Rapists Echo “Blurred Lines” Lyrics

tumblr_m3eo9bPCzZ1r65rllo1_1280by  (Originally published at Ms.)

TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

Robin Thicke’s summer hit “Blurred Lines” addresses what he considers to be sounds like a grey area between consensual sex and assault. The images in this post place the song into a real-life context. They are from Project Unbreakable, an online photo essay exhibit, and feature women and men holding signs with sentences that their rapist said before, during or after their assault. Let’s begin going through the lyrics:

I know you want it.

Thicke sings “I know you want it,” a phrase that many sexual assault survivors report their rapists saying to justify their actions, as demonstrated over and over in the Project Unbreakable testimonials. 

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You’re a good girl.

Thicke further sings, “You’re a good girl,” suggesting that a good girl won’t show her reciprocal desire (if it exists). This becomes further proof in his mind that she wants sex: For good girls, silence is consent and “no” really means “yes.”

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Calling an adult a “good girl” in this context resonates with the the virgin/whore dichotomy. The implication in Blurred Lines is that because the woman is not responding to a man’s sexual advances, which of course are irresistible, she’s hiding her true sexual desire under a facade of disinterest. Thicke is singing about forcing a woman to perform both the good girl and bad girl roles in order to satisfy the man’s desires.

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Thicke and company, as all-knowing patriarchs, will give her what he knows she wants (sex), even though she’s not actively consenting, and she may well be rejecting the man outright.

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Do it like it hurt, do it like it hurt; what, you don’t like work?

This lyric suggests that women are supposed to enjoy pain during sex or that pain is part of sex:

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The woman’s desires play no part in this scenario—except insofar as he projects whatever he pleases onto her. That’s another parallel to the act of rape: Sexual assault is generally not about sex, but rather about a physical and emotional demonstration of power.

The way you grab me.
Must wanna get nasty.

This is victim-blaming. Everybody knows that if a woman dances with a man it means she wants to sleep with him, right? And if she wears a short skirt or tight dress, she’s asking for it, right? And if she even smiles at him it means she wants it, right?  Wrong.  A dance, an outfit, a smile—sexy or not—doesn’t indicate consent.  This idea, though, is pervasive and believed by rapists.

1015

And women, according to “Blurred Lines,” want to be treated badly.

Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you.
He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that.

In this misogynistic fantasy, a woman doesn’t want a “square” who’ll treat her like a human being, with respect. She would rather be degraded and abused for a man’s gratification and amusement, like the women who dance around half-naked humping dead animals in the “Blurred Lines” music video.

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The pièce de résistance of the non-censored version of Blurred Lines is this lyric:

I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two.

What better way to show a woman who’s in charge than by perpetrating violent, non-consensual sodomy?

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Ultimately, Robin Thicke’s rape anthem is about male desire and male dominance over a woman’s personal sexual agency. The rigid definition of masculinity makes the man unable to accept the idea that sometimes his advances are not welcome. Thus, instead of treating a woman like a human being and respecting her subjectivity, she’s relegated to the role of living sex doll whose existence is naught but for his pleasure.

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In Melinda Hugh’s “Lame Lines” parody of Thicke’s song she sings, “You think I want it/ I really don’t want it/ Please get off it.”  The Law Revue Girls “Defined Lines” response has these lyrics: “Yeah we don’t want it/ It’s chauvinistic/ You’re such a bigot.” And Rosalind Peters says in her one-woman retort, “Let’s clear up something mate/ I’m here to have fun/ I’m not here to get raped.”

There are no “blurred lines.” There is only one line: consent.

And the absence of consent is a crime.

Sezin Koehler is an informal ethnographer and novelist living in Florida. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Photos from Project Unbreakable  (Originally published at Ms.)

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on October 18, 2013, in feminism, men, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. Amen, sista Georgia. Well done.

  2. I had read about Project Unbreakable but having these images put alongside the lyrics this way is very powerful. I’ve heard the song on the radio a million times but I hadn’t looked up the lyrics– this is so disgusting and terrible. I’m glad you posted this.

  3. Awful, tasteless song. I write songs, and I like a lot of “edgy” stuff but there’s nothing edgy or clever or satirical about blurred lines. It’s just crap with a really stupid message.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Rohan.

