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Ask First!
July 22, 2013 6:01 PM   Subscribe

[NSFW] "Ask First! was written by J. Mary Burnet & Kaleigh Trace in response to Robin Thicke's gross, unconsensual song and video Blurred Lines... We don't want to have to listen to Robin Thicke tell us he knows we want it over such a damn catchy beat. We wanna dance to music that's sexy and radical."

"Ask First!" lyrics in the "More" link in the Vimeo description.
posted by DarlingBri (154 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was really good! Not at all a cheap parody.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:07 PM on July 22, 2013


Reposted from another thread where this came up:

Huh. I had about the exact opposite read on Blurred Lines.

The hook is:

"But you're a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me"

All of the action is on her part — she's the one grabbing him, and he ends it with encouraging her to go further. The whole song read to me like she's saying she's a "good girl" while coming on to him, in lines like:

"One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to"

again put her in charge of the action. Likewise:

"So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn't pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin'"

— the narrative being that TI is used to women approaching him, so he waits for her, but she doesn't go for it. In pretty much every action of the song, the woman is the actor. Aside from that, it's just a little sexual boasting and a bunch of catchy riffs (you don't get all that much when it's pretty much two verses and two extra long choruses).

It's not an entirely unproblematic song ("hottest bitch in this place," TI's "Yeah, I had a bitch," etc.) but it's odd to see it keep being represented as a "gross, unconsensual song" when the whole narrative is a girl coming on to him.

And, contrary to implied belief, men can sometimes read signals well enough to know that a woman would like to have sex.
posted by klangklangston at 6:09 PM on July 22, 2013 [119 favorites]


I had the same thoughts as klangklangston about the lyrics.
posted by schroedinger at 6:14 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know people who know the people who made this video!! 'Cause I'm cool like that, yep.
posted by eviemath at 6:15 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm with klang. Saying "I know you want it" doesn't always imply "against your protestations." Sometimes it means "because we're really hitting it off and you're telling me that you want it." I'm usually pretty quick to see rape culture in music etc, but this one is too much of a stretch to me.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:15 PM on July 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


I clicked expecting Alan Thicke.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:16 PM on July 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


I clicked expecting Alan Thicke.

If you ask nicely, Robin might introduce you to his dad.
posted by The World Famous at 6:18 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is good, but I have to say.....I love Blurred Lines. It is just. so. catchy.

I guess I never paid much attention to the lyrics or thought of them as much better or worse than a lot of other songs.

This parody by Sophie Monk is pretty funny.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think I heard part of the original song once, recently. Couldn't tell you the lyrics. Regardless, the "Ask First" version is pretty darn awesome.
posted by eviemath at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2013


I mean, he feels lucky because she wants to hug him (and what rhymes with "hug," the only way I make sense of that is a slant rhyme for "fuck").

It just feels like this got popular and as such is being used to deride rape culture (and on the video, there's a point — equality in nudity makes stuff like this less gross) because that means that people complaining about it have a better chance of being heard than griping about, say, ICP lyrics.
posted by klangklangston at 6:20 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mean, he feels lucky because she wants to hug him (and what rhymes with "hug," the only way I make sense of that is a slant rhyme for "fuck").

She wants to mug him. Clearly.
posted by The World Famous at 6:25 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ask First just perpetuates dance music culture rather than opposing it.

But seriously, if I stopped listening to music that had problematic relations with women I'm not sure what I'd listen to. And its not like I seek out dodgy stuff - pretty much any genre has a large number of songs that are creepy in some way.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:26 PM on July 22, 2013


I kinda like both songs. The original video is sort of gross with the men in suits ogling naked women, you could tone down that male gaze about 95% and have something fun and original, like this "Ask first" video. But I agree the lyrics aren't that bad; it seems like people just don't like the implication in the title.
posted by bleep at 6:26 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


She wants to mug him. Clearly.

