WHGOGA (or “flirting with women, for women”)

‘Rah!’ my sister said to me. Her text messages often begin this way. ‘I’m buying me a strap-on for BiCon. Pussy rules the world!’ And yet at all the bi events that I, or my friends who’ve been on the bi scene for much longer than me, have attended, the resounding complaint from every female attendee is the lack of what my sister calls White Hot Girl On Girl Action. I couldn’t help but wonder: why is it so difficult for women to pull women?

This question was posed by my co-female-flirtation-workshop-organiser, Trish, in some research that she conducted recently. She asked a group of bi women if they wanted more girl action in their lives, and whether timidly or stridently, they all answered with a clear affirmative (hell yeah!).

Exploring the reasons for the lack of correspondence between the amount of woman-woman wonderousness these ladies wanted and the amount they actually received, Trish found that many of her respondents blamed it on the following problems:

Not knowing what to do when flirting with women because there are different ‘rules’ to flirting with men
Lack of experience flirting with women
– Fear of spoiling an existing or potential friendship
Getting too far into a friendship and then not being able to go back to flirting
– Fear of rejection
– Negative experiences of flirting with straight, or otherwise unavailable, women
– Difficulty telling whether the woman is sexually interested in women themselves
– Difficulty picking up on the signals because women can be naturally flirtatious and tactile with one another

There was a general sense of women feeling awkward when flirting with women in a way that they didn’t with men. One respondent said ‘if I really like someone I just turn into a blushing, clumsy teenager’ and another said ‘I’d like to try, but I usually stop as soon as I start getting ‘I’m taken’ signals, even if that’s not the signal they are really sending out.’

BCN 64 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 64, published in November 2003

Another expert on this topic, my lesbian lover Ani, argues that part of the problem is that women in our culture are generally taught not to be overt about flirting and not to take the sexual initiative. Therefore you often end up with two women incredibly wound up in sexual frustration but neither of them having the guts to do anything about it. Some of the women Trish corresponded with agreed that men are much more direct and that it’s harder to tell when women are interested.

The bi women at the workshop that Trish and I ran pointed out that there are fewer visible cues for bisexual women than there are for lesbians. Ani’s gaydar reliably pings when there is a lesbian within fifty paces, but I think it might have struggled in the workshop, which contained a wide variety of different women from girly girls to tomboys and everything in between. Many of the bi women in the group felt that they’d rather get involved with other bisexual women having had negative experiences of prejudice from lesbians in the past. However, several of us were also testament to the fact that not all lesbians are anti-bi.

When asked whether they approach men and women differently, some of Trish’s respondents said that they didn’t distinguish, but several of them said that there were differences: they were shyer around women, they generally relied on people approaching them and women just don’t do this as much as men, or, as one woman said ‘I guess with men I’m a lot less bothered by the thought of possible rejection’.

On a more optimistic note, some of Trish’s respondents felt that women were easier to approach than men because communication flows more naturally between women, and plenty of them didn’t experience the pattern of ending up ‘just friends’ with women they would like to have a sexual relationship with.

So what are these women-who-pull-women doing right? What are the rules for flirting with girls and how do you know when a girl is flirting back at you?

(continue to page 2 of this article to find out)