Vogue is under fire for how they described Cara Delevingne’s bisexuality

cara vogue

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.

[From Vogue]

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.”

[Via E! News]

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.

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55 Responses to “Vogue is under fire for how they described Cara Delevingne’s bisexuality”

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  1. lisa2 says:

    I saw that and was like WHAT.. Vogue doesn’t need to apologize. They just said what her parents said.. and sadly it seems that being a Lesbian or Bisexual is the “new thing”.

    I get so tired of females doing the huggy kissy thing with their costars or friends. Saying “oh I would love to sleep with her” or such.. when you know in reality they don’t feel that way and are just saying it for affect. We see many women kissing each other like it is sexual or touching each other in a suggestive way; when it is not. Playing at this. I find it offensive mainly because so many men and women are still to this day struggling for acceptance from their families and society.. Yet we have so many “STRAIGHT” people playing at being gay when they know they are not.

    that was a bit rambling not sure if it makes sense.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I get where you’re coming, trust me, I really do. But telling others what they can or cannot do with their friends – even if they’re just trying it on for size – doesn’t solve the problem of most of society’s view on sexuality. I think we should do the exact opposite and encourage people to do EXACTLY what they want to do, for whatever reason they want to do it, with whomever they choose as long as nobody gets hurt and we’re talking consent. Because maybe then this labeling will stop one day. There simply isn’t a label for everyone.

      I consider myself bisexual but only for lack of a better term. I’m mostly attracted to men but not exclusively and have fallen in love with a women. Could I see myself marrying a woman? Sure. But if I could define it myself, I’d say I’m mostly straight. Only, you can’t say that because then the LGBTQ community yells at you, as if you’re trying to be “normal” with a way out. Or you’re accused of riding a wave. You always step on someone’s toes, no matter what you do or say. Frankly, I think it’s nobody’s business “what I am” but they still want to know. And then yell. It’s tiring. And it’s not girls (let’s face it, boys sadly don’t get away with it) who play at being gay who are causing this tiredness.

      • whipmyhair says:

        In the immortal words of Kim Kardashian, “You gotta do you.”

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        “…telling others what they can or cannot do with their friends – even if they’re just trying it on for size – doesn’t solve the problem of most of society’s view on sexuality. I think we should do the exact opposite and encourage people to do EXACTLY what they want to do, for whatever reason they want to do it, with whomever they choose as long as nobody gets hurt and we’re talking consent. Because maybe then this labeling will stop one day. There simply isn’t a label for everyone”

        Thank you for that. I’ve always been uncomfortable with jumping on the “How dare that person get sexy with a member of the same sex, especially without publicly declaring themselves gay or bisexual first They’ve only dated members of the opposite sex!” bandwagon. Not only because that’s telling people what they can and can’t do with their bodies, but because you’re not going to always be 100% sure of who’s into members of the same sex, and you can’t be sure you know everything about a stranger’s sexuality or love life.

      • leo says:

        thank you @littlemissnaughty
        I am not alone!

    • melodycalder says:

      I agree. I knew a girl who was married to my husband’s friend and whenever they threw a drinking party- basically a party for adults to play beer pong, her and her best girl friend would go over board trying to get attention from the boys by making out, groping each other, whatever. They thought they were being sexy and all the guys wanted them but really they just laughed at them. I had another friend there once who was a lesbian, she never attended another party it was just so ridiculous.

    • Josefa says:

      HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHA. No. I’m a bisexual woman and I have had some really nasty looks and comments directed at me because of that. It’s not a “thing”.

      That being said – I don’t get the outrage at describing it as a “phase”. It CAN be a phase for some people. Sexuality doesn’t have to a rigid thing, it can change over time. There was a time I considered myself a lesbian and now I have a boyfriend and everything. Maybe a certain woman just wants to experience relationships with other women. And that’s a phase for her. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • Reeely?? says:

      so…it’s okay to define bisexuality as “queer”? I find this one…queer.

