Shame that L'Ailee has upgraded to fancy European lip glosses, because I sure did like the taste of her cherry Chapstick when we were younger. Yes, I'm paraphrasing that damn Katy Perry song, "I Kissed a Girl." It really did annoy me. I'm old enough to remember Jill Sobule's irritatingly perky "I Kissed a Girl" from 1995. It was cute until I couldn't knock it out of my head. Katy Perry's song is just as infuriatingly catchy, though it rocks harder and is way more fun to dance to. I wish that it took more to make a statement now, and I don't mean a video full of potential Cosmopolitan cover girls pillow-fighting in lingerie. I wish that there were more cultural expressions of bisexuality as a part of some girls and women rather than as a way to get male attention. I'm a lifer, damn it! Sobule's song admitted the possibility of the kiss leading to something; Perry sings, "[it] don't mean I'm in love tonight." Maybe I'd feel differently if I hadn't married the first girl I kissed, though I hope I wouldn't.
Maybe you've heard about what Katy Perry did before she "kissed a girl just to try it." She used to be a contemporary Christian music (CCM) singer named Katy Hudson. Her parents were both preachers. They were very strict, and didn't let her listen to secular music. By her telling, a dam broke open in her the first time she did get to hear something secular. At 17, she released a CCM album that didn't do that well commercially, but got some good reviews. She's 24 now. Things have changed. When I read about this, my opinion changed, too. I began to sympathize quite a bit with that little bitch Katy Perry. I've talked about how my former church really hammered down on secular music (and I *love* music) and how my Assemblies of God aunts and uncles have tried to limit their kids' consumption. But there's something a little deeper than that. My friend "Mona" is also a former fundamentalist. She's a liberal Christian now, though she's not fond of overly "churchy" churches. (Sounds funny, but I know what she means.) She wanted to discuss things that Katy's background triggered in her, too.
How do I explain? At FundieWatch, where I, um, have a guest entry this week, I inadvertently made a wish a couple weeks back. This is why Marion Weinstein tells aspiring Witches to be careful with their words all the time, not just in spellcasting, in Positive Magick. I said, in response to purity-pledging young actresses and singers, "If a young entertainer does publicly admit that she has sex and likes it, or that she's waiting until she's not so damn busy or she finds someone she likes rather than until marriage, I will buy her stuff no matter what. If I don't like it, I will give it to my youngest cousins and my friends' children as gifts...Oh, and if that hypothetical young entertainer says purity rings are absolute bullshit and she's rather be honestly in control of her own sexuality than give the keys to her vagina to her pastor or parents or become a hypocrite? I'll *make* myself like whatever she sings or stars in!" I think I got my wish fulfilled with Katy Perry.
It's not that I think it's a horrible thing for a teenager (or even an adult) to put off having sex or resist sex without love and attachment. In fact, I think it's a great thing. I regret the acts that made me only a technical virgin at 14, mostly because I regret the creep of a boy I did them for. I don't regret the same acts with my much more lovable second boyfriend at 16, or first sleeping with L'Ailee at 19, or having my first intercourse with Ex-Boy at 23. But the controlling and bitter flavor of Christianity I grew up in, which I thought was really the only kind until I was well into my twenties, would ask me to classify all of these things the same way--bad, bad, bad, bad! I didn't feel bad about any of it. I hate the idea that I should. I hate the idea that acts of love and pleasure, to paraphrase the Charge of the Goddess, are considered "sin" no matter what your motivation was and how you felt, unless you're doing a select few with your lawfully married husband.
A pretty bad memory came back to me. It wasn't just my desire for other women that whipsawed me as a teenager. I had other influences working in my life when I was involved with the Assemblies of God church, which I guess is why they try to cut out other influences or turn them into what my aunt termed "inoculations" earlier this year. I wasn't sure, at 17, that I wanted to wait until marriage, for a number of reasons. I didn't see myself marrying anytime soon, but I liked the idea of having sex. So I never wore a purity ring or made a public pledge. This was an awkward stance. One evening, my youth pastor blasted us with a sermon about why we should wait. He asked everyone who intended to wait until marriage to stand up. I sat down. Girls whom I knew good and well were already having sex with their boyfriends, because they thought they could trust me with their secrets and they were *right*, stood up. But I didn't want to lie to God.
Soon enough, it got around that I had sat when everyone stood. Most of the girls, except for a few *very* good friends, shunned me. And boys who'd stood started asking me out. A lot. The hypocrisy burned. I still twitch at the ideas of purity rings, pledges, etc. I really hate anything that demands a public commitment to "purity" from teenagers. Even that word "purity" upsets me. I guess, given my experience, that I have good reason. I never want another girl, or boy for that matter, to feel as I was made to feel.
People who don't understand think we can and should "just get over it." Usually those people never grew up anywhere near toxic religion, or else they're so marinated in it that they can't imagine anyone leaving unless they had something really wrong with them. Maybe some people can. However, for many, getting that sort of conditioning just as you're first becoming sexual (even if it's only in your head) can do a number on a person! You can quit the church, not look back, go on with your life, merrily "sin" your fool head off, and then....blammo! It comes back at the damnedest time.