Who could blame her? He appears to be a gentleman of means.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:27 PM on July 22, 2013 [25 favorites]


I was thinking about it, and here's my take: the song creeps me out. A careful examination of the written lyrics yields entirely different meaning: the attraction is mutual. However, when i listen, all i can make out reliably are lines like " i know you want it," or " but you're a flirt now!" or "you must wanna get nasty, " all of which are things that creeper dudes yell at you in crowded clubs or subways/busses or malls when you're fucking minding your own business, enjoying dancing with yr pals, not looking to get it on or just staring out the window. This makes me feel unsafe and unhappy (watch the "here's my rape!" comic standup bit to understand the undercurrent of pervasive sexualized fear that i am referring to). I realize this may not be the intent of the artists and others might feel different, and i wont call it the rape song anymore except to piss off klanger.
posted by holyrood at 6:29 PM on July 22, 2013 [19 favorites]


I haven't watched the Blurred Lines video; but here's what director Diane Martel has to say:
I wanted to deal with the misogynist, funny lyrics in a way where the girls were going to overpower the men. Look at Emily Ratajkowski’s performance; it’s very, very funny and subtly ridiculing. That’s what is fresh to me. It also forces the men to feel playful and not at all like predators. I directed the girls to look into the camera, this is very intentional and they do it most of the time; they are in the power position. I don’t think the video is sexist. The lyrics are ridiculous, the guys are silly as fuck. That said, I respect women who are watching out for negative images in pop culture and who find the nudity offensive, but I find [the video] meta and playful.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:33 PM on July 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh also "you're the hottest bitch in the place" which was actually paraphrased to me this weekend when i was at the car wash. I did not exchange numbers with him as per his request.
posted by holyrood at 6:37 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


The original song is a lyrical dog's breakfast -- I can see just about everyone's interpretation of what's going on -- but good God, it's one hell of a beautifully constructed ear worm.

I respect what they were trying to do with this parody, but I've tried to watch the whole thing several times and keep stopping because the execution is so damn weak. The woman singing lead was fine for an amateur, but the backup singing sounds phoned in. I ran a quick search for parodies and covers on YouTube and found lots, including this and this, both of which display a lot more musical energy and commitment.

(If we can't dance to it, we might not be part of your revolution.)
posted by maudlin at 6:37 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who could blame her? He appears to be a gentleman of means.

Of slender means.
posted by The World Famous at 6:38 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pruitt-Igoe: "I clicked expecting Alan Thicke."

I thought the same thing and I'm not afraid to admit it. And frankly, that sort of made it even creepier.
posted by jquinby at 6:40 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


When the director of the original song's video says "I wanted to deal with the misogynist, funny lyrics..." I think that's a pretty compelling argument that one could interpret the lyrics as being misogynist and not be like, way crazy radical reactionary leftist on this one...

I agree the Ask First! version has lackluster production values (and I can't actually make out the words without simultaneously reading them to clarify the sound quality), but DAMN do I love the lyrics and GEEZE am I happy this video was made.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:45 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Meh, when I first heard the song I didn't take it as being particularly rapey. I think it was the original NSFW video that stirred up the controversy. Robin Thicke has been working this Marvin Gaye "Let's Get It On" -ish vibe for quite a while, relatively successfully and without much protest. What's really funny to me is how he and Justin Timberlake now seem to be engaging in a some kind of turf war over who gets to be the new White Marvin Gaye.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:46 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, isn't Blurred Lines a Marvin Gaye song?
posted by freakazoid at 6:48 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Diane Martel is like one of the pioneers of rap videos.She did Throw Ya Guns, Chief Rocka, Bring the Pain, and Brooklyn Zoo.

I remember seeing her name on those videos and wondering who she was.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:52 PM on July 22, 2013


I love the "Ask First" video. The lyrics are great and I love how they all look like real people and none of them can dance but they all just dance anyway. I also think the original is a really catchy tune.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:53 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blurred Lines was going to be my summer jam. I was iffy on the lyrics but if I can sing Kanye's Gold Digger with gusto at karaoke, I can apparently dance past some problematic lyrics. And then I watched the Blurred Lines video. Dammit people, stop ruining my enjoyment of ear worms. I cannot unsee some of that shit.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:06 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Blurred Lines video has a PG and a ... non-PG version. In the non-PG version, I see more of what the director was going for - the contrast between the eye-contact the models are making with the camera vs. their toplessness.

