Just a Song? Misogyny in Music and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines

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Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” has sparked outrage with many calling the song and video misogynistic and ‘rapey’.

If you haven’t seen the video or heard the song, you can see the ‘tame’ version here: http://www.vevo.com/watch/robin-thicke/blurred-lines/USUV71300454

Robin Thick has called criticisms of his song ridiculous. However, when the song and video were first released, he admitted in an interview with GQ that while writing the song, Pharrell Williams and Thicke pretended they were two old men on a porch harassing girls and women walking by.

Thicke continues on to say that the humour of the song and video is that all those involved are “happily married” and “respect women”, making them “…the perfect guys to make fun of this”. In response to those who called the video degrading to women, Thicke replies “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women”.

So are we all just taking this song a little too seriously? It was meant to be a joke, after all. And Thicke insists that he respects women so isn’t he entitled to this one opportunity to degrade them?

Of course, many vehemently disagree.

Sezin Koehler provides a powerful analysis of why the lyrics to “Blurred Lines” are a problem, comparing these lyrics to actual words uttered by rapists.  You should absolutely read this amazing article that takes photos from Project Unbreakable and compares them to the lyrics in “Blurred Lines”.

Thicke sings “I know you want it,” a phrase that many sexual assault survivors report their rapists saying to justify their actions, as demonstrated over and over in the Project Unbreakable testimonials.

There have also been a number of parodies of the video which respond to the misogyny of the original. This feminist parody was originally removed from Youtube for including “inappropriate content”. The parody, created by a group of law students at the University of Auckland, features women treating the men in the video as objects. The lyrics to the song reject female objectification and sexual violence, declaring “If you want to get nasty/Just don’t harass me/You can’t just grab me/That’s a sex crime”.

From Halifax, J. Mary Burnet and Kaleigh Trace thought “we don’t want to have to listen to Robin Thicke tell us he knows we want it over such a damn catchy beat. We wanna dance to music that’s sexy and radical.”  So they made the fabulous parody “Ask First”!

So he is popular, played on the radio
Makes money in rape culture by degrading you
But we don’t have to take it
Hey, hey, hey
No we can recreate it
Hey, hey, hey
Just let me demonstrate it

Recently, the University of Edinburgh banned “Blurred Lines” from being played in any of the university’s student buildings. The song was banned in accordance with the students’ association’s ‘End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus’ policy which was created to challenge rape myths and the sexual objectification of female students. Since then, four other universities in the UK have also banned the song.

Blurred Lines is certainly not the first example of misogyny in music but responses to it suggest a growing resistance to and rejection of this misogyny, objectification of women and normalization of rape culture.

What do you think? Do the lyrics to songs like Blurred Lines matter?

— Lisa

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One thought on “Just a Song? Misogyny in Music and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines

  1. Thank you thank you for writing this and compiling the videos. I finally broke down and watched part of the the original video a few weeks ago and I have been mad ever since. I needed this antidote….

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