I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It: Bisexuality in Pop Culture

In Kristin G. Esterberg’s article The Bisexual Menace Revisited: or, Shaking up Social Categories is Hard to do, the author discusses how bisexuals are often invisible to the world.  Part of this has to do with the bisexual label appealing to individuals as a ‘chic’ or ‘trendy’ thing to do instead of an actual sexual identity.  The emphasis that bisexuals often place on choice instead of biology perpetuates this idea and has allowed individuals who would otherwise consider themselves heterosexual or homosexual to engage in bisexual acts.  Pop culture has numerous examples of this bisexual craze.  As early as the 1970s, films such as Rocky Horror Picture Show and Cabaret depicted bisexual love triangles and, in the case of Rocky Horror, transgendered individuals.  The trend today, however, seems to have changed a great deal in that most of the bisexual characters in today’s films are females and their bisexual acts are shown as sexy and attractive.  

The music industry also shows this trend.  In 2003, Madonna’s three way kiss with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on the MTV Video Music Awards shocked the media and made front news headlines.  These women, however, are all still considered heterosexual females who were just performing a homosexual act.  Brittany Spears’ song 3 also shows this trend towards bisexual acts as she sings about ‘playing around’ with multiple individuals and even says “living in sin is the new thing”.  Katy Perry’s big hit I Kissed a Girl also shows this idea that bisexuality is sexy yet just a stage as she talks about enjoying her homosexual kiss yet says “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it” emphasizing that she is heterosexual. 

So what is the impact of our current pop culture’s demonstration and representation of bisexuality?  If songs emphasizing bisexuality as a stage and a trendy thing to do keep reaching the top of the charts will this impact the public’s view of bisexual individuals? 

Personally I do feel that this is helping to enable the continued invisibility of people who have bisexual identities by reiterating that it is just a phase.  While it could possibly be seen that these heterosexual singers and artists are bringing bisexuality to the mainstream public, they are bringing their ideas about bisexuality and not including ones about bisexual identities, but just focusing on bisexual acts.  Perhaps if people sang about truly being torn between a male and a female instead of just a onetime act, the concept of bisexuality wouldn’t be as minimized and rendered invisible.

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2 Responses to I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It: Bisexuality in Pop Culture

  1. casegirl90 says:

    I agree with your analysis about these actions enabling the continued invisibility of bisexuals. I feel as though these artists are exploiting bisexuals for their own gain.

    The one artist that you mentioned that particularly irks me is Katy Perry. In addition to rendering bisexuals invisible through “I Kissed a Girl,” she seems to be an artist that not only caters entirely to the male gaze, but also conveys wrong messages to young girls who idolize her. This is illustrated especially well in the music video for her song “California Gurls.” I’ll let you watch the video for yourself…

    She in particular seems to be doing a lot of harm to our society in a variety of ways. After she did a video for Sesame Street that was taken off because parents complained that she was dressed too provocatively, she went on SNL wearing this shirt: http://www.redstaplerchronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/katy%20and%20elmo.jpg

    She seems to have no problem with rendering bisexuals invisible or oversexualizing childhood, to name just a couple of the many ways that she negatively impacts society through the media. I hope that her 15 minutes of fame is over soon.

  2. spartansj says:

    Yes, I think that the pop culture’s demonstration of bisexuality is making the public believe that bisexuality is the “thing to do.” Pop culture figures such as model Amber Rose and rapper Nicki Minaj are extremely open about their bisexuality. I believe that these two women are in a way serving as “role models” by allowing individuals who’ve suppressed their bisexuality for so long to finally “come out” to the public about their true sexual identity. On the flip side, it seems as though Amber Rose and Nicki Minaj are making bisexuality out to be trendy and something that may be appealing to men. I also believe that there are terms used in pop culture and mainstream media which, in my opinion, places a trendy appeal on bisexuality and that describe women who are going through a “phase” of bisexuality or women who are trying to gain men’s attention. For example, there is “bar-curious,” “bi-curious,” or “experimenting. Bar-curious refers to women who identify as heterosexual but engage in homosexual acts while under the influence of alcohol (ex-making out with a girl at the bar). Bi-curious is a woman or man who is curious about what sexual acts with the same sex will be like and questioning if they’re bisexual or not. Experimenting is attributed mainly to women (especially college girls) who are going through a phase of sexual experimentation with the same sex, but do not necessarily identify as being lesbian or bisexual. I somewhat feel that these terms as well as pop culture today, makes bisexuality (for women) trendy and especially appealing to men.

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