When Jessie J came out as being a human who likes both men and women a few years back, many of her diehard fans were surprised: not to learn that their favorite human wasn’t heterosexual, but that she wasn’t homosexual. There were rumors — never confirmed — that she’d been an out lesbian prior to getting a record deal, but we were on board with this new information, too, because it didn’t negate the especially glorious rumor that her girlfriend was one of the studs/AGs dancing in her amazing music video “Do It Like a Dude.” It was a groundbreaking video — studs and AGs are a severely underrepresented portion of the LGBTQ community and many of us queer women were thrilled in our hearts and pants to finally see a reflection of that diverse population on MTV. Because of that video and the queer subtext in her other songs, we were instantly happy to have Jessie J on our team. Needless to say, these same fans were pretty surprised to hear today that Jessie J is now coming out as… straight?
“For me, it was a phase. But I’m not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody. I feel that if I continue my career not speaking on it, I almost feel more of a liar than if I didn’t. I just want to be honest, and it’s really not a big deal. Who cares?”
Obviously we all know the answer to that question: WE DO. I’m not sure exactly why we care, or why I care, or if we even have a right to care (I’m pretty sure we don’t). Regardless: we do. But before we get into that, let’s look back on how we got here to begin with.
Here’s what Jessie J told Glamour UK in July 2011:
It’s important for me to be open and honest about [my sexuality]. My Mom and Dad have known for years and were super cool, my sisters made jokes about it because they were married with kids and I was the rebellious one. I had a girlfriend and tattoos… Because I haven’t tried to hide it, people have gone, ‘Oh, she’s so cool about it, so we’re cool about it.’
I never wanted to be called a hypocrite, but I didn’t want my sexuality to become a gimmick. There are lots of people who go, ‘Oh, I’m bisexual.’ No. You’ve kissed your friend.
Here’s what she said in another 2011 interview:
I’m very open, and it’s funny because people say I’m very mysterious. They want me to be mysterious. I don’t think I am at all. I think they want me to be mysterious because that’s what they’re used to… but I’ve never denied it, even four or five years ago when people used to talk to me about it, I always said I’ve always liked girls and I’ve always liked boys. I’ve never put my sexuality in a box and I’ve never named it, and I’ve never labeled it.
I’ve never denied it. Whoopie doo guys, yes, I’ve dated girls and I’ve dated boys – get over it. It’s not a secret, but it’s the only thing they can grab onto – they’re like, “She never drinks and she comes out of the party looking like she did when she went in, damn her!”
My family and friends never made me feel like I had to put a label on it. The same goes for my music. I don’t feel like I have to say I’m pop or I’m rock or I’m hip-hop. I make music – and if people like it, they like it. And I think it gets people frustrated because they need to pigeonhole me, but I won’t allow them to, because I just think it’s about being who you are.
I’ve been with guys and I’ve been with girls. And I kind of think it’s about the person not the genitals. A lot of people are like, “‘Oh, she doesn’t know what she is,’” she says, sighing with impatience. ‘But I definitely think my generation is more easygoing about it.’
Those declarations were actually pretty meaningful, at the time, and when I wrote about her coming out in May 2011, I praised her for eschewing the linguistic runaround so many other pop stars favor. Which brings us to yesterday, when news broke that she’d said this:
“I did talk about it, and I was open about it, and I do support being lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender — love who you want. That’s what I’m doing. I don’t regret anything I ever said, but I never knew back then that whatever I said became a fact that I couldn’t change. I’m just so bored of it, and that’s kind of it – I want to stop talking about it completely now and find myself a husband. It’s a true struggle. All the chick flicks that didn’t make sense to me, I now understand – Sex and the City is real! I’m not anything. I’m aware of who I want to be and I want to marry a man. That’s it.”
I think we can all agree that Sex and the City isn’t real, for starters — although it bears mentioning that SATC, while worshipping at the altar of gay male sexuality, treated lesbianism alternately like a desperate and monotonous last resort, a trendy thing all the kids are doing, a way to get ahead in the workplace and a party game (literally and figuratively, re: the party game). Perhaps Jessie J marathoned all six seasons in a sound-depravation chamber and is now rocking back and forth softly in a chair clutching a purse made out of a bird and wondering when her White Knight is coming because her hair hurts?
No, but seriously, obviously many humans have reacted with emotional violence to this revelation, inspiring Jessie to take to twitter to point out that she hasn’t killed anybody.
Although I agree that directing hate towards Jessie J or anybody, ever, is counterproductive and misguided, there’s also a lot about that statement that rubs me the wrong way, including her incorrect citation of twitter’s 140-character limit. But before I get into that, I will say this: we do put pressure on stars to declare their sexual orientation at a really young age, and that’s not always fair, and it’s not fair to chastise them later for reclaiming what they’ve come to realize is their true identity. I think about this a lot when people talk about Kristen Stewart — she might be gay, she might be bi, she might be straight, we really don’t know, but I’m surprised by how infrequently people consider the possibility that Kristen herself is either still figuring it out, or, if she is gay, might still honestly believe that she is straight. She wouldn’t be the first woman to not realize her own queerness no matter how many times inquiring minds wanted to know. I was 25 by the time I finally beat my internalized homophobia into submission and felt comfortable openly identifying as gay, queer, lesbian or bisexual, and we do need to realize that anything coming from a young person is not necessarily a “final answer.” Treating it as such only serves to make young stars more hesitant to open up about feelings that might be really confusing.
That being said, in Jessie’s follow-up statements on twitter, it’s curious that she seems to be positing bisexuality as an identity which puts her “into a box,” but is eager to speak openly and bluntly about her heterosexuality, seemingly because she doesn’t feel straightness does put her in a box. She’s miffed that people assumed she was dating her female friends but failed to acknowledge her boyfriends. To be honest, her twitter speech is uncomfortably familiar, like something your now-straight ex-girlfriend would say to explain why she doesn’t want anyone to know that you used to date ’cause she’s worried being labeled “bisexual” will ruin her chances with men and therefore wants to distance herself from that word as dramatically as possible. To which I say: any man who won’t date you ’cause you’re bisexual sucks even more than all cis men inherently suck, which is a lot.
Jessie insists that she never used that word to describe herself, but she basically did by referring to girls who just kissed their friends as “not bisexual” in opposition to her own identity. Regardless, I personally believe that if we’re okay with calling women who date men “heterosexual” even if they’ve never stood up and said “I am heterosexual,” we should be okay with calling women who openly declare that they date men and women as “bisexual” or “queer,” too, unless they’ve requested we use another label, in which case we should exclusively use their chosen label when discussing them. That vigilant in-community policing of applying those words to celebrities only serves to amp up the stigma around those words (there’s no universally agreed-upon catch-all word, after all!) by treating them differently than we do every other word in the dictionary (wherein a thing that matches a certain definition can be called the word that definition defines until we are otherwise notified).
Furthermore, she also seems to be positing some things as mutually exclusive that are not mutually exclusive: I too want a husband and kids one day, but I also expect that the “husband” I raise my kids with will be female. Being gay or bisexual and “wanting a husband and kids one day” are not mutually exclusive. The fact that she wants to date men now doesn’t have to mean that she’s not bisexual, either, as “wanting to date men” or even “wanting to marry men” and “being bisexual” also aren’t mutually exclusive. I can’t tell Jessie J what she is, but I can suggest that her narrative sounds a lot more like sexual fluidity than heterosexuality. If she’s honestly saying she’s been straight all along and that dating girls was just a misguided phase, then, honestly, I feel sorry for her ex-girlfriend. The media is always eager to feel bad for ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands of women who come out as lesbians later in life, after all.
It’s not Jessie J’s responsibility to ensure that your friends and family believe that your bisexuality is real, and anybody who takes your sexuality less seriously because of Jessie J’s recent revelation is being a jackass who doesn’t deserve our collective concern. But it is her responsibility, as it is every ally’s responsibility, to not talk about bisexuality like it’s a curse or a disease she can’t wait to be rid of — a nasty thing from the past she loathes to revisit. And although she doesn’t have to lie to the media, it would’ve been awfully kind for her to refrain from referring to it as a “phase,” specifically.
“Jessie J’s assertion that she wants to “stop talking about it completely” is directed at a media fond of asking her questions about her sexuality, but however justified her frustration, the message to young women and men questioning their sexuality is that she’s over it, she doesn’t want it to be a part of her life anymore, it’s something that she wants to move away from,” writes Laura Kay in The Guardian. “But having already entered into a public discussion about it, to dismiss her previous brave coming out as something she did when she was young and naive, just “a part of growing up,” is a real shame.”
Ultimately there’s nothing wrong with being straight, there’s nothing wrong with being gay, there’s nothing wrong with being bisexual or queer or a lesbian or pansexual or however you identify. Wanting to do it like a dude doesn’t mean you can’t do it with a dude and Jessie J doesn’t have to be anybody but herself, that’s true, and I don’t think she deserves to be mercilessly attacked. But I don’t think she deserves your unqualified affections, either — no musical artist does. And if her unabashed queerness was what drew you to her music, you’re certainly not obligated to maintain that affection in light of her recent conversion to The Bible of Charlotte York.
