There’s a show on VH1 (MTV, but without the edge, you know), called something like “Before They Were Stars,” whose purpose is to dig up embarassing footage of people who are now rock stars, so we can see what they looked like when they were just starring in their high school musicals or performing in local talent shows. Okay, blah blah, nice concept–celebrity humilation (especially of strong women–I’m trying hard to avoid a digression on Katharine Hepburn here) goes over pretty well. What fascinated me most, though, was an early clip of Paula Cole (of Lilith Fair and Dawson’s Creek theme music fame) singing “I Enjoy Being a Girl” in a high school production. The show then cuts to a modern interview of Paula Cole, saying “Oh my God, that awful song!” and discussing how sickening she thought it was that she was helping reinforce all these negative gender stereotypes. I was literally stunned. She thought “I Enjoy Being a Girl” (a song favored by drag queens and given a rocking remake by combat boot clad folksinger Phranc) reinforced negative ideas about femininity? Somehow, this strikes me as awfully strange, coming from a woman whose first album contained a song about a hopelessly unrequited love, in which the girl sings to the guy, “And she is your Holy Mary, and I am so ordinary, and you can use me if you want to,” without a touch of irony. I like that song, actually, but when it comes to positive messages for young women about their femininity, I’ll take “When men say I’m cute and funny/As round and around we whirl/It goes to my head like brandy/I enjoy being a girl!” any day.

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