Women are having far more lesbian experiences than 20 years ago, according to a sex survey. One writer isn’t surprised

My technique when interviewing celebrities about their lives used to involve questions beginning with: „As a lesbian, I …“ That would always get women – from Sharon Stone („butches are my favourite“) to Missy Elliott („never say never“) to Holly Hunter („I think gay women have it best“) – jumping up and down in their seats, declaring how they wished, wished, wished they were lesbians. Now that I identify as a Kinsey 4, my approach is slightly more tortuous (the question is more likely to begin: „As a lesbian who’s now shagging a gay guy …“) but it’s increasingly rare that you’ll meet a cool straight girl who’ll admit to being completely straight.

I was on a panel in Soho last week co-sponsored by Women in Journalism and the lesbian magazine Diva to debate „Lesbophobia in the Media“. I came in for a bit of bisexual bashing from Clare Balding’s girlfriend, Alice Arnold („betrayal“ was the word), and from Eleanor Margolis, the 24-year-old who writes a column about being a lesbian in the New Statesman. „I don’t believe in all this fluidity thing,“ she said, which, to be fair, was exactly the sort of thing I used to say at her age. The fact is, even if you don’t believe in the concept of sexual fluidity, it is, like gravity, simply a fact of life.

The findings of the latest National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) seem to suggest this too. The number of women reporting same-sex partners has increased from 1.8% to 7.9% over the past 20 years. At the end of the lesbophobia debate, I asked the audience of around 100 women – many of whom had come with the Diva crowd – to put their hands up to indicate how they defined themselves sexually. About a third didn’t raise their hands at all. Of the rest, the majority were lesbian, a large smattering were bisexual and about five hands wavered nervously in the air, owning up to the very square fact of being straight. In this sense, this media crowd had a lot in common with chicks in the contemporary swinging scene. I’ve been checking out this world recently and have found that while the male half of the swinging couple’s profile will identify as straight, it’s pretty much par for the course that a woman will indicate „bi-curious“ or „bisexual“. Sure, a lot of this is about women trying to please their men – it plays to a common male fantasy of a threesome involving two women and a man – but actually, in my experience, the bisexual ones really are up for it. I think there are a ton of „straight“ women out there who, once they’ve ticked all the safety boxes (get married, get financially secure, have babies), are ready to „play“, using swinger terminology. And that is the thing about this new sexually fluid world (for women). Its politics are much less right-on compared with the old-school lesbian separatist thing. The women who claim to be bisexuals in the Natsal survery are not the type to go marching on the streets about it.

While some big actors and singers have admitted to bisexuality, there is a lot of fudging from other young ­heroines of popular culture (what is all this „wifey“ business, as Cara ­Delevingne refers to her friend Rita Ora? Go on, Cara, you’re a rock’n’roll chick, spell it out), which makes you wonder how on earth the unfamouses are going to be proud about their ­not-totally-100% hetero status.

London’s biggest lesbian club impresario of the moment, Nicola Chubb, 39, who runs the high-end lesbian club night Mint, says she has noticed a sea change of so-called „fluidity“ going on in her clubs. Straight girls who, a couple of years ago, might have preferred the company of gay men and would have suffered the „fag hag“ tag are now choosing to hang out with lesbians. „They’ve worked out that lesbians know how to have a good time too.“ She says that this realisation will often lead to other things which, for Lisa Luxx, lesbian „preditor in chief“ of new counter-culture magazine Prowlhouse.com, often leads to tears after bedtime. „If you are a lesbian, you will likely get emotionally attached on some level to the „straight“ girl, whereas she won’t be at the same place.“

More importantly, Luxx adds, and I have to agree with her on this one, straight girls are often really boring in bed. Passively, frankly. „A lot of them are scared when it comes down to it.“

Still, she says, she has noticed a rise in the number of straight girls coming on to her in the past year. „It seems like the wild thing to do because it’s more talked about.“ She thinks it’s partly about „women allowing one another to be sexual beings rather than seeing other women as a threat“. In some ways, this is one of the unexpected boons to have come out of feminism.

Karley „Slutever“ Sciortino, the new showpony of ‚flexi-sexuality‘, is an American 26-year-old who started out as a blogger living in Peckham with little to amuse her apart from going out and looking for sex. Inevitably, she went from straight to bisexual and now she is (only kind of) joking that she’s a lesbian. She recently created the phrase „strategic lesbianism“, meaning that when she really craves a satisfying sexual encounter, she’ll go home with another woman because women are „naturally skilled“ at pleasing one another. Sounds like bisexuality in a shiny new wrapper to me.

Certainly, the rise in the number of women-only clubs, gyms and networking organisations points to a feel for more all-girls-together stuff that lezzas have been doing for years. I personally prefer the old word for „networking“: cruising – but maybe this will come about in this new oestrogen-only renaissance. Otherwise, it’s rather like going to a Japanese tea ceremony and leaving before you’ve tried the tea.

Mein Fazit: Die Entscheidung für hetero oder lesbisch ist bei vielen Frauen oft keine Frage der „Veranlagung“,  sondern eher eine des persönliches Mutes. Also genügend „Eier in der Hose“ zu haben, damit man mit allen gesellschaftlichen und auch finanziellen Konsequenzen klar kommt (das mit dem Kinderkriegen, kann man ja mittlerweile schon anders lösen…). Und das mit der Passivität im Bett- und auch schon davor- kann ich defintiv bestätigen!

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