  4. When being friendly is seen as consent, and being unfriendly means you’re a bitch, what’s left?

  5. I was hesitant to post this due to my ambivalent feelings about this song. I don’t hate it and I personally don’t take offense to it. The music industry is always trying to shock people and the lyrics to this song are not the most shocking that I have ever heard but perhaps its popularity is what is concerning most people about its content. Are there misogynistic undertones to this song? Definitely. However, Robin Thicke (or the lyricist who penned the song) is tapping into a situation in which he believes a woman is playing hard to get. Women are always told to play hard to get, be coy about their feelings, not be the sexual aggressor. With this in mind, the lyrics to the song are not a lot more than a man trying to be a sexual aggressor (and in doing so, playing the gender role he has been conditioned to believe is his to play). The persistent-nature of the lyrics of convincing a woman to sleep with him is undeniable and regrettable, but not unheard of. The assumptions made about the woman in this song are fantasies for the writer that he verbalizes. It’s not a classy song, it’s not a masterpiece and it won’t advance our society in any positive ways but I don’t respect any of the men involved for recording it – but I don’t criminalize them either.

    • The problem is that it encourages rapists to think that they are perfectly legitimate thinking the way they do. The song thinks the way they do and in that way can encourage rape.

  6. After hearing this song countless times and changing the station because this entire orchestration irritated me, after reading this blog I now have a reason despise it’s entire creation and those involved. Albeit, Robin Thicke is not right out saying; hey guys go and rape any girl you see and if you have sex with her the only way to do it is if it hurts. Sure, that’s not what he’s saying. But the implications of rape and sodomy are enough to the vulnerable mind to be that push comes to shove factor that would eventually lead to the victimization of an innocent woman/girl. Robin Thick is not the first one; there are many avenues in the social media that contribute to our rape society. A woman shall never be out right sexual or want or need sex and if she does that she’s “loose, a whore, and never a woman you would want to wife.” To use a woman’s vulnerability to validate your own manhood seems like the trend here and it’s disturbing. We live in a society where inflicting pain during sex is somehow supposed to be pleasurable? We live in a society where spanking ( a form of punishment) is suppose to be sexy and desirable? We have steered so far away from the levels of respect that it’s demand and expectancy no longer exists. Men and woman alike worship Robin Thicke and he has provided us all with the recipe on how to demoralize, slander and blatantly sexually abuse a woman.

  7. By no means am i being baised and leaning towards one side, this is just my own opinion and mean not to offend anyone what so ever. I would never know the pain people went who experience rape when through, however this post is focused towards women but not just females have been victoms of rape. Many points being made here are valid ones and undestand that society had painted this grey image over the meaning of expressions. For example the use of the word no and the teasing and other forms of expressions used above. In my job field people who have experienced certain types of situations are helped so i have taken rape and trauma services trainings. The biggest thing that is emphasized is that the word “NO” always means no and that it is never the victoms faults although they feel otherwise. The reason that the word “NO” is emphasized is because of the exact reasons mentioned above. The grey image I refer to is the fact that when people say no a certain way or act a certain way the person who is doing the abusing depending on how a person says it might think otherwise. This is where there is a big issue and causes people as well to blame themselves for what occurred. That’s why as I mentioned that when ever someone says no it always means no.
    To my other point, I myself believe that this song has no harmful feelings intended by it. I understand the fact that people may feel offended and disrespected by it but I doubt it that when Robin Thicke wrote the song he ment to cause harm to people. Yes it may say some explicit things and there be woman who do not like it but there are also other woman who do like the song and it doesn’t have to be because of the words. There have been thousands of songs before this not just written by males but my females as well who use sexual content in there lyrics and there going to be thousands of songs after this as well. The fact that people are getting caught up over this particular song and the fact that it is just a song serves no purpose.

    • As I wrote to someone else, The problem is that the song thinks the way rapists do and in that way can encourage rape. Rapists think that their ways of thinking are commonplace.

  8. Oh God it’s not about rape, unless you take it that way. To me, it’s about a guy being “cocky”, and it sounds like he’s trying to persuade the girl to cheat on her boyfriend and hookup with him, which she’s a good girl though and hasn’t cheated or hooked up and is nice. His pride feels or thinks there’a dirty girl who wants to do raunchy sex and he can spark it in side. Not him actually going for force her consent if she doesn’t want it. It sounds like a lyric of him feeling she’s being coy or she is maybe or playing hard to get. But I don’t take the lyrics meaning he plans to force her consent, just cockiness, that he can “charm” her into bed, which obviously will be consent. Her lack of consent perhaps initially being her not wanting to cheat on her boyfriend, or because that’s now what a “good girl” like her does, but maybes she flirting and showing interest in him, but the hold off is not from lack of attraction, but having a wall up, which he’s trying to break down from sweet talking her, not from physical force against her consnet. It’s a brash, male ego song like many. Not saying it’s good, but to me it’s not about rape. Yes rapists can say that stuff, but it’s meaning behind that.

