky as the “stand in for the man� role. As it is, the women seem to be more equal opportunity partners and lovers.


In my opinion the sex scene in Bound is what I would consider feminist because it is a woman, and in this case women, taking control of the situation that is stereotypically controlled by a male character. In the movie both butch and femme are seen in the characters of Violet and Corky. Violet plays the part of the seductive woman which leads the audience to label her as femme. Then to reinforce the fact that Violet represents femme and Corky represents Butch: in their first sexual encounter it is Corky who is pleasuring Violet. In the longer sex scene the roles are reversed and it is Violet who is pleasuring Corky. This switches the masculine and feminine roles (which originally were Violet feminine and Corky masculine), since it is Violet who is now doing the penetrating she takes on the masculine role and Corky is seen as feminine.

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I viewed the love scene in Bound to be a feminist scene. It shows two females being intimate with each other and not attempting to fulfill a “man� role and a “female� role, which society feels more comfortable portraying with queer couples, according to Kessler. Susie Bright’s assistance with the choreography, allowed the directors to avoid placing the queer couple into the mold of a heterosexual couple. Violet was more dominant in the pleasuring throughout the bed love scene, but corky was in the first intimate scene, while performing the same act. This creates for an equal portrayal in love-making by each of the women. If corky would have been shown in the bed love scene as the dominant pleasure, this would have shown more or a patriarchal relationship between the two women. Corky is presented with short hair, tattoos, and laid-back dress. She is an ex-con and enjoys fixing things (handywoman). Corky could be labeled as “butch� by society, based on her appearance and personality. The directors then chose to have Violet shown quite the opposite in appearance and personality.

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Sexually Bounded

The sex scene in the film Bound is feminist. Because of the excessive usage of sex scenes in many meaningful, ordinary, and stupid films, the over-exposed audience may simply watch the sex scene without any thought it being feminist but they will definitely get a “voyeuristic pleasure� from this scene. As Kelly Kessler states in her article “Bound Together: Lesbian film that’s family fun for everyone�, the sex scene in Bound “provides sex totally independent of male symbolism� meaning it “excludes phallocentrism� and there is no feeling of a male character present or watching them as they indulge in each other.

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"Try not to steal anything on your way out... "

In the the second sex scene of Bound the expected stereotypical behaviors of butch and femme are reversed. However, it could be argued that it does not go far enough to challenge sexual “roles� and control. Kessler appraises sex scene and its departure from mainstream Hollywood/pornography representations of lesbianism where sex between women is not as “real� as hetero-sex, therefore it requires male presence or phallic objects to be worthy of interest.

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Can't Argue Much With Susie Bright

The writings of both Kessler and Noble, are indicative of a consensus that Susie Bright's ability to allow for a sex scene that intentionally avoids Hollywood's conception of Lesbian sexual relationships, complicating butch/femme divisions of submission and aggression, “avoid phallocentrism, in that it focuses on the expressions of pleasure on Violet's face…rather than penetration or actual genitalia�, among other markers of authenticity, is a very real talent indeed. This being said (and said), by so fully committing to such a universalized erotic sex scene (the cross-over Kesslers speaks of) that allows a spectrum of sexual identities to enjoy and identify we see the same problematic beauty standard upheld and highlighted.

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they troubled those waters all night long

I agree with the Kessler reading in that the sex scenes in Bound between Corky and Violet allow for approval from both heterosexual male and lesbian audiences. However, every person's opinion on this matter is going to be influenced by their experience with viewing sex scenes and pornography, which makes the situation more complicated. So in the instance where the Kessler reading compares the Bound sex scenes with scenes from both movies made for lesbians audiences and girl on girl pornos intended for straight males, the comparisons won't really hold much practical meaning for someone with limited experience in both or either of those film genres. So, to some extent every person is limited in their perspective in arguing what the Bound sex scenes do and do not allow for. On the other hand, with every person having a unique experience and therefore perspective, the scenes most likely allow for any number of interpretations. Again as in the Kessler reading, the camera's pov doesn't make hetero males the exclusive audience, because the filmmakers opted for "objective" framing of the women.

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November 24, 2008


I do think that this scene between Corky and Violet was feminist. It allowed for the blatant sexuality that both these women sought and embodied with little to no objectification. The little that remained I think was mitigated by the “voyeuristic� nature of film and its appearance as otherwise “really good sex� that Kessler discussed. I also agree with her statement that Gershon made a lousy butch. Other than that I thought the subtle ambiguity of a “dominating� gender role made this movie all the better. As for if Corky were on top, my first thought was to say yes it would be less empowering or feminist, and maybe even a little less sexy.

