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On kissing girls

I kissed a girl, and I liked it.

Or more truthfully: I kissed a girl and it was sort of OK but the main reason I kissed her is because there was a dude that we both fancied who we knew would be pretty aroused by the whole scenario.

It’s not quite as catchy, but it is something that happens a fair bit. Ever since I first saw girls kiss in nightclubs I’ve heard whispers about ‘lipstick lesbians’ – usually accompanied by judgmental frowning. I’ve heard people moan about it and damn these girls. They’re stupid, they’re pathetic, they’re attention-grabbing and – perhaps most damning of all – they’re not even really into it. How dare they?

I read an article today by Julie Birchill, in which she discusses these girl-on-girl kisses. Girls who like girls for boys, girls who like girls for attention, and – her example being the famous Madonna/Britney snog – girls who like girls for money.

Sometimes I kiss girls for boys

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there’s nothing wrong in principle with people pulling others for the arousal of a third party. After all, many fantastic threesomes have begun that way. Some of my fantastic threesomes have begun that way. And I’d be a miserable hypocrite if I didn’t admit that two boys kissing to try and turn me on would… well… turn me on. Finally I suppose I should also admit that kissing girls to give boys erections is something that I do quite frequently – it is, perhaps, one of the tamest things I have done in my unending quest to give guys erections.

Likewise, people do shit for money all the time. Money is not an illegitimate reason to do something – it’s the reason most of us haul ourselves out of bed at godforsaken hours of the morning five days a week to go and do boring things when, given the choice, we’d rather be at home eating crisps and wanking. If you’re a pop starlet who thinks she’ll make more money by kissing a girl, I can see you making a legitimate choice to kiss a girl rather than – say – do something headline-grabbing for charity or get strategically semi-naked in your next music video.

Finally – attention. We all want attention, don’t we? Short of hermits, nuns and wanted criminals, everyone likes having a few pairs of eyes on them. If we burned people at the stake for attention-grabbing, they’d come for the bloggers first but the rest of humanity wouldn’t be far behind.

We’re all just people, making decisions. And the decision to place your tongue inside someone’s mouth and move it around a bit can, like any other decision in our lives, be made because we want money, attention or sex. There’s nothing obviously crass about doing something for these reasons, and yet girls who kiss girls are often met with contempt because they dared to do something that wasn’t purely motivated by a desire for the kiss itself.

The ethics of snogging someone you don’t really fancy

I suspect what people hate most about girls pulling other girls in clubs – and why ‘lipstick lesbian’ is (in my albeit limited experience) a phrase frequently spat with disgust and horror – is the lies. No reasonable person could have a problem with two women who fancy each other pulling in a nightclub – the problem people seem to have with this scenario is that there isn’t always desire. We’re used to kissed being motivated by this, so any other motivation both looks and feels like a lie.

People aren’t angry about what your motivations are (money, attention, or arousing other people), they’re angry because of what they’re not. You’re not motivated by lust, therefore you’re lying.

But my issue with this is that although I hate lies as much as the next person, I don’t feel like this really is a lie – it’s a game. You’re play-acting like you fancy someone in the same way as you might play-act a naughty schoolgirl, or an angry sargeant major, or a runaway My Little Pony. There’s nothing wrong with games as long as all participants know the rules.

The only time this falls down is if one of the participants doesn’t know the rules. If I pull you because we both fancy a guy and want to watch him get an erection in the pub, and if that guy knows that we’re doing that for him, then a good time will be had by all. But if one person doesn’t have that knowledge, and thinks the kiss is the start of something beautiful, then their legitimate and honest desire has been turned into something tawdry and crass.

Imagine someone you’d fancied for years finally getting up the courage to ask you for a snog, which you gleefully do, only to find out straight afterwards that they were doing it on a nudge and a wink from their partner. Horrible, heartbreaking, cruel, and immoral.

That’s what we should be disgusted by. Not the kiss itself, but the way it’s done. Kissing is, like all sex acts, intrinsically dependent on the enthusiasm of the other parties involved.

The person who is kissing you out of genuine love or lust has the right to be offended and upset if you’re being dishonest, and knowingly misleading them, but the people who scowl and whisper ‘lipstick lesbian’ have no such rights. They can guess at your motivations, but they can’t know what rules you’ve established with the other people involved. All they will ever see is two girls kissing – it’s up to those girls to decide whether they’re happy with that.


