Close Listen: Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” Glorifies Rape Culture, Is also Catchy

Oh, Robin Thicke.

Oh, “Blurred Lines.”

“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke (who, I will admit, is super sexy) is everywhere these days.  The song, upon first and somewhat-distracted listening, is another generic pop song about sex or dancing or something…  It’s really catchy and it’s got some sonic soul.  The aesthetics of the song itself are groovy and cool.  If I hadn’t listened closely, I would probably like this song.

However, taking the time to listen to the lyrics provided me with the sadly not-so-shocking truth: “Blurred Lines” glorifies rape culture, portrays women as objects without agency, knowledge, or power, and suggests a problematic passage of women from one man to another.

Take a listen for yourself.

Wait… Before you do that, we need to talk about the video too.

THE VIDEO

The unrated version is below – very NSFW.  The video features three disaffected models wearing flesh-colored thongs…  As in, ONLY THONGS.  The boobies are out.  The models are sort of dancing.  It’s really rather weird.  Imagine what it was like to film that video.

Oh, so I just walk from side to side not really doing anything while these guys sing?  Okay.  Oh, and I’m naked.  Oh, I get a thong.  Great…

Awkward…

They let her wear clothes (sort of) but turned her into a road, on which they could drive their toys.

These very pretty, young women are strutting around while fully dressed men – all in suits –  perform a smarmy song around them.  It’s uncomfortable and everyone looks uncomfortable.  The women are making an effort to cover themselves some of the time, other times enjoying the bouncing… I guess.

At one point, one of the girls is holding a goat.  They’re wearing 90s shoes, plastic, and other weird stuff.  The men are all being horrible.

Ugh… Here it is.

BLURRED LINES – UNRATED – ROBIN THICKE, PHARRELL WILLIAMS, T.I.

THE LYRICS

The problem continues.

While the song is largely, well, stupid.  It’s a poorly written song about wanting to bang a hot chick.  We’ve all heard a lot of songs about this and many of them are offensive, reinforce stereotypes, and the objectification of women.  Even female artists participate in this a fair amount of the time.  Women often sing about how hot and desirable they are…  Men sing about their dicks.

The thing is, it’s a real problem to talk about women’s behavior meaning they want or need sex.  Consent is what’s sexy.  A girl dancing in a sexy way doesn’t mean she wants or needs to suck some dudes wiener. 

Women are allowed to be sexy, sensual, hot, attractive, pretty, and alluring without sex.  Nothing but consent is consent.  That’s just how it is.  Seeing a woman from across a room and having a feeling that she might “want it” doesn’t mean she really does.

Writing a song that repeats “I know you want it” six times per chorus sends a bad message.  It teaches young men and women that  seeming like they want sex is enough to consent actual sex.  But that’s not okay.  Sex should be something all participants agree to USING WORDS.  Not using eye movements or nods.  Telling men that they can tell when a woman wants sex by the way she dances isn’t helping anyone.  That’s teaching men that they know better.  They know something women don’t know.  Women need men telling them when sex should and will happen.

Except… WRONG.

The Chorus
And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

 

More on Mr. Akin’s Bullshit (“Legitimate Rape,” etc.)

First, he begs for Forgiveness….

It makes me so mad that he is saying that his issue is “the words” but not his “heart.”  Yes, the issue is about words.  When politicians, when men use words like this to discuss rape, they put it on women.  In our culture we tell women to not get raped, instead of telling men not to rape.

When women are forced to jump through hoops and relive their traumas to prove they were raped, they are being forced and traumatized again.  Abortion is legal and it’s staying that way.  Maybe we should focus on educating men that sexuality is about choice, agency, and mutual desire.  Men should be taught respect and self-control.  Women should be allowed to be sexual and men should be better than raping.  Let’s expect more of the men in our culture.

Let’s stigmatize raping, not being raped.  Victims are victims and they should not be ashamed.  Rapers are evil and they should never be excused.  All rapes are real and legitimate.

For Todd Akin to use these words makes me so angry.  For him to go on and “explain” that women who are raped cannot get pregnant… What the hell?  Who is this guy?  How can someone be that stupid?  Sorry, but pretty much anytime sperm goes into a lady’s vaginal crevasses she has a chance of getting pregnant.  That’s kind of how it works. Ugh.

Todd Akin is one of many politicians making shit up about women’s rights and bodies.  I’m sick and tired of men pretending like they understand rape and abortion.  Actually, a whole heck of a lot of men understand a lot about women – some even understand that there are things they can’t understand.  Many Republican politicians seem to be confused about vaginas, babies, rape, abortion, pregnancy, periods, and other such issues.  I would love to throw some tampons (new, don’t worry) at all the Republican senators… That would be amazing.

