“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke – joke or dangerous?

Yesterday, my sister drew my attention to this video on YouTube. Watch it all the way through, if you can bear it.

My sister works as a therapist, counselling children and young adults. She views this song as one of the many reasons why she still sees so many female clients come to her who have been victims of sexual assault or abuse (something that’s been in the headlines a great deal in the UK recently following the Jimmy Savile scandal).

Unsurprisingly, the video itself has caused a great deal of controversy over what’s appropriate to show in a music video. Most of the women/models used in the video wear clear plastic clothing over their visible underwear, and in one brief shot a model is shown naked (although this has been significantly edited in the YouTube version you’ve just watched).

Sadly, conforming to the adage that “no publicity is bad publicity” the song has instantly become popular and is tipped to reach number one this week in the UK charts, having hit that slot in Australia last month. Robin Thicke himself, in interviews, has come across as smug and jokey, claiming that the song and the video are meant to be taking off and making fun of the culture of “I know you want it” (one of the main lines in the song) and men being derogatory to women. In an interview with GQ, talking about the uncensored video (which I refuse to link to on this blog as it really is too disgusting) he says:

“We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.” People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, “Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.” 

Now, I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound entirely like a joke to me. What a “pleasure” it is to degrade women? Men are “always gonna want to follow” women around?  And the fact that they are all married with kids does not make it OK for him to say these things or depict them in a song. Because songs like this are dangerous.

As adults, we can choose to believe Robin Thicke and decide that this song/video is “ironic” and a joke. In fact, judging by the comments on the YouTube video, a lot of people, including women, believe this. When I wrote a comment objecting to the video (which you can still see – I wrote it in my own name) I got two replies, both simply saying “you’re an idiot”, and both from men.

However, if this song does reach number one, it will be heard incessantly by young people, some very young children. It’s inevitable – we won’t be deliberately exposing them to it, but they can’t help but hear it: on the radio in the car, at home, even in shops and supermarkets. The repeated phrase “I know you want it”, which is catchy (I’m singing it in my head right now) will enter the brains of young girls and boys. It will become part of the bombardment of words and images which surround them, telling them that all women should be “hot” and “want it” and men just can’t help but “follow around” beautiful women.

Our seven-year-old granddaughter already worries about getting fat. She spends a long time when she gets dressed in the morning (at least as far as I’ve seen when she’s been visiting us) looking in the mirror to make sure her hair and face look “pretty”.

She’s seven. SEVEN.

All the adults in her life do our best to make sure she knows that how she looks is not the most important thing about her. We tell her she can have that ice-cream or cake. We praise her for how clever she is, what a good artist she’s turning out to be, what good reports she gets from school. But everything and virtually everyone else around her is telling her “look pretty”, “don’t get fat”; that appearance is everything.

The children and young adults who my sister counsels are not rare. The UK children’s charity, the NSPCC reports that nearly a quarter of young adults (that’s 25% of the young adult population in the UK, both male and female) will  have experienced some form of sexual abuse during childhood. More than 17,000 cases were reported in England and Wales in 2011/12.

And it gets worse. The charity Rape Crisis, which helps adult victims of rape, reports that approximately 85,000 women are raped in the UK every year and over 400,000 are sexually assaulted. That’s one in every five women. Virtually every female family member or friend that I have has experienced some form of sexual assault by a man during her lifetime, including me. 

And it’s not just women. A national charity set up to help male survivors of sexual abuse, SurvivorsUK, typically receives over 2,500 calls each year to its helpline, and that number is rising as more men find out about it and are willing to admit what has happened to them.

I believe that songs and videos like Robin Thicke’s, although possibly well-intentioned and meant to be light-hearted, are fuelling a culture of sexual exploitation and violence which exists more openly than ever in our society. For as long as we have been able to have sex, men and women have sexually assaulted other men and women (and children). The problem now is that the increasing “pornification” of our society and the rise in songs, videos, TV programmes and films which promote violence and the degrading of both women and men, means that this problem is rising.

