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Letters from Proxima Thule

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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.


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.

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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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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

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

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.

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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."