Sunday, October 31, 2010

Did I Miss Something?

Since when did Freja's sexuality become officially confirmed news? Did I miss the memo? The press release? Something? Because to the best of my knowledge Freja has never officially said anything about her sexuality one way or another. (Yes, yes we all assume but that's a different story and that's not what is at dispute here.) I've always taken her silence on the topic to mean that it's none of our business and I try to respect that. After all, this blog is mainly focused on her work. But when supposedly credible sites (with credible being a relative word) start taking liberties with labels, I get irked:
1. From AfterEllen and an article about Evan Rachel Wood in Nylon: "While looking at fashion magazines, she describes herself as a “tomboy in heels,” and comments that photos of the lesbian model Freja Beha Erichsen in the French Vogue are 'hot s--t.'"

2. This old post at Jezebel, "Is British Vogue Afraid of Lesbians?"
Given that there has never been any official confirmation from either Freja or her agencies regarding the subject of her sexuality, I think it's wrong for these sites to write what they did. They're being assumptive when they should be fact checking. Most of us are assumptive too, but most of us aren't news sources either. Sites like these reduce her down to being the lesbian model, and this ignores the entirety of her talent and the work she does. This ignores the fact that she got to where she is based on grit, determination and hard work, not on the basis of her sexuality. Moreover, this makes it seem like her sexuality is the only thing she's notable for and the only thing she's identifiable by. Like it will be her lasting legacy, even though throughout her career it's been more of a non-issue. Just something curious fans pondered about. But now it's like Freja has become the token lesbian model despite the fact that she hasn't officially made her sexuality public knowledge. Instead she has always focused on the work, preferring to live the rest of her life well outside the public view. I feel like these sites are being disrespectful of that. And I cringe from the thought that in 10-20 years time, Freja will just be a footnote that reads "lesbian model" when she is so, so much more.

I really hope no one takes this post the wrong way. I don't think being deemed a lesbian model is a bad thing, but when you're dealing with a model of Freja's status, I feel like it's kind of dismissive. It would be like sites writing the "big breasted model" in regards to Lara Stone, or the "model with the mole" in regards to Cindy Crawford, if that makes sense. I'm just irritated by this and it's hard for me to explain why. It's not out of disbelief. (Lord knows the world would be a better place if people were more open and proud of their sexuality...normalcy helps to temper the violence that's bred by ignorant hate.) It's not out of aversion. (The world could definitely use more lesbian and gay prefaces to names.) It's more out of a respect for Freja's privacy and a desire to see her given her due credit. I already know some of you will think I'm being ridiculous or overly sensitive (there sure seem to be a lot more of you out there nowadays); but I just think this is all uncouth and invasive, especially since we all know how private of a person Freja is.

Besides, why is there such a need to know who she is off the runway? Isn't it enough that she's a tremendously talented model who gets a ton of work? Shouldn't that satisfy us as fans? Or does all of this stem from a desire to set Freja up as a role model of sorts? (Top of her industry, well known, not exactly open about her sexuality but not dismissive or afraid of it either....these qualities don't come around all that often in the modeling industry.) If this is the case, I completely understand the impetus behind it. But I also think that if you're going to herald a person for being a specific way, that person should be able to openly embrace that aspect of themselves that you're heralding. There shouldn't be any hesitation or question about it. Confirming something and not saying anything about something are not the same thing. I'm not going to call Freja out for being a vegetarian if she's never said that she's a vegetarian. Even if I only ever see her eat veggies, it's just not my place to say unless she says so herself, because for all I know she eats meat too. Even if the possibility is small, it's still a possibility until it's been refuted. Hmmm, maybe that wasn't the best analogy since you choose vegetarianism while you're born with sexuality, but it's all I could come up with.