The message of Ask First is great. The execution less so. And I fully support their making of this parody without agreeing to their premise about the original song. You have to take out a lot of context (or, alternatively, insert a lot of your own) to make Blurred Lines particularly nonconsensual. And while, as others have pointed out above, it's not unproblematic, I don't think it's nearly as horrible as it's made out to be.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:15 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait--I thought the actual phrase "blurred lines" referred to the consensual ambiguity that the narrator hates and is trying to avoid and he's actually looking for conclusive confirmation of consent before progressing. It seems that Robin and the creators of "Ask First " are on exactly the same page.
posted by sourwookie at 7:19 PM on July 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


My response when watching the blurred lines vid was pretty much "call me when a guy makes this video with clothed sexy ladies and nude men" so i welcome this/any response. For a week after watching the original thing I couldn't get the idea out of my head of filming a naked-dudes parody, so i'm glad to see a parody has been created. uh.
I was intrigued to read the director's thoughts re eye contact etcetera but I kinda think her subtlety/irony gets lost and at a glance it comes off as a "LAWL NEKKID CHICKS SEX FARM ROBIN THICKE IS HAWT" kinda thing. Which is probably what the target audience is after anyway, so I don't even. call me when there's naked dudes basically.
posted by ghostbikes at 7:34 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Ask First" may also have lost some of its perceived moral high ground when it resorted to threats of violence. But that's just a tactical error.
posted by sourwookie at 7:38 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am pretty excited to see this and the other parody videos.

I can see the different points of view re the original, but I felt a little weird about it. While really wanting to dance.

Thanks for sharing!
posted by bunderful at 7:38 PM on July 22, 2013


Damn, Check out Diane Martel's documentary from 1992 Wreckin Shop: Live From Brooklyn

She really deserves her own FPP.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:40 PM on July 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think that's a pretty compelling argument that one could interpret the lyrics as being misogynist and not be like, way crazy radical reactionary leftist on this one...

People can see pretty much whatever they want to see. But with so many real examples of misogyny, it seems strained to claim this song is "unconsensual" and "gross" because the male character is cocky.
posted by spaltavian at 7:46 PM on July 22, 2013


OH MY GOD YOU GUYS! GENDER SWAP VERSION!
posted by DarlingBri at 7:54 PM on July 22, 2013 [53 favorites]


I have an unrelatedly weird relationship to this song, as I first heard it in May under strange circumstances: I had insomnia one night while on vacation in Italy, and the only thing that there was to see on television at 2 am in Italy that wasn't entirely in Italian was MTV. And MTV Italia had a very small selection of videos that they were showing in heavy rotation - Pink's "Just Give Me A Reason", Macklemore's "Thrift Shop", some Italian-language thing that appeared to be about door-to-door book salesmen, and "Blurred Lines."

As it turned out, I fell hard for "Thrift Shop," so that overshadowed this song's inanity, and I was able to write it off as "oh yeah that earwormy song with the really trite video". Maybe playing "Thrift Shop" immediately following "Blurred Lines" every time you hear it takes the teeth out of it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


DarlingBri, that gender swap version is my favorite so far. From the description:

It's our opinion that most attempts to show female objectification in the media by swapping the genders serve more to ridicule the male body than to highlight the extent to which women get objectified and does everyone a disservice. We made this video specifically to show a spectrum of sexuality as well as present both women and men in a positive light, one where objectifying men is more than alright and where women can be strong and sexy without negative repercussions.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:07 PM on July 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


You think that the guy got a leg up because of who his dad is, but then you start thinking about who his dad is and have to ask myself "how the fuck does that give you a leg up in the world, being connected to Alan fucking Thicke?!?"

On Norm Macdonald's podcast he talks with some amount of shame and penitence about his days as a writer on one of Alan fucking Thicke's many many death spiral non-success shows I have never seen such self hatred in a comedy writer before.

tldr = fuck that guy where "that guy" could be either Thicke.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:09 PM on July 22, 2013


You know, there's not much the original song has on the gender swap version. Kudos. I will simply picture that the next time the song comes on the radio.
posted by maryr at 8:10 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


(As an aside Alan Thicke wrote the themes to both "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Facts Of Life")
posted by sourwookie at 8:10 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Damn, Check out Diane Martel's documentary from 1992 Wreckin Shop: Live From Brooklyn yt

She really deserves her own FPP.


I was about to say the same thing. She seems like a force of nature. You really need to see what she did for The Cribs Mens Needs video as a precursor to Blurred Lines.
posted by gwint at 8:11 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am a sexual assault and rape survivor, and I do not think Blurred Lines implies any sort of nonconsent. The whole song is about a guy appealing to the woman he finds attractive to let him pleasure her. She's the one in power, and for me that's why the song is so sexy and invigorating.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:16 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gender-swap Blurred Lines is a great concept; but the provided execution is poor. It seemed more of a transgendered version that a gender swap version.

