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From the "You're Not Helping" Files
perfect girls
catvalente
You know, I hate to say this, from one woman to another, one artist to another. It's not a respectful thing to say, and to some extent I want to be respectful to people who inspire, challenge, and act out.

But for the love of spangles, shut up, Lady Gaga.

From an interview in the Japanese magazine, Giselle:

Lady Gaga declares she is bisexual as she appears on the cover of Japanese magazine Giselle. The 'Pokerface' singer appears on the latest issue of the publication with her hair in her trademark bow. Inside she says she could easily get with a girl but looks for relationships with men. "I am bisexual," she says. "I can go out with girls but in my opinion, love and sex are different."

My eyes went a little crossed when I read that. That is not coming out as bisexual. That's playing to the same old stupid shit of tee hee, I kissed a girl, but I only want to marry you, big boy.

I know Gaga is a gay icon and all, and most female gay icons are actually totally straight. But I don't feel that saying you could never have a real relationship with a woman and don't even look for them means you get to stick a bisexual banner on your bra and march at the head of the Pride Parade as some kind of queer sexual revolutionary. If you only want relationships with men--and she's not only saying she's only had relationships with men in the past, but only looks for them with men now, and could never love a woman--well, you know, I have a hard time seeing what's so thrillingly queer about that.

And you know, bisexual women have quite a hard enough time being accepted as a legitimate sexuality in this world without people grabbing the label (people who through wealth and fame have elevated themselves out of any culture that would bring them negative consequences for it) and then giggling that girls are cute and all, but they're not exactly husband-material, amirite?

We have a hard enough time getting relationships between women acknowledged and counted. We have a hard enough time being taken seriously as women not actually performing for the arousal of men. We have a hard enough time being in any relationship at all--date a man and you're not gay enough, date a woman and you're probably just doing it for attention. You know, til a real man comes along. We have a hard enough time without one of the most vocal and self-sexualized figures in pop culture saying shit like that. It's not edgy. It doesn't make you anymore hardcore, punk rock, awesome or liberated than Katy Perry singing that awful song.

There's no respect in saying you're bisexual and wrapping it up in a big bow that reads: maybe if I'm drunk enough I'll touch her boobs but I'm going home with a dude.

For some of us, coming out has consequences, and is difficult, and brave. For some of us, Pride is so hard to come by. Thanks for making that cheap, Gaga.

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This is an excellent point, and helps me see why I have always felt uncomfortable with Gaga's "bisexual" declaration. She's not helping me feel better about publicly declaring my own true, factual attraction to members of my own sex. I try not to pay much attention to her, but when she says things like this, I headdesk until I bruise.

Edited at 2010-07-01 10:12 pm (UTC)

Just... what? *ow my brain*

Seriously, this is so frustrating. I'm glad you wrote about it and had "THIS" playing on repeat as I read.

This bothers the snot out of me for So Many Reasons.

... Oh, god. *covers face* What a horrible thing for her to say.

Thank you for writing this. You've pinpointed exactly what always bothered me a bit about her that I could never quite put my finger on.

Pretty much everything I was thinking.

This is one of the very many things about Gaga that I don't like. Count me as one of the "not gay enough" bi ladies in a relationship with a man. It's nigh impossible to get people to understand that marrying someone with one set of genitalia doesn't mean I'm not still attracted to folks with the other set. It's not like I shut off that part of my identity. When someone says shit like this, it further trivializes who I am, because suddenly I get thrown in with her. Like "oh yeah, I know someone *just* like that" or "so you're bi the way Gaga is bi?" NO, NO I AM NOT. I am bisexual in the way that means I like both genders (hell, I'm even down with transgendered folk and people who have a hard time with gender at all), not in the way that is purely for the sake of garnering attention. Ugh.

I am bisexual in the way that means I like both genders (hell, I'm even down with transgendered folk

....wow.

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(Deleted comment)
Your point brings to mind exactly why I'm not comfortable calling myself bisexual.

I definitely find myself attracted to women, but haven't had any actual experiences with and overall I think find myself more attracted to men. So, until I figure out if I'm just curious or if I just gravitate towards men kinda automatically because of being raised in such a heterosexual world, I refuse to label myself as anything.

Sexuality is always a journey, rarely a destination. Good luck with yours.

What I find even more horrifying is the way that national LGBT groups will get her to "represent" bisexuals, when the rest of their lineup are serious activists. If you judged by some people's speaker lineups, you would conclude that she and Robyn Ochs are the only two bisexuals in existence (and they cannot ever appear together lest the balance of the universe be undone).

