Blurred Lines: It’s Not a Date Rape Song (by a feminist)

First things first, I do not think that Blurred Lines is a date rape song. I think it can easily be construed as a date rape song, and if you don’t understand the difference between these two things, stop now because this is not for you.

Blurred Lines speaks volumes about the oversexualization of our society. I mean, think about it. Back in the Victorian Era, if you showed a man your ankles, you were a common tart. When flappers started rolling down their hose and dancing to jazz music, older generations cried out in horror at such blatant promiscuity.

Nowadays, not only can you do the Charleston and show your ankles, you can show just about whatever you want whilst bumping and grinding against somebody you just met at a club.

So, just to be clear, back in the olden times, when a woman wanted to gain the interest of a potential suitor (read: when a woman wanted the D) she would drop her handkerchief in front of him to get his attention and then pick him a lilac to put in his lapel (lilac means new love for those of you who aren’t fluent in flower language). Nowadays, however, you can drop your handkerchief, you can wear what would have been considered less than underwear in the olden times, you can give a man a hicky, and it does not have to mean that you want to sleep with him. Personally, I think this is great. We’re finally beginning to embrace that in the world of sexuality, there’s a lot more gray area than black and white. Doing one thing does not necessarily mean you want to do something else. And that’s beautiful. Back in the day, if you agreed to be courted by a man, it meant you wanted to get married and then have his babies. And that was your only option. Marriage was the only pathway to potential sexual fulfillment, and as the advent of the vibrator clearly displayed, most women didn’t even find sex within marriage that fulfilling.

However, because of this increased gray area (or rather, increased acknowledgement of the gray area that’s always been there), it’s really hard to tell if somebody wants to sleep with you. This isn’t just a man’s problem. Ladies, this is our problem too.

To get back to Blurred Lines, if that song had been sung by a woman, would it be a date rape song? Sorry, fellow feminists, but I’m afraid the answer is no. Had the song been sung by a woman, it would have been pretty obvious that the song was not intended to be about having sex with someone without their explicit consent. It would be clear that song was about what it’s about, and that is the confusion and frustration that often results when you find somebody that you know you want to sleep with, but who may or may not want to sleep with you because the traditional “I want to sleep with you” signs do not always signify that somebody wants to sleep with you. Now, why doesn’t Robin Thicke just come out and ask, “Can I take you back to my place for a good old-fashioned roll in the hay?” I have no idea. If you don’t have the confidence to ask, then you don’t have the confidence to properly do the horizontal tango (read: f#!&k).

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8 Responses to Blurred Lines: It’s Not a Date Rape Song (by a feminist)

  1. mswyney says:

    It’s really not a simplistic answer, it’s a practical one. As for condoms being easily accessed, you may have received proper sex education, and condoms may be readily available for you, but in many places people aren’t even educated about the necessity to protect themselves against sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy, let alone given access to contraception. When you consider than some pharmacists are legally allowed to refuse women birth control pills just because of their age (even if they have a prescription), you begin to grasp the struggle that so many people face in trying to prevent pregnancy and disease. So to phrase it a little better, people need to be educated about the need for and methods of contraception, and they also need access to it.

    • Henshaw says:

      I think I’m going to write more about this on my blog. The idea that the only thing preveting a utopian sex free for all is protection doesn’t account for the fact that if that type of thinking becomes normal then more people will engage in that behavior.

      If you haven’t noticed many people aren’t responsible, especially younger people (look at driving statistics).

      • mswyney says:

        You twisted my words there, but I think you know that. As a freshman in college, I take that last comment pretty personally. As a purely anecdotal note, my floor did a pretty intense bonding activity last night in which almost exactly half the group said they were abstaining from sex until marriage. So as a whole, sure, young people suck, but there are a lot of us doing pretty damn good. (Not me in your eyes, apparently, because I am a licentious unmarried nonvirgin.)

      • Henshaw says:

        My comment was about casual sex becoming so acceptable that irresponsible pregnancies would become more common. It’s not about you or your current experience in college. I was once in college and I did things I’m not proud of and that I knew were wrong. People learn from their mistakes (most of the time) and I’ve learned from mine.

        We shouldn’t have a laissez faire attitude about sex. It’s serious and I think education is great, but people need to be aware that sex outside of marriage is a risk no matter what the precautions happen to be.

        These are unusual times we live. Most people who go to college don’t get married until their mid-to-late twenties. Abstinence is a tall order for anyone, but we should be encouraging people to avoid unnecessary risks.

      • mswyney says:

        I think we can get pretty asymptotically close to safe sex in this day and age. Yes there’s always a risk, but you have to acknowledge that some situations are much safer than others. If you limit your sexual partners, if you’re being regularly tested for STDs, if you’re always using a physical barrier in combination with specifically anti-pregnancy contraception, the odds are very very good that you’re not going to (to quote Mean Girls), “get pregnant/chlamydia and die.” Personally, I’ve accepted the times in which we live. If you’re making yourself as safe as possible, I don’t see any reason to not have sex. Obviously some people are better equipped emotionally for casual sex, and others are better suited toward monogamy than others, etcetera. Some people want sex and love to go together, an some people don’t. I think freedom of choice is very much the American way, and I don’t see why that shouldn’t extend to things like indulging sexual appetites in any way you see fit. As long as people are happy, comfortable with themselves and their situation, and aren’t spreading disease or otherwise negatively affecting other people’s lives, I don’t think it’s my place to judge them for their actions or say that one way of finding sexual fulfillment is somehow “better” than somebody else’s way. That’s a little bit too elitist for my taste anyway.
        I see that you’re somewhat of a moral zealot, and I think it’s wonderful to encourage people to take potential consequences for their actions and their impact on other people’s lives very seriously. However, I feel like you might be taking your message to a bit of an extreme to suggest that people are unsafe unless they’re having sex within a marriage. Some couples still aren’t even allowed to be married at all, so how are they supposed to make themselves safe? Additionally, sex within marriage poses risks as well. There’s really no difference between contracting an STD within marriage and contracting an STD within a nonmarital relationship. One is just a little bit more surprising than the other. In both cases you might very well assume you’re monogamous, but there will literally always be a risk that someone isn’t being honest with you. Marriage isn’t some magic bubble that will protect you from STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

  2. mswyney says:

    Obviously I can’t disagree with your statistics, but the reason more children are being born to single parents is due to lack of access to contraception. If we would just give them condoms, we wouldn’t have this problem.

  3. Henshaw says:

    And that’s beautiful. Back in the day, if you agreed to be courted by a man, it meant you wanted to get married and then have his babies. And that was your only option. Marriage was the only pathway to potential sexual fulfillment.

    The flip side to this is that now more children are raised in single parent homes. Children from single parent homes are more likely to go to jail, have children out of wedlock, drop out of school, experience violence, commit suicide, continue a cycle of poverty, become drug dependent, or commit a crime.

    I’m not saying the Victorian era was great, but the idea that a hyper sexualized culture is good for society turns a blind eye to the cycle of poverty it creates.

    The numbers are staggering:

    • 63 percent of suicides nationwide are individuals from single-parent families.

    • 75 percent of children in chemical dependency hospitals are from single-parent families.

    • More than half of all youths incarcerated in the U.S. lived in one-parent families as a child.

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