I should have hated it. At first look, at first listen, every fibre of my feminist being called for toe-curling repulsion. But then a small, wry smile sneaked on to my face. A few days later I had crumbled. Purchased on iTunes, replayed and danced to countless times, I had fallen for Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines'. Listen at your addiction-prone peril: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyDUC1LUXSU&w=480]
Once again, my so-called feminist credentials were under threat, and once again we're back to that self-destructive cycle of making rules for what it is to be truly liberated. And I'm not the only woman to face confusion when falling for the seductive beats of Mr. Thicke.
Maybe I'm going deaf...
Now I differ a little from Jess in that when I read the lyrics there were a few lines from the charming T.I. that were somewhat tasteless, but anyone that can rap:
gangster distinguished, cool as a penguin
with a straight face really doesn't have to be taken terribly seriously. The rest of the words though? I mean come on, this woman is clearly interested in Mr. Thicke and his friends:
The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty
This song is not endorsing harassment or non-consensual sex. Yes the video has some scantily clad women having a good time, but come on, like those guys aren't equally dressed to impress. And at least the women get to move around and don't have to simply gaze enchantedly at the male singers.
So now we enter the tricky cultural territory of a woman who want to gets down and dirty, but plays the good girl as a cover. This raises a whole other bag of questions.
Want it any which way
No matter what we do, don't do, want or refuse, women seem to be defined by our approach to sex. We define ourselves that way too but rarely by choice. The girl in Mr. Thicke's song wants him. We're talking physically, of course. But she plays it as a good girl because it's socially decreed that to unquestionably want 'it' makes you by default, bad.
Are we really still stuck so far back in the past that despite the blatant reality that women approach men and women approach women, we still have to pretend to hide our light under our proverbial bushels not to be branded either forward or desperate?
Let's listen to the evidence
Now if there are songs out there sung by women that express the same attitude to men that Robin (yes, it's first names now) croons about above then maybe we're ok, or at least on the right track.
Cue the tumbleweed.
Ok, until recently some might describe my musical knowledge as a little limited. Perhaps that explains it. But honestly, I couldn't find any songs that flipped Robin's theme on it's head and had a woman asserting:
I know you want it, but you're a good boy
Even leaving out for a moment the good vs bad nature of, you know, liking sex, I couldn't even find a song in my music library by a woman that talked about wanting a man without some sort of guilt or emotional distress. Duffy begs for mercy. P!nk, who likes to think she's a pretty good kisser, finds herself a fucking weak victim. This is not boding well.
Talk to me baby
There is one possibility. Perhaps my heteronormative ear enjoys listening to the likes of Robin Thicke because it's a sexy male voice talking to a non-specific female, or, in other words, to every heterosexual woman who listens to it. Perhaps I've never warmed to a female equivalent, if such a thing exists, because why would I? She's not talking to me.
I can live in hope I suppose, but much more likely is that such a song really does not exist because in our slut-shaming, victim-blaming culture it's a risk to be a sexually assertive woman. And even if you take the risk, the men you are trying to entice are equally as restricted and twisted by patriarchy as women, and so would be conditioned to find it unattractive, unsexy and downright unappealing.
No more pretending
Quite right Robin. Anyone and everyone can enjoy, want, not want and not care as much or as little as they choose. Tempt, tease and ask. As long as you listen to the answer, then all you are being is human: nothing more and nothing less.
Women are as undefinable and varied as men when it comes to sex, so let's not be afraid to say or sing what's on our minds and let's all listen to Mr Thicke's wonderfully oxymoronic lines, and we can let him liberate us.