Is “Blurred Lines” a Rape Song?

by Evette Dionne

Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke, the R&B crooner with the sensual vocals, is reigning at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart with his summertime hit, “Blurred Lines.” The top spot is a first for the singer, but his ascension has been met with considerable criticism.

Feminists and advocacy organizations are chiding Thicke for promoting rape in his “Blurred Lines” lyrics.

Feminist in LA blogger Lisa Huynh initiated the backlash in an April blog post. She writes:

Basically, the majority of the song (creepily named “Blurred Lines”) has the R&B singer murmuring “I know you want it” over and over into a girl’s ear. Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity.

The pop tunes actual lyrics read:

Good girl/I know you want it/I know you want it/I know you want it/You’re a good girl/Can’t let it get past me/You’re far from plastic/Talk about getting blasted/I hate these blurred lines/I know you want it/I know you want it/I know you want it/But you’re a good girl/The way you grab me/Must wanna get nasty/Go ahead, get at me

Offended listeners, including Huynh, are also dissatisfied with the uncensored version of the video. YouTube banned the initial images, citing the use of near-naked models. Thicke released an alternative version of the “Blurred Lines” video, which has garnered mass acclaim. The second video mirrors the first, but the models are clothed (in plastic tops) and lewd language has been censored.

Critics still aren’t impressed with its 50 million views benchmark and some are disappointed in Thicke’s pivot for love-making music to “rapey” content.

“Oh, and the music video! Not only does it feature three girls baring bare breasts throughout the entire song (along with nude-colored thongs), but it also obnoxiously interrupts the already disturbing scene to blare  #THICKE  in big, bold, red letters every 10 seconds,” Huynh writes. “Is this some Big Brother brainwashing technique? Who told him that this was a good idea? Not to mention the an entire clip dedicated to balloon letters spelling out ‘Robin Thicke has a big dick.’

Canadian model Amy Davison agrees with Huynh. She released a video on YouTube titled “Robin Thicke is a dick” to explain her contention with the clip.

“The women are clearly being used as objects to reinforce the status of the men in the video. The men have all the control and status because they are not vulnerable—they are completely covered. Whereas the women have no status and are totally open to be exploited ogled and used,” she said. “It doesn’t jibe with me.”

On the flip side, some don’t see the big deal. Frannie Kelley, an editor at NPR Music, credits the video’s director Diane Martel for pushing the envelope.

“I think it’s really fun,” she told the Daily Beast. “We feel a certain type of way about seeing men completely clothed next to almost completely naked women and that’s what gives it the frisson. When they’re clothed it feels like he’s walking up to a line and agreeing to obey it. And when they’re not clothed, he’s like acknowledging the line and he’s stepping right over it.”

She doesn’t see the issue with the video or the lyrics, especially when compared to other offensive imagery like The Dream’s “P***y* video.

“I feel more like, more violated by people trying to tell me that that song and video is problematic than I do by that song and video. Honestly,” she said.

Thicke is riding on the success of the single. He sees no issue with the song’s message or the video.

“Nudity is the least offensive thing in the whole world. Guns, violence, war? That’s offensive,” he said in an interview with Vh1. “A woman’s body has been painted and sculpted and talked about since the beginning of man. What I enjoy about the video is that we’re not ogling and degrading them, we’re laughing and being silly with them.”

The singer admits he pushed the boundaries, but in a sex-positive direction.

“We pretty much wanted to take all the taboos of what you’re not supposed to do—bestiality, you know, injecting a girl in her bum with a five-foot syringe—I just wanted to break every rule of things you’re not supposed to do and make people realize how silly some of these rules are.”

What do you think Clutchettes and gents? Is “Blurred Lines” a rapey song? Is the uncensored? video sexist?

  • Erin

    Really?!?!?
    -_______-

  • Tae

    I’m not so much a Robin Thicke fan and didn’t even bother pressing play….soooooooo yea. Talk about Raheem DeVaughn tho’ and get a reaction out meh! #YesLord

  • Joan

    Are they serious?

  • Laurie

    Now this is a textbook reeeeeeeaaaaccccchhhhhhh. C’mon. It’s a teasing, playful song, and video.

  • Liz

    The lyrics sound like a conversation with my boyfriend when I tell him I have a headache.

  • http://twitter.com/rastaqueen92 Shug Avery (@rastaqueen92)

    People want to complain about everything. EVER-Y-THANG. EVER-Y-THANG!

