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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Reaction Time: Girls Kissing Girls

Ariana Aboulafia |
April 5, 2014 | 9:16 p.m. PDT


 A strange phenomenon seems to be striking millennials - the inclination for straight females to kiss other straight females for attention (Marco Gomes)
A strange phenomenon seems to be striking millennials - the inclination for straight females to kiss other straight females for attention (Marco Gomes)
Recently, there have been several articles remarking upon a rather strange phenomenon that seems to be striking millennials - the inclination for straight females to kiss other straight females for attention, male or otherwise.

In her article “Lesbian, 'Til Graduation”, Neon Tommy writer Maya Richard-Craven discusses the pressure that she and, I’m sure, many other women have felt from both men and other women to make out with other girls. She tells the story of attending a party near the USC campus and being pressured by both male and female acquaintances to kiss a female while they watched. She did it because she felt pressured, because she was drunk and because she wanted a story to tell her friends.

She then does a very interesting analysis of how straight women kissing other straight women turns them into sex objects and further plays into societal gender and sexuality roles. She brings up the term “Lesbian Til Graduation,” which apparently refers to both women who choose to casually hook up with other women on college campuses as well as those who choose to kiss other women because they identify as pansexual or some other form of queer. 

And that’s where my issue starts.   

Let’s draw a line really quickly here. There’s a difference between women who make out with other women because they are exploring their sexualities, because they are questioning or because they authentically are pansexual, homosexual, or some form of queer. In short: making out with a woman because you either know that you are or genuinely think that you might be attracted to women (even if, later, it turns out that you’re wrong) is extremely different than knowing that you are straight and choosing to make out with a woman because you want to impress other men or women that are watching you, or because you want to feel cool, or because you want to feel accepted by the hip wannabe actresses that hang out at parties on Menlo.

SEE ALSO: Why You Shouldn't Go 'Gay For A Day' 

There are so many things wrong with straight women choosing to make out with other girls for the enjoyment of others or simply for shock value. One of these things Richard-Craven does an excellent job of analyzing in her article: it turns women into sex objects. And, especially in a college setting, it turns women that should be respected for their intelligence, their talents and their personalities into Barbie dolls (or, to put it crudely, blow-up dolls, depending on how you look at it). But, there is another perhaps unforeseen consequence to straight women choosing to make out with other straight women for exhibition - a consequence that those straight women will never feel, but that lesbian (or otherwise queer) women do. 

Coming out has been a huge focus of the LGBT community for many years; generally, this is because more non-LGBT people will fight for LGBT rights if they know someone close to them identifies as LGBT. One of the most common reactions for LGBT people to experience from loved ones upon coming out is the idea that they are confused or “just going through a phase”. This can be very damaging to the person coming out because it delegitimizes both their feelings for members of the same sex as well as the internal struggle that they may have gone through before deciding to come out.

But, can we as members of the LGBT community really blame people outside of the community for thinking that being attracted to the same sex is nothing more than a phase when the phrase “lesbian 'til graduation” not only exists but also apparently encompasses both women who are authentically non-heterosexual as well as those who casually hook up with women for fun? Both lesbian and heterosexual women are constantly surrounded, both through our personal experiences and through popular culture, by women kissing other women for fun or exhibition without it saying anything about their status as heterosexuals. Is it really surprising, then, that when we as lesbian women try to come out to family and friends we are immediately confronted by the assumption that we are simply confused or going through a phase? Not only does it delegitimize general same sex-attraction, it contributes to the societal view of lesbian relationships as sex-filled fantasies without emotions by turning the simplest act of affection - the kiss - into a hypersexualized act of exhibition.

I get that straight girls kissing other straight girls is the “hot” thing to do. I get that there is pressure put upon straight women to kiss other straight women, from men, from other women and from celebrity culture. After all, it was artists like Katy Perry who were some of the first to remark on the phenomenon of straight women kissing other straight women just for fun or exhibition: as she says in her song, “I kissed a girl just to try it, I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it.” And, it is artists like Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus (who shared a fairly long kiss during Cyrus’s concert earlier this year at the Staples Center in Los Angeles) that expand upon the tradition of women kissing other women ( à la Britney Spears and Madonna in 2003) solely for publicity reasons.

SEE ALSO: Actress Ellen Page Comes Out As Gay

It is not my job to tell anyone what to do. I am, in fact, a pretty big proponent of people doing whatever it is that they want to do and whatever they think will make them happy. But, if Richard-Craven’s story is  anything like the stories of other straight women that identify as “Lesbian Til Graduation,” then it doesn’t really seem like this is making anyone happy: it does absolutely no good for the “LTG” woman, delegitimizes the relationships and struggles of the lesbian or queer woman and contributes to the general hypersexualization of all women. Again, I’m not telling anyone what to do per se, nor am I handing out any moral judgments. My question, though, is as a woman who has at least some stake in the general ways women are treated, why would you do something that at once has no benefit for you and is a detriment to women at large both generally and specifically? After all, if you’re just looking for a cool party trick, I’m sure there are other options: beer pong, anyone?


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