    A rapist doesn’t give a damn if the woman want’s it or not or doesn’t care about her consent. Versus a big egoed player, he may be a jerk, but the lyric or use of that word from him saying he knows she wants it. doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about her consent, as he does, the lyrics are just showing his ego as in “she doesn’t want me now, but I’ll sweet talk her into being attracted to me”, there’s not imply from, if she doesn’t end up wanting him that he’ll do something against he consent. Just cockiness to me. The hurt and tear the ass up part, that doesn’t mean he plans on hurting her or doesn’t care if she does or rape. I see it as more huge male ego meaning the sex is consent, but he’s got such a big dick and all, that she’s gonna feel “sore” from him banging her so hard and good. You hear that in other songs with the lyric “beat the pussy up” from Wu tang clan. I take it as a reference for rough sex domination but not something she doesn’t want, but does. It’s no different from boyfriends, maybe dumb ones bragging how his gf was walking bowlegged the next day from the good fuck her gave her. I’ve seen girls say something about being sore or not walking right either the next day sometimes, and not of them feeling violeted but from rough sex that they enjoyed. Maybe not the soreness after, but that happens or some like it. It’s about intent with the lyrics. To me, it’s telling a story of a cocky man and a good girl, a player and a good girl, not a rapist hoping to have sex with a girl and if she doesn’t, he’s going to force it on her or take advantage. And the nudity, actually according to robin thicke was the director’s idea, whose a woman, she wanted the nude version. Robin thicke had two videos, the censored and uncensored.

    • As I wrote to a couple others, The problem is that the song thinks the way rapists do and in that way can encourage rape. Rapists think that their ways of thinking are commonplace.

  9. I really liked that song! I had no idea that it mean all those things. :(( And now I really like the two videos with the ladies dissin’ the dudes and making fun of Robin Thicke. Sometimes it is nice to be dominated, if you like that sort of thing… However it is never nice for anyone that you don’t like or don’t know to force themselves on you WITHOUT CONSENT. That should be, and is illegal. I have a game that I play with my man, roll play, where I tell him no in different scenarios, and he goes ahead and takes it forcefully. If I don’t like it or I’m getting hurt, I raise my right hand to signal that I am serious and he should stop. Now I can’t think of any other situations that would be proper for a man to force himself on a woman.

  10. I’m sure you can find in various shows and words where someone says something that a rapist or criminal might say, but the intent is obviously totally different. I guess shows should stop being played when everything is taken so literal. And you said blaming the victim is bad, and how its wrong for a rapist and society to blame a woman for dressing in a revealing way, when it’s the rapists fault. Well isn’t that an excuse as well and I don’t believe should be used. Oh these rapists are raping women, because that robin thicke video encouraged them to rape women. No the guy has serious issues and psychological issues and was going to probably rape a woman regardless of him seeing a robin thicke video or not. Serious there’s a lot of murder movies and violence on tv, I guess we better blame that for the murders happening, because it’s encouraging murderers and serial killers. Even though this stuff like the robin thicke music video doesn’t effect a sane person and a rapist and murderer will still do bad things eve without the videos, etc, because they have this brewing anger and issues insider, which is the main culprit.

    • The intention doesn’t matter. Research has found that when rapists hear their way of thinking normalized in public, they’re more likely to justify their actions. It encourages rape whether or not the artist meant to do that.

  11. rapists are nut jobs so naturally they will delisionally think their thoughts are common place. I guess there better not be porn anymore or ads or sexy women in bikinis on tv or ads, as they might encourage rapists to rape. Better not do anything that could provoke or encourage a sociopath…You know while most sane people won’t be encouraged to do bad things, because they can actually think and have morals and rationalize. A rapists rationale is twisted, so a rapist will probably see encouragment from the most innocent stuff because they can and want to and have some screws loose in their head.

    • Rapists aren’t just nut jobs, although that is a common belief. They are actually remarkably like the general population. And sexy women aren’t the reason why rapists rape. They are generally trying to build themselves up by putting someone else down – usually a woman.

  12. Great post. I have only listened to the song once and try to avoid it. The phrase “you know you want it” has always seemed creepy to me in general. I know a lot of people like the song and if you have never experienced sexual assault or have been harassed then you think nothing of it. But a lot of people don’t realize that songs like this make it all seem okay. It sends the message that if a woman rejects a man or ignores his sexual advances then she’s just playing hard to get. Or that if she does something like dances with a man or smiles or winks or kisses him that he has the right to have sex with her and that she’s being a tease if she refuses. Like you said in the comments songs like these are a justification for rapists and make it seem “normal.” It’s not normal and it’s not okay.

  13. Great post. I remember the first time I heard this song, not really taking in all the words just enjoying the catchy tune. The more I listened the more I started to think it was downright creepy. Thanks for bringing this up, when it comes to consent there are no blurred lines.

