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Help me out here, commenters and co-guest-bloggers. I am a bit puzzled.

Via Ann Friedman’s Lady Journos! tumblr (which come to think of it is also how I found my way to Molly Lambert), I just read Sady Doyle’s Birth of the Uncool.

Sady argues that Tori Amos was mocked for the powerful feminine qualities of her music. I get the argument. I love the Helene Cixous shout-out: “The gender binary also tended to perpetuate itself in other divisions, such as ‘Head/Heart,’ ‘Intelligible/Palpable,’ and ‘Logos/Pathos.’ The music of Tori Amos asks its fans to stand on the wrong side, the female side, of all those dichotomies.” Makes perfect sense to me.

Here’s the thing, though — I don’t remember ever feeling uncool for liking Tori Amos. I played the hell out of Little Earthquakes at my all-male school, to no resistance. I can still get through most of “Leather” on the piano. I loved her take on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (it was before everybody did that). I never saw her play live and I didn’t stick around for the rest of her career, but she was in heavy rotation when I was a young man.

“But it’s hard to underestimate the role that homophobia and gender policing have played in the assessment of her fans.” Really? I get why that might have happened. I just never noticed it. Tori took me from senior year of high school into college, and I never noticed any policing around here. And it’s not as if I didn’t pass under the gaze of music snobs. Trust me, I knew better than to admit how deep a groove I wore into my CD of “Pocketful of Kryptonite.”

Maybe it’s because my time with Tori was at the dawn of the Internet, before correct positions could be circulated with vicious speed. But I really didn’t sense that the invisible hand of masculine cosmopolitanism had consigned Tori to the yonic kitschyard. Did you?

x-posted at Joshua Malbin

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