On an unrelated inquiry. What should rhyme with hug me in context of the song?
posted by humanfont at 8:17 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Before anyone refers to Robin Thicke as a "Canadian singer" (as I read somewhere earlier today), I feel it my duty to point out that he was born and raised in the USA. He holds dual citizenship by way of his father, but that's it.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:20 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Before anyone refers to Robin Thicke as a "Canadian singer" (as I read somewhere earlier today), I feel it my duty to point out that he was born and raised in the USA. He holds dual citizenship by way of his father, but that's it.

More than sufficient under our "one-drop-of-maple-syrup" rule for claiming popular figures as Canadian.
posted by figurant at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2013 [24 favorites]


Yeah, but that's bull. Don't even get me started on Alexander Graham Bell.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:33 PM on July 22, 2013


I feel like I gotta warn the people that got comfortable with this song. These dudes are way older than you think. Pharell? Take whatever you think and double it.

All these guys should be home, not tomcatting around. This ain't Mad Men.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:38 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ad hominem: "These dudes are way older than you think. Pharell? Take whatever you think and double it."

When I saw the video, I thought "that Robin Thicke guy reminds me of Simon Cowell. Same age, same style, same feel." Then someone pointed out that he's Alan Thicke's son, and I thought "That doesn't make any damn sense. That would make Alan Thicke like 80." So I checked Robin Thicke's wikipedia page, where there is a startlingly younger looking picture, and it says...he's 35? No fucking way does he look 35 in that video, he looks at least 50.

And Pharrell looks 30, so you're telling me he's actually 60?
posted by Bugbread at 8:47 PM on July 22, 2013


I will not be having any smack talk about Pharrell.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:50 PM on July 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Pharrell can tomcat around all he wants, because his age is irrelevant what with the whole being a vampire thing.

Vulture's Pharell age quiz
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:58 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


This has gotta be the most parodyable (what, it's totally a word!) music video since Single Ladies. The gender swap one linked above sets the bar pretty damn high, but I look forward to many, many more.
posted by Lorin at 9:00 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is uncanny, billyfleetwood.

SPOILER FOR THE QUIZ: - - - - - - -
you can figure it out based on the jewelry he's wearing and the one pair of pictures where it's clear which is the older one. But damn.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:03 PM on July 22, 2013


Gender-swap Blurred Lines is a great concept; but the provided execution is poor. It seemed more of a transgendered version that a gender swap version.

I don't feel the same. Had they gone for a more traditional masculine look for the men, it would have fallen back to the "menz are male gazing the girls." plus the silly parading around highlights just how silly it is in the original. The shoes were a nice touch, and I salute the men for being willing to clomp around in them.

As for them women's attire, it's something I see women wearing in all sorts of circumstances. Except perhaps male gaze-y music videos.

For me it was about perfect. The makeup surprised me a bit, but as the video went on, I decided I liked it. There is no reason boys can't get prettied up too.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:27 PM on July 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


Can we lock Alan Thicke's real and tv sons in a small room together?
It just seems like comedy gold waiting to be mined.
posted by provoliminal at 9:31 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Poster wrote in comment #5103017">> OH MY GOD YOU GUYS! GENDER SWAP VERSION!

Oh hell, that's sexy.
posted by desuetude at 9:45 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mean, support a message and all (even if your assumptions about a vague song are questionable), but this is some community access level horrible.

Reading the comments before viewing the video led me to believe this would be something not full of out of tune voices... and bad mixing... and horrible camera work.... and dumb lyrics.

This is about the quality of what you'd expect a high school study group to do on an assignment from a lazy teacher. I take it we're just letting anything people agree on be FP now?
posted by lattiboy at 10:34 PM on July 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


holyrood: A careful examination of the written lyrics yields entirely different meaning: the attraction is mutual. However, when i listen, all i can make out reliably are lines like " i know you want it," . . .

Same reaction here. The easily intelligible lines were the same old same old, reinforced by the same old wardrobe choices (scantily clad women, fully clothed men). Thanks for finding the Gender Swap version, DarlingBri! THAT was fun. I wish big name female singers would do music videos like that, wearing beautifully cut clothes while scantily clad beefcake pranced suggestively around. Of course, that would undercut their appeal to hetero male demographics, but I'd've thought the gain in female viewers would more than make up for it.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:08 PM on July 22, 2013


I clicked expecting Alan Thicke.

