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I Kissed a Girl

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Everyone's favorite Vuv-A-Licious Mom: This is not a confession. It's the title of a hot new pop song by artist Katy Perry.

i_kissed_a_girl270.jpg

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry ChapStick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong. It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it

The song has a funky tempo, and it gives you happy feet--you know, the kind of tune that stays in your head. Yet, there are protests to get the song off the airwaves, even take it off itunes.

After hearing of those efforts, my 13-year-old son said, "Every other rap song on the radio throws around the words "Ni**er, Bit*h and the F-bomb and these songs are still on the radio and iTunes. What's the big deal?" I had no response. I just thought, "Out of the mouths of babes!!"

Violent messages in songs and video games have historically been objected to on the theory that they promote violent behaviors. Are those that are uncomfortable with this song concerned that it will encourage our girls to make out with other girls? Have sexual relationships with other girls? If the inclination is not there, do people believe that this pop tune will have our little girls tasting each others ChapStick flavors while they're wearing it?

What if the song was sung by a male artist and the lyrics were, "I kissed a boy and I liked it?" Would people care, or would parents "poo-poo" it on the assumption that their boys would never be interested, and no Billboard Hot 100 song could cause them to get interested?

No answers today from Vuv-A-Licious mom, just a closing comment. When this tune is playing and my son and daughter are dancing, I will be trying to dance along, or trying to acknowledge that they may one day dance to the beat of a different drummer than me.


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31 comments so far | Post a comment now
Nicole J. June 9, 2008, 4:51 PM

What’s the big deal? I don’t understand our country’s homophobia. Kids have same-sex sexual experiences; it’s normal. Not everyone kisses, but kids play doctor, touch, etc. It’s a part of growing up and learning about our bodies and sexuality. If anything I think the song offers a chance for parents to talk about homosexuality, sex, and people’s attitudes to both.

Q June 9, 2008, 6:59 PM

Part of learning about sex and safe sex and how to make yourself feel good comes from learning about others through non-sexual exploration. I have a 16 year old daughter who I know has tried things with girls. It is harmless and if she ends up dating women good for her!!!! If not at least she knows what its like.

Tinkerbellava June 9, 2008, 11:09 PM

I personally love the song! My best friend is bisexual, and I am not. But I love her anyway. As long as my child grows up healthy and knows how to treat others with respect and decency…I could care less what her sexual orientation is! Besides, farther along in the song she says that it was completely innocent and she repeatedly says that it doesn’t mean she’s in love! Let’s all be honest here, there is a very different opinion of women that kiss than there is of men that kiss. For some reason it is more socially acceptable for two girls to kiss and still consider it to be no big deal…that is what this song is about. It in no way even claims she’s bisexual or a lesbian. She flat out says in the song, I hope my boyfriend wont mind.
As the authors son pointed out, there is a lot worse said on the radio in songs these days…if you really need to attack a song for the lack of morals it instills in our youth…this is not the place to start!

Anonymous June 10, 2008, 2:39 PM

I don’t see how it’s a problem, unless you’re raising your kids to be closed-minded homophobes.

Raven June 17, 2008, 1:41 PM

yeah this is a very cool song and this is what girls go through so whats the prob?

animemiss June 17, 2008, 7:09 PM

ahh where do u find this song sung by the girl it was on the radio and i dont know