To be honest, I’m personally way less interested in her whole situation now than I was yesterday when I still thought she was bisexual. As the wise and totally real Carrie Bradshaw once said:
In order to make sure that the comments section on this article is a healthy and welcoming place for our bisexual readers, please note that any comments that question the validity of bisexuality or sexual fluidity as a sexual orientation, question Autostraddle’s decision to publish pieces discussing bisexuality, or make essentialist claims about bisexual people (ex. bisexuals are cheaters, bisexuals turn out to be gay) will be swiftly deleted.
You have expressed all the feels I felt yesterday when this story broke. ‘Coming out’ as straight feels just plain biphobic/homophobic– as if she can’t bear the thought of anyone thinking she’s queer anymore. I must say I’ve lost a lot of respect for her because of her need to distance herself so emphatically from that past. I could care less who she sleeps with or dates, but the ‘I’m straight’ announcement is… so unnecessary.
Yes yes yes yes yes. I agree that it’s not fair for us to force someone to retain a label that is no longer relevant, but her entire explanation seems like a mash of internalized biphobia and heterosexism. “Let’s stop talking about my sexuality because now I want to have a husband and I’m so angry that nobody asks me about boyfriend!! UGH” Yeah, how does she not see the blatant hypocrisy in that? It’s outrageous to have to come out straight? How about the absurdity in assuming we’re all straight until we make statements like the ones she made in 2011. It all feels…cheapened by her approach.
She should’ve just said that her private life is private and she doesn’t want to misappropriate a legitimate identity, and left it at that instead of going off on this diatribe. (Plus the constant fragmented sentences was driving me bonkers.)
I have already said the majority of what I wanted to say about this yesterday on other forums. But I just want to reiterate my feelings that Jessie handled this announcement very poorly on twitter. Her choice of words in so many of her tweets about this over the past few days have come off very insulting. And yes frankly it does come off like she wants to distance herself from the label of being attracted to girls because she is embarrassed by it.
I just don’t understand why she just didn’t get a publicist to craft a statement to make this announcement instead of the 4 page letter long tweets filled with words like “Phase” and “Choice”. Then their was her declaration afterwards that she is now “enlightened” and “free”. And lest we forget what sparked this straight announcement in the first place—Her responding to a fan with “I date/love men and ONLY men(in bold letter so you don’t forget). Is that straight enough for you?”. Just offensive and problematic shit all over the place. That’s what pisses me off. Not that she’s straight now.
Agreed. Sexual fluidity happens to many people, and there is nothing wrong with that; but the way she worded that letter just seemed a bit cold and off-putting. She should have let her PR people handle it.
Other forums= TLC?
I’ll take her word for it that she is straight now, because sexuality changes for some people. However, the way she shows disgust for her bisexual days casts a negative shadow on other bisexuals and lesbians.
Very well said
I don’t like that bisexuality is treated as if it was something childish, she was young and naive when she came out as bi? and she did some growing up and now she’s straight? okay JJ, you do you.
yeah exactly… you do you, jessie! and i’ll do me… not being a fan of you.
Apparently she grew up in a year because she was not talking this foolishness last year. And the woman is 26 not 18. She is acting like this happened years ago.
hopefully in a couple of years she will apologize for some of her REALLY poorly chosen words here as just a ton of bad “phrases” she went through
This is why I believe in keeping your business to yourself (esp if you’re a celebrity). It saves you from making redactions and explanations later down the road.
Has she actually said ‘I identify as straight/heterosexual’? I read through her mammoth tweet and don’t remember that she did – which would make me feel she’s being much fairer and more consistent. I.e. saying ‘I’ve realised I’m only attracted to men now’ means she’s still not being put ‘in a box’ by a label.
As a bi girl whose heart broke a little at this news, the language does give me pause (‘phase’ ah), but I feel like reading that tweet a few more times – because I really agree with the sentiment behind it. That she has to be honest and is fed up being positioned as someone she can’t be.
This was her exact tweet that she later deleted—
“I fancy/date/love men and only men. Is that “straight to the point” enough?”
Seems pretty clear to me.
As a bi/queer woman currently in a longterm relationship with a man, this makes me feel all kinds of weird sad feelings. Yeah, she should do her and have the labels she feels comfortable with, but bi erasure pisses me off and her statement reaffirms a lot of very unfortunate stereotypes and misconceptions. There are plenty of queer women who happen to have male identified partners or husbands, and society doesn’t need any more reasons to invalidate us.
As another bi/queer woman in a longterm relationship with a man (and a cisman, which is relevant here), can we also take offense to the statement that “any man who won’t date you ’cause you’re bisexual sucks even more than all cis men inherently suck, which is a lot”? I honestly can’t tell here if that statement was supposed to be a joke. Normally we rag on cis-men here and that doesn’t bother me in the context because it’s usually about something specific. But I’m just really hoping this was an unclear joke, because I can say my dude is 100% nonsucky and it’s really unfair to say they all are.
Yeah, I think it was meant as just another dig at cishet male privilege, which is fine but did seem a little strange in context. I know and love several nonsucky cis men, but I also think it’s ok to make generalized statements about privilege
I absolutely agree it’s ok to make generalized statements about privilege. That just didn’t strike me as one. Maybe I misinterpreted it.
She’s free to pursue whomever she wants, but this whole letter was something I did not need to read. This makes me cringe. I understand wanting to date guys for whatever reason (I’m bisexual so this happens to me every once in a while) but a) not wanting to marry a woman does not make you straight; b) saying you are straight when people thought you were not does not give you a free pass to say those rude and untrue things about bisexual people as a group and c) this is a perfect example why you should cool off before posting anything on social networking sites.
This frustrates me because though she says she doesn’t want to be put in a box she effectively and definitively puts herself in a box with these comments.
I think that Jessie reserves every right to identify as straight. After all, being in ANY kind of closet sucks. I think that the way she says it….is probably heart breaking to her previous partners though. But, she should be honest. And if she wants a male partner, she’s gotta let the males know.
People who have previously identified as straight come out as gay all the time, and we welcome them so much into our community. Jessie is now going to be shunned from all the communities. As long as she doesn’t say anything negative about the queer community, she has every right in my opinion to define herself as anything she wants and to change that definition at any time.
True, I wish she wouldn’t have written something so hostile-seeming, but she was probably fed up explaining it to everyone. That tweet was probably the last straw. We don’t know the whole story- we only see the last straw.
“being in ANY kind of closet sucks.”
i would disagree with that. i think it’s a whole fuckton of a lot harder for an isolated gay/queer/bi girl in an intolerant community with conservative parents to be in the closet than it is for a famous pop star with an understanding family and an open-minded peer group to have people think she is open to dating both men and women when she actually feels right now like she only wants to date men from now on.
YES YES YES FOREVER
Yeah, yeah, cushy celebrities with their cushy lives and their obligation to try to make the world better for those who don’t have visibility. Yes, I agree.
BUT I would agree with the original comment that finding yourself mislabeled for whatever reason is difficult. Different degree of difficult, yes. But it’s totally within JJ’s right to assert herself. Did she come out looking like a biphobic person with little understanding of the conventions of grammar and Twitter here? Yes. But, saying hey, I’m straight now, guys, is, to me, not an automatic no-no.
Her identifying as straight is not the people. How she has carried herself about this however is a problem. I follow her on twitter so I have seen everything she has written about this and I don’t think anything justifies the hostility she is displaying. So what if somebody tweeted her jokingly asking if she is dating her female friend. Did that really merit 10 or 12 long aggressive tweets in two days about it? It just comes off like she is offended at even the implication that she would still be attracted to those icky women. Like I said, a publicist would have helped her out immensely.
all things yes to this. thank you!
BTW, Jessie is working on a new album that she mentioned in her latest tweet about her heterosexuality today. She just had to get in that self-promotion? Makes me wonder if this whole thing was calculated now.
Oh, and her new song is called “You Don’t Really Know Me”. She posted this specific lyric from it on her twitter—“Smiles when they guess who she’s loving, what they say makes her mad,
Fact is they truly know nothing, cause she just wants a man”
Wow. She is being unbelievably obnoxious.
WOW!!!! wow. wow. i just cannot with that lyric. i just absolutely cannot!
Well isn’t she just so determined to set the record “straight”. Me thinks she duth protest too much.
I registered an account to agree with how bogus that lyric is. I was giving her the benefit of the doubt – maybe she’s just confused and bad at expressing herself? – but those lines have put it into perspective. She really is that dumb.
I have to resort to my mother tongue now I can’t carry on like this
I admit I never even heard of her before (metal chick here) but she could have just said something like, “just an update, I’m only dating men these days” and let it go at that… all this concern and hand-wringing over it just comes off weird and phobic and icky. *ugh*
We get it girl, you’re straight. Now log off twitter and back away from the computer.
