Monday, July 31, 2006

Cruising for girls

So lesbians are learning to cruise. At all-night women-only saunas and via the internet. Allegedly. It's no longer just gay men after some no-strings how's your father.
In a feature in the Guardian today,,1834025,00.html, one Jaq Bayles writes about this "new" lesbian sexuality. Well, if lesbians were having more casual sex, it wouldn't be so surprising, would it? Thanks to gaydar and internet sex sites for people of every sexuality, everyone's doing it. Potential lovers are just so easy to get hold of.
A couple of months ago a friend/one-time girlfriend and I agreed (in a half-jokey way) that we would never have got together if gaydar had existed then. Certainly, there's a lot more women to choose from: if I wanted to find a 25-year-old blue eyed banker who also liked salsa dancing, that wouldn't be too much to ask. Gaydargirl has plenty of bi women, or lesbians who are happy to date bi women, too.
There's also a massive increase in swinging due to the internet, and I have interviewed several women who told me they had got into it precisely in order to have casual sex with women. But as their male partners were always very much in evidence, that was sometimes a bit hard to organise.
One of the reasons why lesbian sex - or indeed any sort of casual sex - is so much easier to get via the internet is that it takes away so much of the physical and emotional danger. I do remember about 15 years or so ago some lesbians tried to set up a cruising area on Hampstead Heath. But it never really took off. I certainly would never have gone there, even if I was crawling the walls, and the physical danger aspect is a definite part of that. It was also the idea that you were really ceding control: in the semi-dark, how can you see if you fancy someone? What if it all turned out to be an emotional nightmare? What if you got cold feet?

Trained to change behaviour
Radical feminist Sheila Jeffreys says that women are being "trained" to change their sexual behaviour by sex entrepreneurs. Now I hate this idea that women are these pure beings, existing in some kind of pre-lapsarian state - until some nasty men, or pseudo-men, or women acting as agents for men - come to corrupt them. Only then will they want to have heterosex / S/M / promiscuous lesbian sex - depending on the decade she was writing in - rather than the utterly egalitarian un-messy (in any sense) lesbian sex that she thinks best for women. I may be parodying her views - or at least exaggerating them - but not by much. Women do always, and have always, liked all sorts of different things sexually. There was always casual sex and some lesbians have occasionally slept with men. The idea that it has suddenly started is nonsense.
Where I do sort of agree with the nay-sayers (in this case a bloke, queer theorist Stephen Maddison, is the idea that "cruising is a commodified, competitive and highly ritualistic business". Yup, no chance for an older, unattractive, shy person. And he also says "Gaydar culture institutionalises erotic interplay, turning adventure and wonder into a sexual McDonald's."
True. How much more spontaneous to meet a short-term sweetie walking down the street or in a bar, with no money changing hands, data being captured, or cookies placed on your computer. But much more of a risk - and much less likely that you'll get the person that you want.

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