  • Nancy

    I love this song. It’s catchy and fun and really? Can we talk about what they show women doing in tons of rap videos? And in old Heavy Metal videos? I don’t care. I object more to the fact that these models look 16.

  • victoria

    Thank you Liz. Most women have heard their men use those lines.

  • http://alishawritinglife.wordpress.com Alisha

    Too far. Not rape-y at all.

  • MommieDearest

    Meh. Robin Thicke is over-rated IMO.

    I haven’t seen the video, but I’m sure it’s nothing short of soft porn like many music videos; which is why I don’t watch them.

    *yawn*

  • http://gravatar.com/naaj21 Lexi

    Right lol!!! ha his famous line for me (my bf) “You bout to get it girl….”<—-usually whispered in public lol. Husbands/Boyfriends have been saying this to their wives/girlfriends for years. Robin and crew decided to make it into a catchy song smh.

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    Rape song…yeah whatever. I’m more mad about the bad dancing in the video.

  • Nicole

    Really? Did they not listen to the entire song? He’s addressing a woman he’s feeling but is with another guy. Essentially, he’s saying: “Now girl, you cleary want me, but you wanna play the good girl and stick with this clown. It’s cool though. You’ll be mine by the end of the night”. As far as the video goes, I think it’s hilarious! I mean c’mon! T.I. is brushing a girl’s hair! And while I definitely don’t care for the uncensored version, he made it clear early on that it was the director’s idea and Paula Patton approved.

    I guess I can see how one can misconstrue the lyrics, but still. Rape? Nah! Don’t think so!

  • niksmit

    I have yet to watch either video, so they may be problematic like many videos–I don’t know. The song itself is not steeped in rape culture BS in my opinion, although I can see how people who take things out of context and have low comprehension could get that from this song (or anything really). In honor of these fools, I’ma go back to blasting this song even though I played it out last month.

  • Tallulah Belle

    There is some man fine-ness up in this video. Did not notice the women, but I am sure they all look the same. Love Pharrell — he does not age. Also, from the little bit of the song that I could stand to listen to, Thicke seems to have ripped off Prince circa 1986. Who cares, at least it’s not a duet with Lil’ Wayne. More Pharrell looking fine pleeeeaase.

  • Marang_Dream

    Hahahahahahaha….I was just saying to a friend of mine that T.I. really looks like a husband and father in this video lol…his dancing is so old school and fun in a grown man/uncle type of way!

  • D.T.

    I immediately thought of Marvin Gaye’s “got to give it up” when I first heard the song. It’s catchy.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBlackBot Black Bot (@TheBlackBot)

    I can’t say he’s overrated, as I don’t remember hearing of him before this song was in the news

  • Sandy

    oh they should get over themselves! I swear that these white feminists have nothing better to do these days than to nit-pick at every small thing & find sexism where it doesn’t even exist. It’s funny though that they miss obvious sexist treatments they are meted out to black women everyday. I wonder where all these people were when the Onion called Quvenzhane the c-word & Seth McFarlane sexualized her in his jokes. Or where they were when people make disparaging remarks about the FLOTUS’ body? Where was their sense of outrage at those times?

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    I like the song. He says something about her grabbing him, so she is clearly consenting to something.

    I get the whole “fighting rape culture” thing, but this good/girl bad girl narrative is _so_ ingrained in our culture that it is going to be really hard to completely eliminate it. I would really like a feminist who is well versed in this topic to give some examples of love songs/sex songs that really highlight the idea of consent. (Say Yes by Floetry came to mind as I wrote that last sentence, but they are women.)

    I think it could maybe be more worthwhile to highlight more obvious examples of ‘rape-y’ songs. And going after someone who is so well liked like Robin Thicke just creates another barrier.

  • bridgettweeter

    I am sorry I am a little more pissed at the lightening up of the beauty. Blond hair and blue eyed and thinned to nearly nothing. It doesn’t strike me as a rape song.

  • http://gravatar.com/hsm36 Whatever

    Stop it. Ever heard of “the boy who cried wolf?”

  • IJusWannaSay…

    Right there with ya!

  • texaschainsawlovin’

    Ha every time I hear about this guy. I just think about his dad and laugh.

  • B

    I disagree with the rape part. Misogynistic, yes. Rape, no. Saying “I know you want it” is not the same as saying “I had sex with you and you didn’t say yes but i know you wanted it.”
    Plus in my opinion, the “Go ahead, get at me” line kills the rape argument. He’s saying “You want me so go for it.” putting the action on HER to make the move, not him making a move on her.