Sexual assault and rape are a life-sentence for their victims. I hope we can teach our children that to make fun of this is not cool and it’s not funny. Then, hopefully, songs and videos such as this will become a thing of the past.

About Liz Terry

I love to write, and have had quite a few articles published over the years. I write non-fiction on all sorts of subjects, including my own life and what matters to me. I write a blog, called "My Random Ramblings", which you can access by clicking to view my complete profile and then clicking on the link at the bottom. I also wrote a new blog in 2013 called "The 365 Project - a photo diary in words". Intrigued? Then you need to click to view my complete profile and click on the relevant link at the bottom.
This entry was posted in Activism, Body Image, Feminism, Health, Media, My Life, sexual exploitation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke – joke or dangerous?

  1. Pingback: Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' Dubbed 'Rapey,' Hit Song Under Fire From Critics : The Griper

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  3. Brian says:

    You’re…embarrassingly far off the mark.The video is absurd. I can’t think of any mentally healthy person I’ve ever met that would watch the video and not think it’s ridiculous. Thats like someone emulating a Doritos commercial.

    First off, the women do not look uninterested. They do not look frightened, daunted or even slightly disconcerted, in this video, the women have the power and the men are powerless, simply looking at them or following them around like children. Did you even watch the video? Or are you just looking for something to get angry at?

    Secondly, let’s ignore all that stuff I just said, and pretend the video IS serious, and dangerous as you say. Who is going to watch this video and think, even subconsciously, “what a good way to live my life.”? No one gets life advice from a music video. If you truly believe society is as heavily influenced by popular culture as you imply, you should be writing hate mail to Disney, the company that teaches girls from very young ages that being a princess is wonderful. Being a princess means sitting and having no purpose and waiting until a man comes to validate your existence by saving you, requiring zero effort on your part to be happy, whole and in love. Every girl wants to be a princess, and as such they desire from a very young age to have no power or inner strength to decide the fate of their lives.

    Third, you state all these statistics and problems like they’re the fault of the people in the video! Have some journalistic respect for yourself! What a sad, campy fox news tactic.

    You have issues with society. You have an agenda. I can respect that. Respect yourself by finding the proper channels for them and the proper direction for your frustration and desire for reformation.

    And for the record, I am not a fan. I don’t even particularly like the song.


    • Liz Terry says:

      Hi Brian, and thanks for your comment. I’m always happy to enter into a debate. However, it seems you have misunderstood my post almost completely.
      I’m not talking about the “mentally healthy person” who might view this video and see it for what it claims to be. In fact I’ve made that quite clear. I’m talking about young people and children. I’m talking about the young girls who will watch those semi-naked models strutting about making themselves “semi-available” to the men who are openly ogling them and telling them they “want it” and think that’s how they should behave towards men.
      I’m talking about young boys who will look at it and see these men, also strutting around, fully clothed amongst these almost naked women, miming sexual acts with them, telling them they “want it” and think that this is a reasonable way to treat women.
      I disagree with you entirely when you say that the women in the video “have the power”. They are in their underwear surrounded by fully-clothed men. How is this a powerful position to be in? I’d be less worried if they were actively pushing the men away and looking uncomfortable. At least then young girls would be able to see that this video is (as Robin Thicke claims) making fun of men who have this sort of attitude to women and saying that it’s wrong.
      As far as the statistics go, I was not trying to blame this video for all those horrific percentages, and I think I’ve made that pretty clear too. What I was trying to say is that songs and videos like this, which make it to the top of mainstream culture teach our children and young people (in other words, vulnerable minds who’ve yet to decide what they want from the world) that treating women like this is OK. It’s flat out not OK!
      In response to your Disney Princess rant, this is something we agree on completely. I wrote a piece on here about the LEGO “Friends” range for girls some time ago, which does much the same thing. I have signed numerous petitions sent to Disney as they’ve gradually “princessed up” their characters, in particular the recent row over what they did to Princess Merida from the movie “Brave” (you can look it up) which actually stopped them in their tracks and made them change her back to her original form.
      I am also against the early sexualisation of children, teaching girls that the only way to have power is to physically learn how to fight off attackers…and the list goes on and on. If you read other posts on this blog, you will see all this very quickly.
      Lastly, you ask me to find the “proper channels” for my “agenda”. Well, if my own blog isn’t the proper channel in which to express my beliefs and opinions, then I don’t know where is. The Huffington Post piece chose to quote me, I didn’t send them my piece hoping that they would. In addition, I’m not a journalist and don’t claim to be one. My blog is where I air my own opinions, and anyone, including you is welcome to disagree with me and enter into debate with me if you want to.


