Hayley Kiyoko And Kehlani Are Criticizing Rita Ora's New "Girls" Song As Tone-Deaf To The LGBT Community

"A song like this just fuels the male gaze while marginalizing the idea of women loving women," Kiyoko said.

On Friday, Rita Ora dropped her new single, "Girls," which features Cardi B, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX.

The song has been dubbed a "bisexual anthem," with lyrics Ora said were inspired by Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl."

In the song's opening, Ora sings:

I ain't one-sided, I'm open-minded
I'm fifty-fifty and I'm never gonna hide it

And the chorus goes:

Sometimes, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls (oh yeah)
Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls

Many fans think Ora is revealing she is bisexual in the song, and she has hinted at it in interviews.

In an interview with People following the song's release, Ora was asked whether she was bisexual or fluid.

"I think the way… If people look at it like that, it’s very narrow-minded, and I don’t think that’s what this record is," she said. "I don’t think that that even matters. Yeah."

Ora added that she "definitely" hopes the song becomes a bisexual anthem.

"I definitely want it to feel like it’s an anthem to somebody," she said. "I want there to be a sense of freedom for anyone who listens to it."

However, pop star Hayley Kiyoko, whose fans call her "lesbian Jesus," is calling the song "downright tone-deaf."

In a statement she posted on social media, Kiyoko said the song "just fuels the male gaze while marginalizing the idea of women loving women."

"To be clear, I fully support other artists who freely express themselves and applaud male and female artists who are opening up more and more about their sexual identities," Kiyoko said. "But every so often there come certain songs with messaging that is downright tone-deaf, which does more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community."

Kiyoko added that she knows this was not intentional, but "it's the lack of consideration behind these lyrics that really get me."

"I don't need to drink wine to kiss girls; I've loved women my entire life," she said. "This type of message is dangerous because it completely belittles and invalidates the very pure feelings of an entire community."

Many Kiyoko fans agreed and thanked her for the statement.

Thank you so much to my queer girl goddess for spitting facts 🙌🏽 🙌🏽 🙌🏽 "Girls" rubbed me ALL the wrong ways as a bi high femme who has constantly dealt with biphobia and I don't feel like it represents me AT ALL. https://t.co/F0Z3rFUily

thanks, tired of f/f relationships always portrayed as a one night thing or a sexual experience to try https://t.co/5GjwWT32QO

Though others disagreed.

wow if this isn't a reach. Rita Ora literally comes out as bisexual on the track, but sure let's over analyze the lyrics to try to come out with something problematic https://t.co/OR0jMWwKaj

Mm that's also valid, but some girls who want to be involved with men as well with women are also valid. Just because you've loved girls all your life doesn't mean other experiences aren't queer enough or depicting lgbtq people in a bad light. https://t.co/5nOKkvFecc

Many others are criticizing the song, with some accusing it of "queerbaiting."

Y’all are not gonna praise girls by Rita ora as a bisexual anthem. That song seems super fetishy and the get with a girl but still have s boyfriend is not cute and actually damaging to the community. The song comes off super queerbaiting

"It reminds me of all the times I’ve been told my feelings will just pass or that everyone has girl crushes," said another. "It’s completely invalidating and alienating."

I struggled and still do with my sexuality. A song with an insensitive message like Girls by Rita Ora hits me hard. It reminds me of all the times I’ve been told my feelings will just pass or that everyone has girl crushes. It’s completely invalidating and alienating.

For her part, fellow queer singer Kehlani added to the criticism, calling the lyrics "awkward" and "harmful."

hate to be THAT guy but there were many awkward slurs, quotes, and moments that were like “word? word”

Via Twitter: @Kehlani

every artist on the song is fantastic, and very much loved and supported by me... by all of us. but this isn’t about talent. it’s about choice.

Via Twitter: @Kehlani

A few people on Twitter came for Kehlani, trying to say her song "Distraction" had the same message, but she explained it has a different meaning coming from a queer artist.

let’s get into it my love. i didn’t write distraction about needing a woman to be a distraction because i wouldn’t take a woman seriously because i am not queer. i wrote about wanting a distraction from my career, but not having enough time for a relationship. “sis” https://t.co/4iGaV3qfou

Via Twitter: @Kehlani

And she stood by her statement, regardless of her relationship with Cardi B, whom she collaborated with on the song "Ring" from the rapper's debut album.

and don’t make this personal. i have an incredible song out with one of the artists, and would love to work with the other three as well. & have met them all and respect them. there. were. harmful. lyrics. period. love y’all. 🤗

Via Twitter: @Kehlani

Ora did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Topics in this article

Skip to footer