It seems to me that women of my generation are no longer merely striving to shatter the glass ceiling, rather they seek to seize the fallen shards as well and dismember any unfortunate menfolk in the vicinity. A massive generalisation of course, and certainly not one intended to diminish the efforts of enthused and reasonable feminists around the world, but a justified one nevertheless I feel.
A particularly striking example of this phenomenon can be observed in recent widespread social media responses to the video clip and lyrics of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. Through Facebook alone I have heard a multitude of accusations levelled at the song, including suggestions that the song is sexist, perpetuating rape culture and objectifying women. A number of universities in the UK have even gone so far as to ban the song from being played on their campuses citing these very reasons.
The lyrics under attack include, “I know you want it,” and “The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty,” horrifying suggestions that the woman in question wants to have consensual sex with the singer, supported by evidence of her flirtatious advances. I certainly understand the phrase “I know you want it,” might be deemed controversial if prefaced by say “You say no, but…”, yet the fact remains that they are not. It seems strident feminists around the world are conveniently choosing to disregard such prominent lyrics as “You’re far from plastic”, “Let me liberate you”, and “That man is not your maker”. While certainly I sympathise with any women who were hurt or offended when they misunderstood the meaning of the song, I maintain that they were mistaken.
In most cases however, I firmly believe that it was a matter of many would be feminists wanting to be offended; seeing an opportunity to get attention from voicing their overloud opinions. It offers the perfect opportunity for them to establish themselves as proud, savvy, defiant woman activists, without having to do any actual research and learning about more important, boring issues such as women’s rights in the workplace and in developing nations.
The fact remains that even if the meaning of the song in question was intended in the way it has widely been interpreted, it is no more ‘offensive’ than thousands of other popular songs released in the last twenty years, and beyond. While sure, there have always been a number of feminists, often justifiably, releasing their commentary on the offensive culture, the backlash was nowhere near as widespread. The sudden surge in care factor about such issues can be chalked up to the fact that it’s become ‘cool’ to hate on Robin Thicke for his sexist ways, whether you could actually give a misguided shit or not.
Sure, the doe-eyed naked women dancing around like they couldn’t quite be bothered getting out of bed that morning, can be viewed as sexually objectifying women, perhaps accounting for the millions of views the clip has on youtube. As everyone knows sex sells, but it seems a little rough of society to demand sex and subsequently crucify anyone who obligingly dishes it up to them. Sure the women are there for their sex appeal alone (they certainly weren’t hired for their dancing prowess), just as the men in Olivia Newton John’s Physical video clip were hired for their sex appeal 20 years ago, and just as they are in the video clips of successful female artists the world over.
Back on sexualising lyrics, I’ve yet to hear many men kicking up a stink about Lady Gaga only wanting to ride their disco stick, or Katy Perry’s equally direct pestering to see their peacocks. Perhaps a
major reason the feminist movement still has so far to go in so many areas is this unshakeable focus on issues that are relatively trivial. If anything, the feminists currently in question are guilty of slut-shaming at its basest level, if they’re truly so mortified by the very possibility that a woman might “want to get nasty”. I think it’s time we stopped blurring the lines of what’s offensive and what isn’t, or better yet, made up our own minds about it.
Written by Georgia Hick.
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