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

 

You can stop whining about how hard it is to be young now.

More and more often, I’ve been seeing articles bemoaning being in your twenties (in particular, Thought Catalog and the HuffPost Blog love making lists on this topic). I wrote a goofy version (at least I like to think so) myself–far less, well, serious and doom-y. But I’m really, really, REALLY getting tired of people bitching and moaning about being twenty-whatever in combination with one of the following:

A. Not having a job. I get that this is frustrating. I do. Having a degree that you worked hard for and that you can seemingly wipe your ass with sucks. However, there is not some sort of cosmic significance to your lack of employment. We have a shitty economy. We are, realistically, in a rec(depr)ession, and you’re pretty much at the bottom of the ladder. It is, yes, adversity that you have to work through, but plenty of other people have worked through it before you. It is not something special for our generation, it does not make you better/unique/more self-aware. You’re also the one who refuses to do menial labor because you’ve been fore fed some bullshit about it being below you for the last two decades. You annoy me. Shut the hell up already.

B. Being single. And drunk. And single. Okay, I get it. You’re lonely. And you’re verging on being a full-blown alcoholic. This has nothing to do with being in your twenties. Being drunk and lonely is not a profound experience, nor is it the special property of the young.

C. Feeling directionless and using your blog to whine about it. Blogging always straddles that strange line between making your point and getting whiny in order to elicit sympathy from total strangers. One thing that is true about many people in their twenties (but also true of many teens and even a boatload of baby boomers) is a need for constant reassurance/confirmation from their social circle. Why else would social media be so addictive and so conducive to the humblebrag?

D. Being too far or too little self-aware. It depends on who you ask on this one, but for all the time you, author of blogpost/article, are spending reflecting on being in your twenties (instead of oh, I don’t know, living them) I sure hope you’re erring on the “too much” side of this equation. Honestly, quit taking yourself so seriously. Chances are, by the time you hit your mid twenties, you’ll experience something that will change the way you see the world or yourself. That’s healthy and appropriate. Whether that’s losing a beloved grandparent, having to break off a long-term relationship, or even getting a first phone call from a collections department, all of these things can force you to crawl out of your (supposed) vodka-induced coma from part B of this list and re-evaluate your shit. It’s called life, and it is not special or particular to being a young adult.

E. Whining about being broke. Your parents are paying (or stopped paying) your rent/grocery bill/phone bill/bar bill/healthcare bills (think Lena Dunham à la Girls). You live in New York/L.A./Miami/Chicago. Um. What did you think was going to happen if you moved to a HUGE metropolis and had, if we refer to part A, NO JOB? Shit is expensive! I hope your parents have already paid off the house they have in Happytown, USA because even a shitty studio apartment in some of those places is probably going to have them forking over twice as much as they did for their mortgage. Give me a break. Stop acting like they’re obliged to be paying for your dumb ass to live the high life while remaining totally oblivious to all of the benefits you do have, like parents who are not only willing but able to help you with your rent.

F. Jerking off to your own perceived intellectual, social, and cultural superiority. We get it. You have clever Tweets. Who knew so much wit could be packed into a mere 140 characters? Your Instagram photos each have the perfectly selected filter for the five hundredth picture of your cat, or the one where you’re holding up a half-drunken PBR at some skeevy neighborhood bar you like because it’s “pure” (that is, you’re the only person under forty inside of it). Your Tumblr is both thought provoking and delightfully cheeky in the 21st century intarwebs sort of way. You’ve read (and get) Derrida and Naked Lunch. You need to remind your Facebook friends how brilliant and unique and clever and unique and underground and unique and unique and unique you are. Did I mention you’re unique? And your blog, OH! Your BLOG. It is so deep and meaningful and there’s just so many feelings you need to discuss.

The biggest problem is that there’s a good chunk of “twenty-somethings” who aren’t anywhere near this obnoxious, self-righteous, self-absorbed, and arrogant.

We live on our own. We have jobs. We pay our own bills. We might have put ourselves through college. We aren’t stressing that we don’t have the newest version of the iPhone. We still don’t really “get” Twitter. We’ve (self-consciously) learned how to resist the humblebrag. We take care of our parents, financially, physically, or emotionally. We appreciate cheeky internet humor as much as the next guy, but don’t feel compelled to base our entire self-worth on it. We, too, sometimes drink to much, have a crisis of conscience and confidence, and really–really–enjoy watching Girls. We just don’t take to the virtual streets and feel it’s necessary to tell the world each passing detail of our lives, or record them in photographs, preferring to experience them without a camera lens in our face or our fingers racing across the touch screen of our phone to check-in on Facebook 24/7. And quite frankly, we’re sick and tired of getting lumped in with people who do act those ways and do those things. I’m looking at you, New York Times.