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The Sex Scene within Bound

Looking at the sex scene within Bound I believe overall that it was very pro-feminist. The fact that the directors turned Susie Bright I think shows that they were serious about making this scene as realistic that as they could. In this scene the audience sees the femme taking charge and being the more aggressive female even though stereotypically one would assume it would be the butch who would be making the sexual advances. Even the positioning put Violet, the femme, “on top� is a very “masculine� role/position. Had the position of the two changed it would have looked as a “typical� heterosexual couple with the “man� on top and the woman on the bottom. That characteristics of the two where fairly prominent with Violets perfectly manicured nails and Corky’s “masculine� looking tattoos which adorned her body, yet this is thrown when the camera finally moves up the body to show their chests.

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Bound's sex scene

This is a feminist scene because challenges the traditional, patriarchal notions of sex. As Kessler points out, the sex scene manages to “avoid phallocentrism in that it focuses on[Violet’s pleasure]…not penetration.� The butch/femme distinction is important here because the scene “stages a struggle over hegemonic interpretations of female sexual iconography� (Noble). As the PowerPoint notes, one critique of such labels said that they replicated the gender roles of the patriarchy, where the femme took on the traditional feminine traits, and the butch took on the traditional masculine traits. While Bound certainly addresses these stereotypes, it goes further than that.

Yes, Corky is portrayed as the butch with her boots, pants, tattoos, and men’s underwear, but she would be considered the submissive/passive partner in the sex scene. Violet, on the other hand, with her short skirts, make-up and tights, is portrayed as the femme but also as the sexual aggressor. She is one who initiate both sexual encounters, and she is the dominant one in the bedroom scene.

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Bound 1

Bound has successfully drawn favors from both heterosexual and lesbian crowds by “visually adhering to historical stereotypes while reversing/transforming them through a reversal of behavior expectation and connotation� according to Kelly Kessler. The girl-on-girl action engages in activities that are heterosexually tailor adheres to male audiences, while the actual depiction and details of the lesbian sex is tailored more towards the lesbian audience. The two sex scenes appeal to both straight and lesbian audiences by shooting the scenes in such a way that “they would appeal to a heterosexual male audience, while providing ‘steamy’ lesbian sex, targeted at lesbians� (Kessler).

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By placing Violet’s character in control in this sex scene, the stereotype or heterosexually conceived notion of butch=masculine=aggressive and femme=feminine=submissive is undermined. As described in Nobles’s article, “Bound and Invested: Lesbian Desire and Hollywood Ethnography,� Violet is the “sexual initiator,� reinscribing her role as a femme. I think that another important aspect of this sex scene is the exclusion of phallocentrism, which Kessler points out is rare in heterosexual films.
If Violet and Corky changed positions in this scene, I don’t think the scene would be true to the characters. It’s important that we see Violet not just as a seductress who enjoys pleasure, but as a strong woman who loves women and wants to give pleasure.

Bound 1

In my opinion I think the sex scene in Bound does not make the two characters explicit in any way. I believe it accurately portrays two women enjoying being together. Unlike many other lesbian sex scenes this scene seemed based more upon the love dynamic and showing two women engaging in this sex act that truly enjoy the other sexually. In so many other insistences we see lesbian sex scenes as being explicit and they don’t focus at all about the passion, but just the act itself. I believe both of the characters are represented as equals. I don’t think the butch/femme role is present here. Both of the characters are naked and when trying to decipher the butch/femme role, it is usually based upon clothing. Neither of them looks like either stereotype. When clothed, Corky would be seen in the “butch� role and Violet would be considered the “femme.� In most of the movie Corky is seen as the dominant character between the two, but in the sex scene Violet is depicted as the dominant one. If the two characters had switched positions in this scene the butch/femme roles could have possibly been more dominant because we would see Corky being in the dominant “butch� role that she is seen as throughout the rest of the movie. I think this sex scene got so much praise because it does break the stereotypes that were normally seen in movies and it helped portray the two women as equals and it didn’t exploit the two characters as lesbians, but helped better portray them as lovers.

