Girls by Rita Ora and Bisexual Stereotyping

The song "Girls" by Rita Ora (ft. popular artists Cardi B, Bebe Rexha & Charli XCX) seems like a fun and harmless 2018 hit song. However, below the surface of the catchy and traditionally ‘poppy’ tune, the lyrics of the song have a deeper and darker connotation for women who identify as bisexual.

Being bisexual myself, I first heard this song on the radio. Like many other bisexual women who I saw critiquing it on the internet, I agreed that the song flaunts and uses bisexual stereotypes that are incredibly harmful and are false statements about what it really means to be bisexual. Similarly, the song is very male gaze heavy. Here are some questionable lines from the ‘hit’ song, and why they are problematic.

“And last night, yeah, we got with the dude

I saw him, he was lookin' at you

So, I said, "Hey," kush lovin'”

Clearly, this line plays into the common bisexual stereotype that bisexual women are very sexual and down for threesomes or an open relationship. While some bisexual women may have threesomes and be in open relationships, this song makes it a dirty thing that, yet again, is for male eyes and ears only. It confirms what many men believe about bisexual women – that we are incredibly sexual and ‘down for anything’.

“I steal your bitch, have her down with the scissor

Tonight, I don't want a dog, I want a kitten (Eeeow)

I might French a girl from Great Britain”

Again, these lyrics make it seem as if women are bisexual only for very sexual purposes. That they are inherently playful, teasing and only like women and men for sex.

The music video is no better, featuring Ora lounging on a boudoir-esque set with female extras lounging all over each other with very little on. Later in the video, Cardi B and Ora even kiss, again having no purpose other than to provide shock factor. This is a music video catered only for the male gaze, with no accurate depictions of bisexual women shown. With all the lip biting, unnecessary tongue movements simulating oral sex and racy costumes, this music video confirms all the terrible things that homophobic individuals like to say about bisexual women.

Needless to say, this song was also criticized by Hayley Kiyoko, an LGBT artist who is respected for her songs exploring same-sex attraction. Ora eventually responded to criticism of the song, letting fans know that she did not mean any harm and only meant to portray her own experience discovering her sexuality.

While each person discovers their sexuality in different ways, Ora was wrong to release a song of this nature with such a base and offensive portrayal about what it is like to be a woman who is also attracted to women. In the media, we need accurate representations of bisexual women that capture every facet of what the bisexual experience is like. With songs like this coming out, we are set further back and are forced to continually face harmful stereotyping.