BY CAITLYN BRENNAN
Published October 16, 2013
Everett Cook and other “feminists”: Please stop with the cliché that “Blurred Lines" perpetuates rape culture.” Please stop telling me I’m just hearing it wrong. Please stop telling me how to have sex.
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The horse is beaten beyond recognition at this point, but almost every opinion written on what was arguably the most popular song of the summer says one thing and one thing only: It encourages rape and if you interpret it differently you’re disregarding victims, ignorant to the prevalence of sexual assault and just generally wrong.
Can the lyrics to “Blurred Lines” be interpreted as offensive by some victims of sexual abuse? Yes. When Thicke sings, “I know you want it,” do you hear a sexual predator deflecting guilt? Apparently. But do I? No. I hear the kind of confidence I like in a guy or girl I’m attracted to.
To understand my perspective on this song is to operate under the assumption that the behavior “perpetuated” in Thicke’s song is consensual; in understanding your perspective, I have to assume that it’s not. If we’re both making assumptions, who’s to say what’s right or wrong?
I’m not trying to disregard the experience and trauma of assault victims with whom “Blurred Lines” resonates negatively. By all means, maintain your interpretation of the song — I’m not going to say you’re wrong about how it makes you feel. In fact, the ability to summon raw, instinctive emotion is what I love about music, and how it makes you feel isn’t exactly something you can change. I don’t blame you for interpreting the lyrics differently than I do.
I do blame you, however, for reassuring yourself and others that it’s okay to tell me, “You might think you like what’s being said here, but you really don’t. If only you knew,” — as if I’m not self-aware enough to know what I do and don’t enjoy. As if, were I only able to empathize with victims of assault, I’d surely see Thicke’s words the way you do.
Here’s the thing: I don’t just empathize with victims of sexual assault; I am a victim of sexual assault. I was raped repeatedly at age 14. I wasn’t verbally told I “wanted it,” but it was clear. Yet, there I stand on Friday nights, dancing to “Blurred Lines” at Rick’s. Not every rape victim feels the same way I do, and, while I wish everyone were able to enjoy this song, I’m not going to tell my opposition they’re wrong for disliking it. And I’m definitely not about to disregard the validity of their feelings.
For all the progression and sexual liberation that self-proclaimed “feminist” ideologists allege to encourage, for all the demands of respect they put forth, for all the emphasis on “not letting society tell you how to feel” it seems mighty hypocritical to tell me repeatedly — thank you, Salon, Jezebel, et al. — how incorrect I am to see things the way I do.
See, maybe some people like confidence. Maybe some like to play a bit of a tease. Maybe some feel comfortable telling someone to quit with their advances when they’re unwanted, and find themselves surrounded with possible suitors by whom they’re more than happy to be playfully told, “You know you want it.” Maybe some people like rough sex, having their “ass smacked” and “hair pulled.” “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two?” Rumor has it some people even engage in anal sex — and sometimes they like that rough, too.
As someone who proudly identifies as a feminist, I have to ask, because maybe I missed the memo: Are women to be sexually empowered and self-governing entities, but only when it comes to fending off sexual assault? Because I struggle to call this feminism. It seems not only hypocritical, but flat-out regressive. What I do in my bedroom, so long as it’s consensual, is none of your business and is my prerogative. Furthermore, when discussing issues of pop culture, focusing rhetoric almost exclusively on assault and its victims (while disregarding the valid opinions of other sexually self-aware women) perpetuates the idea that females, first and foremost, are the passive objects of men. By failing to have a balanced discussion about female sexuality and what it means to consent, opportunities to showcase women as capable of making our own decisions about our own bodies are repeatedly missed.
Even more hypocritical and offensive is equating the rough sex depicted in “Blurred Lines” with intimate partner violence. Having experienced both nonconsensual and “rougher,” but consensual, sex, I promise you the two are very different. Again, you’re absolutely valid and justified in interpreting the song in whatever way strikes you, but please stop telling other women that their interpretations, and thus, implicitly, some of their sexual preferences and desires, are wrong and something to be ashamed of.