Saturday, October 04, 2008

I kissed a squirrel and I liked it


A group of five boys in my Grade 5 music class were performing for the class a music & movement assignment. They sang a remarkable and very funny parody of "I kissed a girl" by Katy Perry. Their performance, incorporated moves such as the 'sprinkler' and the 'John Travolta,' and the two fingers drawn across each eye. It began:


I kissed a squirrel and I liked it
The taste of its squirrel lips
I kissed a squirrel just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight
I kissed a squirrel and I liked it
I liked it.

*
The whole thing was fascinating.

Firstly, these ten-year olds working with the song that relies on an understanding of sexual feelings and a sexualized notion of themselves. The vast majority of them are, as far as I can surmise, before this stage in their development, at least in terms of how they act socially. (Most of them are very resistant if I have the class sit boy/girl/boy/girl etc.--the 'cootie' effect.) And they were comfortable standing up and singing the song that was about sexuality, even if it was mild in its realization. And talking about 'their boyfriend,' even if only as a joke.)

Secondly, the song relies on their ability to negotiate notions of heterosexual norms. One girl, recently, when we were singing the song, Donkey Riding, a traditional Newfoundland song, balked at the idea that she had to sing --from the presumably male perspective of the sailors in the song--"Was you ever in Miramichi/ and 'the girls sat on your knee." She explained to me that she didn't wan't to sing the song because she was not a lesbian. I was pleased that she at least addressed her concern head on and didn't express herself in a homophobic manner. I had the opportunity to talk to the class about homophobic stereotypes and homophobia in general, and also to discuss the idea of singing or reading from another perspective. I did mention how often girls are expected to imagine themselves in the male voice, often as a default position. I didn't get into representations of sexuality. I thought it was enough for one class. I hope the conversation was a discussion and not a lecture from their teacher (me.)

Thirdly, the thing that always amazed me with my young students, is their finally developed sense of irony & the absurd.

I can imagine a phonecall my principal might get about this class from an irate parent. "See! Talking about homosexuality in class leads to strange things like squirrel bestiality!"

Really, I thought the whole thing was very interesting and really funny. Of course, as my son was joking, (after some guy in his Grade 10 class, desperate for money to attend a heavy metal concert, offered to 'let him [my son] kick him in the balls' for a $5 fee") "It's funny if you don't think too hard about it."

*

PS on Gender Stereocoach:

Football Coach to my daughter on an all boy tackle football league: "Hit 'em harder, sweetie."

1 comment:

gary barwin said...

Check out Craig Conley's PInKSLiP campaign and discussion of maintaining or not-maintaining pronouns in songs when the gender of the singer changes: http://oneletterwords.com/weblog/?id=2166

His recent post (http://oneletterwords.com/weblog/?id=4385) mentions my post above as well as the band, the Sparks.