Allow this Chris Crocker moment, but let me explain how what mostly started out as a joke became quite serious and why it’s important to #ProtectRitaOra especially given that you #CantStopRitaOra2015 anyway…
Firstly, my feelings about Rita Ora are less about me and more about everyone else. (Rita herself is pretty much a non-factor.) I didn’t really have much of a negative nor positive fuck to give about her before public opinion became acidic and falsehoods spread across twitter like wildfire. In becoming the totemic figurehead of my general attitude towards this particular treatment of women (and sometimes men, but mostly women) I have of course developed a fondness for her, but let’s just dispel the idea I’m somehow caping for a rich woman who doesn’t need it. It’s not really about Rita, it’s about setting different standards so that all women can get through life a little bit easier. Secondly, before you go any further please don’t think I’m being preachy. I’m not saying anyone needs to be nice to Rita Ora particularly, just don’t be nasty. That said, let me speak now.
While there has always been a bit of a spiteful thread to Rita Ora’s media narrative, it mostly used to revolve around the fact that she was a bit unrefined and dressed in some admittedly heinous outfits. These are criticisms I will accept, though I would counter that she’s not the only one, so I’m not quite sure why she in particular is singled out for such vicious treatment. Then there was a noticeable shift where two different avenues of attack opened up: one angle is to attack her because she’s perceived as a sket, the other angle is to attack her because she’s perceived as a flop. I think the second angle is informed by the first, so let’s think about what that’s all about for a second.
Rita Ora is no more or less promiscuous (or unfaithful!) as say… Ellie Goulding. Both have had a number of high profile relationships (and lowkey hook ups) and both have allegedly cheated on famous boyfriends. Why it is that Ellie gets a pass when Rita doesn’t is beyond me, but I’m not here to drag Ellie or Rita for doing what any hot girl with access to a lot of quality dick would be doing were they in the same position. Namely, getting the fuck on it. Why shouldn’t they? All the boys are. All the celeb boys are out there fucking like it’s going out of fashion and cheating on their girlfriends and getting one night stands pregnant and not even bothering to be discreet about it. So fuck that double standard for a start off.
Like being accused of bullying though, it is easy to be labelled a slut on the basis of little to no evidence but incredibly difficult to shake once it’s out there. In Rita’s case, the accusation came in a string of angry little fuckboy tweets from notorious waste of fucking space Rob Kardashian, who claimed that while he was in a relationship with her, she slept with twenty other men.
There is a whole other discussion to be had about how Rob dodges a lot of the hatred spewed towards the Kardashians by virtue of being male, but for now I’ll keep it strictly Rita and just reiterate that this whole #RitaWhora perception was conjured and served to the public by Rob Kardashian. And Rita’s response, or lack thereof, left the gate open wide for what has become a free for all on a young woman in a way that would be considered pretty standard for say, a reality TV star, but practically unheard of for a popstar.
It’s fairly obvious that Rita is treated with very little decency, and for me that has only been compounded by the Calvin Harris and the A$AP Rocky situations over the past year. Pulling an entire album of work out from under her feet and preventing her from promoting her single – actively sabotaging her career – is a complete dick move, but one that Calvin Harris was able to get away with because Rita Ora is seen as a slut who deserves what she gets. And I can’t think of any other female artist who would be openly disrespected in a song (or an interview, or even as an aside on stage) in the way that Rita was on the A$AP track. Not one. Sure, in hip hop there will always be allusions to other well known faces, and many more references to girls we do not and will never know, but name checking Rita and putting her on blast like that occurred because it was almost assured there would be no backlash. In the US, she is not well known enough to warrant a mention. In the UK, we’ve made it pretty clear that we do not treat her as we would treat most other human beings – ie. even moderately decently. Rita Ora is a living study of the idea that women are worthy of respect… so long as they’re the right type of woman.
While the misogynistic unpleasantness annoys me, it’s not what annoys me most of all. What really fucks me off is the complete dismissal of any and every achievement Rita Ora has worked hard for. Five number one singles. A platinum album. A judge on not one, but two prime time Saturday night entertainment talent shows. Major label fashion collaborations. Movie roles. An Oscar nomination by association. She’s done all of that. By this point, pretending you don’t know her, or that she’s irrelevant or a flop is very much old man shout at cloud territory. The genie is out of the bottle, people! It doesn’t matter how ill deserved you may think her hits are – but on that note, I don’t see anyone dragging Jess Glynne for her tactical vocal features – or that she she hasn’t blew up in America. Some of this “flop” and “irrelevant” rhetoric is wrapped up in a kind of indignance that you can’t tweet Rita Ora out of public consciousness. Now, more than ever, as evidenced by every ridiculous petition, hashtag and moral crusade, people feel an entitlement to dictate the world to their own specific calibration, yet repeatedly saying that Rita Ora is a flop…somehow…hasn’t…made…it…true? But the deeper reasoning for this consistant undermining and refusal to acknowledge that Rita Ora stays making money speaks to the same kind of “Kim Kardashian is famous because of a sex tape” bullshit. We have a real problem with letting women who have sex have careers. Why is that?
The worrying thing is… we’re all kinda just one bad shag away from being victim to this same kind of awfulness ourselves. You only have to look at say, Gamergate, for an example of how one man’s vengeful smearing can blow up on a woman like this. Maybe it’s already happened to you. I’m certain you probably know someone (that isn’t Rita Ora) who got her reputation trashed by some malicious little manchild and found herself then having to justify herself double. Like, even if she cured fucking cancer. And AIDs. And solved world hunger. Still there would be people going “she’s a fucking slag though”.
I guess ultimately, I just think there are easier targets. If a popstar’s worse crime is that they wear some tacky outfits and have more sex than would be considered decent by someone from the Victoria era, so be it. I’d much rather that than violence, misogyny, slut shaming, mediocrity, body shaming, poor attitude, a lack of hygiene, racism, laziness or conservative heteronormative homosexuality. I’m not even gonna link out to the artists I’m thinking of because I know their names are springing to mind already (plus many more besides!) and I know we’re all guilty of having a fave across every single one of those categories. But, really. When you think of it like that, doesn’t it seem insane that it’s Rita Ora you’re saving your venom for?
Protect Rita Ora and all women like her. All women who aren’t considered classy, who might suck a good dick, and who refuse to be stopped. Especially if they’re popstars. They definitely could be worse.