Is it time for pop to get its house in order? Should songs like this be banned or be out in the open to be talked about? Should they be clearer in what they are trying to say?
Amy Britton was once gang raped and has her own powerful, moving and inspiring take on the situation and how the song affects her.
My take on the “Blurred Lines” debate.
Now, I don’t think any of would be massively surprised to know that I don’t really pay a lot of attention to chart music. Up until the recent articles on LTW commenting on Edinburgh University’s decision to ban Robin Thicke’s controversial “Blurred Lines,” it could have quite easily passed me by – but it hadn’t. Anything this nasty is going to stick in my head the moment I come across it. I first came across this song on a music TV station, fully subtitled, on one of the television screens in the gym, whilst I was weightlifting and fully fired up – a good time to get angry…
There seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment for sexual violence to be treated as less of a crime and more of a fulfilment of women’s desires (Thicke’s chorus runs “You know you want it…”). The “sexual” side is dwelled on more than the “assault” side. This is hugely offensive. In my recent article on pornography I confessed to have been “sexually assaulted,” but this is probably a bit euphemistic; I was gang raped by three strangers and therefore I’m always going to find any debate on the issue somewhat emotive.
First things first; regardless of how Thicke portrays it, rape isn’t sexy. God forbid impressionable young listeners could think so. In fact, the far-reaching impact on the victim is as sexless as it gets. I (temporarily) took to dressing in an unfeminine, dull way which wasn’t me. I needed a minor operation on my cervix to repair the damage in order to enable a normal sex life, plus dental surgery to repair the effects caused by the physical attack – pretty sexy stuff, eh, Thicke? I’d like to hear this dealt with in the follow-up song.
So no, I didn’t “want it.”
As for claiming to explore a grey area between consensual sex and rape – is it really THAT much of a grey area? Surely it all boils down to the word “no”…
You probably all think then that I fully support the decision of Edinburgh University to ban this song. But I can’t help but think that just banning things can create more problems than it solves. Yes, of course I don’t ever want to hear this song again (especially that vile line about “tearing your ass in two”, which really does express some bizarre ideas about what women want). But banning things fulfils ideas about old fashioned censorship being the way forward – and once we start, where do we stop? If you ban one thing, it could then lead onto more and more until we get a bit over the top. Also, banning things simply serves to make them stronger, and brings them more attention, especially if the ban is well publicised like this one has been. The last thing we want is to see Thicke and his collaborator and co-writer Pharrell Williams (who seems to be getting off scot-free in the midst of all this controversy) strengthened, because when it boils down to it, I actually think “Blurred Lines” is a really weak and forgettable song. The fact that Thicke is categorised as “Soul” in music stores really is an insult to soul singers! So it may well be the controversial subject matter which has elevated him into public consciousness (or, granted, it could be the presence of a superstar like Williams.)
89% of rapes are never reported, 38% of victims never tell anyone, and there is a growing culture in which the victim is blamed or disbelieved. If ideas are being reinforced that we “want it”, that can’t be helping.
This isn’t about politically correct feminism, it’s about acknowledging something as a serious, life-ruining crime, which for me is less about sex and more about exertion of power.
Not that I let my life be ruined in the long run. In fact, I could sound almost smug when I talk about how absolutely perfect everything is for me right now. But it was hard work reaching this point. If women wanted to be raped, then there would be no such phrase as “rape victim.” But let’s not just throw the blanket of censorship over Thicke.
Let’s get talking instead. Let’s turn this on its head; it’s time to open the door to more debate about not only rape, but the responsibilities that pop culture, a powerful thing, can hold….