  2. Susan1 says:

    Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. No one owes anyone an explanation of their sexuality. And I am SO very tired of politically correct jargon speak. It’s just become laughable. I wish everyone would take their sexuality back to where it belongs, their private bedroom.

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      “No one owes anyone an explanation of their sexuality” thank you!!.

      I have had relationships with men and women and the number of people who feel I have to explain myself to them is annoying in the extreme. I have been approached by a man who wanted me to “prove” that I was actually dating the girl I was with by kissing her in front of him, bisexuality in women is seen as a display to arouse men and bisexual men are seen as “closeted” . I keep my intimate life in my bedroom and the uninvited need to stay out of it.

      • whipmyhair says:

        I just listened to a two part podcast on Bisexual erasure.

        The podcast (stuff mom never told you) approched to topic with respect and grace, while trying to explain all the nuances of the discrimination Bisexuals can face.

        As a cis gendered middle class white girl, this podcast was definitely widened my world view and understanding. 10/10 would recommend.

      • Bitca says:

        Wait. A guy who was attracted to you assumed he had the right to order you to display sexual intimacy with your date, to ~convince~ him? On what planet is that not seriously creepy/verging on scary behavior?

  3. Greta says:

    Why Cara did not say anything about this article? Because she described herself in this way. Sorry but this girl is dumb

  4. Denisemich says:

    Someone has an issue with everything. I don’t see how this is Vogue’s fault. They did an interview the Cara. If Cara is a hot mess and it came across in an interview …..well…

  5. Hannah says:

    The way she and her parents talk about sexuality is not very enlightened. But people may give Cara more of a break because she’s a young girl who admits to struggling with her sexuality. unfortunately the interviewer seemed to further this idea that you can become gay just because you had a messed up childhood or your mother was an addict. I guess Cara isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but I expected more from the writer and editor at vogue. But then again we are living in the days of reality stars on the cover of vogue, so it’s not exactly a high brow publication anymore…

    • Greta says:

      Cara is 23 not a teen girl. She knew what she was saying

    • InvaderTak says:

      That was my biggest problem with the whole thing. Cara herself belittles her sexuality. Vogue was just following her lead.

    • Luca76 says:

      Yes this girl needs some therapy to feel comfortable with herself and come to terms with her sexuality.

    • Brittney B says:

      “unfortunately the interviewer seemed to further this idea that you can become gay just because you had a messed up childhood or your mother was an addict. ”

      THAT is the problem I have with it. She’s free to describe her own sexuality however she wants, but the writer made that connection and THEN printed it, ostensibly for the satisfaction of Cara’s “knowing” smile that proved his clever little point. It’s a very, very harmful stereotype.

      • no-dice says:

        I couldn’t agree more. And seriously, as a queer girl I’ve got to say that changing to conversation to how women exploring their own sexuality can be generally chalked up to attention seeking totally derails the topic. Maybe in the circles you run in that could be true, I dunno, but thats a pretty myopic viewpoint to project onto the rest of the world. Cara has obviously had serious relationships with multiple women. I don’t really see what your drunk girlfriends groping (i.e.; “its true! i saw a fake lesbian once, she just wanted attention!”) has to do with the matter at hand, which is that the journalist drew a correlation directly between having a troubled childhood and homosexuality. What we can extrapolate from that is the notion that being gay is some kind of direct outcome associated with being psychologically damaged. Logic like that is pervasive and thats what is problematic here. It bums me out that the immediate reaction to this article is to assess weather or not bisexuals and queers are just acting out to show off for dudes. Its not only reinforces dangerous stereotypes about queer girls everywhere, it also is completely beside the point here. Oh yeah, and maybe it goes without saying, but its also totally sexist.

        Anyway, long time reader, first time commenter. I usually enjoy the comment threads on this site more than the articles themselves but I really had to speak up on this one. I didn’t intend all of that to be a direct response to the comment right above but to the whole thread. Thanks for reading.

