By Albert Samaha
By Darwin BondGraham
By Keegan Hamilton
By Anna Merlan
By Anna Merlan
By Tessa Stuart
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
Almost every "straight" girl I know has at least made out with another woman; often they've done more, and most of them are far from ashamed or embarrassed about their same-sex dalliances. These encounters slip out, not as hushed sorority secrets, but as casual exclamations, like my friend who told me how she was invited to a wedding where she's kissed both the bride and the groom. But sometimes I'm still surprised, like when a married woman told me about finding herself in a hotel room abroad with a totally hot girl. I thought her story would stop there, but she excitedly grabbed my hand, and gave me all the juicy details: "So I pulled down her pants and began going down on her."
In countless recent erotic books, from Melissa P.'s 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed to Toni Bentley's anal-sex memoir, The Surrender, girl-girl action gets a nod, something to be tried at least once, and not simply as part of an erotic checklist, but out of real curiosity and desire. Straight girl Jen Sincero was so moved by her six-month sapphic relationship that she wrote The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping With Chicks, which sounds like it belongs in the humor section, but actually gives the entire lowdown on what every straight girl needs to know about pussy eating, strap-ons, threesomes, coming out, identity crises, and more. She wants to encourage every straight girl who's ever thought about doing another woman to try it.
Part of me loves this sexual openness, which in fact is nothing new; supposedly straight women have been having girlie flings for ages. Yet there is something new going on here: Women who would never consider themselves lesbian, bisexual, or even bi-curious are more than happy to enjoy a sapphic smooch. Is it because lesbian sex is seen as something less worthy or powerful? I think it's just one of an array of options, like having a one-night stand or dressing super-slutty; the sexual world is at our fingertips, and we want to take full advantage of it. It's also not going to pose a threat to most boyfriends or husbands, who are more than happy to let their women engage in some girl-on-girl action.
Yet sometimes women's public displays of affection can take on a slightly icky tone, and it's hard to tell where that line between friendly flirtation and showy display really is. I wasn't the only one who noticed the more than slightly hetero bent to the female dancers rubbing up against each other at a recent CAKE party at Crash Mansion. One of the women hired to dance at the show noted in her online journal that the party had a decidedly Girls Gone Wild feel to it, and I agree. Yet this woman dances at a weekly burlesque night where tasseled boobs are on display and the crowd is eager to see more and more flesh. What's the difference between downtown burlesque and straight-girl flirty frolicking? As a bisexual woman immersed in the queer community, I feel a difference when girls are getting it on solely for male titillation. Is that wrong? No, but it makes those of us who are genuinely into women feel slightly out of sorts, like it's fine for us to be queer if it's all fun and games, but were we ever to choose women over men, we'd be crossing a line from hot bi babe to man-hating dyke.
So how do we hot bi babes retain our integrity, and our lusty love lives, without selling out? There is no single strategy, and I would never want to disavow another woman's right to assert her sexual agency. Part of me thinks it's wonderful that so many women are uninhibited enough to test out their curiosity about what that hot girl's mouth feels like. Surely there are plenty of straight men who might exhibit a hint of curiosity about male-on-male lust, but banish the thought before it can even be fully formed, because the very idea is just too threatening to their heterosexual identity. Straight women who want to walk on the queer side of the street have almost nothing to lose; they can retain their sense of themselves as straight women, future brides, while also feeling much kinkier for having done something that's slightly taboo, even as it's wildly encouraged by straight-male culture.
But it's not always so easy to walk away without feeling changed. After all, I considered myself straight even when I dated a woman in college; she was the first woman I'd ever been attracted to. We had fun, but after we broke up and I went back to dating guys, I didn't know what to make of the experience. I felt slightly different, but not like an entirely new person. For me, it wasn't until I found myself attracted to women on a regular basis, and threw myself wantonly into a pansexual, polyamorous scene, that I truly came into my own as a sexual person.
One thing The Straight Girl's Guide makes clear is that straight women often walk away from their same-sex encounters feeling empowered on several levels. Sex, or something like it, with another woman lets you throw out the heterosexual script; it forces you to think outside the old let-him-try-to-get-as-far-as-he-can-before-you-push-him-away mode.