A week ago, I covered Cara Delevingne’s first-ever (and possibly last) solo American Vogue cover. I didn’t think much of the editorial, but as I said last week, Cara actually gave Vogue a pretty decent interview. “Decent” meaning that Cara is sort of a hot mess and it turned out to be a very readable piece. I excerpted some of what I thought were the most interesting parts of a very quotable interview, including Cara’s thoughts on her bisexuality, her relationship with St. Vincent, how she’s still attracted to men and how she sees herself getting married to a man one day and having babies. That part of the interview is worth returning to, in context (because the context is very important). Here’s how Vogue writer Rob Haskell dealt with the issue of Cara’s bisexuality in context:
Those who have been gathering the crumbs on Cara’s romantic trail may be confused about whether it’s men or women who excite her. She conveys a Millennial’s ennui at the expectation that she ought to settle upon a sexual orientation, and her interests—video games, yes; manicures, no—might register as gender-defiant in the realm of dresses and heels. (“I’m a bro-ey chick,” says Cara.) As this story went to press, she was seriously involved with the singer Annie Clark, better known by her stage name, St. Vincent. “I think that being in love with my girlfriend is a big part of why I’m feeling so happy with who I am these days. And for those words to come out of my mouth is actually a miracle.”
Cara says she felt confused by her sexuality as a child, and the possibility of being gay frightened her. “It took me a long time to accept the idea, until I first fell in love with a girl at 20 and recognized that I had to accept it,” she explains. “But I have erotic dreams only about men. I had one two nights ago where I went up to a guy in the back of a VW minivan, with a bunch of his friends around him, and pretty much jumped him.” Her parents seem to think girls are just a phase for Cara, and they may be correct. “Women are what completely inspire me, and they have also been my downfall. I have only been hurt by women, my mother first of all.
“The thing is,” she continues, “if I ever found a guy I could fall in love with, I’d want to marry him and have his children. And that scares me to death because I think I’m a whole bunch of crazy, and I always worry that a guy will walk away once he really, truly knows me.” When I suggest to Cara that to trust a man, she might have to revise an old and stubborn idea of hers—that women are perennially troubled and therefore only women will accept her—her smile says she concedes the point.
My problem is with the false dichotomy that if a girl isn’t into dresses and heels, her sexuality is totally not heteronormative. But other people took issue with the way this is phrased: “Her parents seem to think girls are just a phase for Cara, and they may be correct.” A petition was started by Care2 user Julie Rodriguez for Anna Wintour to apologize for Cara’s cover feature in general, or specifically for the wording around Cara’s self-identification as bisexual. The petition has already gotten 13,000 signatures. Rodriguez writes:
“The idea that queer women only form relationships with other women as a result of childhood trauma is a harmful (and false) stereotype that lesbian and bisexual women have been combating for decades. How could Vogue’s editorial staff greenlight this article and publish it without anyone raising concerns about this dismissive and demeaning language? As a bisexual woman myself, I’ve experienced hurtful comments like this many times. People are quick to assume queer women’s identities are a ‘phase’ and to refuse to recognize the important relationships in their lives.”
While I understand Ms. Rodriguez’s issue and agree that the wording could have been much more respectful, I do think that some of the anger could be directed at Cara Delevingne and how poorly she explains her identification. Granted, it’s not our business and Cara doesn’t owe us an explanation, but she talked about many intimate and personal subjects in the Vogue piece and she had to know that she would get some questions about her relationship with St. Vincent and her past relationships with women. Cara herself makes her bisexuality sound like a phase, and the word “phase” is used in relation to what Cara’s parents think, not the Vogue writer. As for the trauma Cara faced because of her mom’s heroin addiction and whether there was a correlation/causation to her bisexuality – Cara went there, not Vogue. Cara talked about her sexuality and her feelings towards women in relation to her past family situation.
Cover courtesy of VOGUE, additional photos courtesy of WENN.