Girly kissing, raunch culture, and me

Apparently there’s been a lot of discussion on Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs in the blogsphere, but I’m not really here to discuss that. What I want to talk about is Amanda’s post, Getting approval (which discusses the girls-kissing-girls part of the raunch culture), and my own experiences with it.

First things first: I am bisexual (or pansexual, more accurately). For years and years and years various things kept me closeted to myself and to those around me, but I finally came out sometime in 2003/2004. It was hard for me, especially since I was met with some scepticism from loved ones. My mother believed that people were “gay, straight, or lying” (to borrow from that hideously stupid study done a while back) and a friend said that I had to be mistaken, that I was confusing love/lust for “appreciation” of the female body. It didn’t help matters that I’ve only had one real sexual experience with a girl, especially since neither of us had any interest in pursuing anything outside of that one encounter.

So what does my personal story have to do with the pressure for straight girls to kiss each other? More than I care to admit, but admit I will.

First off, it was one of the “various things” that kept me closeted; I pushed my attraction to girls into the deepest recesses of my mind, telling myself that since I was attracted to boys I had to be heterosexual, any crushes I had were just “girl crushes”, and pursuing my attraction would just be me giving in to the “fad” of girl kissing.

The second is that after I had come out, I fell right into the viper pit I had tried so dearly to avoid. My biggest failing was that I wanted to kiss those pretty girls. I thought it would make me happy, but it didn’t. In fact, it made me feel ashamed, unhappy, and angry. Ashamed because I had known better than to do that, but I still had given into the pressure of one of my guy friends (who never would have suggested such a thing to me when I was IDing as hetero) and the straight girls who wanted to please him and/or wanted the attention of the other guys around. Unhappy because those girls didn’t want me. And angry at them for kissing me anyway, angry at my friend for pressuring both of us into it, and angry at a culture that normalizes and encourages such destructive behaviour.

I’m with easilyirritable when sie says:

I really, really, really fucking hate the fact that our culture is such that every attempt I might make towards owning my sexuality is thwarted by the fact that the majority of men in the world will take it as me trying to turn them on, when really all I want to do is turn myself on.

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This entry was posted in Gender issues, Personal, Queer Issues, Sex, sexuality, and sexual politics. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Girly kissing, raunch culture, and me

  1. Kristy says:

    Without revealing too much I can identify a lot with your comments. Ohh stuff it! Here goes:

    I can’t stand pseudo-bi women you know the type who kiss other girls because it is what men want, because they think it will turn them off or whatever. I haven’t read the other post YET but i’m guessing that’s what she is talking about. I have however read Levys book and that is what she mentions. She does however also mention lesbian couples and how they often mimic male- female relationships but that is another chapter again. I can not recommend the book enough, see a few quotes in a previous page.

    I went through a very similar phase to you and still to this day am slightly confused because i’m not sure if part of the attraction to ‘pretty girls’ is due partly to the media and society for example being flooded with images of pretty girls through the male gaze every single day. I’ve never acted on my feelings so it’s hard to say. I actually considered dating another women right before Mr T but then what we had was 4,000 thousands time stronger than what I had with the woman. Not because she was a women but just because of personalities/values etc.

    The reason however that I am or rather was not open about my feelings though is pseudo-bi women that and someone how being attracted to females is something that seems to be used against us (women) in terms of being objectified. The whole idea of mentioning it and guys starting to imagine just creeps me out. And no i’m not interested in threesome thank you very much.

    Wow that was good to get off my chest .

  2. tekanji says:

    *hugs* I’m honoured that you felt comfortable enough sharing your personal story on my blog ^_^

    My main concern about picking up Levy’s book is that it seems from many of the reviews I’ve read that she focuses on female responsibility, instead of engaging in some good ol’ patriarchy blaming. I’m of the mind that, while we all make our own paths in life, the girls who perpetuate raunch culture are also victims of it. And the blame rests not on them, but rather the mechanisms that tell them that they need to act the way they do in order to be accepted. Also, reading about victim blaming (even if it’s in the context of trying to help people) makes me see red. >The reason however that I am or rather was not open about my feelings though is pseudo-bi women that and someone how being attracted to females is something that seems to be used against us (women) in terms of being objectified.

