Lipstick for Everyone

Remember Lemuria’s “Lipstick”?

Sheena sings “When you wear lipstick I always want to kiss you/ but you use your lipstick as an excuse not to kiss me.” It’s not entirely clear if she’s singing to another woman or not, but regardless there is a subversion of the traditional heterosexual love narrative. What’s incredibly interesting is the lyrical simplicity — there’s something to be said about having an uncomplicated song that has complicated undertones about homosexuality. Sheena’s lover’s main trait, besides cosmetics, is the inability to engage in physical affection, and the gender of her lover is left purposefully ambiguous to focus on the troubled relationship. The cosmetics are a feminine indicator, so either her lover is a woman or a person who is engaged in feminine activities. Either way, the role of the lipstick in the song is downplayed as a signifier of the lack of desire on the part of the lover, instead of being a focal point of gender significance.

Pretty cool, right? I’m hard-pressed to find a lot of other songs at the moment that are both heavily gendered and, at the same time, ambiguous like “Lipstick,” but there are a good amount of gender-neutral love songs that could be interpreted beyond heterosexual bounds.

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