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

 

“Plus” what, exactly?

ImageThe woman to the far right is Jennie Runk, pictured here in a Glamour spread circa 2009. The intarwebs have been a-buzz because she’s H&M’s new “plus size” swimwear model.

Let’s take another look. Here she is in H&M’s new swimwear shots:

ImageYes, apparently this size 12 woman is “plus-sized.” Excuse me? She looks HEALTHY. AND NORMAL. And pardon me, but I believe one finds size 12 in the “misses” (that is, the NOT plus-sized) section. Since when is this plus-sized? Certainly it’s not the size 0 we normally see, but should we really be calling this “plus”? Plus what? A normal amount of body fat and muscle?

As two women who are not size zeroes, we object. We object first because calling this woman anything other than normal is a gross misstatement. To imply that this woman is somehow heavier than she should be is nonsense. She looks beautiful as-is. I don’t just say this because when I look at most retailers’ models, I want to feed them giant Katz deli sandwiches by the fistful, but because this is the same kind of nonsensical distortion we get with the size zero model. Girls who are Ms. Runk’s size and one higher (14) are shopping in the section that advertises with size zeroes. Women who are size 16 and over are shopping for the clothes Ms. Runk is modeling. Isn’t it time we have just a bit of truth in advertising? If you’re going to sell “plus size” clothing, you need to use a plus size model. A model, that is, who wears size 16 or higher.

Additionally, there needs to be some parity across sizing. I give you the following anecdote: In December, I went looking for a New Year’s Eve dress. I headed to the predictable spots: Forever 21, H&M, etc. H&M was my first stop. My dress size, 95% of the time, is a 6 or 8. I do have a bit of trouble finding dresses that fit because I’ve got a lot of booty and not a lot of booby. But, I digress. I went looking for a black sequin number I saw on the website, and found they only had a size 4 left. I thought to myself, I might as well try this on. It’s realistically only one–maybe two–sizes below me. Maybe it will fit.

And what do you think happened?

Not only did this “dress” not fit over my ass, it hardly fit over my boobs! My tiny boobs! Most women who are my size or a bit smaller have bigger boobs than me! And, on top of that, the notion that this thing was a dress was a joke. Even if I had gotten it to begin fitting over my hips, it wouldn’t have made it much farther because there just wasn’t any more fabric! The damn thing was shirt for a 10 year old being passed off as a dress.

My call, therefore, is for parity in sizing as well as in advertising. I should be looking at models smack dab in the middle of the spectrum of “misses” (that’s a size six, by the way) and smack dab in the middle of “women’s.” And I should be able to reasonably enter a store and try on one or two sizes of clothing and find items that are at least close to fitting. I shouldn’t have to shop at store A as an 8 and then go over to store B and have to buy a 13/14. If we could actually get some real sense of what size we were and stick to it, and saw real humans modeling the clothes we’re buying, we’d significantly reduce the amount of body-hating that goes on.

Don’t Call Me “Honey” or “Sweetie” or “Baby”

Unless you are my older relative, a sarcastic friend, or the person I’m dating, you are not allowed to call me petnames.  It’s weird and creepy.  It’s also harassment.

My name is not “Sweetheart.”  My name is not “Honey,” or is this a horribly made movie from 2003 (see the imbd page here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0322589/). I like to be called by my name when people know my name.
If you don’t know someone’s name, there are still plenty of very appropriate ways to address them.  For example, if you see a young woman in your office and she drops a paper, you can call after her by saying, “Miss!” or “Excuse me, ma’am!” or just say, “Wait!”  All of these are still respectful, appropriate and will get her attention most likely.
If you do know someone’s name, use it.  Do not nickname a co-worker unless you have solid rapport or they nickname you first.  If you are not equals on the corporate ladder or in similar positions in your organization, respect that.  You wouldn’t call your boss a petname, and giving one to an employee below you in rank is highly inappropriate.  In fact, it’s harassment.
If a man at work calls me, “Sweetheart” he is sexually harassing me.
If a woman at works calls me, “Sweetheart” is that also harassment?
YES.
I know it’s well-meaning, and comes from an odd maternal place, but that’s not okay.  There shouldn’t be a double-standard when it comes to harassment.  Continual, repeated instances of disrespectful language, even between women, amount to harassment.  Women can be perpetrators of harassment, of assault, of abuse, and of sexual violence.  Women are not always victims, either.
In my case, these are women who are notably older than me, who are asserting themselves into a maternal or mentoring role without my permission and without reason are unwelcome.  I have a boss.  I have a mentor.  I have a mother.  I don’t need your weird petnames.  I don’t need to be cooed.
My name is not Sweetie and I will not tolerate being talked to like a dog or a baby in the workplace.
In conclusion, my name is Patty.

