A feminist parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” – a song that has been accused of blurring the lines between consensual sex and rape – was briefly removed from YouTube yesterday, leaving its creators mystified.
“Defined Lines”, created by a bunch of University of Auckland law students, features three fully dressed women responding to the attentions of scantily clad men as they sing about sexism.
The video, which has been watched more than 450,000 times since it was posted three days ago, was removed from YouTube yesterday having been flagged by users as containing “inappropriate content”, but has now been restored.
The video’s creators, Olivia Lubbock, Zoe Ellwood and Adelaide Dunn, who call themselves the Law Revue girls, have described their efforts as “a bit of fun” with a positive message.
"We think that women should be treated equally, and as part of that, we're trying to address the culture of objectifying women in music videos," Lubbock told APP.
"It's just funny that the response has been so negative when you flip it around and objectify males," she added.
Lyrics from "Defined Lines" include “What you see on TV, doesn't speak equality, it's straight up misogyny" and the video shows men in their underwear with dog leashes around their necks being squirted with cream and having dollar bills stuffed into their pants.
Speaking of the YouTube ban, Lubbock said: “It’s been flagged by users as inappropriate because of sexual content and stuff like that, but the fact it’s been taken down is a massive double standard.
“My opinion is that people don’t like the message behind it. It was meant to be a comedic sketch, but we’re trying to address the culture of objectifying women in music videos. We think that women should be treated equally.”
The video has now been restored to YouTube after the Law Revue girls appealed.
“Blurred Lines”, a single from R&B artist Robin Thicke’s album of the same name, has topped the charts across the globe, selling more than a million copies in the UK alone and spending more than 10 consecutive weeks at number one in America.
An early version of music video, released in March, featuring models Emily Ratajkowski, Jessi M'Bengue and Elle Evans topless, was removed from YouTube for violating its terms of service. Like the Law Revue video it was later restored but has been flagged as “inappropriate”.
Thicke has come into serious criticism from rape lobby groups over the lyrical content on “Blurred Lines” as well as for the video which shows Thicke and co-collaborators Pharrell Williams and T.I. (fully clothed) being attended by near-naked women (there are two versions, one topless – another with models in nude colour underwear).
The song, which includes the lyric “Nothing like your last guy/ He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that,” has been accused by Rape Crisis, a charity that raises awareness and understanding of sexual violence, of "reinforcing rape myths".
Rape Crisis spokeswoman Katie Russell said: "Both the lyrics and the video seem to objectify and degrade women, using misogynistic language and imagery that many people would find not only distasteful or offensive but also really quite old fashioned.
"More disturbingly, certain lyrics are explicitly sexually violent and appear to reinforce victim-blaming rape myths, for example about women giving 'mixed signals' through their dress or behaviour, saying 'no' when they really mean 'yes' and so on."
Feminist blog The Vagenda branded the video “generally an orgy of female objectification”, while The Daily Beast’s Tricia Romano criticised the single as “kind of rapey”.
Referring to the song’s refrain, “I know you want it”, Romano said: “Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity…Seriously, this song is disgusting- though admittedly very catchy.”
In July Thicke, 36, called the criticism “ridiculous”, stating: “I can’t even dignify that with a response, that’s ridiculous."
In an interview with GQ magazine he claimed the video did not denigrate women “because all three [artists in the video] are happily married with children”.
“We were like, ‘We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this. People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘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,” he said.
“We just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go women and their bodies are beautiful, men are gonna want to follow them around.”
The New Zealand parody "Defined Lines" follows another take-off of "Blurred Lines" in July by Seattle’s Mod Carousel, which deliberately avoided a straight inversion of gender roles.
“It’s our opinion that most attempts to show female objectification in the media by swapping the genders serve more to ridicule the male body than to highlight the extent to which women get objectified and do everyone a disservice," Mod Carousel said.
“We made this video specifically to show a spectrum of sexuality as well as present both women and men in a positive light.”
A request for comment from YouTube's owner Google had not been returned at press time.