As you requested.
posted by me3dia at 11:09 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


On an unrelated inquiry. What should rhyme with hug me in context of the song?

Bug me
Dug me
Fug me (Houston reference [HAH!])
Jug me
Lug me
Mug me
Nug me (trees reference)
Pug me
Rug me
Sug(gs) me (Madness reference)
Tugs me (nautical reference)
Vugs me (geological reference)
Wugs me (linguistics reference)
Zugs me (Swiss reference)
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:41 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


"You want a smug me"
posted by Bugbread at 11:46 PM on July 22, 2013


Get lucky.

Pharrell reference.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:02 AM on July 23, 2013


The gender swap version is the first time I've heard/seen Blurred Lines. I then hunted up the Thicke official video.

I think the GS version is much better.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:24 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


DarlingBri: "OH MY GOD YOU GUYS! GENDER SWAP VERSION!"

Okay I was pretty sure I understood male gaze, but I obviously had no idea. I get it now. I think?
posted by vanar sena at 1:05 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've watched the gender swap version at least a half dozen times so far. . . And I suspect I'm not even close to my last time.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:23 AM on July 23, 2013


On an unrelated inquiry. What should rhyme with hug me in context of the song?


"Tug me" would work. Something about ugly ("Don't make it ugly.")
Muggy might work, but I haven't worked out the context.
"You eye me smugly."

That's all I got.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:37 AM on July 23, 2013


"You eye me smugly."

And now I want an Upper Class Twit version, please.
posted by grabbingsand at 4:06 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will not be having any smack talk about Pharrell.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:50 PM on July 22


And I will hear no smack talk about Robin Thicke. He's an incredibly talented person and he takes enough shit from people just for being a light-skinned black man.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:11 AM on July 23, 2013




Of course, you could always just get down to Marvin's original "Got To Give It Up."
posted by grabbingsand at 5:32 AM on July 23, 2013


Potomac Avenue knows what's up.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:33 AM on July 23, 2013


I saw Reggie Watts a few weeks back and he mashed them up in his inimitable Wattsian way with the clear message of Fuck This Shit so, catchy or not, I'm with Reggie.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:38 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Julie Klausner was right. This is what happens when you look at Terry Richardson as though he's the new Andy Warhol. D:
posted by pxe2000 at 5:45 AM on July 23, 2013


I respect what they were trying to do with this parody, but I've tried to watch the whole thing several times and keep stopping because the execution is so damn weak. The woman singing lead was fine for an amateur, but the backup singing sounds phoned in.

This. Also, and I hate to further rain on people's parades, but: it's 2013. You can get top-notch sound and image quality for next to nothing these days. This video looks like it was shot on VHS and sounds like it was recorded on a boom box.
posted by tantrumthecat at 5:45 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is driving me nuts. It's "Fuck me". Fuck me rhymes with "hug me". That's what he is alluding to.
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:52 AM on July 23, 2013


This is driving me nuts. It's "Fuck me". Fuck me rhymes with "hug me". That's what he is alluding to.

Paging Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry to the embarrassing sound effect, please.
posted by maudlin at 6:20 AM on July 23, 2013


This is driving me nuts. It's "Fuck me". Fuck me rhymes with "hug me". That's what he is alluding to.

Was this actually an open question? I thought everyone providing alternative answers was being, you know, ironic.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:15 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"gross, unconsensual"?
Oooh, nudity without being gropy, kinda cute actually rather than superoversexed as usual.

Try not to project fears and insecurities upon the world, it makes your world a more negative place, and try to give the benefit of the doubt. Song doesn't seem to me to intend demeaning at all.
posted by malrimple at 7:48 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was this actually an open question? I thought everyone providing alternative answers was being, you know, ironic.

That was what was driving me nuts. There is only so much irony I can take.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:59 AM on July 23, 2013


Paging Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry to the embarrassing sound effect, please.