Bound and Sex

Realistic lesbian sex is in short supply in films. Bound, by having its sex scene choreographed by Susie Bright, can be considered to be pretty close to what "real" lesbian sex is like. The sex scene can be perceived as feminist to a certain extent. The scene is interesting as the visibly butch character is not in the dominant position; stereotypically, butch would be considered to be dominant over femme, due to concepts of heteronormativity (one partner "must" be filling a "male role" and the other a "female role"). However, this scene very obviously differs with that concept, by placing the femme character in the dominant position. If their roles had been switched, the scene could be perceived to have been simply fulfilling stereotypes and not realistic. It also would not have indicated the complicated nature of the characters' relationship.

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Butch/Femme in Bound

Although I can’t claim to be any sort of an expert on what “real� lesbian sex looks like, I thought the scene between Violet and Corky was distinctly different from most representations of queer love on screen. Kessler gives a few examples of this: the scene lacks of any sort of phallus, but it is clear that this is sex. In addition, the two women are portrayed as somewhat ordinary people, not just stereotypes. Finally, there is very little romanticism involved- no teddies- it’s really just sex. I can imagine that for these reasons this scene would be far more appealing to queer viewers than the “chicks kissing each other is hot� Hollywood attitude.

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The sex scene in bound is not one that we have seen in the movies that we have watched so far. It is feminist in that it shows women enjoying sex, not being exploited by it, used, or apologizing for it. It does not simply focus on the nudity and focus on the actresss’ bodies in it. It represents passion and emotion in their sex while only showing what is needed to portray this feeling. I don’t see much significance of butch and femme in this scene. Without their clothing they are both shown as equally feminine. The only thing that sets Violet out as the femme one in this scene are her long, painted nails. Although Violet is pleasuring Corky in the scene, it does not seem as if she is dominating her. Instead they are both equally enjoying the act.

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Bound's Meaningful Sex Scene

May I begin with stating that the main sex scene displayed in the film, Bound, was one of the most passionate and meaningful lesbian scenes I have viewed thus far.
I believe this scene is depicted as feminst while at the same time contradicting lesbian-feminist assumptions of the butch and femme culture. The scene overall represents Violet and Corky as strong, deep, and passionate in their sexuality. The significance of butch and femme is important to examine in order to understand how the scene contradicts the misreadings people have formed about lesbian-feminists. It was stated in the 'Bound Together' article by Kelly Ressler that by the 1980's butch and femme roles had become less strict and it was considered by others to be unhealthy to follow the roles and rules that went along with them. The sex scene grasps onto the realization that society recognizes these butch and femme stereotypes and visually supports them while transforming them into modern unexpected behaviors. Butch is typically associated with being sexually aggressive

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Reverse Roles

Both women were enjoying themselves, and even though Violet was the initiator, she was the one pleasuring Corky. Violet, the femme was concentrating on Corky “the butch.� While Corky just kind of laid there. Neither character was on top of theother. They were both kind of beside each other; neither one being over-dominating. I feel like this scene wasn’t exactly realistic because both characters had typical bodies of Hollywood stars and not of regular person. It was interesting to see how the traditional roles were reversed in the sense that Violet, the initiator and dominator, was the feminine one. If one were to watch the scene, where they are naked and you can’t see the “butch� signifiers like the leather jacket, wife beater and boots and only look at the bodies, one would not be able to tell which person was the butch or the femme. I noticed how it seemed strange to me to see Violet cradling Corky’s head in a dominant way but her long, painted fingernails signified that she was the femme. This

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Bound #1

I found the scene to be a little confusing. Before this we saw Violet coming on to Corky but Corky engaging in the sexual relations. Later, we see Violet going into Corky’s truck and wanting to pleasure her which we later saw happening at Corky’s place. I do not think that the scene is very feminist. I see two women having sex, but it does challenge the typical femme and butch roles. Violet we see as a seductive femme woman and Corky a strong butch woman. Although during the sex scene their “identified� roles are switched. It shows Violet as the more dominant lesbian. This shows me that there is not a whole lot of significance to butch and femme. The only difference is the way they act and dress but when it comes to a relationship or sexual experience they are both using different roles. Masculinity is troubled from this because it is now diminished. It places the characters in all different positions not only in the sex scene but throughout the movie. As Kessler would explain, the roles of butch and femme are now considered to be “unhealthy.� Although they still exist, Bound educates us that these roles are “recognized in both heterosexual and lesbian cultures.� The placements of the women in the sex scenes are really important. If Corky were to be giving pleasure to Violet in both scenes the roles of butch and femme would be a little bit more correct but that is not the case. Violet surprises us by being very dominating and witty. She proved that she is just the same as Corky (butch). They are capable and enjoy the same things.

