Let’s talk Robin Thicke for a second. It’s come to my attention that a lot of people are confused. Conscientious feminists have pointed out that the song “Blurred Lines” promotes rape culture. Then other people have stepped up to defend the song, saying it’s not about rape.
Look people: “promotes rape culture” is not the same as “about rape”. Is the song specifically about rape? I don’t think it is, but this is beside the point anyway.
What the song *is* about is the line of consent. It’s about perceiving a woman’s sexual consent/refusal as a blurry, grey area. It’s about a woman saying one thing and meaning another. Does this happen in life? Sometimes it does. That certainly doesn’t mean it’s happening every time a woman shies away from a man’s advances.
Where the song becomes about rape culture is here: What’s Robin Thicke’s solution to being confronted with a girl who’s shying away from his advances? Keep pushing! He “hates those blurred lines”. He KNOWS (in his own mind) she wants it. He just needs to break through those dang blurred lines!
What occurred to me recently is this: The above paragraph might seem pretty harmless to a lot of people. Or at the very least, not scary, not overtly harmFUL. I’m guessing these are the people who have never had a man come at them with that thought process in mind. That “knowledge” that you want him to seduce you, even though your lips just said “That was fun dancing! I should really be getting back to my friends now!”
When a man like that says “Why? Come on, stay and dance with me.” And you say “No, really, I can’t.” And that moment his hand closes around your wrist so tightly it takes you by surprise, and he pulls you in close, holds you tight against him, and lightheartedly insists that you not go. Now his lips are saying one thing nicely, while his hands and arms are saying the same thing with significantly more force. And you realize 1) you may need to resort to force to escape what should have been a polite goodbye, or 2) you may not be able to resort to force, because you don’t think you’re strong enough to break free, so is shouting for help an option? Will the other people on the dancefloor take your plea seriously? Is a friend nearby that you can call to? Regardless, you’re the one who has to lash out in some way in order to escape, when all he’s been is kind to you. And you turned into a major bitch after leading him on like that. And no one else could tell how tight his fingers were around your wrist, or his arm around your waist. But what if no one else was around? Just you and him. When you get right down to it, judging chances of survival, you’ve got to factor in his reaction if you try to get away. Do you stand a chance of winning if it comes to violence? Is it worth the risk? How far can you push your attempts to break off the encounter before you ask: Is the safest course of action just to play along with his internal fantasy and give him what he wants? (i.e. accept rape without struggling so you live to see another day, even though reporting it to the police would be fruitless because it all appeared consensual)
All the while, he thought you wanted it like that, that you were “playing hard-to-get”. Would some girls like that? I don’t know. It’s possible I guess. But did I?
No. I was scared out of my wits. A dance for one song with a guy I just met, who seemed fun to dance with, suddenly turned into a fight-or-flight survival scenario when he decided on a whim to take physical control away from me. Did I want him to do that, even though my lips said otherwise? Um, are you on crack? Fortunately for me, I have a plan in place when I go out, and a wingman to play the part of my date if he needs to swoop in and pull me out of the fire. Had I been without a wingman, I may have had to injure the guy to get away. And even then I would count myself lucky. What happens to countless women every day who can’t see a viable escape route?
Why did that guy think he had the right to assume I wanted him? And to physically restrict my movement/ability to escape? Because these ideas are so pervasive. The idea that it’s okay for a guy to just take control of a woman because he “knows” what she really wants. It’s an idea that’s embedded deep in our popular culture. That embedded idea is the essence of rape culture. A song doesn’t have to be “about a rape” to promote rape culture. It just has to reinforce the ideas that 1) it’s okay for men to decide what women really want, and 2) it’s okay for a man to hijack a woman’s control over her own well-being.
I’m going to bed, dammit.