Singer Jessie J, 24, is in the news because of her sexuality again. But this time, it's not because of something the out and outspoken bi artist has done. Just the opposite. This time, it's because of something an unofficial biographer says she hasn't done. And that thing is: have sex with men.
Chloe Govan says that Jessie J is not bisexual -- even though she herself identifies that way -- but is in fact a lesbian. The "proof," according to the biographer, is the "fact" that she hasn't dated men since she was 17. That's seven whole years of being only with women. But I'm confused. Does bisexuality come with an expiration date?
Here are some facts that Govan may not be aware of:
According to research from the Williams Institute, the leading LGBT demographic research organization in the world, there are twice as many women who identify as bisexual as there are women who identify as lesbian. That means, among women date women, the odds are two to one that a woman is out as bi.
According to lesbian professor Dr. Lisa Diamond, one of the leading scholars on women's sexuality, lesbian and bisexual women more often have fluid, complex, varied sexual histories than linear, static ones. Bisexual women -- and lesbians -- may be "50/50" (in terms of experiences with men and women), they may have long periods of time being with just one gender, and they may even be life-long monogamists who are only ever with one person of one gender. All of that can fall under the umbrella of women who use the word "bisexual" to describe themselves.
And according to lesbian professor Dr. Paula Rust, the vast majority of lesbians have had sex with men, both before and after coming out as lesbians.
In fact, in the lesbian community, it's so widely known that most lesbians sleep with men that there's even a term for the very few who don't: gold-star. A gold-star lesbian is a lesbian who has never been with a man.
So, if lesbians can -- and do -- sleep with men, and still call themselves lesbians, then why can't a bisexual woman not sleep with men, and still call herself bi?
If women who identify as bisexual can have enormous variety in their sexual histories, why can't Jessie J be bi?
And if there are twice as many bi women as lesbians, why can't Jessie J be bi?
Research from the Williams Institute also shows that bisexuals tend to be younger than lesbians. Jessie J is 24 years old. Why can't she be bi?
Govan says that Jessie J was forced to say she's bi by music executives, even though she's really a lesbian, because bisexuality would be more appealing to her audience. But according to Dr. Gregory Herek, the leading researcher on stigma, bisexual women are much more stigmatized than lesbians.
Research also shows that bisexual women are more likely than lesbians -- and straight women -- to be victims of domestic violence. This means that bisexual women are considered less appealing and are more attacked. (All of which is extremely disturbing, and has been the subject of much of my other writing.) My point is: this "bisexuality will draw a bigger audience" trope is bullshit.
One of Jessie J's most famous songs is called "Do It Like a Dude." Around the internet, this song is getting bandied about as further "proof" that she's a lesbian. But first of all, why can't bisexual women be masculine, too? And why must lesbians always be? Some of the most masculine women I know are bi, and some of the most feminine ones I know are lesbians.
Second of all, when you read the lyrics, you see that it's actually a song about a butch woman at a bar who turns on men by being her masculine self. The lyrics say, "Boom, boom, pour me a beer/ No pretty drinks, I'm a guy out here" and later, "Boys, come say what you wanna... Boys, gettin' hot under the collar." Why can't that bi? In fact, how is it not bi?
And finally, why can't Jessie J be bi just because she says she is? Why is it that when a celebrity comes out as a lesbian, I don't read that she's actually really secretly bi, but was pressured by her handlers to say she's gay, but when someone comes out as bi, I see this kind of thing over and over again? Why is female bisexuality so unbelievable to people, and why must a woman's statement about her own (bi)sexuality be discredited? How hard is it to just take a woman's word for it, when she talks about her (bi)sexuality?
Why can't Jessie J be bi?