Bound fitting into Patriarchy

These scenes allow for the audience to move away from the idea of heterosexual (male) sexuality and move toward the notion of female sexuality; its existence without a man being present and possibly even more prominent in this scene is the absence of a phallus. Yet this scene does not completely pull away from the idea of heterosexual sex, Corky and Violet’s Butch/Femme personas reinscribe this concept. Unfortunately along with the Butch/Femme characteristics there is an association with masculine and feminine placement, or stereotypes. As great of a job that I believe this film does to represent lesbian relationships and sexuality, it could have progressed further from our society’s idea of heterosexual normalcy.

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I feel that the film Bound employs a high-quality of feminism. Although, Corky was considered the “butch� lesbian I feel that it was forced. I feel that the film does somewhat exclude other lesbians because Corky and Violet were both feminine therefore not allowing more masculine “butch� lesbians to identify with the characters. Corky and Violet were portrayed through classic “femme� and “butch� images. This reinforces the lesbian stereotype and thus shows them to be “in their place� (Kessler pg 18). Typically the butch was thought to be the aggressive one and the femme was perceived as passive, but this film challenges these roles because Corky is the passive receiver. “Bound visually adheres to historical stereotypes while revising/transforming them through a reversal of behavior and connotation� (Kessler pg 19). The placement of Corky and Violet is important because Violet is the femme sexual aggressor which is not anticipated. I anticipated Corky to be more of the aggressor because she is “butch� and more “masculine.� Masculine roles are generally viewed to be more dominate in our society. Therefore, if Violet and Corky traded places the sex scenes would not go against the “standard.�

Bound 1

The question during the after movie discussion is class about, "why is there butch and femme," and the questions about masculinity and femininity seemed to me like we were asking, "why do we stereotype?" We can speculate but no one really knows why. I guess so we can generalize and make things more consistent. That way it is easier for is to talk about and to understand. Generalizing too much about anything can cause issues when talking about topics in depth. But I guess that's what makes butch and femme important is just that, that it needs to make more sense to the general public. They can understand that these are two lesbians having sex, but I feel like maybe that isn't enough for them. They need more roles to be filled for them to understand the scene better. They need something they can identify with. Men will identify with Corky and women will identify with Violet. As for masculinity being represented in a scene where two females are having sex, we could probably argue that the tattoo you see helps Corky seem more masculine. Also, we see Corky has a lot more muscle definition where Violet is more "round" and soft. I think the character placement and the way the camera moves enhances that this is a lesbian scene.

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Unbinding "Bound"

It is clear that this scene deserves the respect that it receives from the queer community; it goes beyond mere accurate representation and instead accomplishes a near reality. It does this by refusing to include heterosexual (and incorrect) stereotyping of lesbian sex, as well as refusing the popular 1970’s lesbian ideas of strict butch/femme roles. The union and completeness of the scene erases the need for any phallic presence (as lesbian pornography usually depicts). By having Violet on top doing the pleasuring, and Corky on bottom, Violet can be seen as inhabiting the typical male role of the initiator and sexual aggressor. Corky can be seen in the typical feminine position. This counteracts the early lesbian standards of the butch (which Corky depicts through her leather jackets and boots) being the masculine and the femme (which Violet demonstrates by her airy voice, longs nails, and tight dresses) being the feminine. If they switched positions I don't believe the scene would have been as effective as it would have played into this stereotype. Rather, these roles are not even an issue in this scene, as both women are naked. This renders them as equals. For example, in the previous sex scene, while Violet was once again the initiator, it was Corky who pleasured her. Both women give and receive.

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The sex scene was interesting because right before it, there was the short little sexual encounter between Corky and Violet where Corky was the one who was doing the pleasuring. Both sexual encounters were initiated by Violet in a seductive way. The main sex scene shows Violet doing all of the pleasuring and Corky being the one who is on the sole recieving end. I think one of the problems with the scene is that both women are not recieving while giving. I don't see the scene as feminist, I simply see it as a lesbian sex scene. Violet appears to be the dominant one but I wouldn't consider her the masculine character and Corky dresses Butch but isn't necessarily the masculine character either. I think this film and the sex scene did an excellent job of showing the equality between the two women in their relationship together. Neither one was solely dominant and both had something to give to the relationship. I think with Corky being on the "bottom" in the scene, she was seen as the female of the sex scene, because in heterosexual couples, the woman usually recieves the pleasure while lying on the "bottom."

