It has become a common sentiment that “all girls go bi in college.” Meaning, many college-aged women have physical relationships with other women.
Of course, many of these instances are legitimate. Some women are actively questioning their own sexuality and want a chance to experiment and figure things out. Others have lived in unaccepting environments before coming to school and are only now getting to express their true feelings. Some are perfectly at home with being queer and are just trying to live and form relationships like anyone else.
But this trend doesn’t refer to those instances; instead, it focuses on college-aged, straight women seeking out other women. Sometimes they will hook up with other straight, female friends, or they will try to experiment with queer women. They may be looking for a good time, to fulfill a curiosity, or, worse, to appear progressive and accepting.
It’s one thing when girls seek out girls as a genuine way of expressing or exploring their sexuality. But when a girl realizes she’s straight and still seeks out girls, then things become problematic.
To start, straight women pursuing relationships with other women increases the already rampant fetishizing of queer women. This is mostly due to the fact that these relationships are typically meant to be purely sexual. Straight women who pursue other women aren’t interested in having a real relationship outside of a Saturday night.
While plenty of queer women look for one night stands — like anyone else — queer women are also interested in having genuine relationships with other women, and these hook ups have the possibility to become something deeper. Hook ups with straight women will never reach that point, and it is problematic when some of the most visible examples of relationships between women are ones that are purely sexual.
More so, this trend of girls hooking up only to go back to solely dating boys later makes it difficult for all queer women at the college age to be taken seriously. It’s common to write off female same-sex attraction as just college girls experimenting instead of genuine interest. This is especially challenging for bisexual women, whose interest in women is often seen only as a phase. This only becomes worse when straight women who are experimenting adopt the “bisexual” title, something that clearly does not belong to them.
On a more personal level, straight women actively pursuing queer women can have emotional consequences. Dating while queer comes with enough challenges. It only gets worse when you find out someone only used you to experiment and move on.
So for straight women who are interested in hooking up with other women, for whatever reason, here’s some advice: It’s fine to be curious. It’s fine to be interested in queer people's lives or to want to support them.
But it’s not fine to pursue an empty relationship with queer people to fulfill these desires.
Queer people are not a sounding board for straight people’s curiosities. They are not obligated to kiss you or have sex with you just because you’ve always wondered what it’s like. And you can remain a straight ally without engaging in behaviors or adopting titles that are not meant for you.
In fact, that would probably be for the best.
Instead, research things on your own to fulfill any curiosities and look for ways to express your support that are constructive rather than harmful.
If you discover you are in fact attracted to women in a more substantive way, there are plenty of resources available to help you figure out your own attraction and place in the queer community. But if you’re absolutely sure of your own heterosexuality and those same-sex curiosities still remain, stick to a hands-off approach when looking for your answers.
Delaney Murray is a freshman studying journalism with a focus in news and information at Ohio University. Do you think straight women having sexual relations with queer women is necessarily always damaging? Let Delaney know by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeting her at @delpaulinem.