I know some women in real life who date women for sex but have relationships with men. I don't think that makes them less bisexual..but they also weren't talking to a magazine. That behavior also strikes me as The Opposite of Right, but whatev.

I feel like it's worse, because when she says love and sex are different, she's not even leaving open the possibility of loving a woman. That feels deeply wrong, to say that and then call yourself bisexual. Women are built for sex, not love--dangerously close to a certain hetero male perspective.

Thanks for writing this, it sums up how I feel. It's not fun and cute to make out with a girl just for kicks. Real people are in real gay relationships and it's so insulting that celebrities make a mockery of that. I'm not saying that it's okay to deny parts of people's sexuality, which can manifest itself in countless ways, but implying that it's all just a joke until you settle down into a straight relationship is just UGH.

You know, I have to say, spin-the-bottle (which has become a feature at a certain friend's birthday bashes since her 30th) taught me a lot about my sexuality, because I enjoyed and had fun with women and men while everyone was doing the same, and no one had any illusions that we were making declarative statements about our sexuality. Boys kissed boys kissed girls kissed girls, and being married didn't take you out of the game, either.

So, I don't know, we were all kind of making out with each other for kicks, but take it as you will. At the same parties the hubby of the birthday girl usually finds a reason to streak through the party, people who forgot swim trunks just go naked in the hot tub, and people get lashed with an 8-foot leather bullwhip for party fouls.

pointed icon use is pointed

snakey

2010-07-01 10:48 pm (UTC)

Knowing people who are, for eg, asexual but homoamorous, I can totally see who you want to have sex with and who you want to have romantic relationships with being different things. THAT SAID, Lady Gaga is saying this against the background of ideas about female bisexuality that you describe. ARGH.

Though I've honestly never seen what's so radikewl about her anyway.... Just seems like Madonna done up for this decade to me. :S

Re: pointed icon use is pointed

catvalente

2010-07-01 10:52 pm (UTC)

There are all kinds of sexualities. I just think she should be smart enough to know she's not talking in a vacuum, and that what she's addressing might not actually be the best example of fuckyouI'mbisexual.

Look at all these people in the comments struggling with what they can and can't call themselves, trying to figure it out? Doesn't really seem like Gaga even gave it much thought. It's better for sales if she plays to the gay community, better for sales to the straight community if she doesn't actually have a relationship with a woman. Awesome. That's JUST LIKE coming out in the real world.

For some of us, coming out has consequences, and is difficult, and brave. For some of us, Pride is so hard to come by. Thanks for making that cheap, Gaga.

Nothing she does can make our pride cheap. I'm no happier with what she said than you are -- I'm an essentially bisexual woman who has recently had to label myself de facto lesbian just to be able to successfully communicate NO I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO BED WITH YOUR STUDLINESS to certain males who really need the cluebat. But she doesn't represent us and she doesn't take anything away from what we've done to earn our own respect.

She can make life harder for us. She can't make it shameful. She can only shame herself, and not have the wits to know it.

Maybe her comments were taken out of context? I can't believe that someone that grew up in Manhattan could be so "girls gone wild" stupid.

I can. Manhattan doesn't make perfectly aware humans--dude, not even close.

I have a hard time believing anything she does isn't weighed and calculated.

As a bisexual female, I find that offensive. Jesus.

Hm, I think I might be the only person who doesn't just 'agree' here, but I will try and explain where I'm coming from;

I don't have a problem with women who claim the bisexuality tag because they enjoy sex but not relationships with both women and men. I don't get angry/judge women who claim the hetereosexuality tag for enjoying sex, but not relationships with men. I don't get angry/judge women who claim the homosexuality tag for enjoying sex, but not relationships with women.

Sexuality does not have one conventional form of manifestation. So while I am in the category of 'bisexual and having experienced long-term relationships with both men / women', I don't think Lady Gaga's message really affects me, since my manifestation of bisexuality is different.

The problem with things like what Lady Gaga has said is that it perpetuates a misunderstanding that this is all bisexuality is; going out and hooking up with women, but marrying men.

And I have a problem with that, because there is not one way to be bisexual. All you really need is the voluntary and willing capacity to have sex with men and women, not fall in love with them. That doesn't cheapen bisexuality, that's just technicalities.

Lady Gaga's perspective cheapens - to me - the idea of love in bisexuality, but it's not called bisexualityandamory. And not everyone requires this in their sexuality, regardless of what it is.

