August 20th, 2008
I’m not talking about me here, although of course kissing girls is very nice indeed.
No, I’m talking about naughty Katy Perry’s latest hit record ‘I kissed a girl’ that seems to have got everyone hot under the collar.
Perry sings about trying out kissing a girl and reports it’s enjoyable. Fans of the song have welcomed a positive take on female sexuality, particularly bisexuality. Critics have cautioned the song doesn’t fully embrace lesbianism since Perry makes it clear it’s just something she’s trying out with mentions of her boyfriend reinforcing she’s not really a dyke. The sexy video also plays more to the stereotype of performing being bi or lesbian. Even down to the tired old ‘let’s stroke a pussy’ imagery.
All this is very interesting since we’re increasingly hearing about teenage girls, and boys who are being open about kissing members of the same sex. It’s something that makes the right wing press fume – and within that context Katy Perry’s been blamed for heading up a lesbian uprising (how great if that were true).
Parents worry that teens who have sex with someone of the same gender may be lesbian or bi, while the more liberal press have reassured them ‘it’s just a phase’. Which is tricky since for some teens it’s definitely no phase at all, while for others experiencing same sex encounters is a relevant and pleasurable part of teenage exploration but doesn’t necessarily make them lesbian or bi.
We need more open conversations with young people about what’s going on. I certainly have heard from young girls who report they snog other girls not for sexual pleasure but to attract boys. And girls who find other girls attractive but are unsure if they’re lesbian or bi. Some boys have been demanding threesomes with their girlfriend’s female friends which is not something we were hearing about so much a decade ago. Meanwhile research suggests lads are also not averse to having a tongue sandwich with another boy, although this is something not so widely discussed nor celebrated in pop culture (unless you’re emo in which case it’s fairly mandatory).
While we continue to brush over this as a fashion we may miss out there are areas of teenage sexuality we need to talk about – in terms of pleasure, safer sex and negotiation. It is too easy for us to dismiss this as a phase or see teens who ‘try on’ different sexualities as being confused or in denial. We want teens to feel safe to explore their sexual desires and come out if appropriate, but not to feel that girl-on-girl is the best or only way to get a boyfriend.
I’d have preferred Katy Perry to sing she kissed a girl, liked it and now the boyfriend’s history and she’s permanently enjoying the taste of cherry chapstick, but maybe I’m just out of touch with the youth of today.
Whatever we make of the song or video it has allowed a wider discussion about teen sexuality, and is putting bisexuality and lesbianism on the radar which is often overlooked.
Here’s Katy – see what you thinkTweet