Call me old-fashion, but I still place value in privacy and I still think that personal matters should remain personal, not spread around without consent. Sadly in this day and age, there seem to be less and less people who feel this way as things like facebook and twitter allow us all to indulge the stalker within. I shudder to think what things will be like in 5-10 years. Anyway, your thoughts on the matter? Do you think it's ok for sites like AE and Jezebel to out Freja? Or do you think her sexuality should be left out of the discussion completely? Keep in mind that Freja is a model and not a celebrity. She didn't implicitly sign away her rights to privacy when she started to model 5 years ago. Model-as-cult-celebrity is a very recent phenomenon spurred on by the proliferation of the internet's role within the fashion industry. And it's an entirely different phenomenon from the era of the Supers. So I don't believe it's fair to cop-out and say that this is just part of the job, because it isn't and it shouldn't be.

(And yes, I'm fully aware that this post is kind of hypocritical seeing as I'm talking about the very thing I'm essentially denouncing, but this is the first and last time I will address this topic. Sometimes you have to participate in the very thing you're speaking out against in order to make your point. It's the classic complicit vs. subversive dilemma. All you humanities majors should be very familiar with this.)

26 comments:

Gill Ford said...

To be honest, I also get frustrated with the lesbian tag that is often tacked in front of the name. It makes it out that this is the one defining feature of a person, or at least the one thing that the general public finds most recognizable about them. From this perspective, I always find it strange that they use 'lesbian'... I mean seriously, if the name Freja Beha Erichsen doesn't ring a bell with whoever is reading, what good is the descriptor 'lesbian' going to be? Call me crazy, but the speculation over models' sexuality in general seems to be pretty widespread, with everyone from Daria Werbowy to Myf Shephard being supposedly 'gay' or at least 'bisexual'. So referring to Freja as 'the lesbian model' doesn't really narrow it down for your average reader. It seems to me that calling her 'the tattooed model' would be more appropriate if they're trying to get recognition.

That said, I think it's very likely the fact that Freja is so protective of her private life that the tag is used. Because there is a limit on how much she lets slip, people try to sensationalize what they have managed to glean from interviews and whatnot. In tagging her as a lesbian model, news agencies are playing to what they know fans want most, which is something Freja refuses to let them have.

I suppose an analogy for it might be spots for films? Everyone really wants to see the full movie, but all they get are these little 30 second clips on the tele, which only hint at the actual plot. In the end, the spot just leaves them more anxious to see the whole thing than they were before.

Tying it back to Freja, I feel that the little underhand tongue-in-cheek mentions concerning her sexuality work to push for more answers. The more suspenseful fans and the media get over the issue (if we want to call it that), the more people will be on the lookout for proof or evidence to the contrary. For example, I remember a while ago there was a post on style.com I think it was (?) where they alluded to Cat McNeil and Freja being a couple (I'm not even going to get into how I felt finding gossip over there..). That spurred a frenzy of deeper searches and crazed fangirls heralding the confirmed existence of McBeha, the most epic love story since Titanic...

Regardless of the reasons behind the use of the tag, I remain of the belief that it is really just poor, lazy journalism. You sort of come to expect it from tabloids and things, but when we're talking about major fashion news sources, I almost feel there's not much excuse for it? It makes me wonder who the author thinks they are writing for, and perhaps more importantly, it sometimes makes me think twice about the reliability of what I'm reading.

Anonymous said...

That is exactly how I feel rrose. I hate it when they are making a big deal out of it.

ashley said...

she has hinted that she was a lesbian before - however she never said it outright. there was an audio interview with V magazine a while back that hinted at the subject. i tried to find the link (which i posted in my own blog) but v magazine removed the page, i think it was from 2007.

(a paraphrased version, i cant listen and quote word for word at the same time)
james karliados: do you look danish, i mean if you go back in time do people say you look danish?
freja beha: no... ive been told i look brazillian, but theve got like shapes and stuff
j.k.: yeah your very straight *pause, then laughter by both* i mean your body is very straight
f.b.: yeah i am very straight.. *laughs* very straight forward. *both laugh*

by the context and the way they are laughing at james karliados choice of words... id make a pretty strong case that freja is anything but straight.

if you want, i could email you the audio file. id post it to my tumblr but its over the 10mb limit.

ashley

Anonymous said...

