She's Not a Lesbian -- She Just Plays One at Parties

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lovers IV



I avoided reading this article in Salon for a day and a half because I knew it would make me want to vomit blood. And lo... No, it is not news to me that young girls are marketing themselves as sexual exhibits for male entertainment, nor that faux lesbianism is all the rage. I just prefer not to think about it. Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon sums up this horror pretty succinctly.

On that subject, there’s an article in Salon about the “new” trend of straight girls making out with each other because merely clinging to assholes in backwards baseball caps and begging for their attention doesn’t radiate the concept of Desperation clearly enough. But it’s actually worth sticking through, because after the lurid set-up, the author addresses how deeply homophobic the act is, since it’s a way for the male audience to lull themselves into believing that women are so wholly their property that even lesbianism exists to please men.

Salon gives us a peek into this brave new world, where women have been liberated from the bonds of sexual repression only to lunge into the open arms of sexual exploitation.

[Alexandra] and a friend were drinking at a party, and some guys dared them to kiss ... so they did. "It was like, look, I'm the center of attention! Everyone's looking at me and cheering me on. It felt good being in the spotlight," she says. Then she adds, "And the kissing itself didn't really bug me. From then on it became a normal thing to do."

I know that's what I'm looking for in a kiss; that it not "bug" me. So I guess this is the modern version of, "Close your eyes and think of England."

"I think it's empowering to these girls," Jay says. "Immediately after, guys come up and are like, Do you want to do that with me? It's a quick fix to get a guy's attention."

That's right, Jay. Female power is contingent on male approval.

But for girls who get it on with other girls as a performance for guys, questioning their sexuality doesn't seem to enter into the picture. In fact, they feel free to hook up with other girls precisely because it's understood -- by the girls involved and their spectators -- that all parties are straight. "Girls kissing each other didn't start until my senior year of high school," Nina says. "If it had started earlier, it would've been seen as gay, and we would've been afraid that guys would think, Oh my God, they're lesbians."...

The general consensus among straight girls who make out with other girls seems to be that kissing is fine, but there are two caveats: You can't go further than that, and you have to be watched -- by males.

In other words it's cool for a gal to be sexually adventurous as long as it's completely inauthentic and she derives no sexual pleasure from it. No, we certainly can't have women exploring what turns them on unless what turns them on is turning men on.

None of this is really new. Girls have long been taught to trade on their sex appeal. Now whole new generations of young women are learning to market their sexuality, in increasingly degrading fashion, and they're not even holding out for jewelry.

After two months at Northeastern, the "girl-on-girl" make-out session had become inevitable at parties, but Julie still hadn't kissed a woman herself. Then she and a female friend showed up at a party without the $5 cover charge, and she suddenly realized that girl-on-girl action could be a form of currency. "I said to the guy, 'What if we make out? Will you let us in for free?' He said, 'Yep, do it.' I knew it'd be something that [the guys] were into which would get us what we wanted -- to save $10."

Some years ago I was at my favorite dance club chatting with one of the bouncers. He always had the best stories and on this night he shared with me his irritation at how many non-regulars tried to beat the cover, which was kept artificially low at $3. He told me that a young woman had come to the door and reacted with exasperation at being asked to pay the cover.

"I don't have to pay the cover," she said. "I slept with the owner."

"You slept with the owner," he said. "Who hasn't slept with the owner? Everyone here has slept with the owner!"

"Yeah, well. I slept with some of the bartenders," she said.

"Oh," he said. "Well, have you slept with even one of the bouncers?"

"No," she said.

"Three dollars," he said.

A humorous anecdote, but, not without an element of tragedy. "That's what she thinks her body is worth?" I said to him, "Three dollars?" No, he admitted. He really hadn't considered that.

As shocked as many people are to learn that young girls are being this sexually permissive and experimenting, however disingenuously, with the taboo of sexual fluidity, we are largely inured to the all-too-familiar undercurrent of female sexuality as a currency. We think of it as normal that a woman would trade on her natural assets to attain everything from free drinks to financial security. Sadly, what many of them actually want is love.

Long-term dating isn't the goal of the straight-girl make-out, says Julie; hooking up with the guy watching is. But she concedes that many girls attempt to hook up with a guy in the hopes that he'll become a boyfriend. "One of girls' fantasies of hooking up with a guy you like is that they'll want to date you, but that's a tried-and-failed situation. If you go home with a guy [right away], you have a minimal chance of him taking you seriously."

Yes, Julie. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

5 comments:

Simon Malthus said...

Salon gives us a peek into this brave new world, where women have been liberated from the bonds of sexual repression only to lunge into the open arms of sexual exploitation.

i'd copied this line to commend it, but really, the whole piece is just excellent.

you have an admirable clarity.

Janet H. said...

Wonderful post. This subject has been bothering me since I started college three years ago. It's normal to hear girls mention kissing their girl friends at the bars for male attention, but people still mention real lesbian couples in shushed voices.

Anonymous said...

Hm, Liz Phair summed this up over a decade ago in the song "Fuck and Run" from the wonderful album, "Exile in Guyville":

I woke up alarmed
I didn't know where I was at first
Just that I woke up in your arms
And almost immediately I felt sorry
'Cause I didn't think this would happen again
No matter what I could do or say
Just that I didn't think this would happen again
With or without my best intentions

And whatever happened to a boyfriend
The kind of guy who tries to win you over?
And whatever happened to a boyfriend
The kind of guy who makes love 'cause he's in it?

And I want a boyfriend
I want a boyfriend
I want all that stupid old shit
Like letters and sodas
Letters and sodas

You got up out of bed
You said you had a lot of work to do
But I heard the rest in your head
And almost immediately I felt sorry
'Cause I didn't think this would happen again
No matter what I could do or say
Just that I didn't think this would happen again
With or without my best intentions

And I want a boyfriend
I want a boyfriend
I want all that stupid old shit
Like letters and sodas
Letters and sodas

I can feel it in my bones
I'm gonna spend another year alone
It's fuck and run, fuck and run
Even when I was seventeen
Fuck and run, fuck and run
Even when I was twelve

You almost felt bad
You said that I should call you up
But I knew much better than that
And almost immediately I felt sorry
'Cause I didn't think this would happen again
No matter what I could do or say
Just that I didn't think this would happen again
With or without my best intentions

And I can feel it in my bones
I'm gonna spend my whole life alone
It's fuck and run, fuck and run
Even when I was seventeen
Fuck and run, fuck and run
Even when I was twelve

Bling said...

Interesting point of view.

Rachel said...

It's just desparate and pathetic, IMHO. It's taking down your own worth, kissing people you don't want to kiss because of anyone else is just... not right.

Absolutely no problem here with women kissing women because they like eachother, or men kissing men for the same reason, or etc.