Considering Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl"
By Liz Rizzo on September 29, 2008
BlogHer Original Post
Well, it's no "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls, I'll tell ya that. Unlike that romantic anthem to masturbation from 1991, "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry celebrates adultery and tries to resist any hint of homosexuality in a song about two girls kissing - because why on earth would a song about kissing a girl actually involve one's sexuality in any real way?
Meanwhile, the darn thing's so catchy you can hardly resist singing it at the top of your lungs.
But you should - hit that channel changer! - because while "I Touch Myself" celebrated sexuality in a healthy, giving way that acknowledged real desires even while shocking those of a more conservative stripe, "I Kissed A Girl" full on squanders the opportunity to do likewise. Watch the videos linked above. In "I Kissed A Girl," no one kisses anyone, and it's even insinuated at the end that it's all a dream. A dream where no one actually kisses. The video is absurdly unsexual. Compare that to the video for "I Touch Myself" which clearly is about what it's about, even while it plays with fantasy and teases away from any clear shot of the actual act.
Now, "I Kissed A Girl" has been out on the airwaves for a while. And for a long time, I thought that what most annoyed me about it, was the lyric, "I kissed a girl just to try it; I hope my boyfriend won't mind it." It's the obvious complaint, but I'll reiterate it here. YOU'RE CHEATING ON HIM; I THINK HE MIGHT JUST MIND.
Of course, perhaps they have an open relationship that encourages such sexual experimentation. Maybe her boyfriend just kissed a guy last night. But that's not the feeling I'm getting from the song and the video. Instead, the song makes it clear that our heroine has absolutely no regard for the woman she's kissing and is basically on an adventure at par with trying a new flavor of ice cream... or maybe flashing her tits.
As she says, the kiss "don't mean I'm in love tonight." Although, it may mean she's in pretty severe denial about her sexual orientation.
And the other day, while failing to resist leaving the stupid tune on in the car, I realized why I, as a perhaps overly romantic heterosexual, find the song so offensive. It's because I don't kiss for show, and I don't kiss someone as a game.
The truth is, I have kissed someone I wasn't interested in exactly once in my life. It was cold, it confused him, and I swore I'd never do it again.
Which isn't to say that a kiss always means that love is around the corner, but for me, it does mean that it might be out in the ether. Maybe I'm trying someone on, but it's not because I had too much to drink, it is some level of a big deal, and it's sure as hell not "innocent."
For me, kisses matter and are something to be cherish. They have meaning. They are a gift, not a game.
So on that note, I leave you with a favorite song of mine, "As Time Goes By." I love the Jimmy Durante version, of course, but this link is to a 1932 version by Binnie Hale which is pretty darn delightful. Enjoy!
Katy Perry Plays Make Believe - from Fatemeh on Feministe, a post that basically speaks to everything that annoys me about this song and the way it deals with sexuality. She says, "But I wanted to find something positive in this song that gets stuck in my head and kind of gives me a boost of testosterone-filled attitude." I say: The Divinyls are the antidote!
I Kissed A Girl - from Laura Woodhouse on The F Word, a slightly different take on just whose gaze this fantasy is playing out for. She says, "And while women kissing women simply to turn men on is certainly problematic, if the social sanctioning of girl-on-girl action enable girls to explore and have shame-free fun, can we maybe just say to hell with the boys and get down to it?"
Hot N Cold About Katy Perry - from Becky on Apostrophe Catastrophe, she has mixed feelings about Katy Perry's music and her punctuation. Also, a commenter points out this 1995 song from Jill Sobule, "I Kissed A Girl" that's really about, you know, kissing a girl.
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