With the current state of the world we should be striving to uplift and empower each other and celebrate each others individual self love experience. But in the wake of Rita Ora’s newest single “Girls” we have seen a hurtful and damaging attack on an artists creative integrity. The infectious pop track that also features pop heavyweights Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX has undergone massive criticism due to its playful sexualisation of bisexuality. The carefree and empowering track sees the songstress confessing in the chorus “Sometimes, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls. Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls”. The main cause of offence is the assumption that you need to have alcohol to be bisexual. Members of the LGBTQ+ community including Hayley Kiyoko and MUNA have stood up and said it’s damaging to the message that we as a community are trying to spread and is an inaccurate representation of bisexual people. But last time I checked the message we were spreading was one of acceptance and love and Rita is trying to do that by sharing her own personal experience. Her story may not be the same or similar to yours but it is hers and the fact that she has had to apologize for people taking offense is disturbing. We’ve just seen a woman be publicly attacked and forced to apologize for being honest about her personal experience and that in itself is making us as a community take a massive step back.
I understand where people are coming from with their confusion with the lyrics but I do think we are forgetting the fact that not everyone’s sexuality experience is the same. I was disappointed with the songwriting and production credits because the only females credited on the song is Rita Ora, Cardi B and Ali Tamposi with the rest of the five songwriters being male. With this song being about a liberating female self exploration experience it feels a little tacky knowing a group of men co-wrote it. However with that detail aside it was her story and her experience that we were hearing and need to stop trying to take that away from her.
Over the past few months we have seen a massive growth in society with the LGBTQ+ community being represented in pop culture on a bigger scale. It’s an exciting time with artists like Halsey, Troye Sivan and Sam Smith waving the flag in the music industry and movies like Love Simon and Call Me By Your Name receiving massive acclaim. But if we put all of these examples under the microscope you will find reasons to be angry with the way they represent different members of the community. What we need to remember is that this is the entertainment industry and there is always going to be some compromise.
‘Call Me By Your Name’ romanticized a relationship with an underage boy and an older man which is a predator stereotype gay men have been trying to grow past. ‘Love, Simon’ romanticized coming out with a Hollywood take which was a little unrealistic and made a lot of gay men feel upset watching as it wasn’t openly relatable. And whilst Halsey’s song “Bad At Love” and “Strangers’ embraced her bisexuality her hypocritical tweets at the same time made her seem a little problematic. However with all these points aside none of these examples were criticized because of their underlying message of love and acceptance. Instead they were acclaimed for their strive to a more positive and accepting world which is exactly what Rita Ora has done. She has tried to share her story, her feelings and deliver a euphoric pop moment. It’s important that we continue to hear other peoples experiences because there isn’t just one way to come to terms with sexuality. There isn’t just one way to feel. There isn’t just one handbook that we have to follow. We all go through different experiences and that is okay. While you may not connect with the concept behind this song someone else may. Someone else may be empowered by its uplifting and radiating message to be yourself and connect on a deeper level because it does succeed at making it feel so normal.
Pop music used to be so playful and fun and she’s tried to bring that back with a upbeat song that has a positive meaning behind it. “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry received the same criticism for the same reason in 2008. But that was 10 years ago. I really thought that we had grown as a society and understood that we all go through situations differently and begun to embrace all walks of life. Instead what is disappointing with this whole situation is how the media, music industry and society have instantly jumped on the bandwagon to tear a woman down for speaking her mind just because they don’t agree with her creative representation.