@ashley,lol i'm sure rrose and everyone who knows anything about freja have heard that interview.
Anyways, i've been waiting forever to see a post like this because there is no dancing around the elephant in the room as they say. The sad,if not laughable, thing is that most of freja's recent fans like her because she's a 'lesbian' and really wouldn't give a shit about her body of work.

Anonymous said...

I think Catherine's camp kinda confirmed it when Cat was going out with Ruby Rose.

Keira said...

freja is out she says nothing but everybody know that. not only afterellen and lesbian site write about her sexuality, but other blogs too!!! where is the problem?

Anonymous said...

Hello Rose!
I had the exact same reaction when I read the articles you mentioned (incidentally, there was another one: http://www.thevine.com.au/fashion/news/freja-beha-erichsen-rolls-toward-mainstream20101012.aspx (be warned though: there are several cringe-worthy passages in this one)): Did I miss Freja coming out?
The phrasing chosen by these “news” sources makes it sound like Freja being a lesbian is a fact. However, until she herself decides to publicly confirm this it remains a rumour. And while we can all speculate about these sort of rumours as much as we want in private, it’s presumptuous and possibly even vilifying for “official” news outlets to dispense with the preface “rumoured” or “alleged” when talking about her sexuality (if they must at all).
In addition to that, I completely agree with you that using the label “lesbian” as a prefix to her name the way it was done in these articles, suggests that this is her overall defining characteristic and reducing her to that is incredibly dismissive of her work as a model. You would think that the people responsible for these articles are aware of the insinuating power of syntax.
And frankly, I don’t understand why there is not more of a protest amongst her fans in response to these invasive practices because we of all people should know how important her privacy is to Freja. Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of her “newer” fans are more interested in Freja as a person (and her sexuality apparently being the most intriguing factor here) than her work and this development I believe correlates with the increase of undifferentiated and impertinent “criticism” you receive on this blog.
I realize that I’m just paraphrasing a lot of what you have already said in your post, but I feel like it’s important to let you know that there are still a lot of people who not only appreciate your blog, but also share your basic understanding of where to draw the line on fan-musings and of respecting someone’s privacy.
I apologize for the novel and thank you for all your work!!

Melanie said...

I am totally with you on this one. I like people because of their work, not because of who they may or may not be sleeping with (which is none of anyone's business anyway...)

The problem with AfterEllen is that they do this to everyone. If I got a penny for everytime I read something about 'Queen Latifa and her GIRLFRIEND the personal trainer' I'd be a very, VERY rich person. Same goes for Michelle Rodriguez. They assume something and then they just can't let it go. They're super pushy about it and it's beyond annoying. (And that's one of the main reasons I never go on there anymore.)
I get that visibility is important and that you want people to be out, but unless those people come out themselves, can you just shut up about it? There's this -very sacred- thing called privacy, try respecting it.
Okay this is starting to turn into a rant about AE, but it just really bothers me.

x

peter irvine said...

i couldnt agree more with the second paragraph from gill ford , and generally everything that was said by others .
personally i come on this blog to see nothing but freja's work - not that it annoys me when you discuss these issues about her personal life rrose , im glad you bring your opinions up because they are usually fair and (whats the word) diplomatic ? but its sad that new and existing fans of frejas work could be sucked into the whole celebrity culture of things and focus on her personal goings on rather than her strong portfolio . sadly its a catch 22 in my mind , we discuss issues like these on this forum in the hopes of people coming to their senses and keeping their noses out of her business, however , it just fuels a more general knowledge about her which leads to a celebrity status being achieved .
i reckon we should just tag her as the 'best in the business' and hope that overshadows all those other tags we've come to dislike ?

