Outlander and Lady Porn

Written By: Janet Reynolds



Some people watch Outlander for the gripping love story. Others love the Starz period drama/sci fi show for its wonderful historical details and time travel. But for a lot of women watching the show — yes, my hand is raised— Outlander is on instant replay all the time because of the lady porn.  Now before the Cult of Diana gets all up in arms — and I count myself a serious member, people — and the porn police start screaming, let me explain what I mean by lady porn. 



Lady porn is sex from a women’s perspective, specifically from the perspective of white women of a certain age. (While I absolutely think it's likely gay men and lesbians are having a field day with Jamie and Claire respectively, writing about that is not in my wheelhouse. Anyone who wants to take that one on should make a pitch to the owners of this blog.)

For too long, sex in print — and then on TV and online — have been predominantly about what men want and how they want it. And that means it hasn’t resonated with a lot of women.

Now, for the first time in what certainly seems like forever, Outlander gives us sex from a women’s point of view. It’s feminist. It’s powerful. It’s liberating and —this is key — it’s tasteful and therefore safe for its intended audience. Let me explain.

The incredible sex scenes are just one reason thousands of women everywhere read and then re-read and then re-read again (and maybe again) Gabaldon’s amazingly well-written books. (I read all 8 books in four months this year and have already re-read books 1-3.) The woman is an impressive writer and storyteller, able to juggle multiple details across centuries, a plot-twister extraordinaire. But dear God, can the woman write a good sex scene.

And that means the TV series has plenty of good material to work with. And work it, Executive Director Ron D. Moore and his crew do, playing up and into women’s fantasy sex lives across the globe. To wit:

First and foremost — and a critical part to getting women’s lady parts fluttering — Outlander is an epic love story. Like many adages, that old saw about how men have sex and women make love is based in an element of truth. For women, romance is critical to good sex; the best sex is an expression of love.

Jamie and Claire epitomize this in spades. We watch them fall in love gradually. They are the perfect couple once they do fall in love. Not because they don’t fight or have issues, but because they work them out. Claire is a strong, savvy woman who knows — and says — what she wants and thinks! Jamie is an evolved man! He says he’s wrong. He makes changes. For God’s sake, he tosses away centuries of men owning women and telling them what to do and holds a dagger to his chest saying he won’t ever hit Claire again. And then they have the most amazing make-up sex ever — and that’s before the part where Claire, riding on top, takes the dagger while the in the throes of passion, holds it to Jamie’s throat and tells him she will cut out his heart if he ever hits her again, and he agrees. Dear God, are you kidding me?????

Which brings us to how Outlander plays out sex from a woman’s — not a man’s — perspective in the show. Men may watch the show and fantasize about having a partner as sexually receptive and adventurous as Claire, and plenty of women watch wishing they were, too, and maybe even rekindling their libido a bit while getting inspired by Claire, yet another aspect of lady porn. But the reality is that the show, by focusing on the romance and Claire’s strong feminist behavior, is all about women’s sexual power. And that’s hot. It’s liberating for women who maybe haven’t felt that way in a while and it’s reinforcing for women who regularly and openly scratch their sexual itch.

Every single woman I know was — dare I say it? — blown away by the opening scene in episode 10 in which Jamie is pictured with his face in Claire’s private parts while she moans in pleasure. When was the last time such an act was even portrayed like that, much less one shot so lovingly and elegantly?

And then there’s the wedding episode. It is an hour of foreplay, brilliantly played out in flashbacks, as we watch two people fall in love before our very eyes. It has the romance, the tenderness, the emotion, the gentleness, the human rawness that is the stuff of women’s fantasy. In this episode alone Jamie and Claire become Everycouple for women everywhere.

