Letters from the issue of Thursday, September 29, 2005
Curious no longer: Your thesis on bi-curious women is something I've always observed, but I've never seen anything written about it before in the press ("The Vagina Dialogues," Sarah Fenske, September 15). The fact is, women are almost always more attracted to other women's bodies than to men's (unless, of course, the man has that perfect muscle tone: more Brad Pitt and less Arnold Schwarzenegger). So it only makes sense that we girls would want to at least experiment with rolling around in the sack with each other.
And who better than the experienced lesbian to take us on this journey that few of us would take without a steady hand on the throttle (so to speak)?
I can't tell you how impressed I was with your story; it was truly a breath of fresh air in the world of hardball journalism that is normally New Times' forte. In fact, it impressed me so much that I have now acted on a fantasy I've always had over my boyfriend's best friend (a lesbian). Even he loves it, because we let him watch, after which he and I enjoy each other's bodies. Jane (his friend) isn't really interested in sex with a man, naturally, so he has to settle for just me, which is the only way I could have it on his end.
The point you made about women being the only true bisexuals turns out to be right on point in my case. Bisexuality was something I had always feared, but after reading your story, I'm not scared anymore. I'm embracing a whole new world!
Taryn Matheson, Tempe
75 percent trash: You should be ashamed of yourselves for publishing "The Vagina Dialogues" and putting that picture of two girls kissing on your cover. I've had a hard time explaining to my kids why people of the same sex are passionately embracing each other in news racks all over town.
Please, New Times, I know you're trying desperately to be edgy, but have some decency. Everybody in the world isn't interested in sexual perversion. It's bad enough that you run that Inferno column each week. Now this!
You spend so much time bashing Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but I think it's time that he did something about the foul trash you put on the streets three weeks out of four. Maybe Sarah Fenske should spend a little time in Tent City to find out about the real lesbian chic.
Barbara Jo Johnson, Phoenix
Pleasure does not equal satisfaction: Oh, my God, those chicks on the cover of New Times were hot! They were almost enough to turn me into a lesbian, or a bisexual (as the case may be).
Sure, I'm a woman and find women's bodies artistic and even visually stimulating, but when it comes down to it, I need something more. And I don't mean a battery-powered dildo. Or a strap-on.
While I might play around with women -- that is, be a pillow queen and drunkenly allow a girl to give me pleasure -- I need a man for satisfaction.
This is why I believe that Sarah Fenske's story merely explores a fad, a trend, nothing more. Real women will always need what only real men can offer.
S.J. O'Malley, Phoenix
Everything you never wanted to know about sex: When I first read in "The Vagina Dialogues" that "more women may be bi-curious than gay or straight" and that "taken as a group, the difference between the reactions of gay and straight women [to porn] was almost imperceptible," I was astonished. But maybe there is less to this than meets the eye.
Maybe this is just a reflection of the conventional wisdom (supported by Darwinian psychology) that sex tends to be more of an end in itself for men, while for women its greatest importance is its role in creating, nurturing and defining a relationship.
Thus, for men, "sexual orientation" is narrowly defined as "who do you want to have intercourse with?" while for women, it's more broadly defined as "who do you want to have a committed, long-term, deeply intimate relationship with?"
If so, then asking the "male" question of females is bound to lead to confusing and even misleading answers. And if the conventional wisdom is correct, it's also not surprising to learn that women who seek sexual gratification outside of a committed relationship tend to find that the experience affects them in unexpected ways.
Steve Wallin, Phoenix
What men like: I was very disappointed but not surprised to read the article about bi-curious women. I'm sorry to see there are still so many women out there confusing sexual power with real power, and being so willing to compromise themselves for a thrill they never knew they wanted, and, for that matter, did not want until peer-group pressure forced them.
Of course, the writer of the book you cite sold her tome with just a gimmicky title! Men know girl-on-girl action sells! But it's all fake, all a ruse, all concocted long ago in our shallow media culture.
The only reason women are kissing other women is that men told them it was okay.
Is your show getting low ratings? Bring in a lesbian! Do you want your actress to seem strong, together, capable and altogether likable? Have her be bisexual! Why are heterosexual women not offended at the stereotypes at play here? I am not talking about those women in the real lesbian community, who I imagine see right through this testosterone-laced charade.