Leave our vaginas alone.  Unless you are invited, stay away.  Stay away.

Then, some really amazing grannies take him down.  I love when old ladies swear…

 

This girl also wrote an amazing song about it…

Only Forcible or Legitimate Rapists Need Apply

Okey dokey, Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Do we really need to go over this again? What the fuck were you doing during high school Biology and/or Health class, or did you spend the entirety of high school asking Jesus to punish you for your teenage boner from looking at Prom Queen Kelly Ann Simons too long? Todd Akin (R-MO)–you may remember him from the “forcible rape” debacle of a bill he co-sponsored with none other than our new pal Paul Ryan (R-WI)–apparently told KTVI-TV the following on Sunday: “From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

I would like to tell the men of the U.S. Congress something very important: the female body is not magic. The vagina is not a mysterious pit that has the power to discern the motivations of the penis entering it and conveniently stop a pregnancy if the dick looks or acts rape-y. Since when did the discourse around the female body slide back into the mentality of fourth grade boys who have heard shady rumors from kids two years older than them that have grossly misunderstood their sex ed classes? (Sidenote: these are the same people who think we shouldn’t teach sex ed in school. Apparently “magical vaginas” should be the standard for biological knowledge of sexual intercourse.)

After apologizing for his comments, Akin went on to say he screwed up; what he really meant wasn’t “legitimate rape” but “forcible rape”:

Akin appeared as a guest on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s radio show. When asked about what he meant by the term “legitimate rape,” he said, “I was talking about forcible rape, and it was absolutely the wrong word.”

His bad, guys. But seriously, what the fuck!? How has some nonsense term like forcible rape even entered our general lexicon? What the hell does it mean? And one of the idiots who co-sponsored the initial “forcible rape” bill nonsense is running for Vice President of the United F*&$ING STATES OF AMERICA!!! This isn’t a problem of terminology. Rape is forced. Any rape is legitimate because it’s RAPE. If somebody puts their dick in you and you don’t want it there, that’s rape. It doesn’t matter how you were dressed or what you ate for breakfast. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how skinny or fat you are, how old or young you are, whether you’re dressed like a prostitute or a housewife: if you say no, it fucking means no. It doesn’t mean that it’s not rape if she’s wearing booty shorts and he does a lot of begging and then just does what he wants.

Do we really need to parce rape into different degrees of culpability on the part of the rapist? Rape is rape. Period. And on top of this, citing some nonsense pseudo-science about mystery secretions and hormonal changes under stressful situations makes every woman who ever says no and is violated and impregnated a dirty, lying whore. Scientifically.

The discourse surrounding not only rape but women’s rights to control their bodies (and one doesn’t even have to look to the issue of abortion anymore, just birth control!) is in the toilet. From personhood amendments to ultrasound probes to “forcible rape,” there’s a lot of finger pointing at and distrust of women as a class of people. I thought we had made strides in this department. I guess not. I’m just hoping this forcible rape nonsense doesn’t turn into a steaming pile of forcible bullshit in November.

It isn’t “Just a Game” Anymore.

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year, you likely understand the myriad meanings of the name “Jerry Sandusky.” If you have been under a rock, here is the short version. Sandusky, a former assistant coach at Penn State University set up a charity for at-risk kids and used Penn State property to run his charity camp–what would become a virtual pipeline for prospective victims. Recently, Sandusky was convicted on over forty counts of child sexual abuse–including child rape–perpetrated over roughly fifteen years.

Penn State University conducted their own investigation with ex-FBI director Louis Freeh. According to his report, university officials, including beloved head coach Joe Paterno, former Penn State president Graham Spanier, VP Gary Schultz, and AD Tim Curley, knowingly and purposefully concealed Sandusky’s crimes from authorities in order to save face for their football program. In other words, Paterno and Co.’s resistance to reporting Sandusky allowed him to prey on young boys for a decade or so.

Everyone can agree that Jerry Sandusky’s actions were those of an unabashedly evil man. The presumed grey area  arises when considering the actions of university officials, including Joe Paterno. After the shocking details of the Freeh report, there was a public outcry to remove Paterno’s statue from in front of Beaver Stadium.

For those of you who aren’t rabid college football fans like us, here’s the background: Paterno coached Penn State for over forty years. This man was considered a living legend (or, in some people’s estimation, a living saint). He was praised for his leadership of young men on and off the football field. Paterno and his family donated a large sum to the university for a library which was consequently named after him. The Big Ten Football Championship Trophy, among other distinguished college football awards, bore his name.

In 2001, Penn State installed a large bronze statue of Paterno in front of their stadium, which portrayed paterno, pointing to the sky, and leading a group of players, presumably onto the field. A nearby wall reads, “Joseph Vincent Paterno: Educator, Coach, Humanitarian.”

