Girls Kissing Each Other in Public – A New Found Freedom For Women?

Girls Kissing Each Other in Public – A New Found Freedom For Women?




Girls Kissing in Public: A New Found Freedom for Women? As a young girl growing up in the 1960’s, I was raised with strict guidelines on “proper body image”. There was a way I was supposed to look, sit, move, and touch my body that followed specific standards of protocol. No adjusting the crotch area or a bra strap in public; always sitting with my legs together; always wearing clean underwear; and preferably high waisted cotton ones for better coverage and absorption. You get the point. There were stiff rules on the clothes I could use; from the length of my skirt to the kind of gym shorts I was forced to put on that made me cringe in the shadows of my gym locker.

Life in my early teens was always painstakingly difficult and embarrassing. My mother made me check my pants for that red stain from my period continually and always checked that the pad wasn’t bulging out too clearly from my clothes. These were the days when SPANX® didn’t exist to suck in every unintentional bulge. Yes, there were girdles, but they were reserved for my grandmother and had become old relics of an era gone by. I was always being chastised by my mother about showing too much bra strap under my sleeveless blouse or told my bra did not look good under my top because it showed too much of my size 32B chest in an unflattering way. (like that was already possible).

I regularly checked the mirror to make sure there wasn’t any Clearasil® on my confront. I could only use make up that was “sheer” giving just a hint of color, which meant it covered nothing on my confront and every zit stood out mercilessly. As I grew up, conscious of every flaw, bulge, clothing stain, and inappropriate body exposure, I watched my brother and his male friends play baseball and shoot phlegm without one worry about their turn up or their public hygiene. I let in that I always envied the freedom they had growing up; being able to scratch their crotch and walk shirtless in public, fart in front of each other with wild abandon, and pick their nose whenever the urge hit, without any recrimination. Not that I ever wanted to do those things in public, but it sure would have changed the way I felt about myself.

For them, there were no reprimands for such arrogant public characterize; just lots of laughter and mocking each other about whose fart was the loudest or smelled the foulest. It just wasn’t fair. Here I was, petrified at being inspected by my aunt whenever she visited me as she assessed the development of my breasts like a weatherman assesses the day’s weather: “It’s nevertheless mild out, no clouds coming out, maybe one day the winds will pick up”. How horrifying to be mocked about my developing womanhood in front of relatives in such a cavalier way.

I felt as if adult woman in my life were put on this earth for the only purpose of humiliating me. And why? To build my character? It certainly wasn’t to build my confidence. By the time I was 13 I felt like a physical freak of character. Then there was the relentless teasing from boys at school. My mother would always say, “If a boy teases you, that method he likes you”. But that was just to make me feel better. I knew it wasn’t true. Boys teased girls to feel superior to girls; to claim their manhood; to vent their frustration at being forced to eat broccoli the night before for dinner; for finding our hairy unshaven legs or zits or breath repulsive. Boys teased simply because they could get away with it.

The only time they teased us and truly did it based on “liking anything about us” was when they played with a girl’s hair who sat in front of them. But already that was a strength trip: when they could proclaim to the class room world “already though she has beautiful blonde hair, I can nevertheless put a pencil in it and make her life miserable.” And who can forget the unavoidable time all the boys and girls were on line waiting in the hallway at school (to do something like take a test) just as the janitor hauled a load of tampon boxes to the “girl’s bathroom”.

That perfect moment frozen in each girl’s memory forever as the boys laughed and snickered to each other and the girls just stood there frozen with shame as those cartons passed us by. You can bet those boys knew more about female menstruation and sex than we did. Most of us never spoke about getting our periods with our mother; we were taught what we “needed to learn” in health class; which just made us more fearful and self conscious about our bodies; or on the day “the curse” arrived. And here were our fellow boy classmates, laughing and pointing to the boxes and talking to each other about it, as if it was some joke they were all in on, while we watched in mortified silence.

That’s just how life was for young girls back in the 1960’s. Dealing with our body image was one struggle after another; from those hard, painful plastic hair rollers we slept on overnight just to get our hair curled perfectly to our not invisible acne cream that always stayed on our confront already after washing it off. Head pain in the morning for breakfast, anyone? Acne medicine stuck on your confront all day, anyone?” And, just to get more sympathy from any young girl reading this article, who nevertheless doesn’t think life back then was so bad for young girls, did I mention that coffee was a drink completely off limits? I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee at all, no Starbucks® catering to teens and college kids in the world back then. I was lucky if I got to suck on one of my grandmother’s coffee candies from her well hidden candy jar.

Yes, being a teenage girl back then was not about looking “hot” and alluringly sexy. This was an unthinkable concept back then for young girls. Of course, there was always the token “hot girl” in class who looked like Britney Spears and every girl longed to look like her because all the male teachers never made her do any homework and she could come in late for every class. But she was always the town slut. It wasn’t until the 1980’s and the arrival of girls wearing jeans to school, that the world slowly started to change for preteen and teenage girls. By the 1990’s, a new world for preteen and teenage girls embracing a more liberal body image took off complete force, thanks to the media influence of Britney Spears. She was the first one to successfully mix being cute, innocent and sexually alluring in an permissible way. She changed how girls in high school were allowed to dress almost overnight.

