Rita Ora Opens Up About Same Sex Relationships In Response To 'Girls' Criticism
14 May 2018, 17:35 | Updated: 19 November 2018, 14:23
The 'Anywhere' star confronts the controversy surrounding her new Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX collaboration...
Update: Cardi B has now responded to the backlash too.
The 'Bodak Yellow' rapper opened up about the intentions behind the song and her own sexuality.
Cardi revealed that like Rita she has "had experiences with other women".
Listen to “GIRLS” by Rita Ora ft me @BebeRexha @charli_xcx .We never try to cause harm or had bad intentions with the song .I personally myself had experiences with other woman ,shiieeett with a lot of woman ! I though the song was a good song and i remember my experience .— iamcardib (@iamcardib) May 15, 2018
Not only that but the Number 1 superstar also opened up about her own history with LGBTQIA+ slurs.
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Cardi mentioned that she has now learned what words are offensive and stopped using them.
I know i have use words before that i wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community .I apologize for that .Not everybody knows the correct “terms “to use.I learned and i stopped using it.— iamcardib (@iamcardib) May 15, 2018
It's true that many people and brought up using words that are considered pejoratives in many communities. It's great to see Cardi listen to her fans, apologise and grow.
Update: Rita Ora has now responded to the backlash.
The 'Your Song' hitmaker took to Twitter to address the criticism.
Rita has just released a statement apologising for those she has offended with 'Girls' and opening up about her own same sex relationships that inspired it.
Rita's statement serves as an important reminder that every queer person's journey is different and a reminder that we shouldn't be so quick to judge people whose stories we do not know.
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On Friday Rita Ora released her latest single 'Girls'. Speaking to Billboard, Rita revealed that the song "represents freedom and the belief [that you should] really be what you want to be".
The hook goes: "Sometimes, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls // Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls".
The new track features Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha and Cardi B and it is already on its way to becoming one of Rita's biggest hits to date. So far it has racked up over 3.7 million streams on Spotify alone.
However, not everyone is impressed with the song. Queer artists including Hayley Kiyoko, Kehlani, Katie Gavin and Shura have taken to Twitter to express their issues with 'Girls'.
Hayley kicked things off with an extensive note on how the single "fuels the male gaze while marginalising the idea of women loving women".
Directly referencing the song's lyrics, Hayley said "I don't need to drink wine to kiss girls; I've loved women my entire life." She then added: "This type of message is dangerous because it completely belittles and invalidates the very pure feelings of an entire community". Of course, Rita isn't speaking for everyone but it's easy to understand why queer women, like Hayley, may take issue with the song.
Kehlani also joined the conversation writing that, while "every artist on the song is fantastic", 'Girls' contains "harmful. lyrics. period.".
every artist on the song is fantastic, and very much loved and supported by me... by all of us. but this isn’t about talent. it’s about choice.— Kehlani (@Kehlani) May 11, 2018
hate to be THAT guy but there were many awkward slurs, quotes, and moments that were like “word? word”— Kehlani (@Kehlani) May 11, 2018
and don’t make this personal.— Kehlani (@Kehlani) May 11, 2018
i have an incredible song out with one of the artists, and would love to work with the other three as well. & have met them all and respect them.
there. were. harmful. lyrics.
period. love y’all. 🤗
Joining Kehlani and Hayley, Katie Gavin from MUNA added her thoughts on the song.
Katie wrote: “I feel grateful for the reminder that the songwriting world is full of people that feel entitled to write about communities to which they do not belong, grateful for the renewed fire under my ass to give us queer people better bangers.”
Rita has never publicly labeled her sexuality so the assumption that she is a straight woman writing about a community to which she doesn't belong is perhaps unfair. Likewise Charli, Bebe and Cardi have never stated that they are straight.
Rita even sings in the song "I'm fifty-fifty and I'm never gonna hide it".
Nevertheless, seeing as queer anthems often fail to be embraced by the charts or the public at large, Katie's anger will no doubt resonate with other LGBTQIA+ people.
Shura didn't explicitly comment on the single but did tweet its name along with an angry emoji.
Girls. 😑— shura (@weareshura) May 11, 2018
There's no denying that the single is controversial.
It wasn't all doom and gloom though. Bisexual author Gaby Dunn actually praised the single.
It's important not to add more shame to women who feel they need alcohol or other excuses to explore their attraction to women. Not everyone is in the same place in their journey that you are.— GABY 🏳️🌈 (@gabydunn) May 11, 2018
Idk I super relate to being early in my coming out and thinking these thoughts. Seems like bc it doesn't fit the narrative we need to be accepted by the straights we shouldn't include it in our experiences. But that's just my bi self!— GABY 🏳️🌈 (@gabydunn) May 11, 2018
I get the history of it and the need to reverse stereotypes but then we're sort of adding stigma to bisexuals who DO enjoy group sex or whose bisexuality does get a thrill from turning another person on. ANYWAY this was inarticulate and oversimplified. Not a monolith etc— GABY 🏳️🌈 (@gabydunn) May 11, 2018
Gaby pointed out that while 'Girls' may not resonate with some queer women "not everyone is in the same place in their journey" and it's important not to invalidate the experiences of others.
Gaby also commented on the misogynistic double standards of Rita, Charli, Bebe and Cardi being called out for this song.
I also suspect if this song was with Harry Styles, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth and Frank Ocean we'd all be DELIGHTED— GABY 🏳️🌈 (@gabydunn) May 11, 2018
And it's true. Just months ago, Harry Styles was praised for performing an unreleased song with the lyrics "The boys and the girls are in // I mess around with them // And I'm okay with it". Like Rita, Harry has never publicly labeled his sexuality and yet he is not put under the same kind of scrutiny for releasing music with queer lyrics.
Like Gaby, pop culture commentator Grace Medford complimented the song. She tweeted that its lyrics are "recognisable + relatable + real to lots of women".
since it's a twitter moment now, the only thing i'm saying on fun pop banger girls is that i think lyrics concerning ~~incidental bisexuality~~, threesomes and drunken affection for each other, are recognisable + relatable + real to lots of women🤷🏾♀️— G🧜🏾♀️ (@oneofthosefaces) May 12, 2018
Ultimately, the varied responses to 'Girls' prove that it's a complex song that deserves nuanced discussion. The critiques of it are valid but the appraisals of it are valid too. There's no singular way to feel about it.
What 'Girls' proves is that even in 20GayTeen we still need more LGBTQIA+ representation on the charts. An entire community shouldn't feel the need to be represented by one song.