Is Lady Gaga's method the way I want to live my life as a bisexual woman? No. It's really not.

Does it piss me off that this is the way most people see bisexuality? It sure does.

But I don't agree with the idea that there is one conventional love/sex way of being bisexual, and that if some musician comes out saying otherwise she should be judged as getting it wrong until she decides she will fall in love with both sexes.

Not everyone conflates love with sex. Nor should they have to, even if I'm not a huge fan. Diversity is found in every sexual orientation.

I very much agree with what you wrote, and wouldn't have said it anywhere near as well myself.

A friend pointed me to this post because I was saying how much I like Lady Gaga. I don't think it's a flattering quotation at all, but I do think it's sincere. I can't figure out where on earth she would fit if not bisexual. Being attracted to, fantasizing about and being physical with women (as a woman) means you're not straight, IMO, and if you're not bi, then what?

I'd like to see bisexuals welcome anyone from a one to a five on the kinsey scale and enjoy the strength of numbers.

If she had said, "If prefer men to women but I like women too" and left it there, I wouldn't be bothered. Most bisexuals lean one way or the other while liking both. It's that she singled out men as the only ones who can, as you said, be a husband. Only men can provide a stable relationship point, not women, to her--which makes me wonder what she thinks of herself as a woman, if she thinks women can't provide a relationship. Hm. Yuck.

Also, really really really does not help with the social concept in the wide world of sexualities that aren't pure binary.

I don't care for 99% of what Lady Gaga does, but in this she is right.

Love and sex are different. Just because she finds her love in a male wrapper doesn't devalue any one else's expression of their sexuality.

Don't judge. Just because it's not your style of gay (or kink), that doesn't mean that it does anything to you, your expression of love or anything else.

It's not about that. She doesn't speak in a vacuum. And honestly, saying that she could conceivably have sex with a woman but couldn't love one and wouldn't ever have a relationship with one is pretty hard to follow up with "I'm bisexual."

Bisexual defined at its most basic meaning

valerieg2

2010-07-01 11:38 pm (UTC)

I am a lesbian. But I know a few lesbians who ever so often will have sex with a man. But they do not consider themselves to be bisexual-- it's just sex. They call them vibrators with legs.

Gaga seem to think that being willing and having had sex with women makes her bisexual. We are what we say we are. It would be nice though if someone would educate her.

Re: Bisexual defined at its most basic meaning

catvalente

2010-07-01 11:41 pm (UTC)

I'm not even sure she's saying she ever has--she says she could easily do it. I can close my eyes and just do a lot of things. Doesn't mean I have or ever will.

Oh, my.

I self-identify as bisexual, insofar as I find women attractive and can entirely picture myself in a relationship with one. In practice, my relationships have all been with men, but for all of that, I have found some of my female friends more attractive than some of the men I have dated, and I often have felt more emotionally connected, more understood, to and by the women in my life in a way I have never approached with men I have dated.

And while I definitely agree with moonvoice above that not everyone does nor should they have to conflate love and sex, I feel more strongly that statements like Gaga's are why people laugh when I say I'm bisexual, or say "Sure but you only date boys,"* or wink and say "for your boyfriend, right?"

*Note how this acknowledges only past behaviour, not potential for the future.

NO. Not for my boyfriend. FOR ME. Also I really don't comprehend this attitude that I need to be kissing girls in public (for the titillation of the menfolks who think it's OMG SO HAWT) to prove my bi cred.

Amd statements like hers--that women are for the sexin' and men are for the marryin'--bother the everloving crap out of me on both a feminist level, and on the level that she is taking a thing that I identify with, and turning into something that is not remotely like what I identify with. Sure, not everyone's bi in the same way. Nor should we be. And people use words differently. But as you said, she's not in a vacuum. What she says, precisely because she is such a pervasive cultural force (for good or ill) right now, has long-lasting ripple effects, and I rather wish she'd be more aware of it.

Thank you, this is what I'm trying to say, and clearly failing a little.

Very, very much agreed.

Wanting to or being willing to go out with a girl does NOT equal being bisexual. Fucking whatever moves but only wanting to be in a relationship with one gender does not equal being bisexual. AUGH. Can I slap Gaga with a herring now? She's being put forth as this great sign of bisexual tolerance and yadda yadda, but really, it's like you said, "I kissed a girl and I liked it" crossed with "bisexuals are sluts," and that's the LAST thing bisexuality needs "in its corner."