Emily Miller June 18, 2008, 2:14 AM

When I first heard Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed a Girl,” I was driving in the car with my little sister, and I was about to change the radio station from the “pop channel” to the oldies, when she said, “Wait, wait, listen to this one!” I complied, indulging her love of gooey pop beats.
What struck me most, after having listened to the song, is how unfortunately it does have substance. As an ally of the GBLT community, I became immediately curious to see what that community’s reaction to the song actually was. A quick Google search turned up with nothing—no one on the Internet had ventured to comment on the song, save the inane responses found tagged to the end of fan blogs. I’m almost positive, however, that somewhere, a gender studies Ph.D. candidate is working the song into a dissertation, but I’ll leave that to them, and possibly say it first: I find the song to exude homophobia, among other things. Sure, the song is about a girl kissing another girl, (“how is that anti-gay?”), but from the actual content of the work, I believe there is legitimate reason for concern.
I’ll begin where my training begins—let’s take a close look at the text—for the song, that means the lyrics (I have read excellent close readings of musical theory— check out Adam Krims’ “Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity”, but I can’t begin to go in-depth on the musical theory behind this song). The song begins with a qualifier (a theme repeated throughout the song): “this was never the way I planned/ not my intention”. It is made immediately clear that the singer did not mean to engage in homosocial behavior—it was an accident. A mention of drinking is made, followed by a “loss of discretion”. What strikes me so powerfully in these opening lines is the reinforcement of the situation’s accidental nature. Such lyrics seem to highlight a certain point: a girl cannot legitimately desire another girl without the influence of alcohol or some other “loss of discretion”, or… she’s a lesbian. There’s something of degradation hanging about these lines—the song makes it seem as if a “normal” female would never choose to kiss another girl, or, it seems to me to be implying—albeit on the very far end of these lyric’s interpretive power— that lesbians lack a certain ability to discern between “right” and “wrong”. Indeed, Perry notes such confusion in moral terms in the chorus and later—“it felt so wrong/ it felt so right” and “it’s not what, good girls do”—but, Perry makes it clear she’s drunk, so is it okay for a “good girl” to desire another woman in any other capacity? Perry certainly doesn’t offer that up as a possibility.
True, while these first lines caught me off guard, I wasn’t too surprised—I could analyze the content of many pop songs today and find them duplicating heteronormative values, but I feel this song goes beyond the mere replication of certain values—it degrades others. Is a woman (sober or otherwise) who happens to desire (or desire to be desired by) another woman, the song offers, not a “good girl”?
The next lines, “No, I don’t even know your name/ It doesn’t matter” scream not only of belittlement on the part of the nameless girl, but of callous objectification. Case in point: I’ve seen several movies in which men are belittled for not knowing their “object of affection’s ” name (I can’t think of them now, but it’s a rather common trope)—and here, in this song, Katy Perry is replicating a certain type of behavior for which males are normally lampooned. In a sense, Katy Perry assumes a macho-male identity and objectifies her “object”. Her vocabulary replicates the male-perspective of the situation, (which she assumes) and does not take into account her partner. At this point, one might say, “men do it; good for her; she’s turning the tables”, but the mediation of such behavior in this song’s current form (in movies, the woman’s feelings at being thus treated are often shown), fails to account for the other girl, period. The singer’s partner is established through the lyrics (or lack of lyrics; as I’ve learned in studying Henry James, sometimes what’s not said is more important than what is) as a non-entity—we are not given any insight into her desires or her feelings on the situation.
Again, this isn’t uncommon in pop songs, but this isn’t just a pop song, acknowledging to an extent, its own ridiculousness—what I did come across in my search for answers on the Internet was that many people felt that this song was supportive of GBLT movements, and I feel that such a reading needs to be exposed for its utter insensitivity to the words being sung.
The next lines, “You’re my experimental game/ Just human nature” are at once telling and empty. One can get into a very long argument about the composition of something as vague as human nature, but the fact that Perry refers to her object as both an “experiment” and a “game” further supports points noted above. Males who are good at attracting women are sometimes said to “have game,” and for some, the whole process of engaging girls at all becomes “the game,” but…rarely have I ever heard, personally or in cultural use, men refer to women as “experiments”. That type of terminology rings of beakers, dissection, medical sterility and abortive results. We already know the singer has no intention of taking her relationship any further (“don’t mean I’m in love tonight” and, ironically playing into the phenomenon of some males being intrigued by lesbian activity, “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”), so certainly, this “experiment” will end, like a Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” in heteronormativity swooping in to “make things right” in the morning. The “staging” of this song, whereby I mean the imagined setting, favors both the boyfriend in the background, who gets to watch an impromptu “spectacle” put on for his pleasure, and the singer, who objectifies and derives pleasure from her nameless partner. Everyone wins to some extent, except for the “object”. Like Antonio in “Twelfth Night,” the unnamed partner will, it appears, inevitably be cut out of the equation when morning comes.
Certainly, the singer’s partner could be just another drunk girl, with her boyfriend also watching in the background, or… her partner could be a lesbian looking for love in the tumult of a dominant heteronormative world. There are many options for what the “object” might or not be—such categorization doesn’t even need to occur, because the point is clear—the objectified partner doesn’t matter—we don’t even need to know her name. With Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed a Girl” we’re left with the superficial taste of cherry chapstick, but that’s it, and for me, that taste smacks of disappointment—disappointment that today a song with such implications can be played over airwaves, let alone become a hit.

