For some reason, I have been listening to a lot of country music on the radio lately, something I’ve never done before. Maybe it’s got something to do with getting older, losing my parents, having kids, or undergoing a transsexual transition. I don’t know. All I can say is what’s on the radio today isn’t my father’s country music. I will try to understand this trend more in subsequent posts because if my musical tastes are changing along with my sex, then I’ll end up spending more money on music than on clothes!

In this post, let me write about a guy I had heard on the radio a hundred times, but whom the DJ’s never identified. He had this one song where he’s licking his wounds and tells his lover to take her cat and leave his sweater, and that she’ll think of him. And he’s got this other one about an ex-lover staying the night and looking good in his shirt. Now you country fans are no doubt mocking me for being so ignorant, but until a couple of days ago (when a DJ accidentally told me his name), I didn’t know that this fellow’s name is Keith Urban. I was at the music store with the boys and I figured I’d see if he has any CD’s, and sure enough he does. I found the one with “You’ll Think of Me” and “You Look Good In My Shirt” and gave it a listen. Good songwriting, good musicianship, and an all-round fun listen.

But here’s where gender rears its ugly head. I was enjoying his song about this lover looking good in his shirt when I began to sing a slight variation, substituting “skirt” for “shirt”:

And maybe it’s a little too early
To know if this is gonna work
All I know is you’re sure looking
Good in my skirt

I pictured someone like Shania Twain singing these exact same lyrics and telling her ex lover who has spent the night that he sure looks good in her skirt. What would be the difference? Wouldn’t it be the same cute sentiment? Not on your life. The difference would be enormous — “normal” people would call it perverted, the thought that a) a man would wear his girlfriend’s skirt and b) she’d accept it, encourage it, and sing about it. It comes back to the difference in the words “feminine” and “effeminate” that I tried to articulate a few months back.

The ex-girlfriend sleeping with the singer and wearing his shirt in the morning is tender, child-like, and a little vulnerable. But the opposite, while it ought to connote the same tenderness, strikes us as odd, effeminate, and weak. Of course it’s ok for women to wear her lover’s shirt — who wouldn’t want to wear a man or be a man, honestly? But the opposite, for the lover to wake up and put on his girlfriend’s clothes, is comical because no “real” man would ever subject himself to that sort of ridicule or lower himself to the woman’s position. Femininity in men is frightening and pathetic, and men who seek it are wusses and women who encourage it are perverted.

Still, I’d love to see Shania Twain sing it that way. Or better yet, Keith Urban (who seems pretty secure in his sexuality) could wear a pretty skirt on stage and sing the song this way.

All I know is I’m sure looking
Good in your skirt