  6. Cleo says:

    “Her parents seem to think girls are just a phase for Cara, and they may be correct.”
    Well, I’m pretty sure that according many parents accross the world their kids are just going through a “phase”. And most of the time they’re wrong.

  7. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    Meh. Unless Cara speaks up and says she was horribly misquoted with proof this seems like one woman’s issues with another woman publicly having relationships with women but admitting she doesn’t give the relationships the same depth she does to a man.

    It happens.

    I have two male friends, one who genuinely loves men and has relationships with depth while with them and another who just likes the sex. He enjoys the male ones but his serious relationships are all with women.

    • Tee says:

      @eternalsideye she does say she is in love with her gf. This implies a serious relationship. And yet she doesn’t see it as equal to a hetero rs.This sounds a lot more complicated then your two friends. It sounds like social conditioning has made her think it can’t be equal. That is a little bit sad in my opinion.

  8. Shambles says:

    Ehhhhh. I don’t think the onus of responsibility lies completely with Cara. Sometimes you can feel something so truly in your heart, but trying to make it come out of your mouth properly is a whole different story. She’s still learning about who she is, and that can be confusing enough in itself. I can understand how it would get messy when trying to explain it to someone else. However, if she’s going to represent the bisexual community (and they desperately NEED good representation), she should know that a decently-worded response about her sexuality is necessary.

    On the other hand, I do think the Vogue writer bears at least some of the responsibility as well. To me, the wording does come off a bit condescending. Almost like, “silly ‘bisexual’ girl with your little video games– you’ll come out of your phase and to your senses soon enough.” JMO. Basically, I think they’re both pretty equally responsible for painting a messy picture of bisexuality.

  9. carol says:

    I don’t see why Vogue needs to apologize either. The offensive wording came from Cara and her parents, not the author. And Cara’s confusion about her sexuality is hers to process – on her terms not anyone else’s.

  10. Franca says:

    I saw Cara on Graham Norton and she came across as really lovely, but every time I read a print interview with her my head hurts.

    I will also never understand how people feel comfortable enough to discuss something so personal on such a public level.

    • missmerry says:

      money and attention, baby.
      the fear of not being known, noticed, paid, hired, etc.

      that is exactly why.
      if they don’t do it, somebody else will, and they’ll have a little article on celebitchy instead of you because they dished on stuff none of us should even know about perfect strangers.

      that’s 2015 celebrity IMO.
      and it’s really sad.

      • HH says:

        I think it also depends upon the person and the interviewer. Great interviewers create great settings and can chat like they’re your friends. Sometimes, I think this causes celebs to be more comfortable and say things that they normally wouldn’t. OTOH, dome celebs are just open books. Cara has always struck me as the latter and seems very susceptible to informal intetviews.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        I don’t think it’s sad at all for people to share details about their personal lives in interviews, for pay or otherwise.

    • Norma says:

      Cara is trying too hard to be liked

  11. Talie says:

    I didn’t think anything of it since the writer is clear about it being her family’s view, which isn’t surprising. They are British upper class. What view should they have — an enlightened one? Yeah, ok…

  12. PeaBea says:

    As a bisexual in a monogamous relationship of many years with my bisexual partner, I am someone who gets majorly pissed off at the way we are treated/ described in media.

    However, this one is on Cara. She talks and acts like it is a phase. Maybe it is a phase. Who cares. But I wouldn’t blame this one on the journo.

  13. kibbles says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with Cara’s comments. Sometimes people do go through a phase while others don’t. If Cara sees herself marrying a man and having kids and her relationships with women as just a phase, so be it. It’s okay to be young and confused with one’s sexuality. Maybe her parents are right. Saying that this is a phase doesn’t make her parents homophobic. This is an example of people trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    • We Are All Made of Stars says:

      I feel like maybe the problem here is the word “phase.” It’s a term of parental judgement to most people’s ears.
      I think you can have many experiences over the course of your life and value them as part of your life experiences, even if you possess the awareness that they are perhaps temporary in nature. I think we need to get away from speaking about these kinds of things in a way that devalues them or suggests that they are unserious or ultimately unimportant in one’s life simply because they aren’t long lasting or the end goal. Many things go into shaping and making a person who they are, and if these experiences are important or healing to Cara, then nobody should look upon them judgmentally and that includes her parents.