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The sex scene was interesting because right before it, there was the short little sexual encounter between Corky and Violet where Corky was the one who was doing the pleasuring. Both sexual encounters were initiated by Violet in a seductive way. The main sex scene shows Violet doing all of the pleasuring and Corky being the one who is on the sole recieving end. I think one of the problems with the scene is that both women are not recieving while giving. I don't see the scene as feminist, I simply see it as a lesbian sex scene. Violet appears to be the dominant one but I wouldn't consider her the masculine character and Corky dresses Butch but isn't necessarily the masculine character either. I think this film and the sex scene did an excellent job of showing the equality between the two women in their relationship together. Neither one was solely dominant and both had something to give to the relationship. I think with Corky being on the "bottom" in the scene, she was seen as the female of the sex scene, because in heterosexual couples, the woman usually recieves the pleasure while lying on the "bottom."

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The sex scene was interesting because right before it, there was the short little sexual encounter between Corky and Violet where Corky was the one who was doing the pleasuring. Both sexual encounters were initiated by Violet in a seductive way. The main sex scene shows Violet doing all of the pleasuring and Corky being the one who is on the sole recieving end. I think one of the problems with the scene is that both women are not recieving while giving. I don't see the scene as feminist, I simply see it as a lesbian sex scene. Violet appears to be the dominant one but I wouldn't consider her the masculine character and Corky dresses Butch but isn't necessarily the masculine character either. I think this film and the sex scene did an excellent job of showing the equality between the two women in their relationship together. Neither one was solely dominant and both had something to give to the relationship. I think with Corky being on the "bottom" in the scene, she was seen as the female of the sex scene, because in heterosexual couples, the woman usually recieves the pleasure while lying on the "bottom."

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Feminist love scene

The second sex scene between Violet and Corky is feminist because it does not reinforce patriarchal stereotypes. Kelly Kessler writes, “[The second sex scene] excludes phallocentrisim…it provides sex totally independent of male symbolism.� The lack of a phallic object sets this scene apart from most other lesbian sex scenes in films (Kessler). The film also breaks heterosexual stereotypes of lesbians by showing the femme in a dominant sexual position, as opposed to passive. Corky, the butch, plays a passive role during the sex scene as Violet, the femme, uses her hand to stimulate Corky. The placement with Violet on top and Corky on the bottom helps illustrate the difference in their roles as active and passive. If Violet and Corky traded positions, the scene would be different. Violet would lose some of her qualities as the seductress. This scene helps debunk the 1970s critics’ belief that butch and femme identities and relationships replicate heterosexual conceptions of “masculinity� and “femininity� by reinscribing gender roles which allow for the persistence of patriarchy...

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The sex scene in Bound could be considered feminist. It definitely challenges the typical notions of butch-femme lesbian couple. In the first sexual encounter between Corky and Violet, Violet (the overtly feminine character) is the initiator. She takes Corky’s hand and puts it on her breast and under her dress. In Hollywood films, this sexually aggressive role is typically embodied by male/masculine characters. In the second sex scene, Violet is shown pleasuring Corky. This inscribes a give and take relationship between the women, and a sense of equality. This is reinstated at the end when they refer to themselves as a team. Kassler mentions that these scenes are inclusive to audiences. They are fairly accurate and accepted by the lesbian community, while also arousing for heterosexual men. The butch and femme concepts are depicted in very physical ways. Corky is perpetually leather-clad, with dark tattoos and severely rugged boots. Violet is hyper-feminine: breathy voice, heels, cleavage, mini dresses. However, in the women’s behavior we see a different dynamic. Violet’s presence in the film as a femme fatale changes her demeanor. “Though Corky, the butch, is physically stronger and more masculine, Violet is the intellectual superior and sexual aggressor.� (Kessler, 18) Violet is smart, engaging and mysterious. In the end, she is the one who outsmarts Caesar and ends his life to protect Corky. She is successful because she was trusted and not seen as a threat. If the positions were reversed during these sex scenes, it would seem more hetero-normative: the masculine character initiating sex and the feminine character passively receiving sex. Bound definitely represents lesbian relationships in a more accurate manner.