Suddenly there were belly button piercings and low hipped jeans barely covering lower abdomens. No more hair in curlers; flat ironing took care of that, and no more worry about stains, at the minimum if there was one we certainly didn’t feel the world ended if anyone saw it. Girls put away their knee socks and wore sexy underwear.

Teens were targeted to buy fragrances with seductive names that only their mothers were allowed to buy decades earlier. Catalogues for undergarments catering to teen and college girls became more provocative and Victoria Secret® push up bras gave young teens permission to show cleavage and that ability to look more like a dangerous vixen from the neck down and “the girl next door” from the neck up. Girls were no longer innocent about their body or sexuality or inhibited about showing bra straps. Yes, before Britney there were bra straps worn in public by Madonna; making it cool to use a bra as a top by itself, but she was the rebel look, the exception to the rule. Now, thanks too Britney, every young girl could flaunt their assets shamelessly. That became the new rule.

This was truly revolutionary. Suddenly girls could use any kind of top they wanted and use make up to school and no one cared. No one recriminated. Girls became free of those reins of intimidation and shame about their turn up and hygiene. A new world of freedom had finally arrived. But where was this new world of freedom leading us? The challenge to having this new found body/physical freedom is to use it in positive ways that continue to build our self esteem as women. Which brings me to why I already wrote this article. The current cool thing to do is “girls tongue kissing each other in front of guys in public”. Yes, it’s the surest way for girls to get attention from guys and feel a sense of competitive victory over other women for male attention. What girl would have dreamed in the 1960’s that they could publicly kiss a girl without recrimination? We were too busy making sure we had the right slip under our clothes so our underwear outline didn’t show. I see girls doing this in public and on TV, and I think to myself, “But aren’t girls just giving guys an excuse to bond together and mock us again, the way they taunted us back in public school? Why can’t we just be liberated without needing male attention to validate our newly found physical freedom? “

Sometimes, when I look at the faces on those guys as they watch two girls tongue kiss at a bar; I see the same wild eyed mocking stare I saw on the boys’ faces as that carton of tampons came passing by in 8th grade. It’s as if we’ve just replaced their mocking us about our hygiene with their mocking us about our errant sexual ways. Guys may seem to enjoy watching two women tongue kiss and already seem to be sexually “turned on”, but my hunch is that this public characterize is more for their entertainment; their bonding with each other; and seeing us as the opposite sex to mock again; just as they did in public school.

As a young girl, I always wanted my physical body freedom to be equal to a boy’s physical body freedom. I wanted no double standards about being called promiscuous when they could be called a stud. But that kind of freedom starts with the way I see myself and how I expect others to treat me. Being free to kiss another girl in public to get a guy’s attention is not what that kind of freedom is about. I’m not saying girls should start picking their nose or scratch their crotch area in public. What I am saying is that our freedom comes in the way we allow ourselves to be treated by others; by being respected in spite of of how we dress, by getting tattoos or piercings if we choose to; by wearing make up when we feel the time is right; and never worrying again about a bra strap sticking out of our tank top.

It’s freedom from criticism and double standards about our bodies. It’s having the freedom to do what we want with our bodies just as men have the right; to have the right to feel confident about how we choose to look without following set rules of female protocol; without recrimination or ridicule from anyone. No more shame about our bodies or our turn up. This is the freedom we have long deserved for ourselves as females. When we feel the need to use this freedom to do things reserved for the bedroom right in public, just to get attention, then we are just demeaning ourselves again. Believe me, I never want to see those “knee sock wearing, curler sleeping, makeup deprived” days of the 1960’s again. I want young girls to always feel good about how they look, and I want them to feel that their sexual/physical behavior is all about pleasing their needs, not just about pleasing some guy’s libido.

Kissing another girl so a guy can bond with his buddies by shouting encouragement at you is not about your freedom; it’s about his freedom. Using our physical freedom to attract that kind of attention from guys is selling ourselves out. It isn’t using our physical freedom to fulfill our needs and desires about our sexuality. It isn’t valuing how long we’ve come for the right to dress and look as we want to; it’s just doing anything with our body for any shallow reason because we now have the right to do it. It’s acting like the guy who farts in public just because he has the strength to do it. Yes, young girls have come a long way since those days of gym shorts and bra strap policing, and we need to appreciate how important this journey has been for all women. I certainly can appreciate it. I’ve just flat ironed my hair and I’m wearing my favorite Victoria Secret® undergarment because I like to feel sexy for me. As I look in the mirror, I smile to myself when I think about my childhood past. I’ve certainly come a long way from that insecure, small chested girl of my teens and I know my aunt would be proud.




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