As I discussed on Twitter, her sexuality was relevant when she appeared onto the music scene and she kept it relevant with songs like Do It Like A Dude, Who You Are, L.O.V.E or the apptly titled Rainbow, but it’s been years since then and who she dates is not tabloid news or really, any kind of news, which I think is great, kudos to her privacy. She was the only one who made her sexuality relevant by saying she dates men and ONLY men, and the subsequent Twitter rants only made it seem like she’s really bothered about it when no one else really was. She connected with her LGBT fanbase through music and now she’s telling them all to fuck off with their feelings because she’s straight and we all need to deal. But she’s the only one who isn’t dealing, it seems? This is so strange to me, she was never very talked about because of the fact she dated girls, she was mainstream and she was successful. Her sexuality was NEVER made into a “thing” that was detrimental to her in the slightest, so why such a need to erase it? Even if she dates men from now till forever, the label “bisexual” would still apply if she considered her past relationships with women legit, which she seems to not be doing. Which makes me feel sorry for her girlfriends.
I’m curious about this statement: “Even if she dates men from now till forever, the label “bisexual” would still apply if she considered her past relationships with women legit, which she seems to not be doing. Which makes me feel sorry for her girlfriends.”
So I’m a self-proclaimed bi-ish queerish label hating girl — but this makes me distinctly uncomfortable.
I don’t like JJ’s defensiveness and phrasing and overall Twitter weirdness with this business, but I will defend her right to label or unlabel herself as whichever what thing she wants. I also wasn’t really aware of her connection to the LGBT community so I’m not as attached to this as others.
BUT — if someone says, “hey, I now consider myself straight/I now consider myself gay” that erases their whole previous sexual history?
And — if she does consider it a phase — goddamn that word pisses me off as a bi-woman — BUT say it was a momentary thing in her life, and that was the word she came up with to describe it. Devil’s advocate here.
That being said, I do wish she had phrased it somewhat like: “Hey guys, my sexuality’s fluid and I’m now on the heterosexual end of things. Previously, I was digging the ladies, but I recognized for me, that was a stage of my life that I’m no longer in. That being said, so many other fine bisexual women remain dating both men and women and I was totally proud of being labeled bisexual when I was one. I’m asking you to respect my current sexual identity now, though, and the identities of everyone else who chooses to identify or not identify as whatever term they wish.”
Riese, normally I love everything you write — but why, in an article on bi erasure, are we talking about how “all cis men inherently suck”? Especially if we are building a community where queer women can love cis men and still identify as queer. I agree that JJ’s phrasing is really problematic and frustrating, but these kind of comments are part of what make me (as someone who identifies as bi/queer) feel uncomfortable sometimes in queer spaces, and maybe this is also what JJ is reacting to in her statements.
But maybe that was sarcasm? Because this is disappointing for Autostraddle :(
“To which I say: any man who won’t date you ’cause you’re bisexual sucks even more than all cis men inherently suck, which is a lot.” I found the second half of this sentence to be unnecessary and adding a link to why we hate men didn’t really help things…
There are plenty of cis men I know who don’t inherently suck. In fact, I’d rather spend time with them than many queer people I know. I’ve been taking a lot of internet breaks so I forget about little nasty asides like this. Maybe it was meant in jest, but I didn’t find it particularly funny, productive, or relevant.
Yeah, I’m sure it was jokey and all, but as a queer woman dating a cis guy, and also just as a human being, that line really bummed me the fuck out.
Thank you. I have a multitude of cis men friends and I wanted to cry at that statement. Acceptance goes many directions peeps.
I may be wrong, but I took the cis men suck to be just a side rant towards the privilege men have, which does suck. Men hold institutional power to oppress others based on gender.
Obviously, not all men suck. I rant about the oppression people of colour experience from white people in the same way. Look at the posts on AS that deal with racial oppression, AS doesn’t allow white people to comment “but not all white people are like that!” or something similar to that effect. Because, yes, not all white people are like that, but if you feel the need to soothe the emotions of the oppressor over the oppressed, I’m side-eyeing you.
I may be wrong with Riese’s intentions, but when speaking about oppressors, generalizations are made so that the people being generalized don’t shrug oppressive behaviours off as “well I don’t do that so that is not my business”. By saying that not all insert-privilege people are like that, you’re letting them off the hook from reflecting about their privilege and doing something to dismantle that.
Having a privilege that oppresses others does not make you a bad person, refusing to accept that you have a privilege over others does.
Last I checked, this was a feminist website too. I am not interested in feminism that makes sure a man’s ego isn’t bruised. I am not interested in feminism that is complacent in racism, ableism, classsist, transphobic, men-catering, etc etc. If someone has been oppressed by a certain group, then I understand their need to steer clear from that group, or confront and call that group out.
Riese, if that wasn’t your intent, then I’m sorry for going on this tangent.
What about queer or bi women who feel judged by and excluded from their own community because they see queer women (and particularly lesbian-identified women) making them uncomfortable to talk about their relationships with cis-guys in shared spaces? Why would this be the time or the place for a rant about the privilege men have? Would anyone on this site EVER argue that cis men don’t have tons of privilege? Specifically, she noted that cis men, even those dating bisexual women, inherently suck. As someone with a cis male partner, you know what actually sucks? That sentiment.
Like I said, I don’t know Reise’s intentions. Yeah, it is a random time to make that note of cis men, but I don’t think she meant it as an attack to bi women, but towards male privilege, which yes, random time.
Intellectually I 110% agree with everything that has been said here, and it makes me sad that queer women feel excluded by statements like this in queer spaces.
However, as an (occasionally man-hating) feminist lesbian, my initial gut reaction reading that sentence of Reises was a mix of ‘Amen Sister!’ and ‘hell to the yeah’. In feeling that I wasn’t thinking about my amazing cis male father who I love, or about my amazing queer lady friends who happen to be dating cis guys, or those cis guys that are also my friends.
I was thinking about a vast number of cis men who regularly annoy, frustrate, insult and make my life harder either intentionally or unintentionally with their inherent privilege and socially conditioned traits/interests that often exclude or demean women, particularly gay women.
I appreciate having a lesbian space where a comment like that can be made, and it is understood like Natalie has spoken about, and isn’t taken personally against friends and family. I think that I’m not alone in being a lesbian women who loves and has positive relationships with cis men in my life as individuals but still often relates to generalised criticism of cis men and ‘man-hating’. It may be a contradictory space, but it’s a space we inhabit.
However, it completely makes sense how alienating that would be to women who are queer and date men. and that really sucks. Even though as queers who identify with different labels and experiences we gain so much by coming together and sharing spaces like AS, I guess there are still going to be tensions and misunderstandings like this from our different perspectives.
You’ve made me stop and consider man-hating statements like this coming out of my own mouth, and the impacts they could have on others besides cis men themselves… I’ll be trying to do better by you not monosexual queers in the future.
Generalized reply: I’m aware of the oppression situation, I’m aware of patriarchy, etc. In the general, I am not a feminist scholar, just an average human being kind of way. I don’t think this was a situation where this is necessary and it’s making a lot of people uncomfortable, such as queer people who date cis men and people who are currently perceived or have been perceived as cis men (had some good conversations with people that fit into that category).
Also, male privilege isn’t limited to cis men so that’s weird that cis men were specified. The statement seems too well thought out for a one-off joke, yet mostly irrelevant to the situation at hand (except ironically, making bisexual/queer women LESS comfortable with their bi/queerness in this space because their partners inherently suck).
Those are a few of my feels. I don’t expect any acknowledgment of them, except perhaps being told that I am overreacting. I just wanted to make it clear that this was not an ‘omg what about the menz?!’ situation but one that involved a lot more people and nuance. I have been attacked before for criticizing statements that I and others considered biphobic, so I keep a low profile ’round here anyway.
I think there’s a difference between calling a group out, or asking someone to reflect on their privilege, and saying an entire group of people suck. Not systematized inequality sucks or the patriarchy sucks, but just all cismen.
It’s not the joke(?) itself that bugs me so much as how many people seem to agree that an appropriate response to oppression is being a jerk to anyone that kinda looks like your oppressors. And spinning it as a way to get people to reflect on their privilege just seems dishonest, as insults are kind low on the list of effective strategies to win people over.
I just don’t buy that being uncomfortable making the same kind of unfair negative sweeping generalizations about any group that one of them might make about me is ‘catering’. I prefer to think of it as fitting in with that old saying ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ I’m not really interested in feminism that thinks it’s ok not to treat every person with equal courtesy and civility that every human deserves. :/
I wish I could like this a hundred times.
This comment is so good my index finger hurts from trying to like it so many times.
I’m also a long time Riese fan and this isn’t the first time she dropped this line (or one similar to it; I distinctly remember her saying she hates all men on more than one occasion, though I’m too lazy to provide links right now), and I too am bothered each and every time she does that.
It’s one thing to highlight the privileges of being a white heterosexual male in the US and another thing to resort to this sort of immature, thoughtless and, IMHO, harmful attacks on a group of people; many of whom might be (and some ARE) inclined to support our ideals.
Many times I share good articles that do a particularly good job of pointing out the importance of feminism and LGBTQ rights, but with Riese I have to proof-read them first, which is a shame.
I actually saw your statement as playing devil’s advocate…
But NGL, I do think that some of the other replies are just completely derailing from the topic and making it about them. Saying that cis men suck is in no way, shape or form about the people who are dating them (or came from one).
Mm, I feel this. It surprised me and caught me off guard, and I had to click the link to understand what the intent was. It read snarkier than I think you possibly intended, sorry to say Riese.