November 23, 2008


I have to let it be known right away that I thought Bound was one of the best movies that we have watched in class this semester. It is smart, funny, and full of action. What puts this movie so high up on the list of films we have seen, is how it portrays lesbians. What is different about the film is that the two lesbian characters are not put against the heteronormative backdrop. Many films are guilty of doing this, and we as society fall into this labeling game over and over without even realizing what we are doing. It was very easy for us as a class to label Violet the woman and Corky the man of their relationship. It was obvious from the get go that Violet was the femme and Corky was the butch, but what we have to understand though is that doesn't mean that just because these two women have these personas, they are automatically given heterosexual roles. What they wear and how they act is just them being who they really are. They are just being themselves and just because they wear clothes that make them look a certain way, it is unfair for us to label them. These are just two queer women who are beyond the heterosexual, or for that matter homosexual way of labeling sexual orientation and roles. The movie shows both of these women being in charge or "dominate" at one point of the film.

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Butch and Femme in Bound

Understandably, the sex scene in Bound received a lot of positive feedback. I found the scene particularly well done because of the way it played into the rest of the film. On the surface, the two women are clearly marked with stereotypical butch and femme roles – Violet is a voluptuously feminine woman and Corky wears the Hanes and tattoos that mark her as butch. Just past this skin deep level our knowledge of the characters is challenged by the way the two characters interact sexually. There is no focus on penetration or identification with one character or another indicating that the audience should identify or assign a gender role to either one. We get the impression that there is a balance of power, that this is truly a match – of power and interest. As the camera pans over the two women in Corky’s dingy apartment, we see that Corky is not the dominant figure as we might expect from the stereotypical roles of butch and femme, rather she is the one pleasured by Violet. This scene would work if the roles were reversed, but the significance of Violet’s role wouldn’t tie into the rest of the movie. By seeing Violet take control sexually, we see that she is really the driving force of the plot. She is the instigator of the relationship with Corky and also the initiator of the robbery.

Butch and Femme

In the film Bound we are introduced to two lesbian characters who supposedly are clearly coded as butch (Corky) and femme (Violet). However when viewers are introduced to the sex scene between the women we see that there is in fact a, "reversal of behavior expectations and connotations" that are supposed to be held by Violet and Corky. In the readings it says "in general the butch was thought to be aggressive while the femme was perceived as passive." In the sex scene we see Violet, who was previously portrayed as the femme, taking on the role of the aggressor and Corky is shown as the passive receiver. The girls positioning is vital to the portrayal of this as Violet is shown to be on top and has the overall control of Corky's pleasure. If the girls position would have switched we would see a completely different picture, as Corky would be continuously thought of and shown as the butch and Violet would be continuously seen as the femme. It is also important to note that by the use of the camera, this scene can be read as feminist. We do not watch this scene through the point of view of one character, but are shown the shots objectively through the camera and therefore can identify with both characters in the scene.

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November 22, 2008

Balance in Bound

Throughout the entire film there is evidence and constant proving that Corky bears the more “masculine and dominant role� between the two women. Corky wears the combat boots, cargo pants, and tattoos. Corky is also the one who devises the plan to steal the two million dollars from the mob. By being marked with these overt physical characteristics, it is easy to say that Corky is portraying the “’butch’ signifier of lesbian� (Noble 5). Violet is constantly being marked as the more “feminine and less dominant role� between the two women. Violet styles her hair, wears the dresses, high heels, and lacy undergarments. But by being marked with these overt and ambiguous physical characteristics, it is not as easy to label Violet as the “femme lesbian�, but as the “suspect ‘lesbian’� (Noble 5).

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November 20, 2008


In the movie Bound you go back and forth when it comes to who is more femme and who is more masculine. The sexual geometrics and features of the films metonymically reconstitute Corky as the reiterative figure of masculinity in the narrative. You witness her masculinity by her gaze, tattoos, men's underwear, undershirts, boots, pants, etc. But, Corky is also marked as female by the camera when she is making love with Violet. Femme's desire for female masculinity, evidenced by Violet's ability to read and desire Corky as both female and masculine, both reorients female masculinity as a productive contradiction between a female inscribed body and a masculine gender performance, but also as the privileged site of masculinity in the film (Noble 3). With the sex scene that does take place in the movie, I do think this is a feminist scene.

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