My life used to involve statements beginning with: “As a lesbian, I …”.
The findings of the latest National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) seem to suggest. The number of women reporting same-sex partners has increased from 1.8% to 7.9% over the past 20 years.
I’ve been checking out this world recently and have found that while the male half of couple’s profile will identify as straight, it’s pretty much par for the course that a woman will indicate “bi-curious” or “bisexual”. Sure, a lot of this is about women trying to please their men – it plays to a common male fantasy of a threesome involving two women and a man – but actually, in my experience, the bisexual ones really are up for it. I think there are a ton of “straight” women out there who, once they’ve ticked all the safety boxes (get married, get financially secure, have babies), are ready to “play”. And that is the thing about this new sexually fluid world (for women). Its politics are much less right-on compared with the old-school lesbian separatist thing. The women who claim to be bisexuals in the Natsal survey are not the type to go marching on the streets about it.
While some big actors and singers have admitted to bisexuality, there is a lot of fudging from other young heroines of popular culture (what is all this “wifey” business, as Cara Delevingne refers to her friend Rita Ora? Go on, Cara, you’re a rock’n’roll chick, spell it out), which makes you wonder how on earth the unfamouses are going to be proud about their not-totally-100% hetero status.
London’s biggest lesbian club impresario of the moment, Nicola Chubb, who runs the high-end lesbian club night Mint, says she has noticed a sea change of so-called “fluidity” going on in her clubs. Straight girls who, a couple of years ago, might have preferred the company of gay men and would have suffered the “fag hag” tag are now choosing to hang out with lesbians. “They’ve worked out that lesbians know how to have a good time too.”
Women allowing one another to be sexual beings rather than seeing other women as a threat. In some ways, this is one of the unexpected boons to have come out of feminism.
Certainly, the rise in the number of women-only clubs, gyms and networking organisations points to a feel for more all-girls-together stuff that lezzas have been doing for years. I personally prefer the old word for “networking”: cruising – but maybe this will come about in this new oestrogen-only renaissance. Otherwise, it’s rather like going to a Japanese tea ceremony and leaving before you’ve tried the tea.