I am glad to read these perspectives, because as a queer person who has sexual/romantic relationships with people who are cis men, I was not at all offended by this comment. My closest friend and roommate is a cis man, and he’s one of if not the least sucky cis dudes I’ve ever met. But cis man as a social identity brings a lot of baggage, which is how I read that statement. I think of it the way I think of my whiteness – being socialized in that identity does some fucked-up things to how you understand the world and your own positionality. In that sense, even as a white person who works to be actively anti-racist, I still inherently suck at some level. I read this jab at cis men as making a similar type of statement.
I love my cis dude friends/partners, but they’ve all got some shit to work on no matter how awesome they are, just like I have some shit to work on as a cis white person.
In fourth grade when I took my first standardized test, our teacher told us that any statements using the word ‘all’ or ‘never’ were probably false. I find it really confusing that you guys are more focused on a jokey hyperbolic half-sentence taking a shot at an oppressive class than on every other sentence in this post. OBVIOUSLY it’s hyperbolic cuz it’s impossible for anyone to hate ALL men. we all have brothers and dads and uncles and male friends who are awesome. How is that one line somehow taken as the truest and most straightforward sentence in this entire post? When you say it seems ‘weird’ in this context, I think that’s your clue that it’s not meant to be taken as literally as its context. You don’t think it’s funny, fine, but you’re drawing really sweeping conclusions about something that i think is kind a stretch. Not to mention that maybe this is one place on the entire internet where cis men aren’t worshipped and i think that’s needed and okay.
Hi friends! I’m a bisexual woman in a serious relationship with a cis man, and also the senior editor of this website. Here are my thoughts on this topic.
First of all, I’m surprised that the idea of expressing anger towards an oppressive, more privileged group through hyperbole is as surprising as it seems to be to so many people. For many marginalized groups, expressing anger, dislike or even hatred towards a group that oppresses them is a pretty common, pretty meaningful, and pretty important way to cope with intense disenfranchisement at the hands of that group, and isn’t generally understood as a personal indictment of everyone in that group. For instance, my partner will sometimes say “fucking white people” as an expression of frustration. I am white, but I don’t understand that statement as hating me individually; I recognize that it’s a rejection of whiteness, and that as a white person I am inextricably implicated in whiteness. I can be aware of my privileged group membership in that moment without assuming that it’s about me personally. For more on this topic, I liked this piece a lot that I found on Tumblr!
For this reason, I don’t understand why it’s logical to think that a hatred of individual men was intended rather than a rejection of Men as a group. More than that, though, I’m really concerned about the implication that criticizing men as a group is tantamount to criticizing bisexual women. Again, I’ve been with a cis man for 2+ years and plan to be for the forseeable future, and this doesn’t make sense to me. Certainly I care about my partner, and my brother, and the few close friends I have who are men. But that doesn’t mean that when people take issue with them or their actions, they are also taking issue with me as a person. I love those men in my life, but I also know that with all of them — every single one — I’ve had to educate them, call them out, rise above my feelings when they’ve truly hurt me with their ignorance or dismissal of my experiences as a woman. Because even the men I love have grown up in patriarchy, and my loving them doesn’t fix that. I love those men individually, but I hate the culture of maleness that has done really poisonous things to them and their feelings about women (really, I hate maleness/patriarchy MORE because of how much I love them, for that reason). These feelings aren’t mutually exclusive; the individual doesn’t erase the system by being, in some ways, outside of it.
I think when it comes to bisexual women, also, there’s a more concerning layer of the idea that because we care about men, we shouldn’t criticize them or express anger about them as a group. That because bisexual women date men, they should be extra offended if men are criticized. To me, this really smacks of toxic second-wave ideas about bisexual women being “in league with” men or “on the side of” the patriarchy. Plenty of women, straight and lesbian, have emotional ties with men; straight women also have sex with them. But when someone makes a joke about misandry, we don’t usually read it as being offensive to straight women. I think there’s a residual idea about bi women that because we date men, we are in some important way politically identified with men, which is wildly inaccurate. It seems to me like the only reason we would feel this way is because as a culture we’re encouraged to define bisexual women entirely by their sexual choices; if bi women have sex with men, then their social circumstances are linked to men’s. But this isn’t the case any more so than other women! Bisexual women AS A GROUP are oppressed by men AS A GROUP, because that’s what patriarchy is. I don’t benefit from men’s being comfortable or not having their feelings hurt; in my own life, I’ve often really needed the men around me to be uncomfortable or have their feelings hurt so they can understand how to be in my life without being totally awful. To the extent that men feeling uncomfortable or having to move past the defensiveness of “we’re not all like that!” to think about their own privilege, bi women really really stand to benefit from men feeling occasionally bad in productive ways. Individual bi women may certainly be in alliance with individual cis men if they want to be, but an argument that criticism of men is biphobic certainly shouldn’t be made on behalf of all bi women; it definitely doesn’t speak for me.
Lastly, I’m confused about why this conversation has come up now, on this article. This is far, far from the first time AS has made a joke about hating men — we even have a TAG about it, which I used myself recently on this post. I’m not sure why this has never been a problem for anyone before, and as a bisexual woman, it makes me feel weird that after literally years, it comes up in an article that largely deals with our community’s challenges and perceptions and betrayals. It’s difficult not to feel frustrated about having the conversation shifted away from bi women, who are part of AS’s constituency and face persistent oppressions, to cis men, who are not our readers and whom are relatively wildly privileged in most respects.
“I love those men in my life, but I also know that with all of them — every single one — I’ve had to educate them, call them out, rise above my feelings when they’ve truly hurt me with their ignorance or dismissal of my experiences as a woman. Because even the men I love have grown up in patriarchy, and my loving them doesn’t fix that.”
this is such an important part of the queer feminist landscape that i am just now realizing doesnt get addressed explicitly very often. I think a lot of us individually do a lot of thinking and feeling about these issues in our own lives, but i dont hear it talked about much in public discourse. my own struggle stems from the fact that one of my very favorite people in the world is my white cis dare i say dudebro younger brother. ok, not dudebro per se that seems harsh but definitely dudebro adjacent. ultimately nothing about our wildly different political and social positions has changed the fact that he is my favorite. he is on a very short list of people that i love and care about more than myself and that is just a fact quick someone call the girl police and file a report. but make no mistake that does not absolve him of culpability,guilt,or responsibility in my eyes…not even a little bit. if anything i hold him to higher standard than other men in my life. he has said some really misinformed, terrible things and they never go unchallenged and he has pushed back and it is never easy between us. we have had heated arguments about the struggle of men in society and none have ended well and one even ended in tears from both sides. yet despite all the tough conversations we have had, it never really changes the fundamental love and adoration i have for him which is such a mindfuck but very illustrative of how complex and multi-layered queer feminism can feel in practice. you are so articulate about the discomfort and effort that comes from being in that position and the distinction that needs to be made between loving men in our lives and loving The Man. I know for me, this has been a source of internal confusion and frustration that i never talk about (maybe for fear of rejection and criticism?), and your response really addressed and validated something i wasnt even aware i needed addressed and validated so thank you for that magic. now i am just really interested in having more conversations with queer women about how they deal with this in their own lives after reading all these comments. it appears i am not alone, and it is clearly something that undergirds our collective ideas about misandry,the patriarchy, and even bisexuality it would seem.
This is the best shutdown to a derail I’ve ever seen.
I appreciated this response; really interesting and informative.
Apologies if you want this thread to disappear. Given your question, I wanted to shed light on why the convo has come up now for me. Maybe others can relate.
It’s not that I’m particularly shocked by the fact that AS has strong negative feelings about the patriarchy and cis men’s roles within/in aide of this (so do I!). It’s not even that I’m shocked that AS uses hyperboles that characterises all men in a certain negative/patriarchy-riddled way (I’ve seen that many times before and chuckled and nodded along).
It was that it wasn’t totally clear that it was a hyperbole? ‘Inherently suck’ wasn’t teased out – it sort-of was through links but not within main article and read-through- and ‘all men’ thus could mean ‘all men’ (funnily enough). There are literally arguments I can hear in my head that many feminists can and would seriously leverage against all men. In which case it seemed like it was a strongly barbed fact without much further (in-article) explanation?
That naturally makes me uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable partly because it could alienate any new reader who doesn’t know this site’s general vibe and politics and might just read the article and take the phrase at vague-but-strongly-negative-to-cis-men face value.
That- for now- is where I’m placing my funny feels about it.
The funny thing is, I feel that the next hyperbole on here about cis men and the patriarchy will be as perfect as ever and I’ll easily recognise it as such. It was just this one that made me feel funny for the above reasons.
I’m sorry for contributing to your feelings of frustration and that the conversation was hijacked. (Serious questions: is derailing only derailing if it’s deemed to be ‘defending the privileged’? Otherwise is it just a tangent, therefore more allowed because we do have tangents on here? Is there a space to discuss how communities (queer, feminist) represent and work together with cis men for a better world? – I feel like this was partly what the discussion was to me. I still think it’s a worthwhile discussion to have but I’m not sure where/how).
Those are my thoughts. Thanks again for yours.
*I still think it’s a worthwhile discussion to have and one that I’d love to have with the very-well-thought and insightful minds on here but I’m not sure where/how.
