Two Sides – Robin Thicke and Project Unbreakable.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about some of the male Rock singers who have blatantly used sex to sell their music, and ultimately have been remembered for that music. On the other hand, women tend to be attacked for being sexual. Last fall, these gender differences were emphasized by the reactions to the performance by Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus at the 2013 Video Music Awards. Miley was almost universally condemned and ridiculed in the media for the overt sexuality in her act, while Thicke’s participation was virtually ignored.

Since then, Miley’s actions continue to be the source of much public scrutiny, while Robin’s behaviour is largely ignored. Perhaps that is because he has a stable relationship and keeps his clothes on in public. However, the attitude he displays in the lyrics and videos of his music is certainly not innocent nor can it be blamed on youthful exuberance and experimentation. In his lyrics, he shows a blatant disregard for women and their physical and emotional well being and safety.

Pacific Standard Magazine has an article where the lyrics to ‘Blurred Lines‘ are examined and illustrated with images from Project Unbreakable.

I know you want it.

Thicke sings “I know you want it,” a phrase that many sexual assault survivors report their rapists saying to justify their actions.

You’re a good girl.

Thicke further sings “You’re a good girl,” suggesting that a good girl won’t show her reciprocal desire (if it exists). This becomes further proof in his mind that she wants sex: for good girls, silence is consent and “no” really means “yes.”

The implication in Blurred Lines is that because the woman is not responding to a man’s sexual advances, which of course are irresistible, she’s hiding her true sexual desire under a facade of disinterest.

Thicke and company, as all-knowing patriarchs, will give her what he knows she wants (sex), even though she’s not actively consenting, and she may well be rejecting the man outright.

Do it like it hurt, do it like it hurt, what you don’t like work?

This lyric suggests that women are supposed to enjoy pain during sex or that pain is part of sex.

The woman’s desires play no part in this scenario—except insofar as he projects whatever he pleases onto her.

The way you grab me.
Must wanna get nasty.

Everybody knows that if a woman dances with a man it means she wants to sleep with him, right? And if she wears a short skirt or tight dress she’s asking for it, right? And if she even smiles at him it means she wants it, right?

Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you.
He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that.

In this misogynistic fantasy, a woman doesn’t want a “square” who’ll treat her like a human being and with respect. She would rather be degraded and abused for a man’s gratification and amusement, like the women who dance around half naked humping dead animals in the video.

I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two.

What better way to show a woman who’s in charge than violent, non-consensual sodomy?

There is much more in ‘Blurred Lines’ to criticize, including his implications of drugging a women:

Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me.

Yep. Always works.

What makes the article from Pacific Standard stand out is the incorporation of the Project Unbreakable images that illustrate the similarities to words used by men as they sexually assault.

Should you think that ‘Blurred Lines’ is an anomaly for Thicke, here’s  afew lines from other songs.

“Take It Easy On Me”

I’m fascinated by your stare
I went through all your fancy clothes
I wanna shop for your underwear

Great in a relationship where Victoria’s Secret is often a go-to source for gifts. However, we soon find out that he hasn’t met her yet.

Don’t need your telephone number
I’m right here now
I’m a line up like the 4th of July
When I look right through your dress
I want your cherry pie
Come here, but take your time
I know your time is valuable, baby
But so is mine

Here’s another:

“Give It 2 U”

Wooo! I got a gift for ya
I got this for ya, a little Thicke for ya
A big kiss for ya, I got a hit for ya
Big dick for ya, let me give it to ya….

T-shirt and panties, that’s your credential
You’re cotton candy, I need a fistful
I’m often antsy, hope that convince you

While Thicke has his name on the Marquee, in these songs, he has collaborators who deserve dishonourable mentions: T.I. & Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines) and Kendrick Lamar (Give it 2 U).

Thicke has claimed that ‘Blurred Lines’ were satirizing how women are treated in pop culture, however, that argument might be more convincing if some of the other songs on the album weren’t as bad. Thicke, like most other male performers, doesn’t attract the media attention that women do, but he did not go unnoticed. He managed to win the Sexist of the Year Award for 2013.

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