Is Girl-Girl Kissing All About Men?!

Is Girl-Girl Kissing All About Men?!

Girl-girl kissing is the latest fad to sweep the nation. This is according to Jeffrey Kluger, a TIME Magazine senior writer, who contends that, while sapphic kissing is not anything new, young women's public sexual experimentation is.

To Kluger, the act of girl-girl kissing is commonplace because it is increasingly visible and acceptable in popular culture. Celebrities kiss on awards shows. Katy Perry's became a star off on her hit single "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked it". Girls kissing girls has a certain cache in contemporary culture. And, too, today's climate is far less hostile towards of queer culture and queer people than it was a few decades ago.

Rather than offer a nuanced look at the growing acceptability of girl-girl kissing between two "straight women", though, Kluger contends that a girl-girl kissing is never divorced from men or the male gaze.

Kluger bases much of his theories on the research of two UC-Santa Barbara professors, Verta Taylor and Leila Rupp. Taylor and Rupp cite a national survey that found. "fewer than 2% of women called themselves lesbian or bisexual, but fully 8% reported either feeling same-sex desire or engaging in some kind of same-sex act."

Kluger is assuming that the 6% of women who harbor same-sex feelings or engage in same-sex acts but don't identify as lesbian or bisexual MUST be identifying as straight. With that in mind, let's look at the motivations behind that mysterious 6% of women who kiss or want to kiss other girls:

ATTENTION FROM MEN

Kluger asserts that, of all the reasons a woman might want to kiss another woman, getting attention from men is paramount. The biggest reason girls kiss girls has to do not with the pleasure of kissing a girl, but with the pleasure of having a man watching her kiss a girl.

GENUINE EXPERIMENTATION (WITH MEN AS THE AUDIENCE)

"Genuine experimentation" follows, the idea that women are "bi-curious" or "bar curious". They get pleasure out of kissing girls, but they also get pleasure out of having men watch them kiss girls in public.

THEY'RE REALLY LESBIANS BUT AREN'T OUT

For some "bi curious" women, girl-girl kissing is an easy and safe transition for women "on their way to coming out as lesbians". The UCSB researchers note that this sort of behavior is a "safe heterosexual space for exploring same sex desire".

It's certainly easy to mock the absurdity of Kluger's piece and its heavy reliance on sexist, heteronormative trope. It's as if, to Kluger, girl-girl sexual experimentation is never not about men. To be fair, he does point out that "heteroflexibility”, a more fluid approach to sexuality and sexual orientation, is on the rise. Yet, at the same time, Kluger relies so heavily on the notion that women are exploring their sexuality solely through the male gaze that room for flexible sexuality is practically inconsequential.