“Move over, Ellen DeGeneres, and make way for the younger girls.” That’s the opening line in a recent article by Laura Sessions Stepp that recently appeared in the Washington Post. In “Bisexuality Goes Trendy,” Stepp argues that bisexuality has now become chic among teenage girls.
Compared to Ellen DeGeneres and the older generation of lesbians, Stepp explains that this generation is “way younger” and “way different from what most people think of as lesbians.” They see lesbian or bisexual identity as chic and fashionable–even if they are just passing through a phase.
According to Stepp, this new trend towards “lesbian chic” is apparent in Washington, D.C. and its neighboring suburbs. In 2002, a teacher at Washington’s Coolidge High School grew so frustrated that he began sending students involved in public displays of affection to the principal’s office. The issue was not boy-girl kisses, but girls openly and loudly kissing each other. Of course, Coolidge High School also features a student body that last year chose a lesbian pair as the schools “cutest couple.”
Stepp is not the only observer to notice this trend. In the sexual confusion of postmodern America, teenage girls are now looking for alternative ideas of sexual expression. Some are trying on sexual lifestyles like the latest fashions, with obvious disregard for traditional sexual morality. Indeed, some may be experimenting because they are frustrated with teenage boys.
As Stepp explains, “Maybe the teenage exhibitionists were just yanking guys’ chains, or hoping to prove how sexy they are, or copying Britney and Madonna. But it’s also possible that they were enjoying themselves. There’s no way for an outsider to know, for in the protean world of young female sexuality, where all forms of expression or modeled, nothing is certain.”
That reference to Britney Spears and Madonna points to their now-famous prime-time kiss on television. Madonna, who has exhibited a pornographic display of ambisexuality throughout her career, was involved in a long televised kiss with Britney Spears, the princess of teen pop music. Their display of same-sex sensuality is a potent cultural symbol–and it was widely noticed.
Some wonder whether these girls are really bisexual, or if they are just experimenting with different sexual lifestyles. In “Whole Lotta Goin’ On,” writer Kelly Cox explains that “girls kissing girls is no longer underground, but the story’s not quite that simple.” Published in LEO, an “alternative” newspaper published in Louisville, Cox’s article explains that “bi-curiosity is very trendy, but bisexuality requires practice and appreciation.” Michelle Saxton, a lesbian living in Louisville, suggests that many of these girls are just acting out for shock value. “Everyone is looking for attention. With adolescent girls, it’s for shock value, just like piercing, tattoos, the Goth scene. It’s attention-seeking behavior.”
Anita Barbee, director of the National Resource Center on Child Welfare Training and Evaluation at the University of Louisville points to the media as at least part of what explains this shift in adolescent female behavior. “What the media [do] is normalize the behavior and lead to more sensation seeking young women to ‘try it out.'” She went on to explain that the media have now made it “cool” for women and girls to kiss each other. Furthermore, some girls see sexual experimentation with other girls as less risky than relationships with boys. “Sexual exploration and seeking sexual satisfaction with other females may be perceived as a safer option.”
Stepp admits some confusion about the real nature of this experimentation among teenage girls. “So are these girls bisexual? Perhaps. But they prefer descriptions such as ‘gayish,’ questioning, even ‘queer’–an umbrella description so broad…that it encompasses straights as well as gays.”
How will parents respond to this? Stepp sets the issue in stark terms. “Try this on, Mr. and Mrs. America: these girls say they don’t know what they are and don’t need to know. They say that adolescence and young adulthood is a time for exploration, and they should feel free to love a same-sex partner without assuming that is how they’ll spend the rest of their lives.”
Lisa Diamond, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Utah, argues that many women move through different sexual “labels” as they grow into adulthood. “They’ve gone from unlabeled to bisexual, lesbian to bisexual, lesbian to ‘heterosexual and getting married but may be attracted to women in the future.'” Amazingly enough, she has also heard the label “heteroflexible.”
The very idea of “heteroflexibility” demonstrates the polymorphous perversity that now marks America’s public culture. When teenage girls feel free to engage in blatantly sexual behavior with each other, we can be sure that some major boundary of sexual morality has been gravely damaged. The natural attraction between girls and boys has been so confused by public celebration of homosexuality and the various eroticisms of everyday life, that young people are now confused about something as simple and basic as heterosexual identity.
Oddly enough, the hard-line gay rights activists aren’t pleased with this development at all. Old-school lesbians see this new idea of “heteroflexibility” as far too soft for their liking. Homosexual men are not sure what to do with this trend either. This phenomenon of girls kissing girls on high school campuses is not matched by a similar proportion of boys kissing boys. This is a lesbian phenomenon, very different from what we have seen before.
Much of this can be traced directly to the activism and advocacy of the homosexual movement. “Gay awareness days” and indoctrination through “progressive” or “comprehensive” sex education programs mold the minds of the young, beating an incessant drum for the normalization of same-sex attraction and eroticism. The Washington Post article tells of a “diversity day” exercise at the Edmund Burke School, an elite private school in Northwest Washington. Students were directed to form a circle, and those identifying as gay or lesbian were invited to step inside the circle. Only one teacher stepped forward. When those identifying as bisexual were invited to step inside the circle, 15 out of 60 students did so. That’s 25-percent of the students participating! Of that number, eleven were girls and four were boys.
One can only guess what the venerable Edmund Burke would think of such an exercise held at a school bearing his name, but what were the parents of these teenagers thinking? Even their liberal teachers were shocked by the response. David Shapiro, a gay rights activist who serves as the school’s head, says he was “astounded” by the number of kids who identified as bisexual.
Something has gone horribly wrong. When bisexuality becomes chic and teenage girls see lesbian kisses as a fashion statement, something sick lies at the very heart of our society.
Columnist Suzanne Fields of the Washington Times–herself a graduate of Coolidge High School–sees a problem deep within these girls as well. “Adolescent girls, who spend lavishly on cosmetics, make up their outer selves without having a clue to their inner worth. They’re encouraged to cultivate lip-gloss morality. At a time in their lives when they should be testing themselves against the emotions that shape character, guided by limits imposed by morality, they’re pressured to conform to fads.”
She’s right, of course. But there are fads and there are fads, and this phenomenon is more than faddish–it is symptomatic of a confusion that reaches the core of human identity and dignity.
When the stable fixtures of manhood and womanhood are rejected, ridiculed, and reduced, chaos inevitably follows. This level of gender confusion and sexual rebellion can only be explained by looking at its root cause–a rejection of gender identity and sexual morality as defined by the Creator.
These girls–acting out their bisexual experiments–are a sign of things to come. Set loose in a culture, an ethic of “heteroflexibility” will take a thousand different forms–each more “flexible” than the last.
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
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