Image Credit: Sony Pictures

Pop Culture Sexual Awakenings That Still Haunt Us 

If I’ve learned anything from the internet, it’s that I’ve never had a unique experience in my life. We’ve all thirsted for a certain sparkly vampire, wanted someone to push us against a wall like Noah and Ally in The Notebook, and secretly read a chapter from their mom’s copy of 50 Shades of Grey

In an effort to be unbiased, I polled the Betches office to discover our shared deepest, darkest (horniest) secrets and the thirst traps that we return to again and again. If you desperately want to believe you’re not like other girls, I’m here to pop your bubble. Let’s dig into the pop culture sexual awakenings that still haunt us.  

Top Gun (1986)

Top Gun volleyball scene
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The volleyball scene is the most homoerotic thing I’ve ever witnessed and I’ve watched a dangerous amount of the Bachelorette (have you seen those group dates?!). Tom Cruise kinda kills his best friend in this movie (SPOILER!), but at least he looks hot with his shirt off. 

Dirty Dancing (1987) 

Dirty Dancing
Image Credit: Vestron Pictures

Almost 40 years later, and this movie still holds up as a sexual awakening for anybody who wants to crawl across a floor towards Patrick Swayze. I think it was trying to teach us about class warfare? But all I learned was that poor people are hot too. 

Titanic (1997) 

"Titanic" sex scene
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

The hand pressed against the steamy windows of a car is like a horny horror movie.

The Parent Trap (1998)

The Parent Trap
Image Credit: Disney

Wait, let me explain! At the ripe age of eight, Dennis Quaid was not a father figure to me. He was Zaddy. And Meredith Blake? I’d let her send all my unborn children to boarding school. FIGHT ME!    

Wild Things (1998) 

"Wild Things" kiss scene
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures; Sony Pictures

This movie is toxic AF. But I didn’t have media literacy at the ripe age of [redacted] so I was just happy to watch two girls make out in a pool. Was this a win for queer women? No. But it was a win for 12-year-old boys and they matter too. 

Cruel Intentions (1999)

"Cruel Intentions" kiss
Image Credit: Sony Pictures

Sarah Michelle Gellar plays one of the bitchiest characters I’ve ever witnessed on-screen. But she does get credit for teaching Selma Blair how to kiss — even if it was only part of a larger plan to ruin her life. For many it was the first time they saw two girls kissing. Was it a good kiss? Well, Gellar and Blair were awarded Best Kiss at the 2000 MTV Movie Awards so do with that what you will. Personally, the drool was a little over the top for me. Also, the sexual tension between Kathryn and her step-brother? I could’ve done without.  

Ten Things I Hate About You (1999)

"10 Things I Hate About You" paintball scene
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

“10 Things I Hate About You” influenced the sexuality of many. The anger! The passion! Heath Ledger’s hair! Not to mention, Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger playing sexy paintball.

The Notebook (2004) 

"The Notebook" rain scene
Image Credit: New Line Cinema

Sure, the virginity scene was cute but that scene after the rainstorm… I may or may not have had it saved on my Pinterest board for easy access. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams also won Best Kiss at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. They gave the people what they wanted. (Me, I’m the people.)  

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

"Broke Back Mountain"
Image Credit: Focus Features

Sexy sheep-herders in Canadian tuxedos! What’s not to love? One of the first mainstream movies about gay men who fall in love — groundbreaking! 

Twilight (2008) 

Image Credit: Temple Hill Entertainment

When the movie came out everyone thirsted for Taylor Lautner like he was still Shark Boy. Thankfully, most of us have come to realize our mistakes and pray at the feet of Robert Pattinson’s jawline and Kristen Stewart’s sharp gaze. I’d let either of them bite me. 

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

Blue Is The Warmest Color
Image Credit: Quat'sous Films

I’m not gonna lie. I have gone back to watch that 10 minute sex scene on repeat. Sure, it gave the wrong perception of lesbian sex and the concept of scissoring but I didn’t know that as a closeted youth. A win is a win!  

50 Shades of Grey (2015) 

50 Shades Of Grey
Image Credit: Focus Features

To be honest, this was mostly a sexual reawakening for middle-aged women. While it probably set back the BDSM community at least 20 years, now your mom knows how to use a ball gag.

Call Me By Your Name (2017) 

"Call Me By Your Name"
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

If Armie Hammer is a jump scare for you, I’m so sorry! I get that cannibalism is bad, BUT! “Call Me By Your Name” deserves a spot on this list because Timothée Chalamet fucked a peach and changed history.

Melanie Whyte
Melanie Whyte
Melanie Whyte (she/her) leads the lifestyle and relationship content at Betches. As an amateur New Yorker and professional bisexual, she enjoys writing about the bane of sex and relationships in the city. She is also perpetually in her messy house era despite spending all of her money on Instagram ads.