CREEP Week: The Old Man (with issues)

The Mysterious Old Man

This is a man with experience.  He believes that this experience will show him the way into your pants.  He believes that he can convince you of his skills in the bedroom.  He will tell you how good he is with women, but he will not show you that he is good.  The Old Man believes he is smooth, but spends all his time talking about being smooth, rather than actually being smooth.

When you, inevitably, reject him, he will get angry and dismiss you as a bimbo or just as stupid.  He will tell you that you’re missing out.  And he’s right, you are missing out on getting to see how long it takes for Viagra to kick in.

Have you encountered such a creep?  

We have.

YOU ARE GROSS.

The Negatives: 

His name was Matt, but I called him “Tom.”  Why?  T.O.M. = Tall, Old Matt.  He was 36.  I was 21.  He was a Class A Creep.  This is a dude that was out hunting for younger ladies and came upon me at a book stand.  He claimed to know about the book I was holding, which was later revealed as a farce.  He spent the next few weeks trying to sleep with me or marry me or move to NYC with me or something else altogether.  He was weird.  He slowly revealed that he was a recovering drug addict, working part-time as a line cook, who lived with his mom and step-dad.  Oh, he was also sexist, afraid of strong women, wanted to dress me, and thought I looked like a lesbian when I wore shorts.  Also, he was 36 and he was trying to date a 21-year-old.  That’s borderline illegal.  Speaking of borderline illegal, after I dumped his old and wrinkled ass, he sort of stalked me for a few weeks.  The police were involved.

The Positives:

We never slept together.  I got rid of him.  No harm.

The Lessons:

  1. Ladies (and gentlemen), never let a man tell you how you can dress.  You wear what you want.  You do what you want.  Creeps don’t rule the world.
  2. Ladies, never let a man lie about his age and get away with it.
  3. Ladies, never let a man stalk you.  

Creep Qualifications:

  1. He lied about his age.
  2. He was seeking someone in the low twenties.
  3. He admitted to dating a 16-year-old.
  4. He wore swim trunks everywhere.
  5. He talked about how hot he was all the time.
  6. He used tanning oil.
  7. He was a straight-up scrub.
  8. “Live at home with your mama?” Oh, yes. Son, I’m talkin’ to you.
  9. “Have a car, but you’re walkin’?” Oh, yes. Son, I’m talkin’ to you.
  10. He had just been released/escaped from rehab.
  11. He ran away from rehab.
  12. He thought I looked like a lesbian when I wore shorts.
  13. He accused me of being misleading because I was wearing a dress when we met, but didn’t always wear dresses.
  14. He really wanted to have butt sex all the time.  NEVER happened, FYI.
  15. He just kept talking about butt sex.
  16. He was paranoid about abortions… with no risk of pregnancy.
  17. He was obsessed with having public… encounters… with strangers.
  18. Did I mention he lived with his mom?

Creep Week: Snake Tongue, Over-Confident

Snake-Tongue, The Over-Confident

True Story…

I made the mistake of allowing this small-ish man to kiss me.  It was shockingly bad.  He then bragged about how good of a kisser he was, which I found alarming.  He asked me to confirm, and I said…  “Uh, I have to go.”  He then tried to convince me to sleep with him by explaining that he was as good at sex as he was at kissing.  So… I said, “No, thanks.”