So, let’s be real. Being in your twenties, like being in any other conveniently-named age range, has its ups and downs. Sitting around pampering your bruised ego on the internet or looking for affirmation of your feelings and your self-worth from your peers, known or unknown, is a (bad) choice, not a feature of an age group. It’s okay to feel pissed off because you’re unemployed or because you can’t find a boyfriend; it really is. But it has nothing to do with your age.

File This Under “Things That Make Me Hate the World/Want to Cry”

This is terrifying because this person bought a 50,000 euro (that’s $61,780 USD) bottle of champagne, but I also have to laugh because they paid 10 euro for Coca Cola. Middle-American upbringing FTW.

This exists. Okay, not so much that this exists, but that there’s enough material for something like this to exist; and not just exist but flourish. “Rich Kids of Instagram” is a Tumblr site on which the author posts pictures of young people of outrageous familial wealth showcasing their moral bankruptcy and total disregard for reality on their Instagram accounts. Oh, and like any good Millennial, their expertise at bragging. Go figure. This makes me kind of terrified, or as the kids would say,

#omgfearthefuture

Just… yuck.

Remember Jesus when you’re pooping

Evangelicals make it a point to spread the “word of God” everywhere. Including, it now seems, at a public bathroom near you.

image

Taken in a public bathroom, June 19th

The last thing I want to think about when I’m doing my bathroom business is what Jesus would do. He’d probably shit just like everyone else, but I’m pretty sure it’s not necessary for me to be thinking about that while I am. I thought church was all weird about bathroom stuff anyhow; at the very least it’s weird about bathroom-related anatomy. So why put pamphlets–and not even one, but FOUR–on the TP dispenser? C’mon! Don’t make it so easy for me to make jokes about wiping my ass with your nonsense. And furthermore, you’re accosting me with Bible-thumping in the most private of places. But I guess Evangelicals in general have a demonstrated interest in ladyparts these days (and about our discussion of them), so why not the ladies’ room, right? REALLY. Give a sister a break.

It’s Senior Portraits, Not a Centerfold.

Why have senior pictures become the new place for 18 year old girls to showcase their budding bazongas? Or young men to fantasize that they’re on the cover of GQ? Here are some things NOT to do when you’re getting your (or you know someone else who is getting their) senior pictures taken.

1. Wear make up, but don’t channel Liza Minnelli. Nobody looks good like that.

2. Wear real clothes. In fact, wear your regular clothes, or maybe one step nicer. Remember, your mom is giving copies of these to your grandparents. Do you really think they want to see your cleavage or your bare chest? Yeah, think again.

3. Don’t pose in strange, contorted ways. The idea shouldn’t be “How can we twist you so your boobs hang out?” Just stand or sit normally. Move your chin up and down the way the photographer tells you to so your face doesn’t look weird because of shadows. If he tells you to throw your head back and grab a pole, you may want to consider another photographer–dude’s obviously a perv.

4. Keep your eyes open. There is no reason you need to close your eyes, especially when you’re lying down. Hello, I don’t care how your eyeshadow looked when you were eighteen; I care how you looked. Including your eyes.

5. Smile. Don’t try to be Tyra Banks and “smile with your eyes” to look sexy. You come off looking like an amateur centerfold with your lips half-parted. If you wanna be in pornos, wait til after high school.

Keep Your Tongue In Your Own Mouth.

You realize you’re in a grocery store, right? I get that the melons get your motor runnin’, but good lord, there are children here! I don’t understand why making your way through one aisle of cereal necessitates a match of tonsil hockey. There are totally acceptable times to smooch. One of them is not on  Sunday morning in every aisle of the grocery store when I unfortunately happen to be following your trajectory through the store. Especially when you’re still vaguely hungover and smell a bit like Ke$ha probably smells most days–a combination of Jack and vomit. I get that you’re, oh, I don’t know, newly in-love or something, but just cool it and quit groping each other. Does she really need a butt pinch near the Campbell’s Soup? Does he need an exaggerated arm squeeze by the ketchup? A butt pat by the baked beans? Next thing I know you’re gonna be motor boating her while stocking up on macaroni and cheese! Can’t you just put your arms around each other like a normal couple and be cute instead of acting like you’re filming some kind of fresh produce porno?

Lessons in Being Illogical, or How to Make a Worthless and Stupid Argument

Although I now live about 500 miles from my hometown, I try to keep up on somewhat-local news there. I follow the local paper on Twitter as part of this effort. On my bus ride today, I ran across a tweet of a letter to the editor, and it read as follows:

If gas prices keep going up the way they are, and are supposed to hit a projected $5 by summer, how are people going to afford to even leave their house?

I have a cabin on Secord Lake, by Gladwin, and my parents are already talking about selling their boat. Hauling the boat back and forth from our house to the cabin will be way too costly, and leaving it at the cabin and paying for the gas on the water will be insane.

I don’t think the government realizes how much gas prices affect the middle and lower class people of this country. Something needs to be done about it very soon.

In the past two years at Secord Lake, the houses/cabins for sale have been rising drastically. It is very sad to go up there and see all these places for sale when in reality it is mostly due to the high gas prices and people not being able to afford it.