Thank you for this article Reise, you put into words more eloquent than I could have why this bothered me. For me, like others, the use of the words “a phase” made me shake my head. But also this “Whatever sexuality they choose, or have chosen…”. I mean, it’s really not a choice, I don’t understand how she doesn’t get that. I think that’s the most problematic thing, for me at least, like she’s implying that she’s “chosen” to be straight and “grown up”. I don’t have a problem at all with her only wanting to be involved with men now, I just wish she hadn’t been so clueless with her “choice” of words.
Exactly. Even the use of “just a phase” makes me grit my teeth and bear it, because, okay, fair, some people that’s their experience, but calling it a choice is where I lost it. She is burning a LOT of bridges with her supposed support for a community she’s just carpetbombed.
YES! The choice thing is so weird because IDK, maybe because she’s been involved with both women and men she should know better. Your point about a community reminds me that she has a lot of young/teenage fans. Of course she has no obligation to be a role model, she should only be true to herself, but I just think she should be careful not to imply that, basically “not being straight” is something you can pick and choose, or grow out of.
For the first time ever, I regret reading an Autostraddle article.
I feel like there’s a great food for thought hiding under your comment here. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts.
Ugh. It feels like these quotes and the ones from a few years ago are from completely different people – not because her attractions have shifted, which is totally fine, but because the tone is so different. She used to seem so accepting, and now it seems like she is embarrassed to be associated with the LGBT community.
Sexual fluidity exists, and it’s fine for her to make it clear that she’s only sexually interested in men right now. But she could easily do that without acting as though it’s offensive for people to think she might be with a woman.
I’m pretty proud of Jessie J for “coming out” as straight. If she doesn’t identify as bisexual then fair enough.
I respect her choice to acknowledge that her “bisexuality” was a phase.
I might get some flack for saying this buttttt she hit the nail on the head when she said “I never wanted to be called a hypocrite, but I didn’t want my sexuality to become a gimmick. There are lots of people who go, ‘Oh, I’m bisexual.’ No. You’ve kissed your friend.”
she said that in 2011 when she was coming out about dating both men and women
Yeah, and I think that it was good of her to come out and say that she isn’t actually bi. It was just a phase for her.
ohhhhh i see what you’re saying ok
I kind of found the juxtapose to be quite ironic. But then again, my actions today completely contradict some things I said 3+ years ago.
I agree, it’s good that she’s owning her own sexual identity, I may not like it, but I really have to respect it. Personally I just have a problem with her use of the word “phase” because it can’t be nice for her ex-girlfriend(s?) to hear, and also that she refers to sexuality being a “choice”. But your point about her not wanting to be a hypocrite, I get that, she now really feels that she’s only into men and wants to make that clear, fair enough, I just wish she’d worded it better.
I have a bigger problem with her thinking SATC was real than with her admitting it was a phase. For many bisexuals, dating both genders is not a phase; and for some it is. We have to make room for both.
Just cuz I don’t love her as a person doesn’t mean I condone hating on a celebrity for how they handle media pressure re:their sexuality.
SATC isn’t real? Lies.
Not to mention that Carrie’s columns were really bad
I was also mislead as to the amount of sex I would be having in the city. I mean, maybe I’m doing it wrong.
I was really disappointed to discover the actual payday for just writing about yourself all the time is not enough for an apartment in the village
Dear Jessie J: publicist, seriously
Dear Bisexuals: with this and Tom Daley you guys are not having a good week. But, hey Evan Rachel Wood, right?
I’m not sure what Tom Daley has to do with this topic as he didn’t come out as straight after experimenting. You can only know your gay by giving it a go, perhaps much the same as when Jessie J tried lesbianism and when compared it to straight experiences that followed she figured out what she ultimately preferred. I know quite a few women who dated women only to ID as straight later on. However I don’t like her choice of words and I feel sorry for her fans who were so taken with her positive representation of butches and AGs only to learn it was some kind of phase or possibly even pandering to the gay community for Diva points.
Well in all fairness, Tom Daley never said he was bi. I think he was still sorting out his orientation when he said he “still fancied girls”, and the media just plastered the label on him.
Ahaha, I ~love~ how there is never a label in sight when people talk about fancying individuals of multiple genders but it always magically appears when they declare, “BISEXUALITY = yes, totes a phase!” Amazing.
Also funny: “But I definitely think my generation is more easygoing about it.” – Yes, that is why you need scream your straightness from the rooftops. How very easygoing of you, indeed.
Well, I think in the bisexual economy a trade of Jessie J and Tom Daley for Debbie Harry is a pretty good deal. good riddance to the former.
But seriously, sexuality aside, Jessie J is a total twat and her music is rubbish.
What. WHAT. what.
So disappointed. I mean, I was in the camp of “I totes thought you were a lesbian; what do you mean you sometimes also like men b/c have you listened to your music/seen yourself??????”
Gah. I see this happen way too much.
Disappointed. This almost ruins Do It Like a Dude for me.
“Disappointed. This almost ruins Do It Like a Dude for me.
i can relate to this
(i think pretty much nothing could ruin do it like a dude for me, ultimately?)
I kind of need someone to cover do it like a dude now so I can bear to listen to it again. Just so disappointed by how she’s handled this whole mess.
ftr i just checked with marni this morning and she still identifies as a lesbian, i recommend this video highly
On a personal level, I kind of feel for where she’s at. Some monosexual people are quite threatened by bisexuality and it can be hard dealing with that when entering a relationship. And it’d be easy to say all monosexual people who are threatened by bisexuality are jerks so don’t date them, but….well that would cut out a lot of people sadly.
Not that it excuses in anyway what she’s said. I think there are so many other ways that she could have indicated that she’s interested in only dating men now, without all the other crap she’s said.
After “Do it like a Dude” how does one come back from that without emphatically stating I don’t like women anymore and please burn all copies of this song as well as delete anything online and all downloads and comments made by me to the contrary. Seems to me she has Internet and media remorse.
Are we avoiding the elephant in the room? Down to the same language.
I didn’t want to touch that because people tend to have a lot of feelings about religion and homosexuality but yes she does seem to be a born-again Christian as well. I don’t know if that played into her current feelings or not?
Turkish, what strikes me is the rhetoric. I was not familiar with Jessie J. at all. But when I read “I want to stop talking about it completely now and find myself a husband.”, flashing lights went off. More so than the terms such as “phase” and “experimenting”. I have heard that rhetoric before and it isn’t from straight women who are sure about their sexuality.
This is exactly what I was thinking!
Oh, wow. I did not even know about that elephant. I mean, our first thought reading what she said was “this sounds like someone who has just converted to a really conservative religion”
That was how it sounded to me as well. Interesting.
The comments under that article though. SMH. And that is why I didn’t want to touch the subject. Some people really do believe religion and homosexuality can’t co-exist. I don’t want to put words in her mouth but it is quite the coincidence that she has suddenly become all about Christianity around the same time she’s “coming out” as straight.
what does it say that I thought it sounded like someone who was really controlling and insecure about her past relationships? (besides that I used to be with someone like that, natch)
*ObDisc: not equating religion with abuse, will leave that for others to do
I think denouncing your own queerness within a few months of becoming a serious Christian is a legitimate cause for suspicion.
But, she’s not condemning other people being queer yet, at least.
I thought to myself that the language sounded very born-againesque…But since I know nothing about this singer, I really couldn’t say.
This explains it then
Damn. Welp. That could explain it, depending on what strain of “God” she found.
WOW thank you for bringing that to light. Definitely seems…relevant…
JESSIE J HAS NO CREDIBILITY. People made a big deal out of it because she talked about it whenever she got interviewed. How can i ever trust a person like that? How can i have respect for a person like that? she did not apologize for using the word PHASE, she JUSTIFIED it.
“But it is her responsibility, as it is every ally’s responsibility, to not talk about bisexuality like it’s a curse or a disease she can’t wait to be rid of — a nasty thing from the past she loathes to revisit. And although she doesn’t have to lie to the media, it would’ve been awfully kind for her to refrain from referring to it as a “phase,” specifically.”
THIS. That’s something I’ll always dislike. People who are hypocritical about themselves. We are who we are. I don’t think anyone should ever deny their true selves. There are also a lot of straight guys I like. Hanging out with them more like because there’s less drama because men? I know, it’s weird. Also, this sort of messes up my gymflow, I ALWAYS listen to ‘do it like a dude’ at the gym…you know for when I show up the boys for leg day.
this makes me feel a lot of questions because I still claim “bi” as an identity: 1. because politically, too many bis are erased/ignored/questioned/etc. YOU GUYS KNOW and 2. because I dated a man for for years when I was 18-22 and I fucked a couple guys afterward, one whom I wanted to date…but I feel now I have almost no interest in men and want to marry/love/be with a wonderful woman. I know it’s not quite the same, but in the same way I want to honor the feelings and truth and actual love I have felt for some people in my life who have happened to have been male, I would love for jessi j to feel the same. The same way I say bi and queer and gay and lez interchangeably for myself (sorry for the people who feel differently, I would love to discuss anytime/all the time), can’t she? That would ~really~ confuse that media she hates so much.
