Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"But you're an animal, baby, it's in your nature"

Today I was driving to work and heard a new(ish) song on the radio. It was catchy and upbeat. It sounded like I was at a lawn party drinking mojitos enjoying life. That was until I listened to the lyrics. I heard something about a “good girl” and “what rhymes with hug” and “the way you grab me, must wanna get nasty”. I mean there are million different songs out there about relationships as they term it (ahem songs about sex) so I am not sure why this song really stood out to me.

I guess with all the research going on and the way women have been using their voices to stand up for themselves, this song seemed utterly sexist, if not downright degrading. According to The Economist, women now make up half of American workers (49.9%). They run some of the world’s best companies, such as PepsiCo, Archer Daniels Midland and W.L. Gore. They earn almost 60% of university degrees in American and Europe. The list could go on and on. You would think we would take ourselves seriously after this and we would expect others to see us as more than just a beauty icon or a sex object. We have always been worthy of respect (degrees or no degrees)

One minute we are human and the next we are referred to as “animals” as Robin Thicke sings, “But you're an animal, baby it's in your nature" 

The song is called “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and was released in March 2013.

Let me be the one you back that ass to
Go, from Malibu, to Paris, boo
Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain't bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it's almost unbearable
Then, honey you're not there when I'm
With my foresight bitch you pay me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don't smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn't pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin'
                                I'm a nice guy, but don't get it if you get with me

This song has been a WORLDWIDE hit. It has peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and has reached #1 in 13 more countries including the United Kingdom and the United States. The album was released in July.

Okay so obviously there is still a lot more work to be done regarding women and sexism. I am trying to wrap my brain around why this is a worldwide hit. Maybe it’s fun and maybe it’s catchy, but the lyrics are damaging, degrading and painful.

I’m not going to blame men for a song like this. I blame us. Men and women. According to interviews Robin Thicke was given “permission” by his wife to be in the music video with half naked models singing about sex and his large dick. The woman are carrying around animals (goats?!) and some type of meat towards the end. Even if this is supposed to be a joke or just absurd (because it is absolutely ridiculous) it’s NOT a joke.

What part of racism can we actually joke about? Was it really funny that we had slaves?

Is it just hilarious Hitler had concentration camps where people suffered and died? It is it really all that absurd since this actually happened?

Can we really laugh about pimping? After working with girls involved in sex trafficking I have a hard time finding the humor in a MINOR having sex for money.

The word bitch refers to “female dog”, is this actually humorous? Is it okay to refer to your woman as a “bitch?”

The song and the music videos has received understandable criticism. Some have called the lyrics “creepy” and “kind of rapey”. The song doesn’t just have “under the radar” misogynistic themes, it’s pretty much ON the radar.

In an interview for the GQ magazine Thicke joked about the video saying, “What a pleasure it is to degrade a women. I’ve never gotten to do that before”

Enough said.

It is extremely disturbing to me that this song is apparently so hip and so popular. While we might be defensive and say “we just listen to the beat, not the lyrics”, it still doesn’t justify the sexism, and lack of dignity it communicates regarding women (and for men for that matter!) I mean, maybe I'm a really rare woman, but my sexual fantasy does NOT include "something big enough to tear my ass in two". This doesn't sound like art and it certainly doesn't sound like sex. It sounds rather violent. 

I think we are smarter than this. I think we are more creative than this. I think we are more innovative than this. I think deep down we are more intuitive than this. I think Robin Thicke is more artistic (and better at rhyming) than this. And, for crying out loud, his wife is smarter than this.

Sometimes I don’t want to use my voice. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and pretend people don’t actually talk (or think) like this. I can’t though. We are created in the image of the divine, in the image of God. I won’t let myself or anyone else be degraded to the status of an object, without at least a fight.

If you want to help Thicke find something to rhyme with "hug" there are few available ideas on