Robin Thicke's number one single 'Blurred Lines' accused of reinforcing rape myths

 

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The Independent Culture

It might currently be topping the UK singles charts, but R&B artist Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” has been criticised by a UK rape charity and online commentators for trivialising sexual violence, objectifying women and "reinforcing rape myths".

The song, which includes the lyric “Nothing like your last guy/ He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that,” has spent three weeks at number one in the Official UK Top 40. 

Katie Russell, a spokeswoman for Rape Crisis, a charity that raises awareness and understanding of sexual violence, said: "The lyrics of 'Blurred Lines' seem to glamourise violence against women and to reinforce rape myths, which we strive to dispel.

"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." 

The video to accompany the single was banned by YouTube. It shows models wearing nothing but nude thongs dancing with Robin Thicke and co-collaborators Pharrell Williams and T.I.

Feminist blog The Vagenda has 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.”

JH, a Vagenda blogger, wrote: “Thicke and Pharrell probably genuinely think that this video is empowering for women. And the women in the video probably feel like they are being cool and rebellious by doing it.

“However, the only real irony is when Thicke sings “[I] tried to domesticate you/ But you're an animal, baby it's in your nature”, because the whole video is about domestication. It is not about girls exposing their bodies for their own amusement but for Thicke’s.”

Thicke, 36, defended criticism of the video in an interview with GQ magazine, claiming the video did not denigrate women “because all three [artists in the video] are happily married with children”.

He said: “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.’

“So 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.”

“Blurred Lines” has sold over 645,000 singles in the UK since its official release three weeks ago.

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