I love music. I really do. One of the first things I do when I get home is turning the radio on. I almost never am without a form of portable music or another (my shoulder still has a dent from the boom box days) (just kidding) and when I don’t have something to listen to – anything, really – well, I get more than a little cranky.
I used to just listen to music without considering the words that were being sung. Of course that did get me in trouble more than once. The most noteworthy anecdote is when I was singing ‘Let’s talk about sex’ in the early 90s at the top of my lungs. My father swears his first gray hair popped up that day. People don’t believe me, but I really thought that the song had something to do with gender differences and that we were being invited to talk about them. Come on, give me a break, the song did say: “Let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that make me, Let’s talk about sex”. That CAN be considered as a manifesto for the equality of men and women.
Ah, the days when I was young and naïve.
But now I unfortunately pay a little more attention to lyrics. I say unfortunately because most of the time, the lyrics ruin the song. I used to L-O-V-E Eminem, and while I still respect his talent, I can’t listen to most of his songs anymore. Coming from someone who had his last CD on a continuous loop for about 4 months, it’s saying a lot – but once I realized how much his lyrics degraded women, I couldn’t enjoy it as much. I almost felt like I was selling myself short while listening to the album, which is a shame, because the guy has a lot of talent and he seems to be pretty decent. Thank goodness he has a couple of great inspirational songs, if not I’d be in serious Eminem withdrawal.
Which brings me to my latest conundrum: Katy Perry’s I kissed a girl. On the one hand, the song is so much fun to listen to. Also, it does question something that many girls, sexualized at too early an age, wonder about. What if you are attracted to another girl? What if you find them pretty and want to hang out with them? What does it mean, what does it imply, what should you do about it? Is it normal, is it sexual, does it mean you are a bisexual or a lesbian? These don’t seem to be questions that a 10 year old is ready to tackle but fact of the matter is that that she is going to have to face them at a much younger age than earlier generations did.
And it isn’t so over the top that in a society that sexualizes everything, pre-teens are asking themselves these questions. In such a society, it’s logical (in a scary way) to define a strong attraction as being sexual. We need to create the venues for such conversations; first we need to admit to the fact that pre-teens ask themselves these things, then we need to gather our courage enough to open up to such conversations. Pre-teens, teens, young adult and adults need to understand what they are going through and that not every form of attraction is sexual by nature. Katy Perry’s song opens up the possibility of analyzing the various forms of attraction and learning to differentiate the sexual ones from the others.
But such a conversation has to be done in a healthy way, and releasing this song without encouraging an open discussion about these things seems a little bit of a waste. This is the source of my dilemma: do I support songs that could help start elevated discussions, or do I only support songs that actually do start these elevated discussions?
I need to cogitate the question a little more before I answer that question, so until then, I’m going to grab my raspberry chapstick (I don’t have a cherry one) and hum along to Katy Perry.
PS: I do prefer her song Hot n Cold btw, but it was a lot less provocative and I wouldn’t have had anything to blog about. So. Yeah.