Gabrielle DeBoissiere’s Lesbian Criticism of “I Kissed a Girl”, by Katy Perry.

A lesbian criticism of Katy Perry’s pop chart hit song and music video, “I Kissed a Girl”, reinforces societies hetero-normative preference that one cannot identify as lesbian or gay unless a display or performance of these homosexual desires have been acted on.

Affirming the fears society has towards homosexuality, Perry establishes within the first verse that to kiss a girl, she needs to be “brave” and “have a drink in hand”. Perry also clarifies to the listener that although she has sexual curiosity and desire towards other women, she does indeed have a boyfriend. As well as catering to present day’s homophobic values, Perry plays with hyper femininity in her music video. The first screen cap of Katy Perry pictures her lying on a pink bed spread next to a stuffed bunny rabbit as she is petting a small kitten. Perry is surrounded by beautiful women dressed in lingerie made of lace and silk as well as frilly skirts, heels and pink jewelry. All the women are thin, have pink or red eye shadow or lipstick on and are dancing together in a room full of flowers while snacking on cakes decorated with pink berries. For the rest of the video the beautiful women are filmed having pillow fights as we all know that this is a sexy and coveted event at every female slumber party. For most of the video, however, the women’s legs and breasts are shown in isolation to strengthen the illusion that these women have don’t faces and identities and are indeed sexual objects.

These items associated with femininity are displayed to highlight that Katy Perry’s desire and curiosity for other women is purely for aesthetic and sensual reasons. Katy Perry does not fight he hyper masculine values of today’s media that emphasize that the women’s purpose is sex and to be sexy. Katy Perry feeds into this patriarchal cultural standard. While Perry displays these women as desirable “magical” creatures who are so touchable, she in fact never touches another woman in her video. Perry never kissed a girl…in her music video.  Perry sings coats her lesbian desire to kiss another women with shame, claiming that “it’s not what good girls do”. No girls in the video perform the act of kissing. A con-structuralist would say that as there is no sexual act performed, our homophobic society has no need to fret as none of these beautiful women could be lesbians, and therefore are still desired and fetishized by men.

To further comfort Perry’s image as a straight, white, and hyper feminine pop culture icon, she is seen at the end of the video waking up in bed with a man. Perry overcompensated by not only rejecting a display of a woman on woman sexual act, but also by hinting to the viewer that a sexual act had occurred between herself and the sleeping man she wakes up next to. In fact it is also inferred that this spectacle of lesbian desire is merely a dream that Katy Perry can conveniently awake from in the morning.[youtube][/youtube]


4 thoughts on “Gabrielle DeBoissiere’s Lesbian Criticism of “I Kissed a Girl”, by Katy Perry.

  1. mitchelleubank25

    Considering that Katy Perry started out as a Christian artist, under her birth name of Katy Hudson, and didn’t really start achieving mainstream success until she changed her name and performed “I Kissed a Girl” that she first became famous, that may be a clue as to how her message played out in the music video. It all comes back to heterocentrism, heterosexism, or just plain homophobia, though your mileage may vary as to what is actually being promoted by Miss Perry. Again, the spectrum between sexes means that there are just as many feminine straight males as there are masculine straight females; the same thing can not just be said for gays and lesbians. The problem, however, is that even with same-sex marriage now legal across the country, the bigots who despise such a concept, and the parents who raised them that way, will not accept anyone as equal to them unless they openly disavow helping improve the lives and livelihoods of all minorities, great and small, including those who so much as have a crush on someone of the same gender, or at least two people of both genders. Songs like “I Kissed a Girl” may treat the lesbian lifestyle as a novelty, or worse, a joke, but the thing to take away from this post is, there are people out there who, simply put, do not fit in with any given status quo, but still need to be given the same treatments as anyone and everyone else – as a person, first and foremost. The lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders of the world are not objects to play with, but people to help out in times of need, just like us. They are not deviants, but variants of a sexual spectrum that deserves to be embraced, not rejected.

  2. nataliebeyer

    I absolutely agree with your analysis. I think the homophobic undertones are why I always find this song so problematic. In the music video Perry makes it clear that she isn’t encouraging women being with who they want to be or sexual freedom but lesbianism for the sake of the male gaze. She repeatedly says that kissing girls is the wrong thing to do but she is doing it anyways to promote a sort of “bad girl” trope. But all of it is done in order to appear sexy to the opposite sex which really negates any positive lesbian message. This song is more for the girl at a party kissing another girl to appear sexy to guys than women who actually identify as lesbians. I think a lot of people confuse this as a gay anthem when it is quite the opposite.

  3. tselmuun319

    Wow, it’s been a long time since this song premiered. Can’t believe it was 8 years ago!
    It is possible that this song negates the positive image of homosexuality, but as New critics would say, it’s all up to our interpretation. I have been looking at the song’s lyrics and I found that some parts of it could be interpreted otherwise. For example:
    “I kissed a girl just to try it
    I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it
    It felt so wrong
    It felt so right”
    Pay attention to part that says “It felt so wrong, it felt so right”, which possibly represents her inner conflicts of following her homosexual/bisexual nature.

    Now, in this part:
    “You’re my experimental game
    Just human nature”
    The way that she says human nature could possibly be suggesting that homosexuality is also a natural thing, like homosexuality.

    “It’s not what
    Good girls do
    Not how they should behave”
    This part could relate to how she came out as a Christian artist, for which she has to be good and homosexuality can’t be good because it’s “wrong” and “unnatural”.
    All in all, a text could mean anything we think it means but I personally think that this is a song that shows Katy Perry breaking out of her shell as an artist who once made religious music but also, as a woman who is experimenting with her sexuality, not necessarily negating homosexuals.

    Good analysis, regardless!

  4. briannarosem

    I couldn’t agree more with this analysis. I feel as though I see this a lot in the community around here too. Most people will go around saying that they are perfectly okay with those who identify themselves as not straight, but they could never do it themselves. But when reality strikes and you see a lesbian or gay couple kissing or holding hands; the stares start to happen and a common sense of disgust. Homophobia is a part of our society and I think that is primarily because we are a nation that banned same sex marriage for such a long period of time. We frowned on those who were of other identities and allowed them to be together, but didn’t allow them to portray the act of marriage without judgement and penalties. Even now though, it may be legal, but there is still large controversy and sense of disgust associated with same sex marriage. This draws exactly to Katy Perry in a sense. She is trying to say what strength and courage it takes to kiss someone of the opposite sex and I’m not sure if thats due to fear of judgement or her internal disapproval of such actions. She also like you said makes it seem like a bad girl move and never does actually kiss a girl. This brings it back to the whole idea that society claims they are okay with such actions and relationships until put into a place where it is put right in their face. This is where they try to still act like they approve, but that sense of internal disapproval comes in greatly.

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