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“Red Wine” Isn’t The Biggest Problem In “Girls”

Music
photo by Kevork Djansezian / getty images

It’s about the patriarchy

Rita Ora's "Girls" had the singer apologizing to the LGBT community within days of its release. The main issue, as taken up by both the queer masses and well-known musicians like Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani, has been centered around how the song connects kissing girls to drinking and smoking pot. Still mildly traumatized from coming out during "I Kissed A Girl"-era Katy Perry, I opted out of listening to "Girls." Life is unpleasant enough; I don't really see the need to sign up to consume something offensive.

And yet. As the think pieces and hot takes continued to roll in, I became, in the words of Lesbian Jesus Hayley Kiyoko, curious. So, this morning, I pulled up the official lyric video and settled down to feel some feelings. Nothing I've read about this song prepared me for its actual content.

Let me step back for a minute and provide some personal context. I'm the editor in chief of the publication you're currently reading, and also a lesbian. I didn't have a super-confusing time coming out; once it was women, it was always women. But I vividly recall being 18 and terrified, and my peers also being terrified; for a lot of them, a lot of the time, they couldn't even talk to other girls without at least one drink. I was frequently hit on by women who claimed to be straight but would then start drinking and be positively unable to stop flirting with the girls around them. Most of them are now openly bisexual, if not gay.

To me, the lyrics "red wine, I just want to kiss girls," are specifically referencing that period of time before you come out, when you're maybe so terrified to honor your own desires that you need a little extra push in substance form to do so. That wasn't my experience (I was completely sober the first time I was with another girl, and the next and the next), but it's the experience of a lot of people I know who are now fully formed adults with strong senses of self and proud identities in the LGBTQ spectrum. I don't think this is a bisexual anthem, I think it's more of an ode to pre-queerness, a very real period of time for a lot of people who, as products of a heteronormative society, repress their desires. (Please don't yell at me.)

And while the premise of needing to be intoxicated to want to kiss girls is annoying to many, it pales in comparison to the other problem, which is how deeply misogynistic the rest of the song's lyrics are:

You know I tamed it, and then I named it
I put the lion in the cage and then I laid with her
All night (all night)
Her all night, yeah
I'm the hunter and she the prey, yeah
I'm the thriller, I'm the killer
I'm the savior, up all night


If a man were to sing these lyrics, I have no doubt that we would be setting his digital house on fire: Putting the lion in the cage?? She's the prey, and you're the hunter? How is this language not being called out for its inherent misogyny?

One of my biggest bones to pick with the queer community is how toxic masculinity gets a pass when it comes from a woman. Behaviors we would never accept from men are overlooked when they occur between women, though they are often just as destructive. The issue with "Girls" is not so much that it reinforces stereotypes about bisexual women but that it upholds the systematic oppression of women: If we're comparing a woman to an animal, bragging about taming her and putting her in a cage and calling her prey, it doesn't matter who is singing the song. Mouthpieces of the patriarchy come in all genders.

And in this case, the women singing this song are quite literally mouthpieces. As many have pointed out in the days since its release, "Girls" was written by a bunch of men. Their interpretation of same-gender desire seems to be that it mirrors an outdated heterosexual model which positions men as hunters and saviors of women. Nothing about that is radical or revolutionary or deserving in any way of an anthem.

This song is disappointing at best and deeply harmful at worst, not simply because it invalidates the legitimacy of bisexual desire by linking it to drugs and alcohol, but because it talks about something inherently radical—desire between women—in the language of the oppressor.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.

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"In the midst of chaos there's opportunity"

Following the travesty that was Fyre Festival, Ja Rule wants to take another stab at creating a music festival. Good luck getting that off the ground.

On Thursday, the rapper spoke to TMZ, where he revealed that he was planning to relaunch Icon, an app used to book entertainers, which is similar to Billy McFarland's Fyre app. He told the outlet that he wanted to create a festival similar to Fyre to support it.

"[Fyre Festival] is heartbreaking to me. It was something that I really, really wanted to be special and amazing, and it just didn't turn out that way, but in the midst of chaos there's opportunity, so I'm working on a lot of new things," he says. He then gets into the fact that he wants to form a music festival. "[Fyre] is the most iconic festival that never was... I have plans to create the iconic music festival, but you didn't hear it from me."

Ja Rule actually doesn't seem to think he is at all responsible for what came from Fyre Fest, claiming in a Twitter post that he was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, led astray." Even if that's his feeling, he should realize that anyone involved with Fyre shouldn't ever try their hand at music festivals again.

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