  14. Paola Hernandez

    When I first heard the song I liked it. It’s catchy. Once after finding out the meaning I was disgusted! Sure Robin Thicke is just trying to convince a girl to sleep with him and he probably didn’t mean any real harm, but that doesn’t justify with all the creeps out there that will here the song and think “Gosh, that’s what I said! It must be ok.” The song advertises that girls are “asking for it.” from their actions and that’s defineltly not ok.
    This is a commercial from Scotland’s Anti-Rape campaign, thought I should share it.

  15. Good post..i never heard dis song though bt i liked de way u have present it :-)

  16. While I will admit, the first few times I heard Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, I found the beat catchy, but after being over played on every pop station, the newest wore off pretty quickly. After reading this blog topic discussion, I found myself curious to what exactly the lyrics were. While there is some room for open interpretation, I would have to say that 95% of the song lyrics are just stupid. This is what qualifies for entertainment in today’s market? I do however see the coalition between certain lyrics and how they can be interpreted as submissive motives for non-consensual sexual acts against women. Regrettably, this trend is not new in the world of music and entertainment.

    Unfortunately, with role models for our young adults, such as Miley Cyrus, and her performance on the MTV Awards, our youth is bombarded with mixed interpreted acceptable messages from society, peer pressure and mass media. Blame cannot be solely placed upon the male dominated figures. While statistics states that women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse and rape, the statistics are not always reliable due to many male victims do not report these incidents to authorities and the crime goes unpunished.

    As a survivor of both domestic abuse and rape, I cannot stress enough that you have a voice. Don’t be discouraged if the first doors are closed in your face. Keep knocking and keep voicing. Don’t allow the perpetrator to continue to have the misplaced power over you. Never think you deserved it, that you did something wrong and never feel ashamed. Seek professional help, therapy and keep fighting. Perpetrators never stop until they are caught – their cockiness only increases every time they feel that they got away with it. They become bolder, rasher and more extreme. Let your voice be heard – your actions could prevent the next victim’s faith.

  17. Thank you for sharing your experience and your advise.

  18. I hate this song so bad. I hated it before i even paid attention to the lyrics, and now that i’ve paid attention to it, i hate it even more. When i hear it on the radio, i immediately change the station. People say that it’s catchy but ive always said the beat is ugly and everything about it is disgusting. Robin is ugly too. If i were him, i wouldn’t even wanna sing this song even if i was gonna get millions or billions. What an ugly song! it makes me so angry. There is nothing great about this stupid song. If people were singing songs for points, this song would get you negative points and then you’d be disqualified for even thinking about singing this song. I HATE IT!

  19. Right off the bat I didn’t like this song. I got this weird feeling, much like the feeling I get when I see “bros” act tough around each other. At first I didn’t even get to the lyrics of the song because I always changed radio station when it came on but now that I’ve taken the time to really listen to the lyrics I dislike it even more. People who say that you shouldn’t pay attention to the lyrics or “you’re just being sensitive” really should think about what the message of the song conveys. It’s a song about raping women with a catchy beat, it’s like watching a clown with a blackface and saying “but it’s just a clown.” Rape myths are dangerous and real and we should stomp them out as fast and hard as we can and we shouldn’t let Thicke get away with this. Neither should we let Pharell Williams get away with it; I think he’s gotten way too little bad press for his part in this.

  20. I usually just listen to songs on my Iphone whenever I drive so I don’t need to deal with the possibility of being offended by a crappy rap song with less than tasteful lyrics, but it makes me wonder why it’s allow to happen so much that it’s pretty much common sense to know that some hit songs will have rape lyrics in them even if you don’t listen to the radio like me. My heart goes out to rape victims who turn on their radio only to hear the words of their rapists thrown at them again in the form of a ‘catchy song’. I think it would be difficult to put regulations on songs without violating freedom of speech, but I don’t think things should be left alone as things are now. On the other hand, songs are all about expressing yourself and the songs people love most are songs they can connect with on a personal level. People are so diverse so there bound to be someone who would like these type of songs even if the lyrics are questionable regardless of if they can connect with the song since they just like the tune.

    I’m super picky about my music but Maroon 5 is one of my favorite bands and one of their songs that I like ‘One More Time’ had a line in it that reminded me of one of the lines a person was holding up in this blog post. It’s not a song about rape though.

    And I know I said it a million times
    But I’ll only stay with you one more night
    Try to tell you no
    But my body keeps on telling you yes
    Try to tell you stop
    But your lipstick got me so out of breath
    I’ll be wakin’ up in the mornin’
    Probally hatin’ myself
    And I’ll be wakin’ up
    Feeling satisfied
    But guilty as hell

    Like I said, the song is sung from the guy’s perspective so I’m pretty sure they’re alluding to consensual sex with the guy giving in to his desires in the end rather then being raped by the woman. I was just reminded by the “Try to tell you no, But my body keeps on telling you yes…” part.

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