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I think you're being too harsh, to put it mildly. I have no actual knowledge of Gaga's sexuality, but I agree with her statement that sex and love are not the same thing.

I am most certainly bi-sexual, but I am not interested in having a serious relationship with another woman. I do not feel balanced, emotionally, with women the way that I feel with men. I cannot conceive a child with a woman. I like being the female in a relationship and would not want to share all the fun with someone else... I could go on, but really I don't have to justify my reasons, nor should anyone else. The point is having an emotional preference for men doesn't make me any less attracted to women.

Maybe Gaga *is* wearing the bi-sexual label for status-reasons, but what do you know? Besides, I personally think it's silly, and rather hypocritical, to call someone out for not being "queer enough". We are fighting for our right not to be discriminated against on the basis of our sexual-orientation. That should include the right to define our own orientation.

Besides, I personally think it's silly, and rather hypocritical, to call someone out for not being "queer enough". We are fighting for our right not to be discriminated against on the basis of our sexual-orientation. That should include the right to define our own orientation.

Exactly. Egads.

(Deleted comment)
I'm saying that the way she has phrased this is hugely problematic. Yes, sexuality is fluid. But she is announcing this to a worldwide publication, and feels the need to make sure we all know that women are not people she takes seriously in relationships, and will never do so. I feel like that changes the message, and makes it all about performance.

In Which I Ramble Grumpily.

amazon_syren

2010-07-02 03:09 am (UTC)

Heads Up: This is going to get ranty.

And you know, bisexual women have quite a hard enough time being accepted as a legitimate sexuality in this world without people grabbing the label (people who through wealth and fame have elevated themselves out of any culture that would bring them negative consequences for it) and then giggling that girls are cute and all, but they're not exactly husband-material, amirite?

We have a hard enough time getting relationships between women acknowledged and counted. We have a hard enough time being taken seriously as women not actually performing for the arousal of men. We have a hard enough time being in any relationship at all--date a man and you're not gay enough, date a woman and you're probably just doing it for attention. You know, til a real man comes along. We have a hard enough time without one of the most vocal and self-sexualized figures in pop culture saying shit like that.



Okay, see I can agree with all of this. Every word.

And yet: I can also comment that it took me fifteen years of "easily imagining" myself in sexual and romantic situations/relationships with women before I ever got the chance to actually be so.

Once upon a time, not that long ago, I was a homosocial, bisexual woman who'd only ever kissed one chick (during a threesome with my then-boyfriend, no less) and who was married to a dude who (at the time) I was in love with.

And it meant that I actually avoided Queer Women's Events because I was terrified about the reactions I *might* have to deal with in the "not gay enough" department.

See (I know you know this), there's this attitude that basically boils down to "pics or it didn't happen" when it comes to sexuality:

The bit where the default assumtion in Mainstream Land is that everyone is het until their dating history loudly states otherwise, even though no-one ever says "how do you know if you've never kissed/fucked/woo'd your gender-opposite" to people who claim het identities. And it bleeds over into Queer Land as well. (What you were saying about "not gay enough" versus "just doing it for the attention").

Add that to the cultural assumption that women's sexuality is performed *for* men, and even the gold-star gals are up against a lot when it comes to getting chick/chick relationships taken seriously by The Culture At Large.

Does it suck massive ammounts of ass that LG's location on the bi-spectrum is one that can/will be used to confirm wrong-headed societal assumptions about women's (bi)sexuality? YOU BETCHA!

But hearing people complain that the Kinsey Ones are ruining it for all the Threes feels a lot like the same messy sandbox as the one where the Sixes are telling the Fives to STFU about their hetero experiences.

I know we're all grappling for geography, for space on the cultural map of legitimate/acceptable sexuality. But if claiming the identity "bisexual" when you've only ever daydreamed about getting with someone with the same pronouns as you, isn't helping The Cause, neither is expecting someone to "pick a side" just because you don't think they're bi enough to qualify.

/rant

And that's my $1.02 on that subject. <*pant*pant*pant*>

Re: In Which I Ramble Grumpily.

catvalente

2010-07-02 03:12 am (UTC)

None of this is what I'm saying, and I feel like I'm incapable of expressing myself clearly. I think it is horrible, inappropriate, and sad that she feels the need to follow up saying she's bisexual with many more words about how not interested she is in women. We all struggle with what we are allowed to call ourselves--she doesn't. I don't demand Kinsey numbers--in fact I hate Kinsey shit. But I do demand some damn respect for women while declaring yourself bisexual.

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