      • Brian says:

        Alright, let me take a step back and explain myself here. I realise that was a very volatile response, and I do better understand some of your viewpoints, but I will say I still largely disagree, and I will try to better explain myself, because I didn’t do a great job the first time. Also, the word “agenda” carries such a negative weight, and I didn’t intend it as such. I meant the word “agenda” to mean “desire to change the world” and as I said before I really respect that in a person. Also, I didn’t mean to say proper channels either, that was also poor word choice. I like that you’re a blogger, I didn’t mean to say go somewhere else. I meant to say that you’re upset because someone is publicizing and trivializing a negative thing, but… I think that’s exactly what you’re doing.

        First off, let’s look closely at the men and the women in the video and explain their interactions. You will notice the men do not actually touch the women, other than their hair or, hilariously their feet. The men touch EACH OTHER more than they do the women. Let’s look at the things they do. One of the girls rides a dog like it’s a horse. One of the girls has a comically gigantic needle. The main singer…*sings into one of the women’s feet, like it’s a microphone.*

        This is my point: this song is to rape as Bugs Bunny is to violence. It is silly and senseless.

        Secondly, you’ve mentioned you’re upset by the phrase “I know you want it.” I, as a straight male in his late 20’s, full of testosterone, interpreted “it” as “attention.” YOU were the one that put rape in my head, not the singers or dancers. Please don’t take your interpretation and project it as factual meaning of the song.

        Thirdly, the women absolutely have the power. Watch their faces. The men are idiots, just wandering around with unintelligent and aloof facial expressions. The women are smiling, dancing, and leading the men around. Clothing has little to do with emotional control.

        Lastly, and this is something that women don’t/can’t understand, men are so. sick. of being treated like rapists. I understand, as much as someone who genital rape could never happen to, that it is a thing to fear. That being said, I am a man who loves his mother dearly, calls his grandmother often and absolutely cherishes his girlfriend. I am also a man that has been treated like I’m a rapist hundreds of times. All it takes is walking behind a woman after 6pm for more than 3 seconds, and bam. I feel like the absolute scum of the Earth, and my crime is walking. Also, here’s a personal story. I had a romantic fling in college, and the girl I was with alluded to condoms and having sex. I wasn’t ready, and I told her so, and I bid her goodnight and went to my own apartment. She then told all of my friends I raped her, and all my friends that were female believed her, not me. I only found out about it 8 months later. Awesome! So the point is, women think they’re the only ones affected in this rape culture in popular contemporary society. You’re so dead wrong to think that. Stop throwing around the word so much, and stop being so quick to label something as contributing to rape culture. It hurts men more than you could know. If we were talking about Rihanna/Chris Brown, I would absolutely say he contributes to rape culture, and to the idea that women don’t deserve power. I refuse to listen to him on principal, and can’t believe he hasn’t been chased out of the music industry.

