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January 10, 2007

Would You Kiss a Girl?

two models in all white outfits

Photo Credit: Kelly Klein

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First Madonna kissed Britney. Then Samantha toyed around with a lesbian lover on Sex and the City. Even Mischa Barton's character on The OC got in on the girl-on-girl action, and last January, two girls lusted after each other in the mainstream film Imagine Me & You. The media aren't sensationalizing: They're simply "outing" a growing trend among American women. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, nearly 6.9 million women (11 percent of the women polled) said they'd had a sexual experience with another woman — and nearly 2.7 million had one within the past year. Marie Claire found that 55 percent of the 4,400 women who responded to our recent online poll said they would have sex with another woman ... if no one were to find out.

Why Is Bi-Curious Suddenly So Cool?

As the "sex is just sex" mentality of trendsetting teens finds its way into the mainstream, women of all ages have become less worried about a same-sex experience defining them for life. Beyond that, "women are more interested in exploring what feels good for them than about being defined by a label," says Emily Scarlet Kramer, author of A Piece of Cake: Recipes for Female Sexual Pleasure. If anything, she says, "instead of 'straight,' there is now a 'straight-ish' category."

The media also feed into the growth and visibility of this new trend. "No one is going to admit, 'I kissed a girl because Madonna kissed Britney,' but that did make it more socially acceptable," says Amanda Freeman, vice president of the Intelligence Group, a trend-forecasting company. Plus, TV makes girl-girl play particularly glamorous: Witness the characters on The L Word, a Showtime series about lesbians in L.A. who look like Sex and the City extras.

Breaking Boundaries

Some women dabble within their own gender because they find breaking sexual boundaries to be a turn-on. It doesn't hurt that men find it hot, too (in fact, most porn directed at men contains at least one girl-girl scene), although experts say it's a myth that most women do it for this reason.

Many women are purely interested in having fun and experimenting with the physical experience of being with other women, while others are drawn to something deeper. "Women often long for an emotional connection that they're not getting from the men in their lives," says Gina Ogden, author of The Heart & Soul of Sex. "That can translate into desire that's deeply erotic and full of physical passion."

"Right now there is some element of cool and exclusivity about [kissing another girl], because not everyone has done it. To have someone see you do it or to say you've done it almost carries a cachet," Freeman says.

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