I don’t like the song Blurred Lines: reading a Blog by good friend Eliza Kelly explaining how the song speaks into the rape culture and mentality of society, she put into words what i was thinking and so with her permission, I am reposting her thoughts on this blog. Have a read. Thanks Eliza.
No Blurred Lines
The controversy of the ‘unrated’ version of Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ video has much to do with the three naked female models that feature in the clip.The constant repetition of Thicke’s song on commercial radio, in shops, at the gym, on breakfast television etc. etc. grates on me for reasons that have little to do with the amount of female nudity in the video.
No, ‘Blurred Lines’ makes my skin crawl because when you listen past the catchy tune, you begin to realise that the lyrics reaffirm a problematic rape culture that permeates our society.
Rape culture works to both excuse and normalise rape and sexual assault through the propagation of opinions, narratives and humour that places blame on the (predominately female) victim and legitimises ideas such as these:
1. She was ‘asking for it’.
2. She said no, but I knew she meant yes.
3. I couldn’t help myself.
‘I know you want it, I know you want it, I know you want it’
These words that Thicke chants into a female model’s ear over and over again become the catch-phrase of ‘Blurred Lines’.
Through lines such as ‘Can’t let it get past me’ and ‘No more pretending’, the narrative of ‘Blurred Lines’ becomes quickly clear. Her refusals to engage are nothing but lies. Even though she may be saying no and showing disinterest, he believes she is asking for it.
Here’s the thing, Robin. Whether or not you’ve decided a woman’s body language is ‘asking for it’ is beside the point. Clothing, or lack thereof, is not consent. ‘Flirtatious’ behaviour is not consent, close dancing is not consent, looking ‘sexy’ is not consent.
There is no ‘blurred line’ between consent and non-consent. The narratives of rape culture, however, attempt to manufacture one through the promotion of the idea that women, always up for sex, will say no even when they mean yes. The idea that this grey area exists works to legitimise rape and sexual assault.
Women are within their rights to refuse sex. Men are within their rights to refuse sex. Always.
‘But you’re an animal, baby, it’s in your nature’
Thicke’s song plays on another key narrative of this rape culture- female sexuality is animalistic in nature. Any behaviour that shows otherwise is an attempt to mask this.
Once again, by positioning females as always ready for sex this narrative works to legitimise and normalise rape.
Just like Thicke’s disbelief of female disinterest towards his advances, rape culture propagates the idea that female refusal of sex us merely a token gesture.
The lyrics of ‘Blurred Lines’ make it clear. However facetious the video tries to make it through its imagery of naked models playing with stuffed goats, women are animals and they cannot be domesticated.
The controversial nudity within the video speaks of this unequal power distribution. While the men are fully clothed in suits with eyes hidden behind shades, the female models are naked (unless we choose to count the flesh coloured g-string as clothing) and vulnerable.
‘He don’t smack that ass and pull pull your hair like that’
Playing off this notion of the animalistic nature of the female gender is another rape-culture narrative. Women want to be treated violently. Women are undomesticated and wild, and to be treated well goes against their inner desires.
The line ‘I’ll give you something big enough to tear that ass in two’ speaks for itself.
This violent proposition is, apparently, all for the benefit of the woman.
Thicke’s response to criticism of ‘Blurred Lines’ is further evidence that we need to be having these discussions.
‘Of course it is [degrading]. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.’
The degradation of a woman is not a privilege earned from respecting women out of duty. Respecting females is, in reality, the norm. It needs to be recognised that a rape culture that promotes women as at fault and ‘asking for it’ is largely responsible for this idea that respecting a woman is somehow a choice that ‘good guys’ make.
I am not telling people to stop listening. I am telling people to listen and think about the lyrics they are singing. Watch the clip objectively and actually think about how nudity and imagery within the video positions the models in relation to the men.
And, most importantly. let’s educate our kids and teenagers about a model of sexual consent that does not leave room for a blurred line between a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’.