    I’ve encountered the latter problem as well. When I come out to my female friends, they shrug and are like “ok”. The most I get from them is sometimes they’ll make a joke about me hitting on them, to which I reply something like, “Ha! You wish.” Many of my guy friends’ reactions, however, have made me reconsider my friendship with them. It’s like, when I IDed as hetero, they had a healthy fear of being/saying anything inappropriate. Then I come out as bi/pan and now I exist for their entertainment. But it’s just “helping me out”, you know.

  3. Kristy says:

    I disagree that she victim blames. She does however question the ‘sexually liberated’ and disagree that they are feminists, she does all of this within a context though. Read the book!

  4. Myca says:

    Also, let me tell you, this sort of thing may be all fun and games and “ha ha isn’t that hawt” when you’re some random frat guy who gets off on watching girls kiss, but when you’re in a serious polyamorous relationship, and you and your wife are seriously crushing on a girl who’s willing to make out with you but isn’t willing to, y’know, go out to a movie, or come over for thanksgiving, or think about an actual relationship, it can lead to a fuckload of heartbreak.

    Not that I speak from experience or anything.

    Raunch culture and the cult of ‘pleasing men by doing something hawt’ marginilizes actual lesbian and bisexual women by teaching the lesson that this sort of sexual contact is only play, and isn’t (and can’t be) something real . . . this means that often the girls who play at this aren’t even thinking that they may be doing be doing something cruel by making out with girls who are really interested in them, because, after all, it’s all just play, right? I think there’s something similar in play when it comes to girls who are ‘kinda sorta’ interested in polyamory.

    I mean, Christ, we’re not in this for the thrill. We’re not in this for the sex. We’re in this because we want to fall in love, you know?

    Bleh.

    —Myca

  5. tekanji says:

    I mean, Christ, we’re not in this for the thrill. We’re not in this for the sex. We’re in this because we want to fall in love, you know?

    Word.

  6. Kyra says:

    Very interesting, thoughtful post.

    I’ve noticed that the general consensus among young (nonfeminist) men is that lesbians and bisexual women exist for their amusement. It’s as if they think they deserve some sort of compensation for the fact that the lesbians aren’t interested in sleeping with them; a year or so ago that crowd seemed to be contemptuous of lesbians, in a “how dare you not be interested in keeping a MAN sexually satisfied?!” sort of way.

    and still to this day am slightly confused because i’m not sure if part of the attraction to ‘pretty girls’ is due partly to the media and society for example being flooded with images of pretty girls through the male gaze every single day.

    Same here.

    and a friend said that I had to be mistaken, that I was confusing love/lust for “appreciation” of the female body.

    And I’ve been wondering if that’s the case with me. How do you tell?

  7. tekanji says:

    How do you tell?

    The main crux was that, while I had succeeded in supressing my romantic feelings for women under the heading of “friendship” (since romantic love is closely tied to the kinds of feelings we have for our friends), I never quite got the sexual aspect to go away.

    For years I was like, “I can’t be bi; I have never found a woman I’m romantically attracted to.” And that line worked because when I was in a monogamous relationship, I was able to turn any potential “romantic” feelings for other people into “friendship” ones. I adopted the term “mostly heterosexual” to describe myself, because I was more than a little scared of the ridicule I’d face if I came out to myself and others as bi.

    And then my boyfriend-at-the-time and I broke up and I found myself alone for the first time in years. And suddenly I found that, in addition to thinking of boys as potential romantic partners, I was starting to think of girls that way too. Complete agony, I tell you, when my core group of female friends at the time were hetero and my main hangouts weren’t exactly queer-oriented spaces.

    It took me like 21 years of my life, but I finally realized that I had to stop letting other people’s idiocy run my life. Not my abusive ex and his insinuations that I was sleeping with Buffy, not the male-gaze raunch culture that tells us that “bi” girls are just heteros faking it for men’s amusement, not my mom saying that bisexuality didn’t exist, or my friend telling me that I was mistaken.

    I guess, in the end, I could tell because the longer I denied it to myself the harder it pushed at me. I had to be who I was; and that was someone who loves both men and women.

  8. Could you please either

    a) remove all “curly” quotation marks, replacing them with straight ones, or
    b) fix your character encoding properly.

    At the moment, all “curly” quotation marks and apostrophes are appearing as a mess of characters on my browser (the apostrophe appears as a-circumflex, euro, trademark). I suggest you reencode in UTF-8, a Unicode encoding which includes all characters, including “curly” quotation marks. As it is, your blog is all but unreadable.

    TRiG.

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