        One more thing. This will sound condescending and I’m sorry for that. Fact is, it’s something most women have never, ever thought about.
        What is the definition of “force?” Let’s say it is the removal of free action, removal of free will. Force is someone else making your choices for you. Force is what makes rape so awful. Force is something men use against women, but force is also something women use against men, albeit in a less damaging fashion. Men think sexual thoughts ridiculously often. Most women don’t think this next part: most of us *don’t* *want* *to.* I am exhausted by my the sexual thoughts that enter my head during the day. I don’t want them. When a woman walks by in a short skirt or showing cleavage, or even walks a certain way, sexual thoughts come in and I don’t WANT them. I would much rather be doing what I was doing, thinking what I was thinking. It’s like having your focus completely shattered frequently throughout the day. When a woman wears a short skirt and walks by me, she is forcing herself into my head. I cannot be free to think about what I want to think about, it’s pretty much reflex. Women think guys are pigs, but this is how we operate. Look at the males in ANY OTHER sexually reproducing species, and this is the defense mechanism built into the species against extinction. This is why men have difficulty controlling themselves and cheat, and no I am NOT condoning it. This is biochemistry of the brain. Men are wired to want to procreate. We’ve come so far from our origins of living in caves that we’ve convinced ourselves we, as a race, are not animals, but we absolutely are. Women have instincts that they absolutely cannot ignore too, and at the risk of sounding sexist I have read scientific studies that say women have heavy nurturing instincts that men simply don’t have. Women have instinctual desires to keep the peace socially, and men have just the opposite: we seek alpha behaviour to attract mates. This is also why a lot of men are assholes.

        Biologically, men think sexual thoughts exponentially more than women do. We are slaves to the need to reproduce. This means that when women show attention or bring attention to their bodies, our minds are instantly disrupted. Most of us, well, uh, some of us, or at least me, are so freaking sick of it but it’s not like I can rewire my brain. I see that LGBT is a big tag in your writing. I won’t assume that you’re gay, and I won’t assume that your troubles are as bad or mine, or that mine are as bad as yours, but with such an interest in the LGBT community, you must know what it is like to be despised for simply being what you are, with absolutely zero ability to change it.

        THAT is why YOUR writing is dangerous. This video isn’t innocent, but saying that it encourages rape is like saying Halo breeds serial killers.


      • Liz Terry says:

        Hi again Brian,

        I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to this comment, I’ve had a bad couple of weeks health-wise and wanted to give it my full attention when I did reply.

        I still don’t agree that the women in the video have the power, but I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. You already know the reasons why, so I won’t bore you by reiterating them.

        I am in fact a gay woman (not something I’ve ever hidden on this site) and I am also in a relationship with a trans woman (also not a secret on here). Your point about men and their constant sexual thoughts is an interesting one, as my partner, having seen things from both sides of the hormonal spectrum, as it were, has often talked to me about this. I know from what she has told me how frustrating they are when you don’t want them, and I also know that being treated like a potential rapist all the time is also very difficult for men who would never dream of acting on those sexual thoughts. The vast majority of men will never act on those thoughts unless they know they have the other person’s consent to do so, and I think that, as women, we all know that.

        However, what many men don’t realise is that most adult women will experience some form of sexual assault, rape or inappropriate sexual conduct towards them (overwhelmingly by men, although not exclusively) at some point in their lives. In fact, I don’t know any women who haven’t, including me. This is also true of men in some cases, but not to the same degree, I don’t think. So, yes, we are afraid when we’re walking down a street on our own in the dark and there is a strange man walking behind us. Many of us are thinking “will this be my rape?”. Perhaps this is ridiculous, and fuelled by the media and the society we live in. In which case, songs like this only serve to perpetuate that.

        I’m sorry, Brian, but claiming that when Robin Thicke sings “I know you want it” it’s about “attention” is ridiculous. It’s clearly about sex, and one comment I read from a woman on one site (I forget which) said that this was the exact phrase her rapist used whilst he raped her, so I think it is not that tenuous of me to call it “rapey” (although I didn’t actually use that word).