      • LAK says:

        …..but what other word or set of words would you use to denote ‘phase’ that wouldn’t step on any toes?

        If it *IS* a phase, then it’s correctly described.

        If is *ISN’T* a phase, then it is hurtful.

        Only time will tell.

  14. Vinci45 says:

    Cara spoke about her sexuality to be on the news. Maybe she isn’t bisexual

  15. G says:

    I don’t get the issue? She’s attracted to men and women. She said it, what else does she have to explain? If she sees herself settling down with a man in the long term then so what? It’s her choice. Her parents thinking it could be a phase is more questionable but they are of a certain generation too. Even the first comment on this post dismisses bisexuality as a ‘phase’. A cousin recently dismissed Kristen Stewart’s bisexuality as a phase because it seems to be en vogue. I called her on it and asked her who she was to judge her, and that a relationship of a 1.5 years or however long she is with her gf is hardly a ‘phase’.

    People forget that Cara is very young – 21, 22? She’s learning about herself and experimenting which is what people her age should be doing. Why are people expecting her to be consistent? Who cares if it is ‘just a phase’. At least it’s normalizing it and maybe one day people won’t make such a big deal out of 2 girls dating/hooking up/getting off with each other.

  16. Mzizkrizten says:

    Why should she have to apologize for how she talked about her own life and situation??? People are ridiculous.

    • Nina says:

      Have you read the post? Some want that the journalist apologizes but he reported what she said

  17. lizzie says:

    am i dumb? i don’t see anything wrong with what she said. i don’t see where she implied she is bisexual because of her relationship with her mother. she just stated that she has only been hurt by women, especially her mother. the way i understood that statement is her trying to articulate that her relationships with women are fraught with pain and perhaps being in a traditional relationship with a man would be more emotionally stable. i don’t think that is necessarily true but i also i don’t think she is wrong to think that based on her own experiences. she is allowed to have complex emotions about her sexuality no matter her age!

    • Brittney B says:

      She can say whatever she wants, I agree; she’s allowed to work through those complicated feelings.

      It’s what the *writer* said that pissed me off. She just made an observation that’s completely authentic to her life experiences. Honestly, when I realized I was attracted to women, I made a very similar observation… “wow, women affect me more deeply, and men don’t *get* my brand of crazy, so this just makes sense, but it would be so much easier to be normal”. I matured out of that perspective and realized my sexuality is fluid, but the writer is older than her, and he should know better too. He shouldn’t have cheekily equated sexuality with trust issues, but apparently that’s the way he thinks, and her comments reinforced it. He has no clue what it’s like to be a young woman discovering her sexuality, and how could he? But he shouldn’t leap to oversimplify it, especially without considering the consequences of this dangerous parallel.

      • lizzie says:

        thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences! i was honestly confused from the other comments that she said something wrong or attention mongering but i really really didn’t see it that way!

      • Original T.C. says:

        “He shouldn’t have cheekily equated sexuality with trust issues, but apparently that’s the way he thinks, and her comments reinforced it”

        Hmm, where exactly does the writer equate sexuality with trust issues or childhood trauma? I feel like we are all reading the same article and some people are using their super decoding rings to find additional words that are not visible to all. Furthermore when this article with the same words was posted yesterday, I don’t recall commenters taking issue with anything the writer did, a few people questioned Cara’s comments about eventually ending up in the traditional heterosexual family role because SHE made it seem like dating girls IS just a thing to do right now. I remember that poster saying that she hopes Cara’s girlfriend takes note and protects herself. It’s bizarre to me that it’s only after hearing of this petition that people are NOW claiming the writer did something wrong, that he is biphobic and people are twisting themselves into pretzels in attempting to put Cara and her parent’s words into his mouth. If you take issue with someone pushing bisexuality as a phase or do to childhood trauma that petition against the people who actually said that: Cara and her parents.

