Straight Girls: Please Stop Kissing Your Friends for Attention

By JESSICA YU

I was drunk the first time I kissed a girl. She was even more drunk. She was sloppily making out with some friends a few feet away from me. My best friend, knowing I’d been grappling with my sexuality for some time, pushed me in their general direction. Next thing I knew, I was making out with her in that purple-LED-light-tinted haze. 

We were teenage girls, coming of age under the male gaze. 

I felt icky about it for a long time after, not because I feel icky about kissing girls but because she’s straight. And so were her other friends. And they made out with each other in front of some guys they were trying to impress. I was still far from coming to terms with my queerness, but I immediately felt guilty for contributing to the fetishization of queer women.

It’s a few years later. It’s Wednesday morning; I’m in college; I’m out as bi but I could be gay, I don’t know; I’m scrolling through Instagram when I come upon a picture of my straight friend making out with another girl. From the way their bodies are positioned, I would have believed that they are a couple if I didn’t know she was straight and had a boyfriend. 

That’s not fair, I think to myself. That’s not okay at all.

I remember thinking, “that looks fun” before realizing that they were only doing it to turn on the guys watching them.

My first exposure to women loving women in the media was through an intensely fetishized lens. I don’t remember what movie or show it was. I do remember that one female character got onto a bar and started making out with another female character. I remember thinking, “that looks fun” before realizing that they were only doing it to turn on the guys watching them.

Lesbian porn is one of the most searched (if not the most searched) topics on Pornhub. Are all these searches made by gay women? You already know that’s a silly, silly question and that the answer is no. There certainly aren’t enough of us to dominate the Pornhub search domain. Obviously, most of these searches were made by men. 

Not to mention the amount of inaccuracies in lesbian porn. For the majority of lesbian porn, the actresses’ actions are not performed for their own pleasure; rather, it involves conforming to a specific perception of female sexuality that devalues everything lesbian sex can and should be. (But this is the porn industry, after all. Their issues with feminism go far beyond lesbian fetishization.) 

Even in the lesbian movie “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” there is an unnecessarily long sex scene between the two female leads that has been criticized for not accurately portraying lesbian sex at all. Was this intentionally to target a male audience who fantasize about lesbian porn? Or is the fetishization of lesbians so normalized and ingrained in the male brain that director Abdellatif Kechiche could not manage to make an artistic lesbian film without some level of sexualization of the characters? Whatever it is, it makes way for conversation about a larger issue. 

Sadly, the fetishization of lesbians is old news. It isn’t even news: It’s an overused oppressive trope that hurts queer women. 

And it doesn’t stop at queer women either. 

While there is progress being made, gay men experience a similar level of hypersexualization in the media. In a study looking at advertisements in various magazines including The Advocate and Out magazine, the men posing are sexualized through nudity or advertising for items such as underwear, porn magazines, lubricants and more. 

There is also something called M/M fiction in which straight women fetishize gay men. 

One of the many problems in M/M fiction is that there is always a more masculine man and a more feminine man. Another sickening theme in these stories is that these masculine men often rape the more feminine men. We can agree that this is fetishization and that it is an issue, right?

So, when I see straight girls kissing each other and posting it on social media for attention, I get pissed. That picture was not an isolated incident. I’ve seen several posts of straight girls kissing. 

Another time, a straight girl posted an image in which she was holding hands with her best friend and referred to her as her “girlfriend” in the caption. Once again, I almost fell for the cuteness until I realized she has a boyfriend.

You cherry-pick which parts of queer culture you wish to participate in without experiencing the fear, the shame, the suppression, the self-hatred, the continual questioning, the lack of representation, the lack of rights.

You may think it’s all fun and games — you may even think it’s “hot,” and perhaps it is — but you get to go to bed at night without wondering what it’ll be like coming out to your homophobic parents. You don’t have to tense up everytime they ask about any boys in your life, wishing you could tell them about a girl you like instead. You don’t have to experience straight men harassing you for videos after you and your girlfriend kiss in public. 

You cherry-pick which parts of queer culture you wish to participate in without experiencing the fear, the shame, the suppression, the self-hatred, the continual questioning, the lack of representation, the lack of rights. You get to kiss your friends without getting attacked and hospitalized

For five years of my life, I identified as bisexual in a very subtle and dismissive way. I can’t tell you how many times I invalidated my sexuality by telling myself, “Oh, I’m just doing that for attention. I’m probably just saying that so guys will find me more attractive,” when, in reality, I swallowed my butterflies and refused to let them flutter on display. 

It was never for show. 

It’s a few years later. It doesn’t really matter right now if I’m bi or gay or whatever label the world can come up with. I know my attraction to women, sexually and romantically, is real and cannot be dismissed. But simply for the sake of living my life, I have to consciously make effort to unlearn the effects of hypersexualization of lesbianism and queer peoples in general. 

Don’t dismiss my sexuality by kissing girls for attention if you are straight. And certainly don’t post it on Instagram. It’s not funny to call yourself an ally and then become part of the issue.