        Your point about me publicising and trivialising the song is interesting, as I suppose that in a roundabout way I am publicising it. However, I feel it’s important for people to speak out against things like this, so I’m prepared to accept that I may help to publicise this song at the same time. That is, sadly, the world we live in. However, I don’t agree at all that I am trivialising the song. The song is far too trivially viewed already, and I am trying, in my own small way, to point out how important it is because of the negative messages it is sending out in such a bouncy, feel-good manner. I’ve been horrified by the number of comments I’ve read from women who “just” enjoy the song and don’t care about the lyrics. Something is very wrong in our society, in my opinion, when women can’t see what damage is being and has been done to them by songs like this, both on a conscious and unconscious level. See my reply to Maria’s comment on this blog.

        Anyway, I know we will never agree on most of this, but thank you for being prepared to enter into debate with me about it. Please feel free to carry on if you want to, but I’m just as happy to agree to disagree and move on.


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  5. Dear Brian,
    It’s difficult to know where to start with your comments but let’s begin with:your quotation,”I can’t think of any mentally healthy person I’ve ever met that would watch the music video [Blurred Lines–without editing] and not think it’s ridiculous.” Are you a mental health expert? Do you have experience or training in how people are affected subconsciously? How do you know what goes on in another person’s subconscious mind?

    Did you know that children before the age of about 12 yrs. old accept unknowingly into their subconscious minds beliefs, mindsets and associations that are transmitted by “authority figures” like parents, respected adults, teachers, religious authorities and entertainment people like TV stars, sports figures and musical performers? Did you know that mentally healthy people frequently take into their subconscious minds without knowing it, that is, totally unaware and without giving their permission to, subconscious “computer-like” programs that program such beliefs like “women are sexual objects to play with, and they (ALL, yes–ALL WOMEN–here is where your subconscious frequently generalizes again without your knowing it) want your (referring to the males in the audience watching such a subconsciously suggestive video), big “d—” just like what is highlighted in huge letters written on the wall claiming that Mr.Thicke really is big.

    Would you agree, being a reasonable man, that adopting such a belief might just add to our country’s problem of sexual molestation, rape, incest, etc.After all, this music video is sending some very clear subconscious messages even though it is silent and invisible to your conscious mind. This video may make you feel sexually stimulated.Now, that’s just a guess, Brian, but probably some men would be stimulated sexually by seeing several beautiful women dancing around provocatively, all naked except for a few inches of cloth on their groin. Now, here’s another lesson re: how your subconscious mind works silently and invisibly downloading subconscious programs that guide your thoughts, feelings and behaviors: Your subconscious automatically senses your feel good feelings of pleasure (including sexual excitement) and pushes you subconsciously toward feeling more. I didn’t invent this. Your Creator did. It helps us to keep procreating as is necessary for the survival of the human race. Unfortunately for us, there is so much more that we do not know ,that we do not know. It’s time to learn more about who we are consciously and subconsciously so that we can evaluate more wisely what is an appropriate way to show satire, make fun of something that needs universal respect and produce something entertaining with positive side effects. Re: full disclosure, I am a hypnotherapist w/13 yrs. experience with the subject of the subconscious mind.


    • Liz Terry says:

      Thanks for your support, Gale.


    • Brian says:

      ““women are sexual objects to play with, and they (ALL, yes–ALL WOMEN–here is where your subconscious frequently generalizes again without your knowing it) want your (referring to the males in the audience watching such a subconsciously suggestive video), big “d—”

      First off you’re using quote marks and I didn’t say any of that. Secondly, you lumped me in with the potential rapists. That’s…sociopathic. You disagree with me and then imply I am the worst type of criminal. I stopped reading, because I consider you useless, but my eyes wandered to the end of your post and holy crap I really hope you are NOT a hypnotherapist!!! For the sake of your patients, I really really hope that was a joke. Like seriously. I might pray about it tonight.


    • Brian says:

      I reread my comment and need to apologise. I focused on the word therapist when I first commented, and ignored the hypno. What a mistake to think you actually had the capacity to do damge to people as a hypnotherapist. That was my mistake, thinking you were really part of the medical profession.