It was awkward.

You see, I had allowed this small “gentleman” to walk me home, thinking that due to our common friends and his general demeanor, that he would not try a thing.  Well, he tried some things.  At first, he was just sort of oddly asking me to go out with him.  I was trying to negotiate down and not really interested.  Then, he just full-out went for a make-out session with my face.  I mean, he dove into my face.  He stuck his tiny, thin tongue down my throat and just kept jabbing it into my mouth.  His tongue moved in short, terrifying spurts.  It felt like he was trying tenderize my mouth.  It was, hands down, the worst kissing experience of my life.  Perhaps, the worst of all time.

He then began to tell me that he was “really, really good at stuff that girls like.”  I was like… “No.”  He kept trying to talk me into going to his place or letting him in mine so he could show me his skills.  He tried convincing me because he promised that “We don’t go all the way.”  He said, “We don’t go all the way” about 50 times.  It was an actual negotiation to him.  He thought that if he promised me orgasms and only foreplay, I’d be totally down.  In actuality, I was just trying to get him away from me without totally destroying our mutual friendship situation and without him knowing which apartment was actually mine.  He seemed very stalkery.

The reason he knew he was so good at pleasuring women?

He went to an all-boys school where the older boys “taught them all about that stuff.”  Uh…  Not to be judgmental, but wouldn’t older boys teaching younger boys about sex-stuff likely not involve women?  I mean, wouldn’t that experience all be dude-on-dude?  I just don’t think the ancient Greek system of old men making love to young men bodes well for that man’s skills with women.  You know?

When I finally convinced him that I really, truly, actually, for real was NOT going to mes around with his snake-tongued face, he said something horrible.

“Are you on your menstruation?”

The only reason he could imagine I wouldn’t want to feel his tiny hands or creepy tongue all over me was that I was on my period.  This yucky, creepy question was the last straw.  I slapped him across the face and told him to get real far, real fast.  He ran away.  He was a gross asshole.

This is, by far, the worst thing I’ve heard in response to rejection.  Never, never bring up a woman’s menstruation.

Side note:

He showed up at my apartment building the next day, calling me repeatedly (with a number he got from my friends), and begging to go on a date.  He also told me he lied about his age (he was younger) and he boasted his virginity.  I did not pick up the phone or see him again.

I’ve Been Too Hard on “Skinny”

A while ago, I wrote a post about how amazing Beyonce’s thighs are, which remains indisputable.

However, what I also did in that post was talk about thin, skinny, little thighs as “unnatural” and less than ideal.  That’s not fair either.

I do think that glorifying unhealthy weight – on either end of the spectrum – is dangerous.  It is dangerous to glorify being so thin that for most people to achieve it, they would have to starve themselves.

Thin thighs are not “unacceptable,” “horrible,” nor are they somehow inherently “bad.”  It is not bad to be a thin person.  No one is a villain simply having thin thighs.

What is bad and scary, then?

It is bad and scary to push a body to extremes.  It is bad to glorify thinness above all else.  It is bad to glorify unhealthy habits that push people into unhealthy weights.  Just as a person can be too fat, a person can be too thin.  Both are bad.  The thing, not a lot of people are striving to be fat.  A lot of people are spending their days and nights obsessing over being thin at any price.  A lot of people have blogs and tumblrs devoted to “thinspo” with all kinds of ways to get skinny.  There are too many little girls and women out there who hurt themselves to achieve a level of thin that is not healthy for them.

That said, making thin women the villain is wrong.

Thin women just so happen to be thin.  Many people want to be thin, and that’s okay.  But wanting to be thin, or wanting to have Beyonce’s thighs, at any cost… that’s scary.

Also, Beyonce is amazing.

Bodies should be allowed to be as they are.  When society pressures us to go against our bodies, society is wrong.  Love your thighs.  Even if they chaff and wiggle.  Even if they’ve never touched.