I mean, it’s fine, everyone’s fine, everything is everthing. but if you’ve loved a man and you have loved a woman does it hurt to say you are bi? even bi-onlyinterestedinmennow or bi-onlyinterestedinwomennow?
I guess whatever! maybe I shouldn’t feel cultural pressure to give any allowance/awareness/honor/respect/responsibility/whatevs to men in the same way jessi j seems not to feel the need to do towards women! love is love! whatever always!
…I think I got a little carried away. anyway. not really saying anything, but feeling a distinct structural power play that is making me ~think~. And yeah, sorry, a bit disappointed with jessi j.
(side note, I created an account just to reply to this comment!!)
I think you did actually say a lot here, but maybe what I read is different than what you were intending (I allow for my interpretation to be wrong). What I got out of this is acceptance of ourselves as who we are. And by continuing to refer to yourself as bi is acceptance of your past.
That’s something I actually deal with a lot, I went through therapy to work through it all. Most of my life, I openly dated men. I knew a looooong time ago that I wasn’t really interested in men, but I wanted to be accepted in my pretty conservative Catholic schools, and by my Catholic family. I secretly was involved with women and when I was away in college was in a serious relationship with a woman while also appearing to be in a serious relationship with a guy. That got me married for 12 years to a guy and having kids and being miserable and labeling myself as bi and being unhappy for not being true to myself. My life is much better now that we’re divorced and I’m dating an awesome lady.
That being said, I cannot label myself or refer to myself as bi anymore, because that feels like a lie. As well, it also feels super open ended. Your possibilities of bi-onlyinterestedinmennow or bi-onlyinterestedinwomennow feels to me like there is some sort of possibility that I might change my mind in the future. For me, that’s not going to happen (ok, ok, I know, speaking in absolutes but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen). I refer to myself/consider myself a lesbian because that’s what I am. There’s no open end to that question, there isn’t a possibility in the future that I’m going to go back to men. In conversations, I will be honest about it all, I generally say something along the lines of, “I used to refer to myself as bi and I was married to a man, but after a lot of introspection and unhappiness I had to come to terms and accept that I am a lesbian.”
I think that in terms of what you’ve described as your experience and why you will say that you are bi it shows a really fascinating acceptance and acknowledgement of your past. At the same time, me saying that I’m a lesbian isn’t dismissive of my past, it’s an acceptance of who I am.
In Jessi J’s situation, I think she’s being dismissive. It’s the same thing that pisses me off about Piper on Orange is the New Black – she constantly dismisses her own sexuality by saying “I used to be a lesbian.” Why not accept who you are without trying to erase the experience of other members of the community? Say you’re bi. When someone brings up who you’re sleeping with or marrying or whatever, be honest. Love IS love. People are going to love who they love and that is beautiful.
(also, I am sorry if I got sidetracked and stopped making any sense whatsoever)
Thanks so much for writing this! When I read about Jessie’s new coming out, I was thinking (and tweeting) that I’d love, love, love to see your opinion on this and you worded it excellently.
It’s so tricky because, honestly, is it really our business to opinionate someone elses sexuality? And although normally I would be inclined to say no, in this case I think we can. A little. Calling bisexuality & liking girls a “phase” and a “choice” is not only sad for other bisexuals or her ex-girlfriends, but it’s also sad for Jessie herself. At age 26 she clearly still hasn’t grasped the concept of love. Or being kind about it, for that matter.
I don’t know if it’s her newfound believe in God (yes, I went there) or her convenient new album release (yes, I went there too), but I hope she reconsiders her harsh words and just starts loving (whomever she wants).
And for the record. If being heterosexual is “grown-up and enlightened”, than I’d rather stay young and naive forever!
I have a lot of confusing feelings about this. But I think I’ll always love her anyway for the “Do It Like A Dude” video, which offended nearly every straight man in my life, and for looking like a young Regina Mills.
for someone who doesnt want to talk about her sexuality and make it the public’s business, she sure is talking a lot about her sexuality in public.
Literally in awe at the fact that several people thought it was necessary and appropriate to bring up how hurt their feelings are by women pointing out misogyny because their male friends and husbands are sO GreaT….
It’s kind of relevant, though? For me, anyway. Most of the activists I work with to assist homeless queer POC are queer cis male POC, and they do not ‘inherently suck’. There are hundreds of queer kids of colour who would be homeless were it not for the work done by these amazing volunteers.
Whilst I don’t believe the comment was ~misandrist~ because I don’t believe misandry actually exists, I still don’t think it was a necessary one.
It’s really, really gross to use the oppression homeless queer men of colour face to justify women shutting down discussions about misogyny by defending their white not queer and not homeless cis male partners, friends and family. It would’ve been a completely different discussion if any of the comments mentioned disadvantaged groups of cis men, but none did – they all mentioned individual privileged cis men who are super nice to specific women.
It seems really obvious that you haven’t read all the comments above to me. Several people brought up the existence of cis dudes who are not straight and white.
Also, I don’t think anyone is saying that joking misandry should be 100% verboten. I have also been known to say “ugh, dudes should all be launched into the sun” when I’m tired after a long day of being sexually harassed at the grocery store and mansplained to in class. What I hear is not men saying “don’t say we suck, it hurts our feelings”, it’s queer women saying that statements like that are hurtful.
As a bi woman with a cis male partner, I can honestly say that there are more times that members of the queer community make my identity feel invalid than not (and exactly zero times my partner has, for the record). It’s not nearly on par with the stuff I went through when I was dating a woman, yes, but it’s still hurtful when I’m trying to tell one of my best friends a story about my love life and their response is basically “ew, dudes,” or when a friend is horrified that they might have been mistaken for a straight person when out with a gay male friend.
That comment wasn’t pointing out misogyny, except in the broadest sense of “male privilege exists”. I think most of us know that already. That means an article about bisexuality is a deeply inappropriate place to reiterate it when statements about the suckiness of men are often something that makes non-monosexual queers feel uncomfortable. I invite you to question whether you really want to value making “men suck” jokes at all times over the comfort and inclusion of bi and queer women in our own community.
THIS. I think that comments like Riese’s contribute to strong discomfort for women who would like to identify as queer while also being involved with cis men. (Which is all the weirder coming from Riese.) The power dynamics make it so that negative remarks about privileged folks are seen as okay. But this kind of comment makes it hard to bi (or fluid etc.) folks to mention a hetero relationship within a queer space, and I wonder if this kind of dynamic may have played a role in JJ’s comments. That’s why it seemed different from random jokes about privileged people in other contexts. Part of the JJ story seems to be how comfortable people feel claiming a queer identity, or a least a queer past (fluidity yo). And I gotta say, the first time I got up the courage to go to a lesbian bar, the number of man-hating comments made me (as someone who also likes men) question if I belonged — and it really happens all the time. I get why, and discussing mutual frustration is a great conversation-starter, but I think a lot of queer folk don’t realize how weird it feels for those who aren’t strictly mono-sexual, and who might be keeping quiet about it for that very reason. I don’t need to defend a cis white hetero male’s rights to those identities and privileges! For me, discomfort with statements like Riese’s stem primarily from concern about queer women who date men, and not about the actual cis-menfolk and their feelings. ESPECIALLY in the context of discussing bisexuality, this comment was really ironic — it’s the kind of thing that makes queer women with male partners feel they’re not a part of the community.
But Riese’s comment was directed towards men, not bisexual women so I don’t really see the problem? You and other commentors keep saying that you’re not here to defend cis white men but you clearly are. Also, you were in a LESBIAN bar. A place where they are meant to feel comfortable talking about the issues they have with men and you got upset about that? Is it only okay for women who are partnered with cis men to be critical of them now? Because that’s what I’m taking away from all of this.
I feel like this is a really dangerous association to be making, as Rachel explained above — a person of any gender or sexual orientation who is bothered by comments or jokes about man-hating would, I imagine, migrate towards friends who don’t make those comments and away from friends like me. By framing those conversations as offenses to bisexual women specifically, you’re defining bisexual women as a group primarily by their romantic and sexual relationships with men, as if bisexual women were somehow more politically or even emotionally aligned with men than straight or gay women are, when that’s plainly not the case. This faulty alignment also draws excessive attention to the one thing bisexual women and lesbians don’t have in common when there are so many other things we do. My straight female friends have the same feelings about patriarchy and misogyny and the same comfort with misandry as I do. Feminist websites make the same jokes about men as we do, even though a majority of their readers are actually straight. The few men in my life have never taken my man-hating jokes as personal attacks, including the men who read and support this site.
These feminist & queer spaces, including queer websites and lesbian bars, are places where we can comment hyperbolically about a patriarchy that has left us really deeply wounded without worrying that we will be harassed and threatened by that patriarchy in return. It’s one place where we can make jokes about a patriarchy that is often amused at our expense. For me, these comments can be a therapeutic response to a lifetime of judging my self-worth based on my appeal to men. Embracing intersectional feminism and making spaces to celebrate women and non-gender-conforming folks is a therapeutic response to the 25 years when I eschewed feminism and friendships with women because I was afraid it would hurt my chances with men and therefore lower my worth as a woman.