      My friend is a hypnotherapist, and I had to take 4 MORE psychology courses than he did which qualifies me to make these judgements, higher than you. Also, I’m a teacher but I didn’t want to hold it over people’s heads like it makes me more informed, but it surely does in this situation.

      Telling people you are qualified to make psychological evaluations as a hypnotherapist is like a nutritionist explaining they are qualified to give health advice because they work at Burger King.

      Don’t lord your experiences over others. It backfired this time. You assumed I was uneducated and I am at WORST at your level, most likely I am more educated than you. Maybe next time let’s just talk about our opinions? Don’t make it personal.


  6. Alasdair says:

    I was linked here from buzzfeed. This an interesting blog; amongst other things, it’s an illustration of how two people can watch the same video and interpret it completely differently. I’ve seen this video before, but hadn’t thought to make any connection between it and rape or sexual assault before I read this. Watching it again now, that link still seems pretty tenuous to me. The video doesn’t even seem to me highly sexual; while the lyrics are clearly about sex, the video strikes me as more silly and playful than sexy. The women in the video seem to be more like people having fun than sex objects being pursued. But I guess we’re coming at this from different places.

    I can understand that if you’re a survivor of sexual assault yourself, you would interpret this video differently, and find it potentially offensive – “I know you want it” does sound like something a rapist might say. Without that context though, I don’t think it’s *inherently* suggestive of rape. There are plenty of female artists like Rihanna with songs full of similar come-ons – would “I know you want it” sung by a woman be rape-y? If not, why should changing the gender of the singer make such a difference?

    On the other hand, perhaps there are other things about this video that make it more problematic – the way that the women are almost naked while the men aren’t (and were presumably paid to be so), and the language about seducing a ‘good girl’, do make me a little uneasy. I suppose the phrase ‘blurred lines’ could also have disturbing implications, though it’s not clear from the song what it’s supposed to mean.

    Overall, I’m not sure how much weight can be put on a short song with simple lyrics, that could reasonably be interpreted several different ways. I agree of course that rape and sexual exploitation are serious problems in society, but I’m doubtful how much this song can be blamed for contributing to those problems.

    But if I had a young child, would I be comfortable with them singing the song or watching the video? No, I wouldn’t. Even if (as I feel) it’s not about rape, it is sexual in a way that’s not appropriate for them. Children should be protected from sexual matters, as they may not understand the important role of consent in sexual activity, and the boundaries between sexual activity and normal behaviour, as adults (hopefully!) do. From that perspective at least, I agree there’s reason to worry about this song and the potential effects it may have.


    • Liz Terry says:

      Hi Alasdair,

      Thanks for your very considered response to my post. I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t put such an onus on the video itself, to be honest, as my overall point seems to have been lost by readers quite reasonably concentrating on what I said about the video. This is not to say that I don’t find the video highly uncomfortable to watch, because I do. However, it’s the lyrics of the song and the general lyrics in a lot of R&B songs of its type, and the attitudes this engenders which really gets me blogging!

      What you say about the difference between a male artist saying “I know you want it” and a female artist saying it is very interesting. I would find both equally offensive in this context actually, as nobody can “know” what someone wants unless they’ve been told, and the strong inference throughout this song is that the only way Robin Thicke “knows” this girl wants it is because of the way she flirts with him. We all know flirting can be easily misconstrued, and that it’s quite possible to think you are being flirted with when you are not.

      I am not a fan of R&B/hip hop culture because of the way both its male and female artists degrade both men and women in the lyrics of their songs and in the way they talk to and about each other in interviews etc. This is why I talked in my post about the statistics surrounding male rape and sexual assault as well as female.