That is one of my favorite QI clips because "It has a famous car park" is justified by "A famous horse is buried there" and somehow everyone moves on instead of continuing to figure out what kind of nonsense world we've traveled to.
posted by Copronymus at 9:24 AM on July 23, 2013


Just so you know, I googled it. The official answer is "rugby" and "ducky".
posted by Ad hominem at 9:49 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is one of my favorite QI clips because "It has a famous car park" is justified by "A famous horse is buried there" and somehow everyone moves on instead of continuing to figure out what kind of nonsense world we've traveled to.

I thought the nonsense world they'd traveled to was Britain. Wasn't it Britain?
posted by The World Famous at 10:09 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And now I want an Upper Class Twit version, please.

Wait, isn't that the song as it stands now? (I kid, I kid. . .)

...

I get the "fuck me" rhyme allusion, and it's cute on the context of the song, but it doesn't rhyme! Or rather rhyming me twice isn't really rhyming. And rhyming "fuck" and "hug" is a sloppy stretch.

Of course it probably doesn't matter since within the context of the song the natural conclusion is "fuck me." but still.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:10 AM on July 23, 2013


"I get the "fuck me" rhyme allusion, and it's cute on the context of the song, but it doesn't rhyme! Or rather rhyming me twice isn't really rhyming. And rhyming "fuck" and "hug" is a sloppy stretch. "

It's a slant rhyme, not least because K and G are just the same sound, unvoiced and voiced. Same reason why most Americans actually pronounce "sgool" instead of "skool."
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 AM on July 23, 2013


DarlingBri: "OH MY GOD YOU GUYS! GENDER SWAP VERSION! "

Um. More men need to wear makeup.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


> Um. More men need to wear makeup.

Yes yesyesyesyes.
posted by desuetude at 11:38 AM on July 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Huh. Okay, MTV Italia was censored so I didn't know that there was a version of the video wit the women all topless. And for some reason, the song's lyrics didn't bug me, but that fact feels a little...oogy.

But that gender swap version is fantastic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:39 AM on July 23, 2013




Fun Fact: When Alan Thicke was on Growing Pains, he was only two years older than Robin Thicke is now.
posted by The World Famous at 12:32 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


[insert clever name here]: For me [the gender swap version] was about perfect. The makeup surprised me a bit, but as the video went on, I decided I liked it. There is no reason boys can't get prettied up too.

The gender swap version is super. But it's not a fair swap. The men are not Daniel Craig sexy.

They are camp & funny & flirty & pretty & the whole flesh colored cache sex look on a guy is a total giggle...but the male posing pouch is not a stirring garment, for some of us.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:55 PM on July 23, 2013


but the male posing pouch is not a stirring garment, for some of us.

Are you under the impression that the plastic hotpants of the original are?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:30 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are you under the impression that the plastic hotpants of the original are?

What plastic hotpants?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:36 PM on July 23, 2013


klangklangston: "Same reason why most Americans actually pronounce "sgool" instead of "skool.""

Really? I haven't heard "sgool" before, but I've only ever lived in Texas and California, so maybe it's an east coast thing. I'd be a little surprised if "sgool" is actually the way most Americans say it.
posted by Bugbread at 3:55 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What plastic hotpants?

These ones. Yuck.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:57 PM on July 23, 2013


"Really? I haven't heard "sgool" before, but I've only ever lived in Texas and California, so maybe it's an east coast thing. I'd be a little surprised if "sgool" is actually the way most Americans say it.

Yeah, you probably have. It took me a moment to think about it, but it was in an interview with a dialect coach about how to make people sound "American."
posted by klangklangston at 4:36 PM on July 23, 2013


Americans are so used to softening the "k" that we don't even notice that we do it. But try saying "School" with an actual hard "K" sound. Then say a few sentences that use the word "school" in them - using the hard "k" sound each time. Sounds weird, doesn't it?
posted by The World Famous at 4:38 PM on July 23, 2013


Huh, maybe it's just me, then, because I use the hard k every time. Trying to put a "g" sound instead is really hard (and sounds like I'm imitating dropping a big rock in a pond).

That said, I mispronounced the word "won" for over 30 years, and 1) nobody ever pointed out I was saying it wrong, and 2) I rarely noticed that other people said it differently, and when I did, I just assumed they were hicks, so maybe this is another case of "bugbread says it different than other people but hasn't noticed it".
posted by Bugbread at 4:50 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a datapoint, when I hear recordings of my own speaking voice I am always dismayed to discover that there are words I pronounce in a way that I think sounds wrong.
posted by The World Famous at 4:56 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, people are amazingly unable to pick out their own dialects.

