1. When Katie Perry released her hit single “I kissed a girl” in 2008, a Cosmopolitan magazine poll reported that 54% of women between the ages of 18 and 24 had done the same thing. In 2011, further probing research by the same magazine into “How He’d React If You Kissed A Girl” revealed that “71% of men said “it would be hot” and “they’d want to join in.”
2. Women’s sexuality does seem to be more fluid than men’s (Peplau & Garnets, 2000, Baumeister 2000, Diamond, 2008), and as attitudes towards sexual experimentation continue to liberalise, more women are willing to try a same sex experience. In the UK National Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles Survey (2013) there was a 400% increase in the number of women engaging in same sex sexual experimentation between 1991 and 2012. The rate for men increased by just one per cent in the same period.
3. While we’re all on for having fun, there is a big difference between a woman exploring a same sex experience of her own volition and a woman performing sexually for the express purpose of pleasing a male onlooker.When psychologists Megan Yost and Lauren McCarthy conducted an online survey to try and ascertain the prevalence of same sex behavior amongst female university students, their results – which were published in ‘Psychology of Women Quarterly’ (2012) – showed that 33% of female participants had “kissed or made out with someone of the same-sex at a party.” Most of them (56%) admitted that they did it to “get male attention” and “turn men on”, but nearly all of them also said that they were pressurized, encouraged, or dared to do it by other men, or onlookers. A small number of women indicated that their boyfriend was the source of pressure.
4. Earlier research by Hamilton (2007) found that roughly half the heterosexual women in one college dormitory reported having kissed or fondled other women at parties, and their most-often stated reason was also to “get attention from men”. And in an exploration of media portrayals of ”hot lesbians,” girls who described observing girls kissing other girls at parties explained that the girls did it “to be attractive to men” (Jackson & Gilbertson, 2009).
5. Despite their apparent willingness to engage in same sex experiences, research by Joiner (2006) has established that it is crucial for women who kiss other women “to make sure that no one thinks they’re actually lesbians”.
6. So why bother? Well, ‘girl on girl’ is such a staple male sexual fantasy that one quarter to two thirds of all images in the pornographic magazine Penthouse consist of two women engaged sexually with one another (Jenefsky & Miller, 1998).
7. While many women view all this as harmless fun, some seem to understand the complexities of “performing” lesbian sex acts for the benefit of a male audience. In Yost and McCarthy’s study for example, one young woman confessed “It makes me feel cheap, it makes me feel like I’m kind of betraying those friends that I have that are lesbian because when I make out with girls at parties, I think that it’s making women’s sexuality not about ourselves, but about the other people around us.”
9. Breanne Fahs, who is Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University has coined the term termed ‘compulsory bisexuality’ to describe young women’s performances of public same-sex. In her book ‘Performing Sex: The Making and Unmaking of Women’s Erotic Lives’, she argues that contemporary sexual liberation is a sexual performance that disempowers women in the name of empowerment.
10. A number of scholars have even gone so far as to suggest that media portrayals of women’s same-sex sexuality serve to erase real lesbians from the public eye (Evans, Riley, & Shankar, 2010; Gill, 2009).