The craziest thing about our society, in my opinion, is that we're constantly being bombarded with this amorphous thing we call 'culture'; in reality, we only have a fraction of the amount of time it takes to consume culture as it does to actually analyze it. It slips through our ears, and eyes, and back out our mouths, and we leave it up to academics in their ivory towers to tell us what it 'means' to be a cultural consumer. While I can't purport to really ascribe 'meaning'…as a geek of all stripes it's pretty fun to pick through my favourites to see just how I am consuming.

To start, it took me until this week to think about the way I process music under the lens of gender and sexuality. Ridiculous! This week, and I'm 21. Strangely, it took me until I was listening to Feist's "Lovertits" from Open Season to take notice of the differences of normative and non-normative gender roles in popular music. The reason this song caught my attention (as opposed to the entire crotch-throbbing Madonna, Peaches, and company oeuvre) was because I always found Feist to be a pretty conventional , clean-cut, straight (or, I am lead to assume) woman, who sings about love, loss, and the like, and not one of our glorious aforementioned femme-tops.

So, hearing this smokey-voiced vanilla lady sing "I'm your lovertits" with a husky, male back-up singer was exciting. I felt it was transgressive without being crass (although, I do love crass-ness…) and it made me consider what transgression means in music. There may be a line somewhere in the musical sand that is rarely tended to closely but is instead more frequently leapt over. Just like in porn, magazines, and television, there is a clear divide between women's sexuality constructed for male pleasure, and women's sexuality that rejects this standard of eroticism. When Peaches sings about her furry crotch, she becomes 'queered' no matter what her sexual orientation is, because she is transgressing far beyond those boundaries of what women are supposed to do to make men excited.

Moreover, it occurs to me that maybe this is what sets queer music apart: not only do queer artists not fall on the side of the line that fits into normative eroticism, but many of them don't even recognize standards of normativity and instead only subscribe to their own (normalized) desires.

However, there is a hole in my argument here because it does not account for the listeners – do its listeners play a bigger role in defining the music? Take Britney for example. When a gay man hops up on a podium at a club and grinds to "Slave 4 U" the song becomes somehow different than when a 14-year old dances to it in her bedroom. It transforms from faggy, ironic, tinged with S/M, to suddenly about premature sexuality, loss of innocence, and a very strictly gendered type of submission. The queer man dancing to the song is taking it from normative society and making it his own, while the young girl is having her sexuality dictated to her from what is considered admirable female allure. There are combined latent and manifest readings of the song (finally, a use for Freud!) that are both listener-dependent and dependent on the expression of desires within the music.

Which is why – just like there is a need for queer villages, clubs, and so forth – music by and for queer people can be empowering. For example, Lesbians on Ecstasy have no small following, thanks to the fact that queer women are able to listen to their music and hear a voice that is preaching a desire to be free and fuck whomever it pleases. It's no small gift to give someone, this ally in your headphones; to have a new standard for eroticism in art that more closely fits an individuals life is unquestionably a liberating experience. Queer or queered music is not simply cultural re-packaging of the vanilla stuff, but instead a chance to redefine gendered and sexualized eroticism in the arts.

Plus, it's hot.

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