I frequently let Rhapsody decide what I should listen to based on what it knows about what I’ve listened to recently. This doesn’t always result in playlists I actually like but it does at least relieve me of the burden of trying to decide what I want to hear while I work. And this is how I happened to hear Katy Perry’s “I kissed a girl.” At first I wasn’t paying much attention and assumed it was a remake of Jill Sobule’s song of the same title. But after having heard a few references to Perry’s song in particular I decided to go back and compare. Definitely NOT the same song. This, at least, appeases my annoyance that Perry is getting a lot of attention for this song as if it were original since the song itself is original to her. But the sentiments annoy me. A lot.
In particular I am annoyed by “I kissed a girl just to try it // I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it.” I grew up in a pretty homophobic community so I was a little shocked when I came to college and discovered the degree to which lesbians are fetishized by many straight men. Not real lesbians of course, but the fantasy kind. The kind of girls who kiss other girls while drunk out at the club. Given that, I’m willing to bet that Perry’s boyfriend didn’t mind.
To be fair I don’t really have a problem with getting drunk and kissing people, regardless of their gender. It’s a lovely hobby, really. And I agree completely with the song lyrics “don’t mean I’m in love tonight.” But I don’t get the hype. I mean Jill Sobule kissed a girl 14 years ago. So who really cares that some new pop sensation is experimenting? I might have some interest if it were “I kissed a girl and suddenly realized I was living a lie” but otherwise it’s just basically a Girls Gone Wild video translated into song lyrics, right?
My big problem with the faux lesbian fetishization is that I don’t think it really brings with it any increase in acceptance of real lesbians and it serves to hide a certain type of misogyny behind a vague illusion of open-mindedness. Of course as a woman in a relationship with a man I have the great privilege of not really being personally affected by the level of acceptance real lesbians experience. Sort of. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that actual facts about your lifestyle provide little protection against assumptions and hatred.
When it comes down to it, the obsession with girls kissing girls is just standard objectification of women, squared. At best that doesn’t really improve things for women in general (nor for queer women in particular) at worst, it actually makes the problems of objectification, sexism, and gendered violence worse. So if you want to sing lilting pop songs about kissing girls, that’s fine, but don’t expect me to be excited. When you start singing songs about how you married a girl (as a girl) and punched the guy who suggested that all you really needed to change your mind was [redacted out of a sense that maybe my readers don’t need to read that sort of vile crap] then we can talk hit songs.
And in answer to the inevitable questions that some may want to ask after reading the subject line: 1) it’s none of your damn business.
2) no, you may not.