Odds are, if you’ve been to a few parties in Isla Vista you’ve seen it happen: girls locking lips to attract male attention, to explore their sexuality, maybe just to satisfy an impulse or for curiosity’s sake.
UCSB feminist studies professor Leila J. Rupp and sociology professor Verta Taylor recently released a study on the allure that playing tonsil-tennis has for heterosexual women. According to the report — published over the summer in the American Anthropological Association’s magazine Context — many straight girls publically kiss each other to garner male attention or for sexual exploration because they see kissing other women as an opportunity to experiment without compromising their sexual identity.
“The hook-up scene is extending beyond the heterosexual sphere; it’s a new public place for experimentation,” Rupp said.
Second-year biology major Robin Francis said she identifies herself as heterosexual but enjoys the occasional canoodle with a fellow female.
“[Kissing each other] is funny between friends,” Francis said. “Girls know how it affects guys. It means nothing.”
Taylor and Rupp examined data from one national survey which concluded that less than two percent of those surveyed called themselves lesbian or bisexual while eight percent reported a desire for some kind of same-sex activity.
However, Rupp said, when a girl makes out with a female in private it still poses a question about their sexuality.
“There is a sense that if women are doing it for their own reasons and not male attention, then they are crossing a line,” Rupp said.
Also, Rupp said, the trend of girls kissing girls for attention can become unhealthy when alcohol is involved.
“Less drinking would be better,” Rupp said. “It would be better if people could make more honest and open decisions.”