by Cailin Molinari
Blurred Lines. You’ve probably all heard it. You’ve probably all hummed along to it before realizing the unsettling nature of its lyrics. Or maybe you did realize and just hummed along anyway. You have also most likely seen the controversial music video that was banned from YouTube and replaced with a ‘cleaner’ version. Yes, Blurred Lines is that infamous song that despite wide criticism for its violent and rape-y lyrics topped international music charts and has now been nominated for 4 highly acclaimed MTV awards. But wait guys – according to the man who says it’s okay to degrade women if you’re married, this song is actually at the forefront of the feminist movement!
Now – before you say, “But wait! This song is just a bit of fun! And naked girls! And stuffed animals! Go away you man-hating feminist!” let’s just take a casual stroll though some of the lyrics;
“I hate these blurred lines. I know you want it.”
“The way you grab me. Must wanna get nasty.”
“I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.”
“Nothing like your last guy… He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that.”
Nice, isn’t it?
The fact that Robin Thicke has achieved such success from this song really gets my goat (not sure what that actually means. Pretty sure there are goats in the video though), but sadly it’s not something that surprises me in the slightest. This is because the prolific and pernicious nature of rape culture is so widely spread and engrained in our popular culture that it has quietly crept into most aspects of our daily life.
We live in a world in which male political figures who have made comments such as “If it’s inevitable, just enjoy it,” get re-elected. A place where only one American state recognizes the individual right to rescind consent during sex. A world in which two men who repeatedly raped a teenage girl and then uploaded pictures of their despicable acts over social media somehow get more sympathy from the Judge and the community than their traumatized victim. A place where domestic violence is the single biggest health risk to Australian women aged between 18 and 44.
So when Robin Thicke says that his depiction of women is okay because the naked models were paid, and when the video’s director claims that it is just ‘playful’ the issue runs much deeper than just his song. To those of you, who are probably rolling their eyes and thinking, “Oh, it’s just a music video,” well, let me tell you. When we shrug our shoulders and do nothing, brush it off as something that we can’t change and thus shouldn’t worry about, we allow rape culture to flourish and embed itself in the roots of our society. And that affects all of us.
One of the most defining aspects of our rape culture is the relentless victim blaming that comes hand in hand. The “I know you want it” lyric seems to perpetuate these victim-blaming reactions that leave so many victims of sexual violence feeling powerless and to blame. In Thicke’s video, the men are awarded all the power and control. The models dance around with vacant expressions, whilst the three fully clothed men touch and gawk at them. The women are not celebrated for who they are, but merely as sexual objects. The women are stripped not only of their clothing, but also of their voices.
I’m tired of women being represented in this way and I’m tired of my generation actively condoning it – getting jiggy on the dance floor to it. I’m not okay with the normalization of sexual violence against women, and I’m tired of being the tiny, marginalized voice supposedly deserving of laughter protesting against it amongst my peers. Robin Thicke and all other multimedia that depict the sexual objectification, degradation and rape of women do not constitute a “feminist movement” so, please stop trying to blur the lines of consent and get off my TV.