What I really hate about all of this external pressure placed on young women is how, over time, it gets in so deep that it all seems like their idea. But it's not, and it was never supposed to be. Porn is filled with pretty young women having sex with each other only because this is what men want to see. Now it has gone so far that women are determining their comeliness and desirability on whether they will kiss another woman.
It's sad and does not make sense to me.
Please, girls, be your own person. Have respect for yourselves and act upon that respect. Listen, the revealing clothes, thong panties, hyper-miniskirts, uncomfortable shoes, makeup, plastic surgery, piercing, tattoos, public exposure, and bi-curious behavior are all nothing more than the American burqa. It's all a wrapping on adolescent male fantasies of sex and power, covering up the real woman inside.
James McKenna, Tempe
Girls gone beguiled: I have seen the growth of girl-on-girl action at bars and clubs since spring break 1999 (my freshman year of college). If guys were not around, these incidences wouldn't occur. It's for male attention: in other words, to turn guys on and make a girl seem more desirable.
In fact, this girl-on-girl action is another desperate and pathetic ploy to hook up with guys. It's simply encouraging the typical male-seeking girls in a pillow-fight lingerie fantasy.
Name withheld by request
Is it sexuality or culture?: I thought Sarah Fenske's article was well-written, but the premise is flawed.
She tried to make the argument that women, in general, are embracing lesbianism. But the examples in pop and entertainment culture she used to show growing acceptance of female bisexuality were almost all American. Likewise, the examples of women exploring their sexuality seemed all American.
Fenske proved that entertainment and pop cultures are moving Western women in the direction of bisexuality, but without a broader scope that could be explained as more nurture than nature.
Is there a growing movement of straight British women getting together? Are Japanese women grinding up against each other in nightclubs? Australia is far more open about male homosexuality than is our country, but does the same thing apply to female homosexuality? I find it hard to believe that women in Afghanistan are making out with other women on the streets of Kabul.
I think Fenske proved a cultural phenomenon, not a sexual or psychological phenomenon. The article was good at documenting a shift in American culture, but it's a huge stretch to take it beyond that and try to say it proves a new idea of heterosexuality.
As for the book The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping With Chicks, the textbook definition of homosexuality is "sexual activity with or sexual attraction to the same sex," not "someone who's decided that he or she is homosexual."
I think book author Jen Sincero's reluctance to define herself as bisexual, despite the fact that she engages in bisexual behavior, shows a conflicting fear, even a distaste, of her own sexuality. Sincero needs to come to terms with what she is, not try to change everyone else's definition of what she is.
Name withheld by request
Nine out of 10 threesomes: I'm a bi male, and it's kind of weird to me that a lot of people have no problem with women being bisexual, but at the same time they think that -- if you're a man and you're bi -- you're automatically gay.
I've had occasion to be with couples in intimate situations, and I always let them know that I'm bi. If the other guy isn't into it, then so be it; I'm not some 18-year-old high school kid with no self-control. I don't have to be bi if everyone's not cool with it. However, I find that nine times out of 10, people want to try it, and end up enjoying it.
Of course, I meet men alone, too, and obviously there are no problems there. Most men I meet are married (as I was until two months ago), and their spouses have no idea they're bi. Most say the same thing: "If my wife finds out, I'm dead." As for women, they all but have their bisexuality tattooed on their foreheads, and everybody's turned on by it!
Anyway, I really enjoyed the article; I can tell you did your homework. Ha, did you ever think of writing "The Penis Dialogues"?
Name withheld by request
Straight women can't kiss: I totally loved "The Vagina Dialogues." Very true of the lesbian in lots of women.
There's nothing more touching and exciting than a kiss from a lesbian. Standard women's kisses are so dull and plain-Jane. Yech! Lesbians are the sweetest girls in the world.
Samantha Seip, Phoenix
Mating ritual: I was early for an appointment, or I never would have known about the disturbing new trend described in the "Vagina Dialogues" article in New Times. Before I'd settled into my seat at the Coffee Plantation to wait for a friend, I grabbed a copy of your paper for something to read. And there on the cover were two women kissing (gasp!) behind a headline about "bi-curious women" being all the rage.