Also, when I dated men, there was no shortage of coverage of relationships like mine elsewhere, and everybody wanted to talk to me about my boyfriends. It’s not like that now. When you’re dating women, as you probably know, people don’t ask. Even friends/family who are okay with it don’t know how to talk about it, so they ignore it altogether. This site and spaces like lesbian bars are often the 3% part of the world where lesbian, bisexual and queer women can talk about girls and people want to hear about our girlfriends and where those relationships are prized and celebrated and for one special moment we don’t have to constantly think about men’s feelings. For some women in some communities, these spaces are the only spaces where they can be themselves, and that’s a very precious thing. No bisexual woman should be kicked out of these spaces for having a boyfriend, but that’s not what you’re describing here. Suggesting that the maintenance of these sacred spaces could have caused Jessie J to adopt a straight identity instead of a bisexual one really just doesn’t sit right with me and isn’t a fair leap to make. Also, I cosign everything Rachel said in her comment, obvs, and also Natalie upthread, and so many other smart comments made here. And I don’t hate all men, weirdos! Jeez. I think Adam Lambert is very talented.
You seriously don’t understand why a lesbian, who has heterosexuality shoved in her face day in and day out, may react less than enthusiastically to hearing about your dealings with men? Why a gay person who has worked so hard to come to terms with their sexuality may be wary of being mistaken for a straight person?
And really why should lesbians be concerned with the men in your life? Why do we have to hide our distaste for men? You’re taking something personally that isn’t even directed at you.
Bad week for us bisexuals. We lost Tom Daley and Jessie J.
At least we still have Evan Rachel Wood.
Also, I agree with everything in this article except “cis men inherently suck” because even though 95% of them probably do, my brothers and my dad certainly do not inherently suck, and some of the most avid feminists I know are cis men (both queer and straight).
I also kind of want to yell at Jessie J and say “hey girl, I’m bi and for all I know, I could end up marring a man* and I could end up having kids regardless of whether I do marry a man/woman/anyone at all… Please don’t portray the whole concept ‘traditional nuclear family’ as something which inherently excludes queer women because, well, it doesn’t.”
*okay, unlikely, since 95% of my friends are queer girls and the other 5% are queer dudes and I never seem to meet guys who like women, but still theoretically possible…
What makes me mad about Jessie J’s statements is the message it sends to straight leaning bisexual women. She’s basically telling them not to come out because your whole life will crack in half, no man will ever want to date you ever again, no one will stop talking about it and you’ll never have a husband and/or kids.
Would people not stop talking about her being bisexual because she simply admitted she was, or because she talked about it a lot (not just in interviews, but also at performances etc.) and made music videos like do it like a dude? She actively played up her queerness in her career. It was part of her brand.
If she has now decided to rebrand herself as not queer (but perhaps as Christian instead) I feel like she did at least owe us the decency to not do it in a way that feeds into stereotypes.
^ OMG THIS!
I’ve typed similar comments such as this several times today. As a lesbian, I could care less if she was merely experimenting. What I have a problem with is the woe is me act she’s pulling. If she was never really bisexual then instead of going along with the flow, she should have had enough class and character to clarify her stance sooner. I understand words get lost in translation, but I call bullshit given how many interviews she chose to reiterate her sexuality in. Instead she chose to play it up and is now suddenly shocked and angered by all the backlash? Newsflash, if you make a name for yourself by claiming to be part of a minority group then turn around and shit on said group, expect a Hulk’s wrath. What an idiot.
Hurt feels my brother/father/some dude is ~*~*~AweSome*~*~*~
Hurt feels I have white friends that are ~*~*~AweSome*~*~*~
Hurt feels I know/love/fuck [people of considerable privilege] that are ~*~*~AweSome*~*~*~
The carts of the derailing train on some of these comments all aboard!
I will try remember ‘derailing train’, it’s great.
Still: was it really derailing to say that this came across mean-spirited whether or not Riese meant it to (she possibly didn’t)?
‘To which I say: any man who won’t date you ’cause you’re bisexual sucks even more than all cis men inherently suck, which is a lot.” ‘
I agree that we/feminists/people deconstructing and discussing things don’t need to make sure we always say things that won’t upset or offend cis men.
But we don’t often cross into mean-spirited generalisation here and that’s how this felt (whether or not it was meant that way). It felt unproductive. It felt like it left little room to be proven wrong. It felt like it made invisible good men that are around; more, asserted that they weren’t there. It felt like a cis feminist man could read it and feel like he’s not welcome in our movement/le revolution.
Is it derailing to point that out? Are we unable to or should we not fight potentially harmful generalisation if it’s about cis men?
Ps. Riese despite writing all this I feel like maybe when you wrote that line you maybe thought ‘this might cause controversy! But fuck it, I said I’m going to write honestly even if I possibly offend or step on toes sometimes and I WILL!’ and I’m glad you did and I hope you always feel free to do that. Conversations and challenges may inevitably happen in the comments but it also means that the comments are super interesting and I might get to have a potentially interesting conversation about derailing, which is super! And even when we all get into intellectual argumentative discussion shitstorms I tend to learn a lot which is one of the things I LOVE about this site. So – I hope you got something from reading the comments but also you do you? Yes.
As a young queer girl who presented very femininely but didn’t want to at all, the Do It Like A Dude video was incredibly important to me. It was one of the only times I had ever seen masculine female people presented in way that was strong and sexy and celebrated.
Jessie J can identify any which way she wants to, but as a celebrity, as someone who went out of her way (and I refuse to believe it was just the media, I think she fully encouraged that image) to make her bisexuality a selling point, I think she owes us more than to turn around now and put out anything less than an incredibly concise, well thought out explanation of why she might not be bi, but how bisexuality isn’t a phase and she doesn’t want to be part of that stereotype. Talk to us about representation, about compulsory heterosexuality, about the trivialization of female queerness. Don’t turn around to us and give us a throwaway comment about how bisexuality was an unfortunate confused part of your life you’re happy to move on from and expect us not to be angry. The privilege and arrogance Jessie J has displayed has been truly astounding.
Ugh Jessie J. I know someone who worked for her and apparently she is stunningly unpleasant in private, which is when any liking I had for her went out the window.
However, she gave us the A Camp rendition of Do It Like A Dude, and for that I will forever be grateful.
Oh no! I still kind of had some positive feelings towards her despite all of the above but now.. well. That’s unfortunate that that was the experience your friend had, that’s for sure.
On a slightly lighter note, has anyone else noticed that she said “I didn’t discuss my personal life in my autobiography”. Isn’t an autobiography without that really just a puffed-up CV?
Haha, I was also confused about that statement!
I have the autobiography. She literally talks about every single aspect of her life but her romantic relationships. She covers her childhood in great detail but leaves out that part of her growing up entirely. I found the whole thing quite strange really. I mean there is even a whole section on cooking recipes for fuck’s sake but you can’t talk about a first girlfriend/boyfriend or first kiss? Nothing!
when Don Lemon came out i read his autobiography ’cause i love Don Lemon and was super curious about his process of coming to terms with his sexuality and whether he’d been dating men all along and all of that stuff — and THERE WAS NOT ONE SINGLE THING about his personal life or any of the stuff @turkish mentioned was missing from Jessie J’s in the book! no first kiss, no girlfriends/boyfriends, nothing. he talked about his childhood a little bit but left out that sort of stuff. it was just about his career and a little bit about his family. i didn’t know it was possible to write an autobiography without actually revealing anything about your relationships or sexual orientation. BUT IT IS!
the point of this story is that i am not buying jessie j’s autobiography
Wow. I fully respect her right to choose her own label… But ouch, could she have been more of an ass about it? I think what bothered me the most was how she declared her bisexuality a phase, but is so sure of the definiteness of her current heterosexuality. Because things that have proven to change will never ever change again…? Plus the fact that she considered this realization “growing up”. I think someone spoke prematurely…
Also, can we talk about her writing skills? I’m a scientist, so I’ve been trained that if you can’t say it clear and concise you need to GTFO. That pile of word vomit was absolute torture to read. It would probably require a second read to fully comprehend, but if she can’t be bothered to reread her own thoughts before posting them, neither can I.
My thoughts exactly. How can you mutter that your previous orientation was a phase and that the one you have now is concrete and will last forever?
And how dare she equate straightness with maturity, when calling queers immature is a tactic straight people use all the time. That 40 year old lesbian couple with two kids is told to “grow up” by random passerbys, because loving women is something women do when they are children, before they “grow up” and get serious and find a Nice Man.
This is disgusting and I’m over it
SERIOUSLY BRILLIANT. What a captivating read! You really covered both perspectives for and against her words and actions. Thank you for writing.
Considering I wasn’t that into her music when she was identified as queer, I’m super not into it now. I thought she was just a Katy Perry wannabe. It’s not because she’s straight, but I think we all follow some musicians or artists out of a feeling of queer solidarity. It’s almost like some responsibility was lifted from my shoulders.
I can’t help but feel like something happened to her and she trying just get away. It happened to me. I’m bi and trans but when I was a boy I had such bad experience being in a gay relationship the i didn’t want to have no part of it.
I grew up and realize that I never changed the fact I’m queer and that I shouldn’t have blame my identity or orientation.
“she’s worried being labeled “bisexual” will ruin her chances with men and therefore wants to distance herself from that word as dramatically as possible.”
