Girls Gone Wild? Heterosexual Women's Same-Sex Encounters at College Parties


Student author: Lauren McCarthy

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Psychology of Women Quarterly


Our purpose was to explore a relatively new sexual behavior-heterosexual women kissing one another publicly at college parties. Popular press articles suggest this is a common occurrence among college women, but no known psychological research has been conducted on its prevalence or meaning. In Study 1, we conducted an online survey of students at a private, residential college to ascertain the prevalence of this behavior. Results indicated that a substantial minority of women (33%) had engaged in this behavior, and the majority of participants (69%), both male and female, had observed this behavior. In Study 2, we recruited heterosexual women who reported having kissed another woman at a college party. We collected openended responses from 77 women via a questionnaire and 27 of these women also completed a semistructured interview. Thematic analyses revealed characteristics of the social context that encouraged this behavior, including pressure to so engage, high levels of alcohol consumption, heterosexist attitudes, and the belief that college is a time for experimentation. A total of seven different motivations for engaging in this behavior were described by participants, reflecting both extrinsic motivations (e.g., to gain male attention) and intrinsic motivations (e.g., to bond with female friends). Results are discussed in terms of sociocultural influences (women's sexual objectification and sexualized college parties) and individual factors (women's sexual fluidity and heterosexual identity development) related to this behavior, highlighting issues of empowerment versus objectification.

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