:)

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why she would have to "come out" for these sites to call her a lesbian. It's a pretty well known fact at this point and honestly I don't think Freja sees it as a big deal. Her agency may see it that way but I think she doesn't care about the speculation as long as they don't try to get any closer peeks into her personal life.

That being said it's sad that Freja being called a lesbian is considered "an invasion of privacy." But I guess that's the world we live in.

Anonymous said...

^I feel like I should clarify my last comment. I meant sad in a sense that other models can talk about their boyfriends and have it be no big deal. But if Freja were to do the same it would be blown out of proportion and she'd be "the lesbian model."

Rrose Sélavy said...

Oh wow! I've enjoyed reading all your comments on this topic so much!

@ Gill Ford: A pleasure reading your thoughts as always. :) Excellent point about the descriptor "lesbian" being an inadequate one. And I completely agree with your point about sensationalism. Seems like some fans (like the one who posted directly above) have made up their minds despite the lack of any actual confirmation, and some media outlets have no problem feeding that.

@ ashley: I'm very familiar with the audio clip, but thanks anyway! Like I said in my post, we all assume, but that's not the point I was trying to hit on. I was speaking in terms of official confirmation, not innuendos.

@ anonymous @ 8:16am: Thanks for your post and your words of encouragement! It saddens me to think that newer fans are only interested in the personal side instead of the work, but perhaps it's the inevitable when a person becomes more famous. It's a shame though, really.

@ Melanie: I'm glad someone else feels as fervent about privacy as I do. :) I don't read After Ellen and the only reason I saw that post was because someone linked it on tFS, but I'll definitely take your word for it.

@ Peter: I completely agree about the catch 22. Which is why I'll be sure not to bring up this issue again, unless Freja brings it up herself and openly puts it out into the public sphere. I did want to address it at least once though, in the hopes that it would spark some discussion and cause people to think about issues of privacy.

@ anonymous above: I don't know where you live, but where I live we don't call people gay or lesbian unless they openly say they are first. It's called respect for privacy. Whether Freja seems like she's cool about it or not, it's not our place to say and in cases like this it's better to err on the side of caution. Regardless of what you think, or what we all want, sexuality is still a very sensitive issue both socially and politically. One could argue that it's even more delicate of an issue today, despite the more public visibility of the LGBT community, due to the reactionary movement that we're seeing in US politics. And according to these sites, Freja is already the "lesbian model" and I don't think that's right and that's the whole point of my post.

Rrose Sélavy said...

^Didn't mean to end so abruptly. Sorry! :) I can see where you're coming from, but how do you justify labeling Freja a lesbian if she's never said so herself? I was trying to get at that with my vegetarianism analogy, but I guess that didn't work...lol.

newmanbuster said...

Rose, you have definitely brought up a very topical subject and I have enjoyed reading everyone's remarks. A person's private life is just that - their privacy, their life. When you are a fan of someone, I can certainly understand wanting to know what a person's interests may be, what they like do in their spare time, etc. However, there is the line between what someone is willing to share and what they choose not to. What they choose not to reveal should be respected and it should be left at that.

As it is, I think we know almost too much about people in in the public eye. With all of the technology today, we are subjected to every detail about what someone is up to, whether it be salacious or not. The media takes massive liberties with their so called "reporting" and frankly, one could argue, that the level of decent journalism has decreased over the last few years. Sensationalism really does seem to be the benchmark for a story these days. Sorry to go on, I just wanted to chime in on the discussion.

Anonymous said...

I think you're right and you bring up good points. Sadly, people always need to categorize, especially on the internet.

However, there has been a gif posted on tfs recently (which, if you ask me, doesn't belong there since it is not related to her work), where she's made it pretty clear. Images are as good as words...

Anonymous said...

I'm the anon you responded to Rose.

I guess what I was trying to say that it seems that everyone else is making a big deal about this except for Freja. I understand that she is a private person.

ashley said...

