Melanie and Me

“Brand New Key,” as you may already know, is borrowed from a song by Melanie Safka, a phenomenal Woodstock veteran and folk artist. This particular song of hers was banned by a number of radio stations, because critics suspected that lines like “Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far” and the symbolism of the unity of lock and key in her roller skates represented sexual innuendo. And so, a lighthearted song that we now watch a baby whiz around to on TV was censored at the height of its popularity.

As someone who’s been criticized a LOT for being “inappropriate,” I feel for Melanie’s struggle to protect her art. Granted, when I get criticized, I’m usually not creating art; rather, I’m publishing a new installment of my sex health column in my college newspaper. From my experience, I’ve learned that the worst assumption that people can make about about a woman pushing the envelope is that she’s doing it for “shock value” — that I write about period sex primarily to piss off administration, and that Melanie weaved innuendos into her song just to get people to say “I can’t believe a woman’s doing that!” So not the case. I write about these “touchy” subjects because I envision living in a world in which topics of sexual health do not evoke shock in mature conversation, a world in which sexual discourse is open and doesn’t discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation. I hope someday to live in a world in which the same discussion won’t be judged differently if it comes from a woman as opposed to a man.

As such, I hope to use this blog as a haven for publishing thoughtful sexual health discourse that would be pegged as shock value material, smut, or worse if published in other contexts. When necessary, I’ll post extended or alternate versions of the articles that I run in my school’s newspaper. Sexual empowerment is my pet cause within feminism and women’s studies, but I’ll be posting about other timely issues pertinent to feminism and social inequality as well.

I also hope to document the two big projects going on in my life as best as possible. The more pressing project is my race to get into a women’s studies graduate program for fall 2012. There isn’t much out there in terms of tips for picking a grad program in this field, so I’ll be sharing all the tips I can as I discover them.

The other, ongoing project is a nonfiction book that I wrote with my brilliant friend and recent Marist graduate, Heather. It’s about Lady Gaga, bisexual and bicurious celebrities, and female sexual fluidity among American women ages 18-30. I’m not going to publicize our awesome book title yet for fear of bad luck, but I’ll post a summary of our findings soon. Right now, we’re working on polishing the manuscript and finding an interested agent. Fingers crossed.

As for my muse Melanie, she stands by her claim that she never intended to employ lyrics with racy double meanings, but I secretly hope she did.

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