"Straight Girls Kissing"?: Understanding Same-Gender Sexuality beyond the Elite College Campus

Publication Abstract

Budnick, Jamie. 2016. ""Straight Girls Kissing"?: Understanding Same-Gender Sexuality beyond the Elite College Campus." Gender & Society, 30(5): 745-768.

Sexuality researchers have demonstrated how the progressive campuses of selective universities shape hookups, sexual fluidity, and same-gender sex among straight-identified women ("straight girls kissing"). However, this research cannot fully explain a puzzling demographic pattern: women with the lowest levels of educational attainment reported the highest lifetime prevalence of same-gender sex. To make sense of this puzzle, I draw on interviews with 35 women systematically recruited from a demographic survey. I find (1) early motherhood forecloses possibilities to develop or claim LGBTQ identities as women prioritize seemingly incompatible discourses of self-sacrifice and good motherhood; (2) sexual friendships and safety strategies provide opportunities to meaningfully explore same-gender sex and desire; and (3) participants reject "queer" and embrace "bisexual" in the opposite pattern observed among their more privileged peers. This study underscores the situated nature of sexuality knowledge by offering an intersectional analysis of how women beyond the college hookup scene and located outside spaces permeated with LGBTQ discourses enact sexual fluidity and make meaning of same-gender sex.


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