  • Stephmog says:

    Yep. As usual you say everything sensible that needs saying about the subject, and you’re the first I’ve read to do so, despite this being hardly a new phenomenon. I had a bit of a rubbish time in my late teens, quite a lot of years ago now, because of the dishonesty thing. I had entirely too many encounters with straight girls who were just snogging me to get male attention and it hurt. A lot. But I’d never have a problem, still, with anyone doing anything for any reason at all if they’re upfront about it.

  • frankie says:

    I don’t think that’s all there is to it… A lot of lesbians get (understandably) pissed off with unwanted attention from guys when they’re out in nightclubs and such, kissing girls and being generally lesbionic, so the fact that other women do the exact same thing with the express aim of attracting such attention from men is fairly annoying for them. Unfortunately there isn’t really a way to signal to creepy guys what is and what isn’t intended to turn them on…

    • Girl on the net says:

      I see your point, but I think it still stands with what I’m saying. In the situation you describe, where guys are being inappropriately creepy or intrusive on a couple who are just kissing because they want to kiss, that’s again a situation in which there isn’t enthusiasm from all parties. Essentially someone (a twat) is intruding on someone’s intimacy without permission. Of course there’s nothing wrong with guys looking at girls kissing – or indeed *anyone* looking at *any* couples kissing – that’s what happens when you snog in a public place. However, staring in a way that’s uncomfortable or aggressive is never necessary.

      I don’t think this situation is the fault of non-lesbian girls who kiss each other – it’s the fault of stary, overly-familiar insensitive people who break through other people’s boundaries.

      I think also in the situation I’m describing, the guy whose erection is being encouraged by the kiss will also be a knowing and active participant. i.e. in my experience, girls don’t kiss each other to turn on strange guys they don’t know, but to turn on guys that they do know, who understand that the kiss is for their benefit. I hope this makes sense, and doesn’t sound too rambly. I’m a bit headachey today so it may well be that the comment which precedes this excuse is a pile of toss. It makes sense in my head, though.

  • Jan says:

    “And I’d be a miserable hypocrite if I didn’t admit that two boys kissing to try and turn me on would… well… turn me on.” THANK YOU FOR THIS! Why, why, WHY don’t more people realize that this is a genuine thing?

  • sexnmaryjane says:

    I kissed a girl once and it was cool. We had sex after and it was great ;)

  • AwakeinSpain says:

    no what annoys me is that I get spat at in the street for being gay or looking gay, by people who wouldn’t think twice about jacking off to lesbian porn or enjoying watching women kiss for their benefit. You have to understand how hurtful that is? Our actions do not take place in a vacuum. To me, it feels like my sexuality is more acceptable when performed by people who do not identify as it for the benefit of straight dudes, than it is as part of my every day life.

    I really like your blog, and the way that you write, but I’m afraid my personal experiences with this do not allow me to see eye to eye on this subject.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hi AwakeinSpain. I think you’ve got a bloody good point. And the level of hypocrisy contained in someone being homophobic in the street yet getting aroused by girl on girl (or boy on boy) in the bedroom is disgusting. For what it’s worth, this is a really old blog post, and I’m sorry that it doesn’t touch on this at all – it really should. I still think that there’s nothing inherently wrong with performance sexuality, or exhibitionism, and I still disagree with the original linked article that sparked the whole thing off. But you’re right: we don’t live in a vacuum and while in an ideal world this wouldn’t be a problem, it’s not something that I should write off or (in the case of this post) just fail to think about completely. If I were to write on the same topic today I’d probably tackle it quite differently.

  • AwakeinSpain says:

    I appreciate your reply, and that time has passed since this post. Thanks :)

  • satinpothos says:

    uhh i know this is an old post but lipstick lesbian is a term to describe a feminine lesbian, often synonymous with femme – not a straight woman who makes out with women for men. and for what it’s worth, as a bi woman, i don’t think there’s anything wrong with two people doing something for the sexual enjoyment of a third. but there is an issue around the question of why the guy is into it – is it because two women he is attracted to are in a sexual scenario? or because he has a fetish for lesbianism? the commonness of men liking two women together is due to the latter, and it’s really harmful

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hey satinpothos – where I come from and when I was writing, ‘lipstick lesbian’ was used in this context, though I know it means something different today. I think re: the harmful thing, yeah it’s problematic. It’s not something I feel comfortable with today, although I think there are more recent situations in which I’ve done it and it’s fun and not fetishistic. Totally take your point though, and I think if I wrote something like this today I’d do it with much more awareness of the politics surrounding this kind of thing.

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