I still think that her innuendoes are pretty strong - in fact its possible that she would come out like its no big deal but her agency would prefer her not to (i have no idea either way on that, but its a possibility).

either way, i love her for her work (which is how i first noticed her), and the fact that its pretty damn likely shes batting for my team :)

Anonymous said...

HOLA...

Creo que el ser humano talvez no sea un animal muy racional, pero de lo que no hay duda, es que es un animal obsecionado con lo misterioso, lo oculto, lo inexplicable, lo inalcanzable, lo privado...

Segun una Antropologa Suramericana la "PRIVACIDAD ES LA NUEVA CELEBRIDAD" en los medios de comunicacion audio/visual, las redes sociales; en toda la INTERNET.

Nosotros como una sociedad cybernetica descontrolada, adicta y victimas del INTERNET; tenemos el poder de dictar y fabricar la imagen de cualquier ser u objeto existente. Por ejemplo: los fans y los medios de comunicacion crean y dan a conocer a cualquier persona que desee convertirse en cantante, modelo, musico o actor. *(FAMOSO)*

Y Freja Beha como PRODUCTO COMERCIAL(Publicamente Conocida por todo el mundo)... es controlada personal y profecionalmente por la sociedad...Como dice la cancion de Patti Smith " The people have the power"

Es imposible pedirle a los fans y a los medios de comunicacion que hablen de su trabajo, sin dejar de hablar de su sexualidad, de la familia, de los amigos,de los hobbies, de las vacaciones, de los gustos de FREJA.(VIDA PRIVADA)... Ya que es una parte fundamental que el fan o medio desea conocer sobre FREJA. (Tenemos el PODER de pensar, hacer y escribir lo que nosotros deseamos de cualquier persona)

En mi opinion referirse con ese tipo de Analogias al ser humano como:la Lesbiana, la Gorda, la Delgada, la Adoptada, la Fea, la Divorciada, la Drogadicta, la Psicopata... es muy despreciativo y ofensivo para la persona(Freja Beha).

Lamentablemente los fanaticos y los medios han creado de Freja Beha una etiqueta imposible de corregir. (LA PRIVACIDAD ES LA NUEVA CELEBRIDAD):(

Sea o no lesbiana; su carisma, su alegria y la pasion/entrega por su trabajo; es lo que la hace una gran modelo y una GRAN PERSONA... Pieza importante dentro de la Industria de la Moda/Musica... Pieza importante dentro del rompecabezas(PUZZLE) de la sociedad.


AND MANY HITS WITH ALL YOUR WORK ... LOVE IT

Sorry for my english :)

Anonymous said...

If Kim Kardashian or a celeb of the sort starts whining about privacy then that just pure hypocrisy. I wouldn't use the same term for Freja though given how steadfast she has been in withholding details of her life from the public. However with advent of social networking site, oversharing has become the norm, and I suppose people are expecting that from Freja regardless of her belief on the matter.

As for me, I am much more inclined to hear about news of her latest editorial than gossips about her private life. One of the main reasons I'm so fascinated by models is because of their relative anonymity outside the industry which makes them an ideal canvas to project narratives after narratives upon. And isn't that the primary objective of fashion, selling elusive ideals? If every detail of a model's life is broadcasted online then that would seriously tamper with the viewer's objectivity in critiquing an ed, and in perceiving the brand she is promoting. This has not happened to Freja's career yet, at least not to a crippling degree, and I hope it will remain thus just so I can see more works by her and more diversity in her styling. 's superficial assessment yes, but what can I say, I'm an aestheist :).

And seriously, is her private life that interesting to begin with. Go read a book if you want a detailed chronicle of a person's life, I'm sure it's better written and more depraved than any pseudo piece of journalism on gossip sites.

Keira said...

if you don't like to talk about her sexuality why do you write that? more u speak about that more fuel u put on fire. It seems more a problem for you than for freja.
P. S. not only lesbian blogs write about her sexuality!!