"That's great," I said to myself. "Women are getting in touch with their inner dykes. It's about time."
I was wrong. That's not what the article was about. Oh, the article gave a token nod to the truly bi-curious, and interviewed Jen Sincero, author of The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping With Chicks, who did have a lesbian relationship. But the main thrust was straight girls who go dancing at the local clubs (two Scottsdale clubs were the specific focus) and make out with other straight girls on the dance floor -- for the purpose of attracting guys.
That is not bi-curious, but it is about as sleazy as you can get. Bi-curious means having feelings that you may want to explore a same-sex relationship. It has nothing to do with women attempting to attract guys. The behavior the writer of this article described is not progress, and we should not mistake it as such.
Some of the girls interviewed admitted that they are not really bi-curious; what they were really after was some good old heterosexual male attention. The reporter went to the club in question, observed the behavior and interviewed women who had performed this ridiculous mating ritual. When the guys stopped ogling them, the girls stopped making out.
The article talked about "lesbian chic." Those women may be chic, but they are not lesbians. Real lesbians are still not especially chic, and probably never will be.
The dynamic at work here is the same one that fuels most lesbian scenes in standard porno flicks. You know the ones: X-rated movies that are made by men for men. The women on the screen may be sexually going to town on each other, but they are obviously not lesbians.
I have a message for these impostor lesbian wanna-be hotties who're making a mockery of our sexual orientation: Stop it, right now!
Ask yourself this question: Wouldn't you prefer to attract a guy who wants to make love with you, as opposed to a guy who wants to watch you make love to someone else? A man who doesn't consider you a sideshow act? If your answer is yes, then don't be one.
Lesbian chic? Spare me!
Sherrie Nist, Tempe
Now all of our myths are shattered: After reading your article on bi-curious women, I have one tip for guys who don't want to lose their girls to other girls: Don't take your lovemaking tips from porno.
I know of no women who like to be spanked. They don't like to have their hair pulled, either. And let me see any woman have an orgasm with her legs stretched over her head.
Ask your girl what she wants, and don't assume she's one of those orgasm-faking "actresses" in your evening movie.
Kara Anderson, Phoenix
Adam and Eve . . . and Eve: Come on, New Times! Stop inventing trends. Women have been "bi-curious," as you say, since the beginning of time. It's no secret that women are attracted to other women almost as much as they are men. Almost.
Now, it's truly news that somebody is out there schooling us in how to do it. But L.A. book author Jen Sincero seems hardly qualified. Let me get this straight: She has one relationship with one woman and then she gives up on girls and goes back to guys. This is hardly an expert, for Pete's sake!
But I'll give you guys credit where it's due: While I've been in relationships with men but making out with girls on the side all my life -- and so have most of my heterosexual friends -- this was the first article on the subject I've ever seen. Maybe, when you think about it, it's about time.
Jill Murphy, Los Angeles
Church and Plate
The court case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs. Serrano's, will stay in the courts until the Christians win, and then the Serranos will have difficulties in the appeal process.
U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll's decision to throw out the jury's verdict raised the question: Is the judge a practicing Christian and wouldn't that constitute a conflict of interest? Or, given the religious constitution of our country, did his church influence his decision to void the jury's decision?
Ask yourself this, would the EEOC go to such lengths if Terra Naeve had been a member of the Islamic faith?
When Terra Naeve told Serrano's that she was violating her agreement in the code of conduct and Serrano's didn't fire her immediately, Serrano's discriminated against the employees who followed the rules.
The federal government is showing through the EEOC lawsuit that when Christian practices are being threatened, there's no limit to how far it will go to protect those rights. Remember, America is the land of freedom -- as long as you're a Christian.
Roger Hawkins, Phoenix
His honor: U.S. District Judge Carroll is tough on lawyers because they deserve it.
I tried a case in his courtroom, and although he ruled against my client and (in my opinion) was wrong, I never doubted his fairness or knowledge of the law. And I never doubted that we lawyers deserved his occasional ire.
Reading Mark Ogden's comments suggests to me the reason the judge may have been tough on him is that he deserves it. The Serrano case clearly can be and should be settled. Is Ogden giving his client good advice, or tilting at windmills?
Charles Johnson, Scottsdale
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