Amidst the Penn State scandal, there have been repeated calls for removal of the statue, which, under the direction of President Rodney Erickson, took place this morning. This, however, only happened after groups had been camped out to “protect” the statue from vandals late last week.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Yes, it was really a statue that needed protecting in this whole affair.

Joe Paterno was a great football coach. I think Penn State’s record speaks for itself. Joe Paterno, however, was not a saint. He was, as is now obvious, a conflicted man who, it seems, wanted to do well by his school, whether that meant donating money to the library or protecting his football program from a sex abuse scandal that will, ultimately, likely destroy it precisely because of his cover up.

The issue here is not Paterno’s legacy as a coach, but his actions as a man that were judged before he was done living.

We do this a lot now. It’s not just Joe Paterno or the college football world who decided to “call the game” at halftime and canonize Paterno as some sort of living saint. It is, admittedly, difficult to judge a body of work when you don’t have the entire body of work in front of you. This is why we should perhaps wait to praise living men as if there were something more than men. We are looking for living heroes. We are a society grasping for something real, someone to look up to, and when we think we find them, we treat them as superhuman. We feel as if we need a real life Batman, Superman, Spiderman. We are too quick to elevate men to the status of gods before they have a chance to show us that they deserve it.

To make another football comparison, take the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In order to be inducted, there is a five-year waiting period from the time a coach or player retires from the game. This is not even waived if a prospective inductee dies during the waiting period. This is one thing the Hall of Fame does right, amidst much criticism. It’s hard to judge someone’s body of work as a coach or a player when you’re too close to it; it’s called bias. It’s human and normal, but it does cause us to overlook shortcomings that might otherwise be a call for concern on some level. Often it’s small, but imagine if the college football world had stuck to a five year waiting period after Paterno’s retirement before building what amounts to a shrine to the man outside his home turf.

Imagine the absence of the absurd fiasco of seemingly-heartless Penn State students and others who took to the streets after Paterno was fired for his complicity in Sandusky’s years of abuse.

Imagine that changing the names of multiple awards for excellent in college football was not necessary.

Imagine the absence of Penn State students and fans “protecting” the statue of a man who failed to protect innocent children because he put the reputation of his football program before their safety.

We are too eager to live history in the present. We want to memorialize, categorize, archive, and canonize people and things before they have a chance to pass out of the now and into the then. It’s hard to judge history as it happens; maybe we should withhold public praise of individual historical actors before we have a chance to see what they’ve done as a whole.
We don’t call the winner at halftime of a football game. We shouldn’t have called Paterno a saint before we had a comprehensive view of his life. What we can say about Paterno is that he was a good coach. He did some good things for PSU. He was also a conflicted and imperfect man who made a heinous mistake, a morally-reprehensible decision. We should not white wash history by acting as if what Joe Paterno did or failed to do doesn’t matter. Leave him in the record books. Leave his name on the library. Let these be a testament to his achievements. But don’t continue to venerate the man as some sort of saint; maintaining a statute that calls him a “humanitarian” when he failed so egregiously by some of our society’s most innocent, our children, is a gross fallacy. And it is painfully obvious, judging by the statue’s group of “protectors,” that leaving the statue in place would only facilitate this white-washing.

Penn State and college football in general need to remember this gross and tragic failure to stand up for what is right. The NCAA appears to agree, and will announce Penn State’s sanctions at 9 AM Eastern tomorrow–sanctions that are expected to include a multi-year scholarship reduction, a multi-year bowl ban, and an unprecedented $30-60 million fine to be put “toward an endowment for children’s causes.” We need to remember that football is a game, and there are more important things than winning or losing. It’s not how you play the game; it’s how you live your life. Joe Paterno’s statue should be replaced with a permanent reminder of Sandusky’s victims. It doesn’t have to be a statue of a child. It just has to be a symbol that reminds us all that football is a game, but life is not, and it’s the decisions we make off the field that will come to define our legacy.

This post was co-written by a couple of college football fanatics: Kate and her boyfriend, Jon.

I Guess We’re Sluts Too!

We’re sluts.  We’re sluts.  We’re sluts, sluts, sluts.  S-L-U-T.  Sluts.  Sluts.  Sluts.

Stop pretending that your religion or political stance means you get to take away people’s rights and call them sluts for being realistic.  People have sex.  I have sex.  If you’re not having sex, you probably wish you were.

Now, watch the REFORMED WHORES perform, “I’m a Slut.”

 

 

Kate and Patty “believe” in birth control and think condoms are a good idea for people.  We would like to choose when our baby makers make babies.  Men don’t seem to get it.  Rush Limbaugh is a crazed asshole, and he needs to get his mind out of our vaginas.