"Blurred Lines" and rape culture

You've been singing along to it for weeks now, but have you ever stopped to listen to what the lyrics are really saying?

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. You know the one. You can’t help but sing along to Robin Thicke’s catchy lyrics from his latest single, Blurred Lines.

“If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say

If you can’t read from the same page

Maybe I’m going deaf

Maybe I’m going blind          

Maybe I’m out of my mind.”


It has been dominating South African airwaves for weeks now and to be completely honest I’ve been loving it!

Singing along half-heartedly in my car, tapping to the beat on my steering wheel, I never really paid much attention to the lyrics until I stumbled across an article from the Daily Beast by Tricia Romano.

Tricia points out the song’s title and subject are more than a little bit dodgy. Robin sings about a girl who wants crazy, wild sex but is too afraid to ask for it, the idea being that no doesn’t necessarily always mean no.

The lyrics have quite-rightly sparked outrage among feminist groups who say it celebrates rape culture, and one blogger; ‘Feminist In LA’ called the song disgusting saying:

“Basically, the majority of the song (creepily named “Blurred Lines”) has the R&B singer murmuring “I know you want it” over and over into a girl’s ear. Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity.”

Another blogger, Liz Terry called the song’s lyrics dangerous and that songs like this, “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.”

When asked about the questionable lyrics of his latest hit, Thicke added fuel to the fire by saying to GQ: “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.’”

Way to get the critics on your side, Robin.

Thicke, who is joined by R&B star Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I., also released an unofficial video of the song before its publicised release but that was quickly banned from YouTube.

The banned video features the three men and three naked models who strut their stuff wearing nothing but shoes and nude-coloured panties as they dance and flirt with Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I., who are all fully clothed, by the way.

Check out the banned video here:




The whole thing seems like one big publicity stunt and it seems to have worked. The single peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, as well as topping the Billboard R&B Songs chart.

I know that the job of a pop-song is to entertain, but there is a line, and Robin Thicke crosses it. In a world where sexual violence is endemic, a song like this is nothing but irresponsible and reckless.

After the storm that erupted at home over the two FHM writers whose comments on Facebook got them fired, it is clear that the world is not ready for rape to be trivialised or parodied. It cannot be used to garner publicity and it cannot be ignored.

Although it may seem inconsequential to take issue with a few words in a song, what the words point to is a much bigger issue that is far from inconsequential.

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