None of which would be possible without point three: the two actors, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. I don’t know what Ron D. Moore did in a previous life, but he hit the actor lottery when these two ended up in the casting room together. Not only are they wildly talented — the “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” episode alone — but the chemistry between them is palpable. And they are both drop-dead gorgeous. Plenty of woman watch Outlander inserting themselves into Claire/Caitriona’s spot and picturing Jamie/Sam looking into their eyes and then lightly touching their lips before …

Bottom line, for women, Outlander is the total love package. Women may come at it from varying points in their lives — some partnered forever and looking for a fantasy boost, others looking for the next Mr. Right — but in the meantime, Claire and Jamie are reason enough to be thrilled.

So what's the scene that gets you all aflutter?  





30 comments

  1. Extremely well said, and bravely, I might add. To date I've not seen a forum comment, a FB comment, article, etc. that approaches this very important topic with as much honesty and clarity as you have. I just read the 8 books too for the first time, very quickly over the summer, and am on my 2nd read now. I missed so much during my initial read, now its nearly like reading them for the 1st time again!

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    1. Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I am re-reading too and amazed at what I missed first time around. I was so caught up worrying about what was coming next that I read too quickly! Now I can be more relaxed though. And of course re-reading (and rewatching) those wonderful scenes between Jamie and Claire is always welcome!

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  2. Cynthia's first line above completely captures my sentiment. Everyone thinks it - and, heck I've even talked to some girlfriends about it - but no one puts it into print in such explored detail. So, thank you!

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    1. Glad you liked it. It's the elephant in the room I think :)

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  3. Wow, so right on! I love all the scenes! That scene at the end of Episode 9, where she is threatening him with the dirk, and he likes it, WOW! I don't think I have ever seen a scene like that before. Maybe close in the Alternate Second Love scene in the Notebook, but not with the same passion. We have seen loves scenes in the past, too many to count. I have never seen a scene where she reaches down to hoist herself up and then starts rocking away. That is the way it is done right here! Lady Porn indeed! And Episode 10, what female wouldn't want that alarm clock right there! And to think, Jamie was a VIRGIN on his wedding night, and Claire is his first lover! He learns verra quick, and focuses on her pleasure first! That knock on the door and then JAMIE saying, NO! NO! Like, I am going to give this to you, and you are going to take it and enjoy it! Wow, wow, wow! And let's not forget Episode 11 by the fire outside. That was my favorite love scene of the last half of the second part of Season 1. NO, I WANT TO WATCH YOU! He is trying to take her all in before he believes he is never going to see her again because tomorrow, she is going to Craigh Na Dun! With Frank, the sex was hot, but this is amazing and she has an immediate effect on his behavior. Chances are, Frank was not a virgin on their wedding night. Jamie was, and his devotion in the boudoir was well worth his wait!

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    1. You are so on the money, Melissa! Jamie is so giving in his passion, which just makes it all the more wonderful (and sexier of course). He's a quick learner for sure!

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  4. Hmmm, I find your blog interesting but I do have some opposing opinions. There are many female authors who write romance and have chosen to make it real, raw, and feminist--such as Anne Rice, Jackie Collins, E.L. James to name a few. Diana's books are a wonderful extension of this. I have a bit of a problem with you calling it "Lady Porn". I don't believe its porn. To me porn is sex for sex sake, cheap, tawdry, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of stuff (nothing wrong with it if that's what your into). The sex in Outlander is part of the very complicated story of these two characters. Yes, its graphic, sensual and erotic but that's part of the story of how they grow as people, as a married couple and far from porn. Diana's writing is not just from a female perspective and I think we need to get away from saying this about female writers. Her writing is from the perspective of a great writer, period. Saying that writing has a female perspective limits the scope of what that writer can be seen as. Hence, her sex scenes are also from the perspective of an amazing writer (who happens to be female) that writes in rich detail and depth. If you want to see porn go to Pornhub, if you want to see a young couple in love discovering themselves and the boundaries of their relationship, watch (and read) Outlander.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I'm so glad you responded.

      I use the term without derision. I think it can be more encompassing than sex for sex's sake. And the complicated storyline and development of the characters is precisely one of my points about how this is distinguished from something you might find on Pornhub. It's that depth that makes it so rich and part of why it's so appealing to the women I'm writing about when I reference this.

