comScore Janelle Monáe's “Make Me Feel” is the Perfect Bisexual Anthem | The Mary Sue
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Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel” Is the Perfect Bisexual Anthem We’ve Been Waiting For

Janelle Monáe is an actress, singer, and probably an actual Sailor Moon Senshi. Throughout her carrier, if I had to describe her in one word, it would be “authentic.” No matter what she is doing you can tell Monáe is working with her own vision at the forefront. In her early era, she was known for her black and white suits; now she is letting herself  go Afro-centric style in “Django Jane.”

The song that really got us hype was “Make Me Feel” which dropped yesterday, and as Teresa put it, “Holy shit […] ‘Make Me Feel’ is like a bisexual fever dream. I LOVE IT.”

It is such an amazing song and not only does it star one of our major crushes, Tessa Thompson, in it as one of Monáe’s love interests in the music video, but the whole song is a fun celebration of sexual fluidity and joy. So many songs about queer sexual experiences are filled with angst or lamenting, but “Make Me Feel” is all fun.

In an interview with The Guardian, Monáe talks about her music now reflects her ability to let things go—and no longer allowing any discomfort she might feel about “speaking out” stop her:

“One of the things I’m trying to learn to do is let go.” She says that letting go has come about in part thanks to therapy, and in part to translating political anger, as she ever more explicitly addresses wrongs against black Americans. Django Jane is “a response to me feeling the sting of the threats being made to my rights as a woman, as a black woman, as a sexually liberated woman, even just as a daughter with parents who have been oppressed for many decades. Black women and those who have been the ‘other’, and the marginalised in society – that’s who I wanted to support, and that was more important than my discomfort about speaking out.”

Rumors about Monáe’s sexuality have existed since she first smerged on the music scene, but Monáe has never put a label or definition on her sexuality. Instead she calls herself “sexually liberated.” In terms of “Make Me Feel”:

“It’s a celebratory song,” she says. “I hope that comes across. That people feel more free, no matter where they are in their lives, that they feel celebrated. Because I’m about women’s empowerment. I’m about agency. I’m about being in control of your narrative and your body. That was personal for me to even talk about: to let people know you don’t own or control me and you will not use my image to defame or denounce other women.”

For some, this might not be enough, but I respect Monáe’s desire to keep things about her personal life “personal,” and her work has always spoken to sexual fluidity and breaking gender norms, so this isn’t the case of her talking out of the side of her mouth. Not to mention that bisexuality and celebrities, especially women, often leads to a lot of messiness.

There was an era where a whole group of female celebrities including Jessie J and Nicki Minaj would call themselves “bisexual” only to come out later saying that it was “phase” or a marketing tool to make them seem edgier. Other female bisexuals often have to deal with not being considered truly queer unless they are seen dating a same-sex partner. Lady Gaga, who is bisexual, often gets questioned about if she “really is” because she hasn’t been seen with a female partner.

“Make Me Feel” comes a long way from queer bait-y anthems like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” which I’m not gonna lie, I enjoyed a lot as an impressionable baby bisexual. Katy Perry herself has even said that “If I had to write that song again, I probably would make an edit on it.”

Where “I Kissed a Girl” focuses on the taboo and lesbian fetishizing of two women kissing with “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it,” “Make Me Feel” is about Monáe’s character enjoying how she feels about her partners, not just kissing, but sexually:

That’s just the way you make me feel
That’s just the way you make me feel
So real, so good, so fuckin’ real
That’s just the way you make me feel
That’s just the way you make me feel

It’s sexy. It’s fun. And it’s about her pleasure with both genders. With the way everything is looking so far, Dirty Computer is going to be an amazing album and I’m ready to preorder. So thank you, Janelle, I know you are out there fighting evil by moonlight.

I asked my fellow writers about some of the songs that gave them bisexual-feels and we got:

Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”, “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight” – Tracy Chapman, Ani DiFranco’s “Little Plastic Castle”, Blur, “Girls & Boys”, Reel Big Fish “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” and “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins.

What songs make your little queer heart beat fast?

(image: Screengrab/Youtube)

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