So, my first listen of this song was on the Graham Norton show. Pharrell had his trousers turned up all cool, Hayden Pannettiere danced around in her lovely leggings and everything was great. I was hooked to the bassline, I could feel the addiction to this song making my brain swim. I felt spoiled, a Summer with “Get Lucky” AND “Blurred Lines”? I didn’t think it was possible.
Ohoho, but then… Then, I heard them discuss the fact that youtube had banned the video. Intrigued, I tracked it down on vimeo, and my opinion of the song and the artists plummeted as far south as it’s possible to go. Pharrell and Robin have made a big, big NONO.
It’s very easy to see girls in bikinis, or short skirts and dresses, or tight tops, and shout “THAT’S SEXIST”, even though that might not necessarily be true. What really makes situations like that sexist is when what’s happening doesn’t apply to males in the same way that it applies to females. In this video, the girls parade and dance around with nothing on except nude thongs, leaving well… nothing to the imagination.
The problem with this is not the naked women. Women can be naked. Naked women are lovely. It’s not true that a woman’s naked body needs always to be treated as a form of pornography, because it’s not. The problem is that the women are only there to be naked. That’s it. They don’t speak; they don’t do anything or than dance, naked. The men are all fully clothed; they don’t have to strip themselves down at all throughout the video.
On a second listen to the lyrics, I noticed that the whole song was pretty rapey, and quite frankly, full of yuck. Some key problems include:
“Tried to domesticate you, but you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature”.
Implying ownership of women, or implying that women need to change their “wild” behaviour and become “domesticated” for your needs is not something I enjoy seeing in “modern” music.
“I know you want it”
This is repeated several times, and it’s exactly the kind of bullshit that anti-rape campaigns are trying to address. Guess what? You don’t know that I want it. Dancing with a girl in a club does not mean she “wants” it. If she wants it, she’ll let you know. Until that time, keep it in your pants.
“I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two”
No. Just no. Don’t say things like that to women and think it’s attractive, or endearing. Again, if a woman is interested in having sex with you, or you are interested in having sex with her, there are ways and means about requesting that activity without making references to sexual violence or specific sexual desires that are pretty risqué. Ongoing consent is pretty sexy, if you ask me. (pun intended).
“He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair for you”
Implying that sexual violence is the norm, or is something desired by all, or desired by women as the initial sexual contact from someone is not ok. Rape fantasy sex is sexy to some people because of the safe environment in which it takes place. It’s not sexy to imply that you’re going to be violent towards a woman. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.
“I’m a nice guy, but don’t get confused, you git’n it”
If you are a nice guy, like you say, you’ll ensure that your partner consents. There should be no confusion.
Thicke has commented on the video in the media and said that he wanted to “break every rule” with it. That’s why animals appear in it, and there are implications of bestiality and obviously, full nudity. He reckons that they weren’t degrading the women, because they’re just “dancing and having fun” with them. If they were naked too, I might try to agree. But the idea that women being naked and men being fully clothed and in control is just the regular way to party is a bit, well, #thicke.