Rrose Sélavy said...

@ newmanbuster: I was just having a conversation with someone about the exact thing you bring up. There is totally such a thing a knowing too much, and I think we've reached that point with people in the public eye. sadly, most people only want more and more, instead of less. Whatever happened to less is more? btw, do you have a blog? I tried clicking onto your profile, but all I get is a note saying it's not available.

@ anonymous @ 11:10 pm: LOL...I've seen Lily, Lara, and Heidi make those gestures as well, and Lara and Heidi are married to men, while Lily has only dated men publicly. So that gif is far from being a confirmation. I'm talking about official, 100% undeniable confirmation straight from the horse's mouth so to speak, not innuendo. Believe me, I've thought about this and there are lots of examples of innuendo and signs, but I also think we're all so assumptive about the issue that we read everything in an influenced way. For example, if two models are hugging backstage people think they're friends. If Freja hugs a model backstage, people think they're dating.

@ anonymous @ 2:21am: From what I could understand after using google translate, you make some good points and I think most of us agree that regardless, Freja is a talented model and that's what its all about. :)

@ anonymous @ 3:44am: Definitely agree with you.

@ Keira: Next time you should read the entire post, including the last paragraph where I address the very thing that you bring up. Thanks.

Halcyon said...

I once came across a small article on Cat getting married to Ruby and her agency's anger about that. The article said her agency was raged because "at least Freja is an internationally recognised model while Ruby is just a lesbian nobody" or sth like that. I'm not any sure about how many percents of truth was put in but... is there any chance the agency was behind these tabloids ? They want this highly-speculated to be widespread ?

Not that I want to soil IMG's name or sth... Just a hypothesis

kunklebunkle said...

AMEN! I know I am pretty late to the party but thought I'd add my two cents. I agree with everything you said. I hate how people have taken upon themselves to declare her lesbian or bisexual or whatever they want to without any corroboration from her. Okay so she may have suggested something in some interview but that's not sufficient to refer to her as a gay or straight or whatever.

Annika said...

Rrose, I always enjoy your posts and hope you never stop writing about fashion, or just in general! Always thought provoking and insightful!
I agree with you. If Freja wants to keep her private life private, so be it. She is not obligated to be some sort of paragon for whatever sexual orientation she is simply because she is a visible public figure -- and it doesn't seem like she's particularly interested in doing that anyway. Fine by me. Especially as the media, even the fashion media, tends to exploit GLBTQ issues as something weird and freaky and deserving of tabloid coverage. Sure it would be less weird if people talked about it more but I personally like to keep my sex life private and have no problem with others doing so as well.
I would rather hear from someone who is out and comfortable with being outspoken like Tasha Tilberg than pressure someone who doesn't want to talk about their personal life into divulging the details. Tasha is also older and I imagine with age comes less reticence to talk about such issues if one is inclined to speak to the public.

Rrose Sélavy said...

@ Annika: Thank you so much! And I agree with you. It's quite sad how most people think having a job in the public eye immediately means a person's private life is up for grabs as well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you I agree with many of your wonderful sentiments and insights. As a lesbian amounsgt the multifacets of my identity I am totally out but never confirmed it verbally to many in my life. Normalcy is an incredibly powerful position to come from as a political statement. On a different slant I had come to know Freja from reading after ellens article on lesbian models and as a result have had the world of couture and fashion opened to me. I understand and appreciate the skill and art of the model as well as the complexities, symbolism and textures of the fashion industry as never before.
I think a positive side to her unnecessary outing has been a confrontation to many lesbians, myself included on our own internalised homophobia that lesbians cannot be feminine or fashinable. In this regard her amazing ability to hold her identity and integrity in the maelstrom of the industry will hold a place as a major catalytic effect in changing how we all view fashion and ourselves in this culture (I am implying the sum of us as women and men and not just specific sections). And I think in this regards more then any other label, she will be remembered.