Monday, October 24, 2016

I was a baby lesbian

When I was a kid television networks would show old cartoons after school and on weekends. But although cartoons were thought to be for kids, these cartoons had often been made, originally, for adult audiences, as an opening act for a feature movie, and they reflected that. Especially the male-gaze sexuality.

You can see below an example of something I might well have watched as a little kid, a Tex Avery cartoon featuring a wolf-whistling wolf admiring a (human) showgirl.

So one day I happen to be sitting in a willow tree in my front yard, and I couldn't have been more than five or six years old. The tree was later blown down by a hurricane, before I was ten. The willow overhung the sidewalk. This was in the Philadelphia suburbs and at the time far away from shops and supermarkets, so there wasn't a lot of sidewalk traffic, but now and then somebody in the neighborhood would go by. A teenage girl came along and, since she had a face full of make-up and was wearing high-heels and a very short skirt, just like the ladies in the cartoons, I felt it was the social expectation, nay, my obligation, to wolf-whistle at her.

She looked up at me and said "you're a girl, dummy."

I had no idea that only boys were supposed to wolf-whistle, and I was mortified - you can tell I was because I still remember it, and this was from a time where I don't have that many clear memories. But this faux pas has stuck with me all these years later.

And that was the end of my faux-lesbian phase. Although I didn't fully realize with clarity I was heterosexual until I heard the Beatles recording of "Twist and Shout" when I was thirteen. (This was long after the Beatles had broken up, I'm not that old.)

There was something about the way John Lennon screamed that really really got to me. And I didn't even have a visual, which, as you can see below was magnificent. Just Lennon's voice alone made me realize there was something to this whole boy thing, and I wanted it.