The ladyblogs are all abuzz over this month’s issue of Allure, featuring Star Trek star Zoe Saldana. The cover line under her boldface name reads, “115 Pounds of Grit and Heartache,” bait that the Internet has gleefully seized, because the business of calling out sexism is always booming. But buried within the actual profile of Saldana is another irritating trend that Hollywood ingénues willingly participate in: the casual mention of the actress’s bisexuality.
After Saldana shrugs off her history of dating famous men like entrepreneur Keith Britton and Bradley Cooper (“‘Been there, done that, got the T-shirt,’ she says of dating actors.”), she nonchalantly (and tactfully) shares that she sees herself as “androgynous” and might one day raise children with a woman. “That’s how androgynous I am!”
Now, we’ll have to take this with a grain of salt. Not to cast doubt on bisexuality as an identity, or the many individual young famous women (including Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood, Olivia Thirlby, Lady Gaga, and Snooki) who have publicly identified as bisexual, but it does seem a tad disingenuous when one’s sexual identity can be wrapped up in a tidy little soundbite. In Saldana’s case, it’s difficult not to take a cynical stance on the quote, especially since she demurs when asked if she’s ever been in a relationship with a woman. (“Promise me one thing,” she told Allure, “just put three dots as my response. That’s it.”)
Also worth noting: Zoe Saldana, who appears in various states of undress in the majority of the Allure photoshoot, is not particularly androgynous. And it seems her misunderstanding of the term also extends to the idea that appearance goes hand in hand with sexual orientation, as if the semblance of androgyny somehow affects the gender of the person to whom one is attracted.
On the one hand, this is a harmless, if annoying, trend; although the list of actresses who seem to embrace bisexuality as a PR move is surprisingly long, it at least provides a few more queer role models to those in need of them. On the other hand, it doesn’t exactly help to dispel the popular idea that bisexuality isn’t a “real” sexual orientation when it’s used as added street cred, as a marketing ploy for young, sexy women who have no actual history of same-sex relationships. There’s no way to prove or disprove Saldana’s claim, of course. The fact that confessions like these are so common among female actors that they don’t even raise eyebrows anymore makes them even more frustrating (just imagine Saldana’s ex Bradley Cooper commenting on the possibility of having children with another man on the cover of GQ). Could Saldana be truly bisexual? Sure. But it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that she and other women before her are using a so-called alternative sexuality to their advantage rather than initiating more open discussions about the fluidity of sexual expression.