Mona got married a couple summers ago. She grew up in an environment similar to the one I did--it's one reason why we became good friends. She had, of course, been sleeping with her fiance, and he wasn't her first. They were living in his cramped little apartment while I redecorated her bigger, nicer apartment anew for the two of them. (I really thought that was quite nice.) Mona and her fiance had very little in the way of a budget, so we haunted used furniture stores and I reconditioned several pieces. The first time I dragged Mona along, something weird happened. She looked absolutely stricken. A tear ran down her face, and then she ran out of the store to cry. My first thought was, "Is she upset because this is what her budget allows? Would she really rather have Ikea?" That was not what caused Mona to cry.
When she was in her teens, her pastor had told her youth group that women--yes, he specified *women*--who had sex before marriage ended up being like "pieces of used furniture that nobody wants." He said that they wouldn't be able to find good husbands. So here she was, in a store full of used furniture and people who wanted it. She was "used," and yet she'd found herself a good man who wanted to marry her. The juxtaposition was too powerful for her. "He's a lying asshole, right?" she pleaded. Of course he is, I told her. Maybe he didn't even know he was lying, but he was. I told her to be grateful she had her fiance and not a guy who agreed with that pastor. Now that they've had their second anniversary, they're still happy with each other. The pastor was wrong. Mona did some research earlier this year and found out he was still with that church. Her parents are in another town and church now, which emboldened her. She sent him a letter, in which she really let him have it. She expressed her hope that no other girl would *ever* be made to break down in a used furniture shop because of his hateful words.
Mona and I are only adequate singers. We sound okay on karaoke night, especially if you're drunk. We can clean up good, but we don't look like Fifties pinups. Katy Perry has a voice and her looks, so she has a venue that we don't. She was able to make her "Fuck you!" to all that really, really, really public. She could twist the knife hard, so hard that the Christianists are squealing like stuck pigs right where everyone can hear them. We're sorry that younger women and the girls coming up still get that bullshit, but we're glad that someone has come up to challenge it. Maybe Katy is just a girl who wants to have fun, but that's radical enough. I love the song now. I've downloaded it twice. And I have her CD.
I close with an earlier pop culture reference. My favorite episode of the Simpsons has always been the Kamp Krusty one. At the beginning of it, Bart tries to convince his teacher Ms. Krabappel to give him a better final grade than he deserves. "Note that I am returning all of my textbooks in *excellent* condition," he says brightly. "Some in their original shrink wrap!"
I feel like that is what fundamentalists of all types value. They want to be returned to their maker in *excellent* condition, in their original shrink wrap if possible, and they *really* want that for their children. Unscarred, unused, pristine. This permeates so much of their discussion of sex...and music, too, for that matter. Of course, Bart's line was hilarious because his priorities were mad wrong. A good teacher doesn't really want textbooks returned in excellent condition. S/he wants them returned with bent corners, highlighted sentences, penciled notes in the margins, Cheetos fingerprints, dog-eared pages, and a portrait of an esteemed historical figure altered with a ballpoint pen to look like he's doing something disgusting with his horse. Those books have been used the right way, even if they're not as pretty as they once were. They were read, and learning happened. I think our minds and bodies are the same way. We need to be beaten around a bit in order to learn something worthwhile. We need the shop-starch taken out. I'm not saying abused, I'm saying *used*. I think that if any Creator awaits us in an afterworld, They'll want us returned to them with signs of use, and be as unimpressed as Ms. Krabappel with the poor saps who kept themselves shrink-wrapped.
Links, which are mostly British today for some reason:
You *know* this is also on my mind. Tony Stewart finally tells the nagging reporters that they're there. (A couple weeks ago, he said dealing with them was like driving with kids who kept going, "Are we there yet?".) He's making some huge changes for his future. No wonder he was so sick last week--stress will do that! I hope other Stewart fans aren't as stupid as some Junior Nationalists and didn't get #20 tattoos. Yeah, I have my daddy's number from his dirt track car on me, but that's *different*.
This is on my mind, too. Chrysanthe Tan eloquently states that sexual minority people should put the B back in LGBT, and she is doing something about it! I feel her about the second closet bit.
I am *loving* this. Max Mosley, the multimillionaire who oversees Formula One racing, is in trouble because the London tabloids have exposed his taste for S&M. He is very bravely and honestly dealing with the issue and suing for his right to privacy. Nevermind the Formula One angle; I wish we'd see more of this in America.
Also in Britain, they're doing something really different with those boring old model search shows with Britain's Missing Top Model. The contestants are all disabled--that's the twist. Am not sure what I think of the show, but these women are definitely beautiful, and I think models should be more representative of women in general.
Anne of Green Gables finally gets its due.
Bill Clinton Sadly Folds First Lady Dress Back Into Box. From the Onion, of course!
Finally, my bat-loving L'Ailee is jealous of Abbie Hawkins, an English hotel receptionist who wears a 34-FF bra (my back is hurting to think of it!). One of those big bras gave a baby bat a temporary home! L'Ailee related to Abbie's sympathy for the "cuddly little bat." Bats are dying off in the Northeast, which devastated L'Ailee as bad as the earthquake at the Wolong panda reserve did me. I am holding my jokes aside.