Lessons in BDSM from Barbie Girl

Pop Culture

Lessons in BDSM from Barbie Girl

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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efore the millennial excursion towards EDM and hip hop, the children of the ’90s were glazed with the sugary hormones of boy/girl bands. They didn’t mince innuendo either: The Vengaboys told us to go “Boom Boom Boom Boom”, The Backstreet Boys overtly taught cunnilingus to horny teens in “Get Down”, and Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” is an ode to foreplay. In the carnal mist floating around, a candypop band singing about dolls fucking was hardly unconventional.

Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” clearly was about getting it on at nightclubs – come on baby, let’s go party, ah ah ah yeahh – but that’s not all there was to it. Below the surface, the song could be interpreted in so many ways. Aqua, as I grew to understand, had reimagined sex through the optics of power-exchange, slyly championing BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism). An underground subculture once thought to exclusively gratify deviants and freaks, it is now considered a form of regulated abuse built entirely on mutual consent.

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