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Growing up in a liberal community, with lots of friends who had “two mommies” or “two daddies,” I was always told that I could be whatever I wanted to be, and was encouraged to love whoever I wanted to love. While this seemed great in theory, when a childhood friend told her parents that she was in love with a woman, her parents reaction was shocking. They claimed it was a “phase” and that she was just curious. And this is a common idea. Everyone has heard about women “experimenting” in college, and there is even a term LUG (or Lesbian Until Graduation). And while there are many people who do experiment with their sexuality, it does seem that, for women, lesbianism is often dismissed as “a phase.” This idea becomes fairly serious when coupled with the idea of compulsory heterosexuality, outlined by Adrianne Rich in “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” That, in fact, societies casual dismissal of lesbianism as something you can “grow out of” may stem from the unstated pressures on women, by the threat of violence and cultural influences (such as movies, music e.t.c), to be straight.
This idea of lesbianism being a fun, casual activity, was recently reinforced in pop culture by the hit single, “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry. This song, while frighteningly catchy, reinforces the stereotype of the “one-night stand Lesbian”. For Katy Perry, it was ok to be gay, because it was a one night fling, and it didn’t mean she was “in love tonight.” There are also lyrics like “hope my boyfriend don’t mind it,” said with a smile, because for some reason, a woman kissing another woman is fun and flirty, and not cheating. This song, along with the phrases like LUG, promote the idea that it’s OK to be lesbian, as long as you grow out of it, because heterosexuality for women is the default. While sexual experimentation should be encouraged, it should also be encouraged that it’s OK to kiss a girl, like it, get married, have kids, or kiss lots of girls, or kiss whoever you want, for as long as you want (given that they want to kiss you back).
Similar to our fascination with the “casual” lesbian, is our fascination in the United States with the sexualized images of the murder of women, as argued by Jane Caputi in “The Sexual Politics of Murder.” Gruesome murder cases like The Black Dahlia and the Sharon Tate murders become top headlines, with horrifying pictures surfacing in newspapers and online. Naturally, the internet, which is home to numerous websites to satisfy ever curiosity, is home to dozens of websites dedicated to gore, that have “female victim” tags, like (NSFL) www.bestgore.com or the wonderful www.charonboat.com, which even goes so far as to have a section for female corpses that have been brutalized and humiliated. Even the internet phenomenon of fan fiction is littered with rape, with women like Bella Swan, and even the very young Hermione Granger falling victim to these disgusting crimes. Needless to say, the if we in the U.S. are obsessed with brutalized, raped, and beaten women, the internet has definitely helped us to satisfy our “craving.”