spoonboy - sexy dreams music video!
it’s here! keep reading for an explanation of the song and video, click here for spoonboy tour dates!
it’s a big deal for me that this video is done, not only because it took a long time to make, but also because in many ways it’s been a really personal project. it may not come as a surprise that the song “sexy dreams” was inspired by a series of dreams i’ve had over the course of my life around themes of gender and sexuality, but the particular dream that provoked me to write it is the one we’ve acted out in this video - a dream in which i was a transgender (or genderfluid) batman. it’s probably the best dream i’ve ever had and it was incredible to briefly live it through this video!
i want to say up front that i don’t identify as trans*. i’ve written about my gender identity here if you’re interested, but it’s important to note that i don’t experience gender dysphoria, and that puts me in a category of privilege. but also, i don’t subscribe to the idea that things like gender or sexuality can be defined in a binary way and that’s a lot of what the song “sexy dreams” is about.
i know for some people reading this, non-binary ideas about gender and sexuality might be completely new, so i’ll try to explain them as best i can. there are plenty of authors who have written much more substantively and comprehensively on the subject, (and as my perspective is informed by theirs, i’d absolutely recommend you also check out the perspectives of people coming from less privileged perspectives than i do, try kate bornstein, judith butler, dean spade, and susan stryker, to name a few), but for the sake of brevity i’ll do my best.
it’s like this: in our culture we’re assigned a gender at birth, either male or female depending on our sexual anatomy, and then our gender identity is socially expected to follow a certain path based on that assignment. the idea of “gender roles” is pretty well known, but it’s less understood that for a lot of people the roles they’ve been assigned conflicts with how they understand their true gender identity. this is sometimes referred to as “gender dysphoria” or “gender variance.” for some people their true gender might be the binary opposite from the one they were assigned, and for some their true gender exists somewhere along a spectrum that can’t quite be defined in terms of male or female. for some, their gender identity and expression is fluid and might look different from day to day. these are generally referred to as transgender, genderqueer, gender fluid, or gender non-conforming identities.
whether or not we like it, we live in a culture that strictly enforces heteronormative binary ideas around gender. gender is policed constantly in subtle and less subtle ways in our day to day lives, and sometimes in very terrifying, dangerous ways. transgender people are among the most high risk populations for hate crimes such as murder and assault, while also being at risk for the psychological terrorism that results from being at odds with a patriarchal culture that’s extremely threatened by gender non-conformity. i’ve known too many people who have had to struggle through the fear of knowing that expressing their true gender could put them in physical danger while knowing that suppressing it was killing them emotionally. personally i don’t see what we gain from maintaining these rigid ideas about gender when they are so damaging to so many people.
in regards to sexuality, it’s actually a distinctly disconnected thing from gender and i don’t mean to conflate the two, but also it’s related in the sense that when we live in a culture that defines sexuality as something that should fit into one of three categories (gay, straight, bi) and those categories are all defined in relation to one’s attraction to a person based on their binary gender. if you look at gender from a non-binary perspective it kind of collapses those categories. having a sexual identity that doesn’t conform to heteronormative standards can also put you in a dangerous position in our culture, and that’s a really awful, scary reality.
so “sexy dreams” is a song rejecting the idea that gender or sexuality should only fit into a few different boxes. it’s about how you can and should be able to express those things in an infinite number of ways and how there’s beauty in a nuanced complex approach to gender and sexuality. and it’s about how anyone who says otherwise can fuck off, in my humble opinion. i’ve found that in my dreams i can step fluidly in between gender identities without any fear of cultural repercussions and i can explore my attraction to different people unencumbered by worries of what it says about my sexuality. and experiencing that, if only in the dream world, is incredibly freeing and inspiring. it may be a long way off, but i’d like to think we could move towards living in a world where the categories we’ve been given to define gender and sexuality could be dissolved and those things could be understood in much more flexible way.
we tried to make a fun video to reflect what a fun dream it was, but i hope that people who view this will understand that it’s not a joke. too often trans* identities are made into a joke in media, and too often men in drag is understood as mocking femininity. to quote my friend blair, if there’s anything funny about it, it’s “how absurd it is that gender is constructed in the way it is.” i want to say that it’s also not my intention to appropriate trans* experiences, but to express my own feelings about gender. in stepping outside of my usual gender expression though, i did try to approach this project in a way that was serious and informed by perspectives outside of my own, including passing with a feminine gender expression in public and having a small glimpse of that experience, if only on a couple of occasions. finally, i know that some people are going to see this video and comment on my femme gender presentation in a sexualized way. even though i’m trying to explore sexuality in the video, presenting a feminine gender expression isn’t an invitation to be sexualized. sexualizing femininity isn’t any less sexist when it’s commenting on a non-normative gender expression than it is when it’s a normative one. patriarchy, sexism, and transphobia are all complementary ideas that support each other, so please keep your comments to yourself! i know i look good, thank you.
i wanna say thanks so much to everyone who helped with the video, all the actors, and everyone who donated on the kickstarter page!! after covering our expenses we were able to raise $400 for casa ruby, a new community center in dc supporting queer and trans latino populations. and i wanna give a million extra special thanks to ben and lizz who put as much work into making this video happen as i did, if not more.
if you have questions about the video or this essay or just wanna get in touch, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or at message me at my tumblr. much love!
david a.k.a. spoonboy
Interesting take on gender neutral versus androgynous.