Sunday, December 7, 2008

All the things she didn't say

by Josh Franklin

I want to relate an interesting experience that I had this past week listening to that modern musical masterpiece "All The Things She Said" by T.A.T.U. I was thinking about my own romantic experience, and feeling that the song didn't quite give expression to my own desires. T.A.T.U. sings about the forbidden and transgressive lesbianism that seems so alien to my own experience as a heterosexual male. But it was in this brief feeling of exclusion that I experienced what so many people must have to every time they listen to the majority of popular music that is written from a heterosexual male perspective.

Of course, I knew that popular culture privileges the heterosexual male. But even though I consider myself aware of heterosexism in our society, this short moment with T.A.T.U reminded me of the deep gap between theory and experience. I think it's an important problem for us to remember, one that is particularly significant for me as a heterosexual male feminist--I want to become aware of how I contribute to a culture of sexism and how sexism affects women, but I think it's important for me (and for all of us) to keep in mind the extent to which we cannot really understand the experiences of those we claim to speak for.

On the other hand, it's remarkable how much perspective can be gained from even an apparently cheap piece of culture like T.A.T.U. I think that a willingness to be open and self-critical can go a long way towards a real transformation of our gender culture, but I think it's important that we sometimes take a step back and realize how little we understand about sexuality and experience.

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