The Underrepresentation of Sexually & Romantically Dominant Women in Media

In too many movies, the romantic and sex scenes are quite nearly the same: Vastly heterosexual and vastly male-dominated. The woman and the man kiss, and then the man holds the woman down, pushes her into a wall, or gets on top of her and roughly makes love to her.

It’s more than just 50 Shades of Grey, and it doesn’t necessarily include whips and bondage. Sexually and romantically submissive women are immensely prevalent, which is simply not fair. Some women prefer to take control and initiative with the man—and given some of the strong female characters in the TV shows and films of today, I don’t think many characters’ personalities lend themselves to any kind of surrender, including during consensual sex.

However, in the rare instance in which a dominant woman is depicted, she is usually shown to be “crazy” or even violent, which creates stigma toward the idea of a woman taking initiative with her partner. An example would be Mona Lisa from Parks and Rec—the guy she’s dating at the time (Tom) very blatantly states that “she’s crazy”; she carries and wields a screwdriver, and has an obnoxious, in your face presence.

A more positive example would be Lisbeth Salander—the titular Girl with The Dragon Tattoo—who is totally badass, intelligent and very physically and emotionally strong. But not all dominant women are like she is—she dresses in very dark clothes and gives off a very gloomy mood. Dominant women have a range of different interests, different clothing styles and different personalities. Just because a woman likes to take control sexually doesn’t signify that she is rude or mean, that she is violent and dark or that she wears a black leather outfit. It is simply a preference.

The fact that the media vastly chooses not to depict sexually and romantically dominant women perpetuates the expectation that women should submit to their partners when behind closed doors. As a feminist, I think this is extremely problematic because not all women prefer to submit to their partners, and not all men like to take control while intimate. And to be able to accurately and fully depict romantic relationships, I think this needs to change.