Now of course, we've all heard plenty of people criticize that song (you know, like a year ago when it came out) but what struck us about this criticism was that it was so totally missing the point. We originally thought about just leaving a comment, but we realized that we have too much to say about it!
Um... what? There's nothing about male enjoyment in that song. If anything, it's the opposite. This song is about female enjoyment. I don't know why a so-called-heterosexual woman garnering enjoyment from another woman must automatically be for the benefit of a man. In fact, the author's immediate assumption that that's what it is about (in the absence of any corroborating evidence) is all the more sexist and offensive than the song itself. For example, she says that the "implication" of the line "hope my boyfriend don't mind it" is that he would only mind if he wasn't there to watch the girl-on-girl action, but that's really just a big assumption. It would be just as (if not more) reasonable to say that the real implication is that he might mind it if his girlfriend is kissing someone else, male or female, behind his back and without his permission.Is it enough that Perry created an entire song about the deplorable commonality of lesbian action for the sake of male enjoyment? This alone makes me sad for the women and girls who hear this song and who, like others, think that female sexuality is not something to be owned by the woman herself, but that is at the disposal and for the benefit of male viewers.Kissing a girl - like kissing a boy - ought to be a shared experience amongst the individuals involved. Yet for many women of all sexual orientations, kissing a girl is done for the pleasure and excitement of the heterosexual gaze.[...] a song in which a girl gushes over her illicit kiss with another girl is undoubtedly designed to alter some male blood flow. Perry sings "I hope my boyfriend don't mind it." The implication is that her boyfriend only minded if he wasn't there to witness it. [emphasis theirs]
In an interview with The New Gay, Katy Perry explained the song: "I'm not a lesbian, but I can appreciate the beauty of women. That's what the song is about [...] it’s fantasy, it’s a song about curiosity":
But the author of the blog isn't done. She's incensed:
TNG: Isn’t that kind of like those straight girls who make out at frat parties to get guys’ attention?
KP: It’s not about that. Everyone takes the song and relates it to their situation, they can see it however they want to see it. Love it, hate it, for me it was about us girls. When we’re young we’re very touchy-feely. We have slumber party sing-alongs, we make up dance routines in our pajamas. We’re a lot more intimate in a friendship than guys can be. It’s not perverse but just sweet, that's what the song is about.
Not only am I incensed over the way in which this girl-on-girl kiss is promoted as an object of straight male lust, it also sends a powerful message about lesbian relationships in general. "It felt so wrong" Perry coos, "It's not what/Good girls do/Not how they should be behave." Good girls don't kiss other girls or when they do it's wrong? Yikes.Okay, now there are a lot of things "so wrong" about that (in addition to the already mentioned "straight male lust" bullshit). I think it shows a clear lack of understanding of irony to think that when Perry sings about how "good girls" should or should not behave that she's suggesting that lesbianism is wrong. Katy Perry was raised in a very strict Christian household (her parents are both pastors) so it's safe to assume that she did grow up thinking that girls kissing girls was wrong. It wasn't what good girls were supposed to do.
This song celebrates female sexuality only in so far as it is experienced by the male outsider. It is only okay that she kissed a girl because she expressly calls it experimentation. Perry describes it to avid male listeners and sends the message that it's "so wrong," which is meant to add to the excitement anyway.
From The New Gay interview:
If you actually listen to the lyrics - all of the lyrics and not just the lines the blog author has quoted out of context - it's clearer. When Perry sings "it felt so wrong", she follows it up with "it felt so right". It's not about denouncing lesbianism... it's about feeling conflicted, which is understandable given her background. It feels wrong, because she's been raised with the belief that it's wrong. But now that she's tried it... hey, it feels right.
"My closest friends happen to be gay… I came from a very strict household, where any of that taboo stuff was wrong. I don’t say I hate where I came from, I love my parents and was happy to… have that opportunity to grow, but I came from a strict, suppressed household where that was wrong. Now I’ve been in LA for seven years and realizing there’s nothing wrong, there’s nothing wrong with anybody. If you love someone and you’re a good person that's what counts."
As for the next line she quotes, I think it's obvious that she's not actually suggesting that good girls shouldn't kiss other girls.
Clearly she's talking about what she's been taught about how good girls should behave and realizing that she can't adhere to those rules anymore. It's not okay because she's experimenting. It's okay because it's okay. Lesbianism is okay... experimenting is okay... kissing girls is okay! The message isn't that it's exciting because it's wrong... the message is that it isn't actually wrong.Just human nature
It's not what good girls doNot how they should behaveMy head gets so confusedHard to obey
And finally... I really do have to ask this. Does Perry actually have many "avid male listeners"?