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    2. You make a very valid argument, but I can't handle Anne Rice being mentioned in the same sentence as E.L. James.

      Or rather, I can't handle E.L. James full stop.

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    3. I just spit water laughing. Too funny.

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    4. Lovely article! I'm just glad I'm on blood pressure meds and they work. Every time that man hits the screen and opens his mouth my heart starts to race.

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  5. Yes! Yes!! And YES!!!
    Well said.

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  6. Not much that I can add that hasn't already been expressed. Love what you wrote, but in regards to the show there are times I feel very voyeur watching Jamie and Claire share there passion but I never thought of it as porn in the conventional sense.

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    1. I agree it's not porn in the conventional sense; hence my new term :) And yes, sometimes it can feel a little voyeuristic....but what a view! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  7. Wow, very insightful article and spot on!

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  8. Actually, I do have something to add now that I think of it, lol. It occurred to me (and I'm sure many others) that one of the reasons Claire stays with Jaime, is that she feels more like his partner and his equal. Now, who would ever think that a woman would feel like that in he late 18th century than the middle of the 20th century? It's quite apparent that in 1945, she has become simply Frank's wife or Mrs. Randall, just accompanying him on his outings in Scotland. How boring and frustrating this must of been to woman who took an active part in WWII, taking care of soldiers on the front lines. Not to mention her adventurous, nomadic childhood with Uncle Lamb. Not only is she Jamie's wife, she is also the healer, the conjurer-woman, who has a fulfilling purpose of her own. And Jamie (among others) respects her as such as well.

    Now, of course, I'm saying all this with regard to just the first book and season of the show - don't want to spoil non-readers about future character development and plot.

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    1. Totally agree. Part of the appeal of lady porn is the power of women that is recognized. It's part of the exhilaration and one of the ways in which Gabaldon is absolutely brilliant. So many strong female characters in her book(s). And the show does a good job so far of illustrating that. Thank you for your feedback!

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  9. Well written. I believe you've managed to hit every single point. Yes, I wish we could come up with a better name for it, but I canna fault your usage. I find that Claire is a very strong lady, starting with her Uncle Lamb trying to leave her at a boarding school! Lol Diana's talent of developing her characters is so incredible!

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  10. The appeal of the sex scenes for women in the books and the series is more than the sex itself. The dynamics of this union are much more than physical. . .there is excitement. . .there is yearning. . .there is honesty. . .there is language of love. The relationship is based on the respect and devotion that Jamie has for Claire. It is his loyalty and his commitment to this one woman, his sense of obligation to honor and protect her. With rare exception do women find and marry men who fulfill their vow of faithfulness. Rather, in the real world, husbands, and sometimes wives, are more likely to stray from the marriage bed because they 1. are bored 2. are stressed by family obligations 3. want someone different 4. want excitement or to flirt with danger 5. want unusual pairings 6. find love and commitment elsewhere. In this fictional marriage, the partners honor their vows to "love and to cherish, to cleave unto one another," and that makes the intimate moments so appealing to women. Jamie's spoken declarations of love, respect, and appreciation for Claire give another dimension to the sexual intimacy. Every woman wants a man like Jamie, a man who truly loves and honors his wife, who values her companionship, and tells her so.

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    1. Della Sorry for my belated response. You bring up so many good points here about what REALLY makes longlasting love sexy and why so many marriages fall away from it. That's one of the things about Jamie and Claire that is so alluring and, I think, a part of why women read and reread the books--they manage to live a hard and challenging life and yet so clearly keep each other as the center, both emotionally and physically. Now that's sexy!

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    2. Della Sorry for my belated response. You bring up so many good points here about what REALLY makes longlasting love sexy and why so many marriages fall away from it. That's one of the things about Jamie and Claire that is so alluring and, I think, a part of why women read and reread the books--they manage to live a hard and challenging life and yet so clearly keep each other as the center, both emotionally and physically. Now that's sexy!

