Tag Archives: pop culture

Blurred Lines: a shining pop moment in rape culture


I don’t watch The Voice nor do I own a television. Sometimes I’m glad of this.

However I do read Mamamia in my Twitter feed and they posted this article about a new (trout-slap-to-face) provocative video doing the rounds.

‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke has lyrics that talk about leering and crotch rubbing over a woman who won’t say she wants it when he *knows* she does. She’s a ‘good girl’ but she ‘must wanna get nasty, the way you grab me’. She’s called a ‘bitch’ and is told he has something ‘big enough to tear [her] ass in two’. Hell, doesn’t matter how you feel, girl – Robin Thicke is ‘going to take it’ because he ‘hates these blurred lines’.

The video too is a wonderland for rapists and men who need confirmation bias that rapeculture is just dandy. With nude models as arm candy – bored faces and tits out (including the very unsettling images of models with arms half covering their chests in body language that read as defensive, self protective) Robin Thicke is a hyper masculine walking cock in a well cut suit and shades. He’s the fuel MRAs with keyboards dream of. He’s what too many men aspire to. He’s the guy who is so effortlessly cool in blowing smoke in that pretty girl’s face and clamping his will over hers. You know you want it. And you’re sure not getting a choice, yeah? He whispers it in her ear in the clip enough times so surely it’s happening.

So in other words: a rape anthem. That’s what we have here.

Robin Thicke, let’s break this down in some easy steps. Let’s pull apart your choices here and talk about the obvious flaws in your ‘big dick’ logic.

1. Assumed consent is not the same as consent. Just because you think I want it does not mean I want it. Until you’ve sought and gotten an active yes, assume I’m saying no. There are no blurred lines here.

2. I can remove consent at any time. And consent for one activity does not imply consent for all. If I’m grabbing at you, assume that’s all I want until I say otherwise or until you ask and I answer. And that’s not blurry either: I have the right to do only what I’m comfortable with, and the right to stop anytime.

3. Telling me I want it over and over until I give in is not sexy: it’s coercion. On behalf of every teenage girl or wife or mid twenties girlfriend who has had her ‘mind changed’ – fuck you.

4. Body Language matters as much as words. If my body is closed, withdrawing, bored, covering up, evasive then these are all good signs that I do not want you. And I may be enjoying myself and then stop enjoying myself. Listen to my body.

5. Check your ego: leave your cock swagger at the door. It is not your god given prerogative to school ‘good girls’ and bring them to know the Personal Jesus of blowing you.

Robin Thicke, I want you to imagine for a moment that your song just became the reason girls right now are being pressured in bedrooms to have sex they don’t want.

That’s on you. How does it feel?

Our sex, not your sex.

I’ve been contemplating the conundrum of male-gaze issues regarding the depiction of queer sex, specifically two queer women having sex (the traditional ‘hot lesbian’ trope).

This pondering has come about off the back of the DC Comics reboot of Starfire and all the blogosphere hoohah about it, specifically the point made that her posing and whatnot is very much for men; and that her sexuality is not being enacted for herself, or for the gaze of an empowered woman-identifying audience, or the gaze of a queer woman-identifying audience, but really, very much for the titillation of men.

I guess that’s my problem with clips like Rhianna’s ‘Te Amo’. While I think it is super awesome that we’re seeing queer narratives inscribed through pop, and the stories of women identifying-relationships writ large in mainstream contexts, I question whether the imagery used is intended to be ‘for’ queers.

I don’t think it is. I think our sex is hijacked by industry execs a lot. I think the point someone on my livejournal made – when I posted it there – that it seemed like a whole bunch of OOOH LESBIANS LOOK posing is quite valid.

And frankly, it always has and always will make me uncomfy to think that dudes think women-identifying queer sex looks like that. I mean, sure, maybe sometimes we maintain perfect hair and couture but generally women in love and lust spend a little less time dancing around each other and pouting. How we love and fuck is diverse and grounded in a zillion different contexts, from the most domestic to the most kinky.

Maybe this is a case of any publicity is good. I will admit that one of my first gateway tummy flutters was TaTu’s ‘All The Things She Said’ when I had little access to seeing girls love girls in any other medium.

There’s merit in both the argument that even the corniest representations of woman-sex intended largely for men will find itself into the right hands (teenage girls) and in the argument that our sex is our own, and should not be annexed by straight dudes.

There’s hope in the mainstream though – shows like Sugar Rush in the UK break through and are much more realistic representations of young queer sex and love amongst teen girls. Flawed and fractured, they actually provide a unique and useful tool where there have been few.

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