Hayley Kiyoko Criticises Rita Ora's "Bisexual Anthem" For Fuelling The Male Gaze

Photo: MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock
Plenty of people are calling Rita Ora's new song "Girls" — a collaboration featuring Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX — a total bop. But for pop star Hayley Kiyoko, the messaging within "Girls" leaves a lot to be desired.
The track features Ora singing about how she is "50/50" and "not gonna hide it" and that sometimes she just wants to kiss girls. (Girls, girls.) But it also features some language that makes "Girls" seem like less of a bisexual empowerment song and more of an ode to casual experimentation — like the fact that Ora name checks "red wine" and weed before singing about her love of ladies.
Kiyoko, who is queer and often sings about her own love of women in her music, took to Twitter to share her own thoughts on "Girls." It's safe to say this won't be Kiyoko's song of the summer, for very valid reasons.
The "Girls Like Girls" songstress wrote:
“It’s important for us artists to use our platforms to move the cultural needle forward, not backwards. There is a new song that came out today featuring a handful of well-known pop artists that has me overwhelmed with thoughts.
"I literally have a knot in my stomach right now. To be clear, I fully support other artists who freely express themselves and applaud male and female artists who are opening up more and more about their sexual identities. But every so often there come certain songs with messaging that is just downright tone-deaf, which does more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community. A song like this just fuels the male gaze while marginalising the idea of women loving women.
"I know that wasn’t the intention of the artists on the song, but it’s the lack of consideration behind these lyrics that really get me. I don’t need to drink wine to kiss girls; I’ve loved women my entire life. This type of message is dangerous because it completely belittles and invalidates the very pure feelings of an entire community. I feel I have a responsibility to protect that whenever possible. We can and should do better."
In an interview with People, Ora revealed that the song was partially inspired by Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl," a track that has long been criticised for problematic lyrics about sexuality.
It's great to have pop songs that break the heterosexual norms... but just because a woman sings about kissing girls, doesn't mean that the track isn't playing into the idea that doing so is "sexy" or even mostly for male enjoyment. ("Girls" seems to imply that a threesome is initiated after a man looks at Ora's lady, for example.)
Still, Ora told People that she does want this track to be a "bisexual anthem."
"I definitely want it to feel like it’s an anthem to somebody," the Fifty Shades Freed star told the outlet. "I want there to be a sense of freedom for anyone who listens to it."
Listen to the track below:

More from Music

R29 Original Series