a significant phenomenon nonetheless - and I'm willing to bet that if you broke it out by age and class, bisexuality would be even more common (and increasingly common) among upper-middle-class young people. If the experience of human history shows anything, it's that a large percentage of any given population will experiment with opportunistic homosexuality if the taboos against it are lifted - and at least in our country's more exclusive circles, the lesbian-experimentation taboo is dead . . .
So this long profile of Jen Sincero, seems to be hitting at the right time: Sincero is the author of The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping With Chicks--a book about being a heterosexual girl who likes to make it with other girls. As a publishing endeavor, this project has Can't Miss written all over it.
I don't have anything to add to serious discussions about human sexuality, although comments like this one make me wonder if the trend is liberation, or just another instance of women going out of their way to attract male attention by any means:
Ashley, 20, a student at Northern Arizona University, agrees. "It's become this totally hot thing," she says. "And the reason why is that it promises this sexual experimentation to guys. They think, 'She'll kiss another girl; she's gotta be pretty wild.'"
Ashley hasn't made out with that many girls: "I've only done it like a dozen times." It's been fun, she says, but mostly because of the titillation: "There's people watching it, and that makes me feel good. The first time I did it at a party, I thought, 'So this is what it takes to get the guys' attention.'"
You decide if this is benign or a case of women desperate for male affection. (You know you're old when you read Ashley's quote and instead of thinking, Hot!, you worry that she didn't have a capable, present father while she was growing up and hope that she'll spend some time working on her sense of self-confidence and self-worth.)
In any case, what interests me most is the proximate causes of what destroyed the "taboo" against LUGiness in the first place.
While the LUG phenomenon has been around for a long time, it used to be kept quiet. At some point it became a sign of rebellion and then it morphed into a hallmark of elite chicness. And then it spread into the mainstream of popular culture as just another thing that people do.
I would suggest that the LUG phenomenon was in its quiet phase all through the '40, '50s, and '60s and didn't become marker of youthful rebellion until the '70s (which, as David Frum reminds us, is when the '60s really happened).
Sometime during the '80s, LUGiness began to travel upwards through the social strata until it became the province of the very, very chic. By 1990, you had a daring, NC-17 art movie with Uma Thurman playing June Miller and Maria de Medeiros playing Anaïs Nin. But movies are lagging social indicators, so it's hard to figure out exactly when this shift came.
But I would argue that it's easy to pinpoint the death of the LUG taboo in mainstream popular culture: 1994, with the airing of Friends. Friends was one of the prime culture movers of the '90s. It sparked dozens of spin-offs, helped popularize the coffee-house culture that Starbucks was trying sell America, revitalized the formula sit-com--it even ushered in the age of the nipple erection on network TV. (I've always believed that this last bit is what helped popularize the show in the first place. Tune in to NBC on Thursday nights and see a really funny show about nothing followed by three hot chicks with their headlights on!)
One of the enduring sub-plots lurking beneath the show's patter was the undercurrent of Joey and Chandler wanting Monica and Rachel to hook up. This became a running joke as the show went on, culminating in an episode where the guys agree to give the girls back their apartment if they'll make out in front of them for five minutes.
Because of Friends, lots of other LUGiness made its way into the culture in the '90s, from popular movies such as Bound and Wild Things and Cruel Intentions to the girl-on-girl action in Ally McBeal, all of which was done on a totally commercial level--no NC-17 or obscure art-house stuff here.
If the taboo against casual female bisexuality is really dead, as Douthat suggests (and I think it is), I think we can credit (or blame) Friends for killing it.
Update, 2:38 p.m.: Kathy of Cake Eaters adds something very, very astute:
Jonathan ultimately places the blame on Friends with Monica and Rachel making out in front of Chandler and Joey to get their apartment back. I think Jonathan's partially correct: Friends showed two women making out. What he misses, however, is that these two female characters were making out not because they were hot for one another but because they were trying to get what they wanted (their apartment) from men. That's when the taboo died: when it became cool to use said bisexuality to lure men into handing over what women wanted. Female bisexuality became a tool to manipulate men. Everyone knows that hetero men adore it when women get busy with one another. There's nothing new in that bit of information. What is interesting in all of this, however, is the lengths women feel they need to go to to get what they want. If making out with a woman will get them something, well, they'll do that.