Girls Who Like Girls Don't Like Girls Who Like Boys Who Sang 'Girls'

By now you may have heard, though it seems more likely that you haven’t heard, Rita Ora’s new song “Girls,” which features Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha, and Cardi B.


It’s basically a simple pop song about girls who get a little high, get a little drunk off of red wine, and want to kiss a gal. But the pop song, which isn’t particularly memorable and has nothing on Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” angered a few pop stars who viewed the song as nothing more than a group of perceived straight girls making a mockery of gay and bisexual romantic relationships. In the words of Blur (sort of): the girls who like girls don’t like girls who like boys, pretending to like girls, singing on “Girls.”

Singer Hayley Kiyoko, who has been vocal about her desire to sing about her female love interests in an industry that would largely rather pronouns be neutral to appeal to straight audiences, wrote on Twitter that the song “fuels the male gaze while marginalizing the idea of women loving women.” After Kiyoko’s comments, the stan accounts came for her Twitter archives, pulling up old tweets in which she used racial slurs. Artists like Shura and Katie Gavin of the band MUNA also tweeted about “Girls,” the latter echoing Kiyoko’s claims about the male gaze and writing that the song is a reminder that “we still have a lot of work head of us.” And Kehlani, who identifies as queer, sub-tweeted that the lyrics were “harmful.”

Rita Ora tweeted her own response to the backlash, explaining that “Girls” speaks to her personal experience dating both women and men in her life.

Whether you find “Girls” to perpetuate sexy, dated stereotypes about girls kissing other girls, or just a silly pop song, I think we can all agree on one thing: we will forget this song in one to two days. Sorry Rita!

Hazel Cills is the Pop Culture Reporter at Jezebel. Her writing has been published by outlets including The Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, ELLE, and more.



Man, I wish you’d done more research for this article and worded this differently to present LGBT women as having valuable voices rather than framing the criticisms of queer artists as drama. A huge reason why bisexual and otherwise gay women are pissed at Rita is that she gave a world salad nonsense of an interview that aggressively distances the song from anything actually queer. She keeps reiterating that it’s a song for “all people” or a love letter to her female friends when questioned about it being gay. That, on top of the song’s lyrics 1) framing alcohol as necessary for gay experiences, 2) including men in this scenario of women kissing, and 3) using male porn ideas of what gay women are like that make no sense until you realize a bunch of men also wrote this song, is why LGBT singers and fans are annoyed.

There’s also a trend of female pop artists playing with the idea of kissing girls to attract a queer audience and, within the fan base, there’s been a rising resentment now that we have people like Hayley and Janelle and others who are making explicitly gay music that we enjoy while being gay themselves. No one wants to force Rita out of the closet, but if you’re making a song that implies you need to be drunk before you will kiss women and you can’t be assed to admit the song is actually gay nor have you been engaged with queer women before - the community is gonna call bullshit. It’s a much deeper conversation being had within the community and I would have liked to see more of the complexity of the issue explored here.