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  11. What a wonderful article! Thank you for writing it, Janet. I take no offense at the use of Lady Porn. The "porn" appellation has become a fun way of distinguishing the things we like from the things we REALLY, REALLY (no, REALLY) like. So it seems a perfect term to use for certain scenes in Outlander.
    I think one of the hottest scenes is when Jamie walks Claire back to her surgery because she’s tipsy. She almost lets him walk out and then stops him saying (paraphrasing here), “Hey hunk, how about moving it my way so I can take a look at your package, er, bandage.” When she unties his stock, and they are trying to avoid direct eye contact lest they throw each other on the floor then and there, I swoon. The heat in that scene is palpable, and it has me running for the smelling salts every time. I say every time because I might have watched it a few times. Or a thousand. So, there is no sex at all in that scene, but would I call it Lady Porn? Oh yes, Jamie, yes! *ahem* I mean, yes. I believe I would.

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    1. Joni
      Totally agree--some of the sexiest scenes are about the intimacy and implications rather than the act itself. It's the romance behind what's happening that makes this series and the books so wonderful.

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  12. One of my best friends is gay and 2 of my grandsons are adopted by a married gay couple, so I guess I have a different awareness. So shortly after The Wedding, I immediately shared pictures.
    I think that all young men should watch the episode to see the eroticism of slow, light touch, Jamie slowly undressing her. Also they see The openness of talk and laughter. It shows Claire stimulating herself, as she is sitting on Jamie, might be something some hadn't thought of.
    Claire's walking around appreciating his body and her hand lightly skimming his body is the key part for me. Just enjoyed it again today.

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    1. Frances
      Can't tell you how many times I've rewatched this episode. And I agree--it's a good lesson, for both genders!

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  13. My favorite turn on scene is first episode when he eyes her up and down says she's not so very heavy and he can throw her over his shoulder and put her on the damn horse. He asks if that's what she wants. She says no. But he has already fallen in love with her, we see it plain as day and so does she. And the magic begins. Incredible scene.

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  14. Ruth-I agree with you. That scene is so powerful but I think there are more. Who can deny the scene where he takes her back to the surgery when she's had too much to drink. When they are sitting next to each other and she says well I've seen your back. Same scene when he tries not to look at her when she's checking his wound but stares into her eyes bc he can't help himself and wants her so badly. ....and there are so many more. Oh oh when she's tending to his wounds from taking leghairs beating and he says well I guess this is goodbye Mistress Beuchamp. You can tell he's holding back from asking her to stay. ......I could go on and on.

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  15. A friend recommended that I read 50 Shades of Gray about the same time I was trying to interest her in OL. I read it& threw it away. I'm a retired English teacher. I still have my college Eng Lit texts from college. I graduated in 1965. I do NOT throw books away. I may donate, but never trash. She was incredulous that I hadn't run out & bought the rest. I My point is one that has been made several times in the above posts. Diana writes incredibly descriptive erotic sex scenes that are beautifully imaginative without ever breing offensive. The writers of the show's sex scenes were wise to only sketch the action, leaving the choreography to the director who also wisely allowed Sam & Cait to add nuances that were realistic and relatable. Sam is especially good at that. I don't see the director saying, ok now French kiss her, or lick her breast from the nipple up. Sam knows what to do and he does it naturally. Cait responds naturally. The result is a love affair for the ages, in both the past and, IMO, the present. Given the story they are tasked with telling, I simply cannot see how love would not develop. I think they have probably learned to make love in their personal lives rather than have sex. 50 Shades was just sex, page after page. Because of all the people involved with OL, from Diana and her practice novel, to Terry introducing the books to Ron and his assembling an incredible cast and crew, but especially to Sam & Cait, we have shared a love story like no other. Call it what you will, and I like your definition of lady porn, and the word porn as you use it here, (I have often talked about Jamie's knee porn), the stars most certainly aligned to bring this story to lift st this time.

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