:) June 23, 2008, 1:53 AM

Emily Miller chill out, don’t be so uptight it’s just a song you don’t have to go writing a essay about it. Katy Perry is very talented. She not only has a beautiful voice, but she writes her own songs and plays the guitar. Try listening to her other songs, before judging her just one song. Here I’ll even help you out a bit. www.myspace.com/katyperry. www.katyperryblog.com. www.katyperry.com.

Kelly June 24, 2008, 1:03 PM

I don’t my girls thinking its part of society to kiss girls- It’s not right and its not moral- keep your gay hobbies to yourself and keep them out off the radio-

Asdf June 26, 2008, 8:23 AM

I’m 16. I know where this song comes from because I have kissed a girl. No, I’m not bisexual; I’m straight. Kids our age have to try new things to see if they like it. If they don’t then how do they know what they really want? I don’t like when I hear parents saying “keep your gay hobbies to yourself” and “it’s not moral”. What are you teaching us? To discriminate and hate. You’re keeping this country from evolving and becoming more able to accept things. Good job, parents! This song is not promoting sex, lesbians, or anything sexually the way I look at it. It has a deeper meaning. It’s saying to try new things; who knows? You may like it.

Jamie July 22, 2008, 5:16 PM

I don’t believe that we should focus so much attention on a pop song. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it is, simply a pop song. This song is simply a reflection of how one of history’s biggest taboos has made its way into the mainstream. This might be in part thanks to a more liberal media. In this day and age where taboos are being confronted and broken (is that such a bad thing? I beg to differ), homosexuality and bisexuality are becoming less of a forbidden topic. While this song has somewhat trivialized bisexuality, one cannot deny that it has also successfully brought an alternative lifestyle into the eyes of popular culture.
If any parent were to assume that only wayward girls had bisexual tendencies, they are simply deluded. We all go through a stage in our life where we are attracted to members of the same sex and different sex, attractions that vary at different points in our lives. But I think that this song will serve to encourage impressionable girls to experiment with other girls. I do not see why experimentation is a bad thing. Better to figure it out now than to have a personal life crisis later in life, am I not right?
My only gripe with the song is that it tends to promote bisexuality in a more demeaning way. While it makes it fashionable for girls to make out with other girls, it suggests to the listener that locking lips with another girl is like living on the wild side. Rebellion and defiance are what the singer feels (“it felt so wrong/it felt so right”), making one feel that only “bad girls” engage in such promiscuity. Moreover, the persona has a boyfriend. Does this making out with another person make it alright simply because it is another girl? I feel that it does not lend justice to bisexuality as a whole because it seems to suggest that bisexuality equates to promiscuity. If the persona were to be locking lips with another man, would she simply say that “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind?”
However I do believe that we should take this song at face value. It’s just a song. ITunes has songs about violence and killing and racism. While these too do make impressions on young individuals, they are also a reflection of the society we live in today. In the same way, this song is merely a reflection of what is going in society these days, whether you’d like to admit it or not. While this is not the first popular song that delves into bisexuality (Jill Sobule’s song of the same name), it does have great significance in influencing our present and future generations in the way homosexuality and bisexuality are viewed.
In conclusion, I would say that although the song is shallow and trivial (as most pop songs are), it does serve to start conversations about homosexuality and bisexuality which in itself is a healthy step to breaking the silence.