  18. db says:

    The way it reads to me, this is the way Cara is framing of her sexuality, not the writer. And to be honest would Cara be where she is if she didn’t exploit her sexuality to some extent?

  19. Sonya says:

    In a very recent conversation I had a man ask me, “But, come on, what happened to you that made you gay?” I was like, “is there anything that someone could do to you to make you sleep with a man?” He got all crazy and was all “NO!”

    • Brittney B says:

      Great point you made! I hope he thinks twice before saying something like that again.

      The whole “trusting men” thing makes the article offensive for me. Others are taking apart her quotes and his regarding the “phase”, but it’s the conclusion that really makes me seethe, and I don’t know anyone could overlook it.

      Homosexuality was removed from the DSM, people. It’s not the product of mental instability, and women who are attracted to other women don’t need to “get over their trust issues” any more than women who are attracted to men.

  20. Dawn says:

    I doubt Anna Wintour gives two snaps.

  21. Pandy says:

    Ah, who cares? Her 15 minutes are ticking.

  22. mememe says:

    Cara was the one who still seems confused and traumatized. The interviewer actually made a very good point at the end that made me want to BRAVO. To say you’re afraid of dating men because they’ll think you’re insane, then feeling no qualms about visiting your insanity on your girlfriends elevates men as an unattainable goal that she is unworthy of. Sexuality directly influenced by fear.

  23. Veronica says:

    Maybe she doesn’t use the word bisexual BECAUSE SHE’S STILL FIGURING IT OUT? She doesn’t have to use the bisexual label if she doesn’t want to. Maybe she’s going through a period of her life where women satisfy her more. Maybe it’s a phase and maybe it’s not. And there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Our sexuality does not have to be strictly defined at every point in our lives. We are dynamic creatures.

    Nothing infuriates me more as a queer women than the insistence from both the heteronormative and LGBT community that bisexuals and trans come down on strict sides of the gender binary and sexuality scale. Sex and gender are fluid not static, and since we don’t live in a society that allows people to adequately explore those concepts, we can’t get angry when people like Cara come across as uncertain. Experience and growth changes people. We’re not the same thing all the time. And don’t even get me started on the marginalization of female sexual identity in general, which is exactly why women enter their twenties having no idea what they want.

    I feel about Cara the same way I did about Miley: if these were men making these claims, we’d be celebrating their courage for expressing an identity outside the norm. But because they are women, we feel the need to question, undermine, and devalue their choices at every turn. It’s the worst kind of insidious misogyny because it creates women too afraid to assert their identity in their own lives much less in public.

  24. evaokay says:

    Bollocks. Bisexual erasure is rife, don’t contribute to it. If Cara Delavigne chooses to marry a man later in life, that won’t magically negate the fact that she had serious (and not serious) relationships with other women AND it won’t stop her from committing adultery in her heart when she meets a sexy lady, even if she never touches another woman again. My partner’s family would love to think that the two-year relationship he had with a man before he met me was just an attention-seeking phase. We’ve been together more than 10 years and we still giggle about the men we find attractive, all our friends know he used to with another man, and more than once that’s helped other people we know to acknowledge their own queerness. Yet anyone who doesn’t know us just sees a straight couple. You can’t presume to know what goes on in people’s hearts and loins, what’s happened in their pasts, or what will happen in their future just by looking at their current relationship from the outside.

    By the way, congrats on being so mature at 23 y’all. I’ll freely admit I was a drunken idiot and a mess back then. I would’ve talked 7 shades of pretentious shit if I’d been worthy of interviewing in Vogue. I don’t ‘get’ Cara as a model and I don’t follow her celebrity career, but seriously, 23 is still a baby for most people. If you’re around that age and you think you’re on the ball, got it sorted, know where you’re going, hahahahaha! Get back in 10, 20, 30 years and reassess.