  • http://twitter.com/cherubicnerd L.Hoskins (@cherubicnerd)

    he gives me the creeps and comes off as a pimp. I find him to be a misogynist. jon b’s “don’t talk” also gives me the creeps as well: Don’t talk
    Baby just move with me
    Take a sip
    Kind of got you feelin’ fizzy
    It’s alright, so rock with me
    If it’s alright with you, oh baby
    j

  • Deb

    honestly, the video and lyrics give a glimpse into the real sexual atmosphere in Hollywood and the industry. This is the norm for these men. These are the people we worship.

  • GlowBelle

    Reaching. Reaching. Reaching.

    We just love sucking the fun out of just about anything these days don’t we?

  • Just saying

    Before you know it society will be black and white. We’ll have mental chips that will filter all our ‘bad’ thoughts. Robot age is among us.

  • sixfoota

    I want these white feminist to concentrate on that new Miley Cyrus video. Let them pick that ish apart.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    to me it’s offensive because men never have to get naked. why can’t women get a little eye candy too? i mean really? fully clothed in a suit? they couldn’t have their shirts off or anything? so pathetic

  • raah

    wack and irrelevant to the question posited. also, kind of a shame that the brunette girl (and pharrell in his usual ways) was the only one who brought a bit of energy to the video. meh.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Right! Let them handle the issue of cultural appropriation! Maybe we should give them a step ladder so they can reach better and find actual issues to discuss.

  • http://melodymoose.deviantart.com/ Catpopstar

    Is… that a good thing or a bad thing?

  • http://www.gallimaufry.ws T.

    I acknowledge that women are objectified in this video, as in many others. But to be honest, I still like it, because everybody, including the women, looks like they’re being playful/goofy and having fun. Plus T.I.’s Cliff Huxtable dancing is just the best thing I’ve seen in a music video in a looooong time.

  • Mikela123

    I’m more bothered by the fact that these men are over 35 and prancing around with nineteen year olds singing, You’re a good girl – I know you want, I know you want it.”

  • bertty

    He should of sang, # come and get when your ready # instead.

  • Mike

    http://donthideyoursecrets.tumblr.com/post/53889396975/blurred-lines

    A good argument against it being a rape song.

  • Oats22

    Am I the only one who hates the term “rapey?” It sounds cutesy.

  • tee

    dont have a clue anymore when i’m supposed to be offended or not

  • http://twitter.com/Geobiatch Jill Smith (@Geobiatch)

    People are missing some key lyrics from this song. Am I the only person that heard the line about giving her something big enough “to split your ass in two.” That is violent and misogynistic. I’m also not a fan of the line about grabbing your hair and smacking your ass. That’s fine if there are self loathing women who think that’s hot but they need to keep that shit at home. I don’t want to hear about it because that is threatening language.
    And beastiality??? WTF is wrong with these people!?
    And the foot part makes me want ti barf!

  • Made n Brooklyn

    This is not a rape song. PLEASE!

    “OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you (The man she met and married tried to turn her into a housewife and she is too wild to settle down)
    But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature (A woman who is very wild sexually)
    Just let me liberate you (I’ll take you away and satisfy you)
    Hey, hey, hey
    You don’t need no papers (Marriage license)
    Hey, hey, hey
    Than man is not your maker (Master, God, etc.)
    Hey, hey, hey”

    I read a comment here that someone thinks the animals have to do with bestiality. NO SUCH INFERENCE. The animals represent him and the woman being like animals, wild. The rest of the song just deals with him talking “dirty” to her trying to coax her away from her boring life and into his life where he thinks he can satisfy the beast in her. Oh, yes, and about wild sex. Wild is something a lot of people just don’t understand or can comprehend. So for those who cannot fathom such acts as pulling hair and slapping a bottom; DON’T. Don’t hurt yourself trying to understand something that upsets you. If you don’t like the song then change the station, simple!

  • IDontCareILoveIt

    Thicke even mentioned he wanted to push the boundaries of taboo things in society. Therefore yes the animals in the video are beastiality. Read his quote in the article before giving your inaccurate analysis

  • biff

    come on! Have you heard the lyrics in gangsta rap songs? This song is pretty nothing compared to a lot of rap songs.

  • sea monkey

    Makes sense that so many people would tolerate a song that many perceive as condoning rape when over 78 percent of the populations spiritual beliefs stem from a book that says “wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body”

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