Nia July 23, 2008, 2:52 PM

I dont get wat the big deal is I like the song because it has a nice beat and its catchy.Im 13 and my mom hates the song but she already talked 2 me about that stuff. I’m not saying im ever gonna try it but why complain about one little song when there ar millions of other songs that are about violence, racism, and alot of other bad stuff. Im just saying IT’S A SONG!

Marie July 30, 2008, 3:38 PM

The daughter of a friend sang this to me today. She is 5 years old. I wanted to hurl…and then cry.

Mark August 3, 2008, 12:06 AM

The person who wrote this article is to be congradulated on her open minded opinion. The Catholic Church are up in arms about this song within our charts and yet they were not up in arms with the revelation that our PRESIDENT pardoned the POPE in 2006 from testfying on the charges of hiding child molestation from tens of thousands of priests highlighted in the Oliver McCarthy case documented by the brilliant oscar nominated motion picture “Deliver us from Evil” available to view for free on Youtube.

So in perspective, they want a song off the airwaves that acknowledges the existence of homosexuality in society (around since humankind was first on earth, even certain mammals within the animal kingdom have this tendancy) and on the other hand refuse to hold the one person responsible for not protecting our children. This song is a song with good substance and the elite need to understand that book burning (single burning!!) no longer holds with the people.

Everyone for their own. If a person is gay or straight their life should not be dictated by a group of people (priests)who have no families to start with and have not one clue how a parent should or shouldn’t raise their children. Afterall, these people are following a book that was written many thousands of years ago. What if the original author was wrong!.Once parents love their children unconditionally is tha main thing, which cannot be the same mindest of the hierarchy who condone homosexuality but allow child molestation when it suits them.

More gangs are in the USA today than anytime in history, but that does not make the headlines. More corporations are taking over our cities and creating no play zones for our children, which are then partolled by the police (a body set up under our constitution to protect the rights of the people, not the corporations). A song makes headline news!. Have we not come a little further over the last decade!.

Again thank you for highlighting the fundamental “When this tune is playing and my son and daughter are dancing, I will be trying to dance along, or trying to acknowledge that they may one day dance to the beat of a different drummer than me”.


Joe August 6, 2008, 9:47 PM

It’s a song, Katy is a wonderful musician and it’s a fun song to listen to. My mom even like the song, we’ll be in the car and she’ll ask me to plug my iPod into the car stereo and we’ll listen to it on repeat for like 30 minutes… It’s a fun song, just get over it. Goshh…

Glenn September 6, 2008, 6:53 PM

I personally don’t think that kids should be exposed to homosexuality. Mind you, this is my opinion.
Whether or not it encourages them to imitate such behavior, I still think that its not good for them to have exposure to ANY kind of sexual perversion.

Dominique September 28, 2008, 9:41 AM

I LOVE THIS SONG! My children do not, It’s just like the movies, it’s someones opinion and I would think in this day and age we could finally teach our children not only can they have an opinion but have a right to voice it any way they can! If you teach your children to have their OWN opinions and follow their OWN lead then you have no problems.

Anonymous October 2, 2008, 6:58 PM

ok

Anonymous October 9, 2008, 9:42 AM

blimey, I didn’t know this song had caused so much controversy! I agree that music does have a massive influence on our children and their behaviour but with this song…..I think the boys like the song because its about girls kissing and they think thats a bit naughty, girls like the song because if they have kissed a girl…they now know that even if they liked it…they’re not wierd or lesbian. The rest, just like it coz it’s catchy. I like the song and I dont think it’s as deep as some are delving. In fact if it has caused all this fuss I think the writer must be very pleased.

Jess October 15, 2008, 2:27 AM

Can I just say kudos to Emily Miller!! You are spot on. Thank you for taking the time to write that.


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