There is something sinister about the assertion that sexual objectification of women is a playful, beautiful thing. Especially when it is packaged in a way that is shiny and slick and appealing, and served up with a nifty, catchy, supposedly sexy song: as is the case with the fantastically popular, and fantastically overplayed single ‘Blurred Lines’, by Robin Thicke.
Because who wants to be a boring, dowdy, dungaree-toting, man-lynching feminist when you could be frolicking around in a music video, liberated and carefree, with Thicke and his pervy chums ‘appreciating your beauty’?
Despite the obvious appeal of life in Thicke’s harem, there have been reams of parodies of and responses to the idiocy of his lyrical take on the so-called ‘blurred lines’ between consensual and non-consensual sex. The most recent is Defined Lines, by a group of law students from the University of Auckland, and it’s without a doubt the smartest of the lot.
Featuring three clothed women and three men in their skimpy undies, it’s righteously angry, unapologetically sweary, pretty risqué (dog leash, sex toys), and at times surprisingly uncomfortable. Defined Lines successfully achieves the sexual objectification of the male body and, of course, though it patently isn’t a mission statement, it’s making an important point.
Nonetheless, it’s perhaps not all that shocking that some hypersensitive bods at YouTube briefly removed the video yesterday on the grounds of ‘inappropriate content’, before swiftly returning it following a storm of accusations of hypocrisy (Thicke’s video remains).
You might hazard a guess that the offending ‘inappropriateness’ is something to do with the moment in which one of the video’s protagonists shoves a sex toy into the mouth of a half-naked male minion. Amusing if you remember that the video is a bit of fun, and making a point about the objectification of women.
On the flipside, it’s been rather less amusing to the sort of men (and women) who frequently, robotically assume that the aim of feminism is for women to ‘get one up on men’. This is the kind of person who honestly believes that all feminists are simply modern reincarnations of succubi with Twitter accounts – that feminism is basically a ploy by women to reduce men to quivering wrecks.
In this sense, the knee-jerk reaction to this affront to mankind as a whole is depressingly inevitable. It’s reminiscent of the sort of attitude that approves the tiresome double-entendre that allows old codgers to express their desire to bonk various women; but disapproves of swearing or talk of menstruation, on the basis that the latter are somehow more crass.
The reality is that, even in the 21 century, ‘saucy’ allusions to rape are acceptable, but whatever your message - even if it is slightly less morally barren than Thicke’s - if you come straight out with a couple of F-bombs while brandishing a vibrator, you can take a hike.