      I am (and have been for some time) trying to use my words and other activism to help stem the tide of porn, sexual innuendo, sexualised images/dancing etc and the overall demeaning of (in particular, but not exclusively) the female sex which is pumped into the heads of our children and young people on a daily basis. You can try your best to keep kids away from all this, but sadly, with this great tool that is the internet plus media and advertising, it is always around them and there is little we can do to shield them. All I can do is type my few words of dissent when I find something which moves or frustrates me enough to do so, and hope that someone out there listens. I can also campaign, sign petitions, write letters and argue with people about this and many other issues and I do, every day.

      Thanks again for your response, and for engaging with my post.


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  8. Marie says:

    Robin Thicke is talented as a musician and artist. (He’s extremely underrated in my opinion) It’s just a fun song with a catchy beat. No doubt it will be the song of the summer, along with Daft Punk’s “Get Some” – both of these songs are just feel good songs! When I was in elementary school in the early 90s, there were many “inappropriate” songs. Technically, one could argue that ANY song in the English-speaking world is inappropriate (Puff the Magic Dragon, anyone?) but the point is this: WE DIDN’T THINK THAT WAY AS KIDS. We didn’t even know what the lyrics were about half the time, we just liked the beats. We danced and had fun. Now, I can say that most people don’t. Songs like this are created and produced to be ironic, catchy, and something with a good beat. Just relax and enjoy it for the musicality and don’t get your panties in a twist.


    • Liz Terry says:

      Hi Marie and thanks for your comment. Please read my replies to other comments on this post. My point is not about this song specifically, but a whole culture which allows itself to be sucked in by a good beat without paying attention to what’s actually going on in the subtext.
      It’s not about how kids think, it’s about the subliminal messages which they are taking in without even realising it. The message that it can be “a pleasure” to degrade women. The message that when a woman flirts she must “want it”. And the list goes on…
      I’m not casting aspersions on Robin Thicke as a musician. I love the tune and beat of this song, it’s well done. But the lyrics, like in so many other songs through the last few decades, suck.
      You and I may be sensible, enlightened women who don’t worry about their appearance above everything else, but I see girls and women daily who think that unless they dress/behave in a certain way, then men won’t want them. Or worse, that because they dress/behave in that way, men can’t help themselves. And I see and hear many young men who take on this message too.
      If you can’t see how damaging songs like this are, as a woman, then I truly fear for our future.


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  17. First off, let me say having watched the uncut version of the video, speaking as a man with a keen interest in boobs, I enjoyed it immensely. Is it suitable for 12 year olds? No, but then again I don’t think the song was written or the video made for 12 year olds, I suspect a more mature audience was the target. Can 12 year olds get access to it? Probably, but that’s hardly Robin Thicke’s fault, 12 year olds can get access to a lot of things they shouldn’t, this video being one of the least offensive.

    As for the message that it can be a pleasure to degrade women, I sense a duality to that statement. On the one hand it is clearly intended to inflame, draw attention to him and in turn his song. But in the context of the song, which is clearly about sex, that message is can be read as it is a pleasure to “degrade” women in so far as many of the acts which society considers to be degrading are actually pleasurable, enjoyable and thus only degrading if done against someone’s will and in a way that humiliates them. In this case, the degradation in this video only exists because people are claiming it exists. I doubt anyone in that video feels degraded, the women are there and half naked voluntarily (presumably for a hefty fee) and the men are watching lots of lovely bouncy breasts parading around. Society is very good at telling people they are being degraded when the truth is, if someone is happy doing something, they are not really being degraded.

    I personally think it’s a sad world where any reference to sex that does not explicitly state consent is considered rapey; I don’t want to end up in a world where sex involves paperwork to prove consent and it will certainly make for less interesting songs. We’re adults, we should be able to deal with something like this without over-reacting and assuming that it’s pro-rape. Overt sexuality may be distasteful to you, fine – but no-one’s forcing anyone to watch the video or indeed listen to the song. If the lyrical and visual content are not to your liking, just don’t watch it and move on.


    • Liz Terry says:

      Hi and thank you for your comment. However, there are so many things wrong with what you say, I hardly know where to start. Well, here goes.