Doesn’t the government want us to spend money and get the economy going again? Well, lower the gas prices and let us live a little.

I will try to avoid the politics of this by focusing on the stupidity of this argument. Essentially, this dude is saying that the government should lower gas prices so he can take his parents’ boat up to his cabin on a lake in the middle of Michigan. Pursuing a career in academia makes me a hawk for poorly presented arguments (I deal with crappy arguments in student papers and try to get them to think in more sophisticated ways than you see presented above. Sadly, no one did this for our friend up there.), and thus, I give you flaws on two levels: logic and audience.

First, logic. Since when does the government magically control gas prices? This letter makes it appear as if some entity called the U.S. Government can wave a wand and lower gas prices, rather than taking into account the complicated environmental and geopolitical factors that affect the price of gas (e.g. threats to the Suez Canal, dealing with Iran, general fear about unrest in the middle east that drives oil speculation through the roof, etc. etc.). I was talking with my boyfriend about this, and I think he put it most eloquently: “The U.S. Government doesn’t control the world.” Furthermore, because I assume this is the kind of guy who whines about how the Democrats have ballooned the government in the past four years (I will save my disagreement for another time), this assumes that the government is so big, so powerful, that it can (and should!) control other countries’ behavior(s) and control the economy on this particular issue. Just not your behavior or economic issues you decide are not regulable.

My second gripe here is audience. This guy obviously self-identifies as “middle class” and lumps himself in with “lower class” folks within the bounds of his argument. I hate to point this out, but this guy has two homes. He has a regular house and a cabin that is obviously some distance away, since the crux of his gripe is that he has to pay too much for gas to get there. Additionally, he has a boat. Or at least his parents do. Really? If you’re going to make an argument about the dire situation of gas prices, I really don’t think it serves you well to base your complaint on the fact that you may need (want?) to sell your boat because it’s too expensive to use it and you can’t go to your second home as often as you’d ideally like. If he had, perhaps, expressed concern about people being able to afford gasoline for their cars to just get to work, then I think we’d be maybe on to something–except for the fact that gas prices were this high at the end of George Bush’s term in office, as well, and really has little to do with drilling, as we’ve increased domestic oil production in the last four years so much so that we export more gas than we import.

I suppose asking people to be logical when considering political issues could be too much, but considering the audience you’re playing to should be a pretty basic step in political discussions. This is why Mitt Romney sounds, as Rachel Maddow has put it, a bit like Thurston Howell when he forgets he’s talking to people who don’t make ass loads of money every year and don’t, for example, own NASCAR teams. Even Gingrich and Santorum are better at considering audience than Mitt.

I guess I’m just saying try not to sound like Thurston Howell III when you’re trying to complain about the price of gas, ’cause it makes you sound like a douchebag.

Never fear, Lovey, we'll not sell our boat!

The Middle Stall.

A while ago, I read that the middle stall, on average, is the most frequented of any in a given bathroom.  WHY? Why?  WHY?

Why would the middle stall be most appealing to people?  I really don’t get this.

The middle stall just seems yucky, and I don’t like it.Relieving yourself in the middle stall (assuming all others are available) leaves you more vulnerable.  Rather than being safely next to a wall, a wall which cannot produce alarming smells, noises, or ask you for toilet paper, people are choosing to sit and wait for others to surround them with their bathroom needs.  You’re just so much more exposed to danger.  Your shoes are more likely to get weirdly close to someone else’s, and who knows what will happen?  People are more likely to interact with you.  This is a private time.  It’s not social.  It is also more likely that the movement of someone else’s door will jumble yours and cause it to come undone – sometimes stalls are mounted all together, so when one moves, they all do, which creates a strange game of chance out of any potty party.  It’s awkward.

Walls protect you.  Go with walls.

Walls cannot spy on you.  Walls will not vomit on your shoes.  Walls will not text while pooping.  Walls will not cry on the phone.  Walls will not talk to their friends around you.  Walls will never leave the bathroom without washing their hands.

If you sit your bum in the middle stall, you are forcing people to sit next to you while they relieve themselves.  Give everyone space.  Don’t choose the middle stall first!

Announcing – A Week of Bathroom Talk

That’s right, y’all.  We’re going to devote an entire week to bathroom talk.  Kate and Patty are sick of people acting so weird about the bathroom.  We all use it; it’s okay.  It just seems like our culture denies existence of the camode, or disrespectfully uses it so often.  Why can’t drunk people flush, aim, or wash their hands?  Why do ladies get so mad about the being left up – shouldn’t we look before we sit?  Why aren’t we looking?

In response, we’re talking about the bathroom.  We’re going to rant about poop, pooping, the middle stall, people being annoying about bathroom usage/maintenance/standards.  There will be talk of politics, dating, work, public vs. private, and washing of hands.  We love to wash our hands.  We will also rant for a while about jerks in the potty room.  You get the idea.

Get excited.