Music instigates social, political and cultural change. It is the one true universal language with a sonic boom that resounds across the space and time barriers separating race, place and class. It’s rare an artist can cross boundaries in a similar manner, but Prince was one of the best at single-handedly inciting social change while celebrating sexuality, promoting women in a male-dominated music industry, defying convention, decimating cultural norms and championing controversy.
He shocked and captivated when he sang about female masturbation and puzzled us when he pivoted, intoned like a preacher and talked about God. He strutted around as a cocksure misogynist in Purple Rain before embracing a sort of vulnerability to love through the transcendent heroic journey of his character “The Kid.” And through all his posturing, preaching and preening, Prince taught us valuable life lessons.
Lesson 1: Defy Gender Roles (“If I Was Your Girlfriend”)
Prince was staunchly masculine despite his diminutive frame. He boldly defied gender roles and embraced feminine displays, perhaps a nod to the glam rockers that preceded him, rimming his eyes in coal-black eyeliner, wearing neon green ass-baring pants and fringed tees, draping his torso in layered necklaces, brazenly posing naked against floral backdrops, coyly peeking out from purple feather-tipped fedoras, parading about in the clothing of a Victorian dandy while pursing his lusciously full lips. It was full-throttle gender-bending sex married with sound. Prince’s masculine-meets-feminine look was shocking and inspiring. And damn if you didn’t want to be his girlfriend — or boyfriend.
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