      1. I don’t care that you like boobs and enjoyed the uncut version of the video – that has nothing whatsoever to do with my post.

      2. ” Is it suitable for 12 year olds? No, but then again I don’t think the song was written or the video made for 12 year olds, I suspect a more mature audience was the target. Can 12 year olds get access to it? Probably, but that’s hardly Robin Thicke’s fault, 12 year olds can get access to a lot of things they shouldn’t, this video being one of the least offensive.”
      The ready access that children, some much younger than twelve, have to this video on the internet and through other media is exactly the problem. The music industry and performers in particular need to start taking this into account when writing songs and making videos, otherwise the incidences of young children with eating disorders, young women (and men) who think it’s OK to treat women in this fashion, and “consensual” sex which actually isn’t (because one or other partner feels they have to consent because “that’s what you do”) will only increase.

      3. I fully accept that Robin Thicke’s comment about it being a “pleasure” to degrade women was meant in a tongue-in-cheek, lets-do-everything-we-can-to-publicise-my-new-song kind of way, but taken out of context (which it has been and will be on many occasions) it sends a very dangerous message. I know this is not his fault, but, yet again, I feel he must take responsibility for what he says and what he knows will subsequently be done with it.

      4. “I doubt anyone in that video feels degraded, the women are there and half naked voluntarily (presumably for a hefty fee) and the men are watching lots of lovely bouncy breasts parading around. Society is very good at telling people they are being degraded when the truth is, if someone is happy doing something, they are not really being degraded.”
      How on earth do you know what those women in the video are feeling? As I’ve said in previous replies to similar comments on this site, unless you are inside those women’s heads, you can’t know how degraded they might feel, or how much they needed the “hefty fee”, if indeed there was one. Plus, I don’t agree that as long as someone is “happy” to do something they are not being degraded. Men publicly ogling women (or women publicly ogling men) is degrading to the person who is being publicly ogled. I know we’re never going to agree on this one, however, so let’s agree to disagree!

      5. “Overt sexuality may be distasteful to you, fine – but no-one’s forcing anyone to watch the video or indeed listen to the song. If the lyrical and visual content are not to your liking, just don’t watch it and move on.”
      On the contrary, overt sexuality is not offensive to me in the right context. I will happily watch sex scenes in adult drama for example, as I know that (on average) children are less likely to be unwillingly exposed to this, plus sex is a part of life. I have no problem with people kissing or holding hands in the street either. Healthy expressions of sexuality are fine by me. What I find distasteful about this song has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with how the words and images may be interpreted by young people who are indeed being forced to listen to the song (if not watch the video) on every radio music station playing it in their parents’ house, their parents’ car (places where they may not have control over whether it can be switched off or not) shops, restaurants and anywhere else where public music is played. I have been forced to listen to this song on many occasions over the last few weeks (since it has been number one in the UK) in situations where I have no control and can’t turn it off or change the station. Personally, I can’t wait for it to be played less and less so that I don’t have to listen to it so often and can indeed move on.


      • Ready access to it by 12 year olds is a problem, it’s just not Robin Thicke’s problem. It’s the parents who aren’t setting up filters, who aren’t keeping an eye on what their kids are doing, it’s their problem.


  18. The words to this song aren’t really all that bad and the playground will have taught most 12 year olds a lot of what this song is about already.

    I don’t have kids, I don’t particularly want kids and I certainly don’t want my life dictating to me because people who do have kids can’t look after them. So by all means, feel free to dislike this song, but don’t link it to rape because it’s got nothing to do with rape. Only someone who is totally insane would think it was an instruction to go out raping.


  19. And one final point on song lyrics. Try listening to Woodshed by Divine Comedy, the phrase “Oh come on, you know you want to” is used in the opening sequence. “You know you want to”. It’s the same as “You know you want it” and in a very similar context. That phrase, or a paraphrase thereof, has been used since time imemmorial and will continue to be so and it’s most definitely not rape.


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