One of those rare Top 10 hits that’s got something on its mind besides the usual. Well, it’s also about the usual, if the usual topic for Top 10 hits is love and hookups. The Kinks really snuck in a little subversion disguised in a  boy-meets-girl trope. It’s damn catchy singles, and we all know that catchiness trumps content every time. So they were able to write about the questioning of the gender norms – a taboo topic – and have it slide by on the strength of the tune. It’s pretty simple;  this Lola is an androgynous woman who makes the narrator question his masculinity; and he’s ok with it.  My initial understanding of Lola was that she is a woman with a few masculine traits; physically strong and aggressively confident, with a deep voice to boot. Those things are unfeminine and generally deemed undesirable by those who value simplistic gender norms. It’s subversive just for presenting those qualities in a character and accepting them as ok. The possibility that Lola is either a male cross-dresser or a trans woman is even more subversive. Both of those things have long been considered beyond not-ok by society, so it is a beyond-subversive tweak of the old hookup story. The common storyline society tells about transgender and/or non-binary people who attempt to pass, and try to do ‘normal-person’ things like pick up a guy at a bar, is they are committing an act of false advertising, making an attempted entrapment of gullible men-folk, being deceitful, etc, and the proper reaction is shock, outrage and disgust. I don’t think I need to explain to you how horrifically harmful and damaging this still commonly accepted trope is, or point out the statistics of violent assault towards trans/non-binary people who had the misfortune to ‘mislead’ the wrong drunk bigots. So it is very, very rare and extremely subversive to hear the story of a young man who meets a girl at a bar; and the girl may a trans girl; or just masculine-leaning in her physicality, or possibly a man who likes to wear women’s clothing; or some androgynous, binary-breaking combination of those things; and they’re both ok with it and presumably they go home together and have a great time. Nobody ever tells that version of the story, and they should be.


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