The video takes this message even further. Just a few seconds of the three-minute video makes it clear that Perry is selling sex to a male audience. It's hard to think how much more you can objectify women than by making them faceless lingerie-clad bodies moving mindlessly in the background.
Perry does not acknowledge her fellow females nor interact with them in any way. Meanwhile, her lyrics describe her female sexual interaction; an interesting contrast, the meaning of which is far from transparent. Is Perry provocative enough to lip sync about kissing a girl but not quite bold enough to take that on screen? Or does this just add to the tease to hear her describe a girl's "soft lips" while touching her own body and not another's?I think it's time to actually watch the video in order to dispute the rest of this silliness:
Okay, so I'm not going to claim that Katy Perry isn't objectifying women at all... but I think her video is pretty tame compared to... about a million other music videos out there. Not so incensed about male music artists who objectify women every single day, but when a woman does it, oh no!
And why exactly is this selling sex to a male audience? Is the author making the sexist and heteronormative assumption that only men like to look at beautiful women? So Katy Perry can't possibly have any lesbian or bisexual fans... and heterosexual women can't like to look at beautiful women either. Perry has said that the song is about appreciating women and I think the video perfectly portrays that. Call it objectification... fine. But don't pretend that it's somehow worse or different than the objectification done by men on a daily basis.
However, I don't know why she felt the need to refer to the lingerie-clad women as "faceless". I don't know... I saw their faces. Maybe when a woman is wearing lingerie it's hard to focus on their faces instead of their bodies... but that's her issue, not Perry's. And I don't know why the author thinks that Perry doesn't acknowledge or interact with the women in the video. I guess dancing and laughing and pillow fights aren't forms of interaction.
The reason Perry doesn't "take that [kiss] on screen" is two-fold though: One, it's not porn. For someone so concerned with objectification, it's a little odd to suggest that there's not enough girl-on-girl kissing in the video. Two, Perry had revealed in interviews that she has never actually kissed a girl... the song is about fantasy. You'll notice at the end, she wakes up with her boyfriend... the all girl slumber party wasn't real.
Now we've heard a lot of criticism about this song, but most of it was about how it's going to make our daughters turn into lesbians. Being with another woman is a common fantasy for a lot of women... it doesn't meant that they're automatically lesbian or bisexual. There's nothing wrong with appreciating the beauty and sexiness of someone else, it doesn't have to hold some deeper meaning ("don't mean I'm in love tonight" "ain't no big deal/it's innocent") but at the same time, it's not necessarily degrading to the gay community. It's not that our sexuality is malleable, but maybe it is fluid. I think that's where Perry is coming from. That women are beautiful and sexy and touchable and kissable and you don't have to be a lesbian to recognize that.
From The New Gay interview: "That’s what the song is about: me opening up a magazine and seeing Scarlet Johansen and saying 'if she wanted to to kiss me I wouldn’t say no.'"
Us girls we are so magical
Soft skin, red lips, so kissable
Hard to resist so touchable
Too good to deny it
We can't say that we love the song 100% because there are issues with it. For one, the implication of dishonesty and infidelity. We're all about freedom and kissing and female sexuality in any form, but the "hope my boyfriend don't mind it" line implies that she's kissing girls behind his back. And that isn't something the ESC agrees with. Not that she should necessarily be kissing girls for his "heterosexual male gaze" as the blog author has suggested, but honesty is important in any relationship. (Of course, we realize that the song is just a fantasy, so that sort of eliminates that particular issue. You don't have to reveal all of your fantasies to your significant other... but we do hope that if Perry really was kissing girls, it would be because she and her boyfriend had discussed it first and agreed that it was okay).
Now, not everyone is going to take the time to read a bunch of Katy Perry interviews to get a better understanding of what she intended the song to be about, so we'd get it a little more if this blogger was talking about being concerned that people might hear the song or watch the video and jump to stereotypical conclusions or make assumptions about what it means. It is a song that it would be easy to take on a surface level and misinterpret, and like we said, we're not arguing that the song is above criticism. But wouldn't it be a good idea to dig a little deeper before writing such a long angry rant?
[...] "I Kissed a Girl" is an over-the-top insult to and infantilization of the gay community as well as a despicably direct message to men and women alike that female sexuality is a plaything of men.
When are women finally going to be told, "Your sexuality and your body belong to you and you alone and nothing about that is wrong?"I think that is the message of Katy Perry's song and video. If only some women could actually get that instead of automatically jumping to heteronormative, sexist conclusions based on their preconceived notions.