We recently talked about how relatively minor incidents can sometimes feel much more significant than they really are. There are a lot of thought-provoking stories in the comments and I urge you to check out the comments thread if you haven’t had a chance lately.
I was reminded of that conversation today when I was listening to Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” on the radio, and feeling vaguely oppressed by the lyrics. In case you don’t know the song, the chorus goes like this:
Bikinis on top
We’ll melt your Popsicle
Oh oh oh
Admittedly, this is a stupid thing to feel oppressed by. But growing up as a lifelong California girl, I was always conscious that I didn’t live up to the familiar stereotype. I grew up with the Beach Boys song, of course, and all the videos that showed what a California girl was “supposed” to look like, and it wasn’t me. I freckle instead of tan, my hair is brown instead of blonde, and I certainly am not the thin but busty girl in Daisy Dukes and a bikini (and usually white and blonde) rollerblading on Venice Beach, who is the typical “California girl.”
Probably only seven girls in the world meet all these qualifications (and one of them is Chrissy Snow from Three’s Company) but I didn’t really understand that at the time—I just felt like I wasn’t measuring up. I guess I was afraid I would let people down, in some weird way. (And by “people” I mean “heterosexual men” who, of course, must have an unlimited supply of stereotypically beautiful, scantily clad women to look at and imagine having sex with at all times.)
So, it was a childish fear, which my all-grown-up feminist brain can easily dispense with, but it resurfaced thanks to Katy Perry, and I figured it might be interesting to share it.
Here’s the video for “California Gurls,” which is admittedly pretty cute… but it also presents girls as objects—Katy Perry is naked in it, and one girl is literally unwrapped like a present, and they are decorated in candy (because they are intended to be consumed, after all), and Snoop Dogg raps about girls being “tan, toned, fit, and ready,” and the whole thing is, from a feminist standpoint, very problematic. I mean, “We’ll melt your Popsicle”? This song is addressed to men, and promising them sexual gratification with a wink. Which is kind of Katy Perry’s schtick, right? I mean, “I Kissed A Girl” is one of my favorite gym songs, but it’s still all “tee hee” about bisexuality, presumably because men think hot chicks kissing each other is hot.
Anyway. The point being, I was driving around thinking about this today, and wondering if anyone else had a similar story about something minor that nevertheless makes you feel somehow oppressed. And I’d also love to know if there are stereotypes about the people who live where you live—and if so, whether you live up to them or not.
Posted by mo pie