1000x yes to this. I couldn’t quite place it before, but that’s a big part of this whole thing that made me feel so gross..
Am I the only one who isn’t phased (no pun intended) by this declaration? I only ever loved one song from her, Do It Like A Dude because the beat is crazy and I liked the tongue-in-cheek lyrics but other than that I never got into the whole Jessie J thing, honestly I never really get into celebrities private lives, it doesn’t interest me, I have my own role models, people in my real world, people I talk to I see and get real feedback from, so I can’t really be bothered about one celebrating changing her mind or statement about her sexual orientation. I find it bizarre that so many people want to have people they don’t know as role models. That’s just me though so meh…
Riese, I’ve just got to say that the title of this article is a work of art.
thank you amanda
I was just going to write in and say the same thing! Could have been longer!!
“Ultimately there’s nothing wrong with being straight, there’s nothing wrong with being gay, there’s nothing wrong with being bisexual or queer or a lesbian or pansexual or however you identify.”
Yet all cis men inherently suck?
The rest of the article, though, I really like.
I s2g guys as readers of a queer, feminist website I feel everyone here should be intelligent enough to realize that when someone says something like ‘cis guys suck’ thats a comment on men as a class, patriarchy, male privilege etc. Not literally every single man on this earth has no positive qualities.
Honestly like, I feel like thats fairly obvious.
that that that.
We need to see better representation for bisexuals. All people are shown are bisexuals that are promiscuous (Tila Tequila), wishy-washy and unsatisfied (Romi from the RLW), confused (Glee characters) and celebrities that use “bisexuality” as a fad or to attract the male gaze (A whole bunch of popstars!). I’m a lesbian, and I personally don’t know any bisexuals, but I would be lying if I didn’t think these images of bisexuals hasn’t tainted my opinions. I’ve often wondered why these stereotypes of bisexuals are still going so strong.
See I don’t like respectable bisexual politics because all those bisexual women you mentioned are real and despite their hot-messness deserve not be judged because of their sexuality. They are a HOT ASS MESS regardless of their sexuality, it’s that simple.
I don’t think it’s so much “respectability politics”, as it is a call for well-rounded representability of the bi community. I am sick and tired of *only* seeing dysfunctional bi people who don’t have their lives right on TV (nor care to have their lives right), when the reality is that most bi people everyday humans- working hard, raising families and trying to live a decent life.
our identity is up to us, she doesn’t know her sexual identity its not up to us to make her chose.
i am confused myself at the moment, i know i like girls and i’m open to
relationships with guys in the future (even after some bad experiances)
don’t hate on people cause they went along with something or changed their mind
this article is brimming with extreme detail and passion. it led me to mansplaining, solnit and stareclips – what an evening, this site never ceases to amaze. have always thought jessie j was a complete wazzock. the comments on that guardian article make me want to die.
Jessie J Loves Men Wants a Husband Dated a Girl One Time.
*Cough* six seasons.
Yesterday I tried to comment but the whole interwebs seemed against me and in view of the 100 new comments since, (I just kept checking back and watching them rack up) I’m going to say what I was going to now.
If anyone watched the voice uk Jessie was definitely going for that “I’m straight” vibe, plus due to watching her on the voice I am saddened but not surprised by her inability to form cogent sentences which uses appropriate language to deal with such an emotionally charged issue.
As a gay lady with some now straight exes I feel a sympathy pang, as I’m sure many do, for any woman unfortunate enough to have dated her, because ouch, phase hurts so much. But damn it must be hard to see your once advocate ex turn so far and fast like this.
For anyone who is in any way crazy enough to think being with a guy and being bi are mutually exclusive, (i.e. Jessie J who won’t read this but hey someone out there may also be as crazy) One of my closest friends is Bi and in a long term relationship with a Dude…she’s still Bi. I was an usher at my Bi exes hyper christian wedding to a dude, she’s still Bi and married and a missionary in Africa.
I don’t have anything constructive to say about the article itself, but thank you for the editorial decision to delete anything that makes this an unsafe (or just un-fun) space for ladies for identify as bi. You’re the best, A-Team.
this is like when a POC says “white people suck” just cuz sometimes that’s what it feels like to live in this world for some of us and then some very special white people feel the need to use that very moment to stand up and say NOT ME LOOK AT EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER DONE THAT INVOLVED POC IN A POSITIVE WAY SO WE DON’T SUCK HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT ABOUT US I TRY SO HARD I’M DATING A BLACK GIRL.
or in this particular analogy it would be the black girl saying ‘i’m so offended you think my white partner sucks’, which may be even worse
So once again somebody is calling their previous queerness a phase (oh GOD) but want to emphasize that their current, straighter situation is all figured out and concrete.
And to pander around like saying you’re straight doesn’t welcome you into the comforting folds of straight society.. like who is she fighting here. No one (and I mean no current western society) ever says you can’t be straight.
What is this
And then to emphasize that her songs were about HIM and singing to a MAN like she’s the first artist to do so
What is this
This is all very, very terrifying for me in various ways.
1. Although many things irked me about Jessie J’s dissertation on Abandoning Queerness, one thing that stuck out to me, that wasn’t touched on in the article, is her declaration that people should be free to ~choose their sexuality. Man, if I could choose my sexuality I would very well choose to think that SATC is real and start looking for a husband immediately because despite being represented by wonderful, sparkly things like rainbows and unicorns, being Queer ain’t easy. I would not walk into a store and choose a pack of pasta from the aisle of unnecessary hate and intolerance if I could just go into the aisle of swift and unquestionable acceptance. So, the fact that she things that’s she’s now choosing to be Straight, and that she choose to not be straight before, and that all her fans should be free to ‘choose’ deeply upsets me.
2. As I’m sure it is for a lot of people, I have wavered between feeling secure with a certain label for my sexuality, and feeling completely confused and frustrated about it. Like, right now i feel like the latter. I’ve never felt ‘straight’. The first person I ever dated was a girl in high school who approached me, and the only reservation I felt back then was not ‘is this something I really want…?’ it was ‘is this something she really wants?’ As it turns out, it was. Just like I’m sure Jessie J did want whoever she dated. But at the same time, while cuddling with me and being very cute she just said one day that she ‘can’t wait to actually know what sex feels like.’ Because of course, what we’d been doing was not sex, because sex required a man, and long story short–SATC was very real to her, even though at the time she did very much want to be with me.
But even though I know I’m not straight, I know I’m not a lesbian either. i’ve never identified with that label and instead preferred to call myself Queer because I liked that it was just open and loosely defined. Because I did date men, and I enjoyed those relationships as much as I did with women. But recently, having been single for a while, i’m realising that while I could feel romantic about a man, and I could do the whole sex bit with him and enjoy that a great deal, I just don’t have an equal amount of desire for them as I do for women. A woman would be my ideal scenario, but I know that I could love and be in love with a man as well–I’m just not looking. And I don’t know if that makes me bisexual, but queer is more and more feeling like it doesn’t fit. Neither seems to fit. And I wonder if that could just be the sort of Epiphany Jessie J has come to but instead of choosing to be steeped in the personal conflict, she’s decided to denounce the side of her that experiences less desire. Because again, she thinks this whole sexuality thing is a choice. What happens when 10 years into her relationship with a man she suddenly realises that that was a phase? What then?
3. And finally this whole thing, my own feelings, Jessie J’s feelings, just makes me terrified about my dating situation because I am actually falling for a woman who has fallen for me but identifies as straight. she has “never been into women, but is into me.” And I don’t know what that means because I am a woman. And to know that if I take a chance, or make a dumb decision I could end up like whichever poor girl Jessie J decided to discard as some deep, dark, shameful phase she went through in the past–is terrifying.
Like I said, I’m am terrified. In hindsight, maybe I should not have read this article.
as she said “i go sometimes in the wrong way” or something like that. she might do this in the wrong way, but maybe there’s no one telling her how to do it right. aaand she gives too much explanations. anyway, i believe she doesn’t know that, there isn’t a single way to please absolutely everyone. and many people are overreacting.
i still like her because she could sing queen’s song. just another person with opinions that have an impact on other people because she’s an artist. i don’t care about her personality, i am not owning an mp4 to listen to artists’ opinions.
Ok, I just want to say that I have been bi sexual for years now. I read this and reread it quite a few times trying to see what has everyone in a uproar and for the life of me. I see no reason for there to be any.
All this girl did is tell how felt and was honest about her thoughts and feelings. Yet she’s being called a liar a fake a homophobe.
In my opinion the ones calling her these things are worse than they seem to believe she is. At least she’s not judging people for how they think or feel.
No she’encouraging people to be who they are and also supports people to be who they are and love who they love and not let any one make you what you are not,be true to yourself.
Yet the ones that she’s encouraging to be themselves are some of the ones that want to make her something she’s not.
So yes you are trying to put her in a box by trying to make her keep the bi label and are calling her fake because she is standing her ground and fighting being put into that box.That alot of you want her in.
I don’t blame her for being tired of hearing about it and not wanting to talk about it. It’s not who she is and it doesn’t define who she is.
Being straight, Bi,Lesbian, Gay,Transgender DOES NOT DEFINE the whole being of a person its only part of who they are and for those of you who thinks it does. Need to step back take a breath look around and re-evaluate things.