For the G, it's just basically a little voicing in the velar stop because it's followed by a voiced vowel.

For me, the "sgool" reminds me of "Svengoolie;" the g sounds being similar.
posted by klangklangston at 5:17 PM on July 23, 2013


I think I'm safe in saying you just talk wrong, klangklangston. It's probably because of the state where you grew up. I hear everyone from there talks wrong.
posted by The World Famous at 5:41 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So when y'all abbreviate "It's cool" to "S'cool", it sounds different than "school"? Or do you change the "c" in"s'cool" to a "g" sound as well?
posted by Bugbread at 5:50 PM on July 23, 2013


So anyway, about the video...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:34 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Neil]Have we got a video?[/Neil]
posted by The World Famous at 7:45 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Robin Thicke's gross, unconsensual song and video Blurred Lines

Good editorializing...
posted by hal_c_on at 9:35 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought the "Blurred Lines" referred to the tension between the "good girl"'s existing relationship and her attraction to the singer, not consensuality. Huh.

I watched the genderswap video from another source and appreciated it, then watched the "clean" version of the original and sort of shrugged. But looking at the unrated version... damn, that is some creepy shit. Totally changes the tone for me.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:38 PM on July 23, 2013


"I think I'm safe in saying you just talk wrong, klangklangston. It's probably because of the state where you grew up. I hear everyone from there talks wrong."

UPPER MIDWEST DIALECT IS HOW GOD TALKS
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


But looking at the unrated version... damn, that is some creepy shit. Totally changes the tone for me.

Really? Different strokes, I guess. I watched the PG version, the gender swap version, then the unrated version and I loved it. If you get past the "OMG BOOBS" of it, it's quite charming, and dare I say, empowering. I wish I had the confidence to go strutting about topless (nevermind the fact that I'd end up in jail.)

My take was that it was a positive look at women and sexuality, and worked perfect with the them of the song... Is she being sexy because she wants him? Or being sexy because sometimes it's fun to feel sexy, especially if you can in a totally safe space? And much of the dancing and strutting wasn't sexy, just confident. Well, maybe sexy because it was confident. Because confidence is sexy or something. It is all blurring together... (wait a minute!)

My brain has been fighting over which version of both the song and video it likes best all day.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:00 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The gender swap version is super. But it's not a fair swap. The men are not Daniel Craig sexy.

Shut your mouth, not so.

And bring me Daniel Craig wearing some flattering makeup and strutting but not simpering and, uh........go take a loooonnnng break...elsewhere....until I call.
posted by desuetude at 11:09 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


[insert clever name here]:...I watched the PG version, the gender swap version, then the unrated version and I loved it. If you get past the "OMG BOOBS" of it, it's quite charming, and dare I say, empowering. I wish I had the confidence to go strutting about topless (nevermind the fact that I'd end up in jail.)

I think I can get past the "OMG BOOBS" factor in the unrated version- but I certainly can't get to seeing it as "empowering".

The unrated version women come across as saucy. And I've never seen saucy as a statement of empowerment -it's exactly how women were posed in pin up calendars from the last century!

(I do find the unrated version absolutely fascinating - but slightly more infuriating each time I watch it.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:27 AM on July 24, 2013


I have zero "OMG BOOBS" reaction. The only thing that pleases me about that video is that at least they're not fake boobs.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:27 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Um. More men need to wear makeup.

Really? I found it really anti-sexy and distracting... all I could think when I saw that was: Damn, that's the most makeup I've ever seen on a guy not in drag, and I saw a lot of Nutcracker performances as a kid.
posted by psoas at 10:52 AM on July 24, 2013


Oh my gosh, hold the presses for this amazing new phenomemon that we have just discovered on metafilter! Different people find different things sexy!!! Will society survive this shocking revelation? Full story at 6.

Snark aside though, given the rates of violence against gender-non-conforming people, could we maybe allow a few positive comments to go unnegated, however gently and "this is only my opinion"-phrased the negation is? That is, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either being or not being turned on by men or women in makeup, on the personal level. But there's a huge societal bias that needs to be countered so that genderqueer people (and the people who like them) can live safely. (Or, that sentence can also be stopped at "can live." in far too many cases.) You can do your part by not adding your not finding men in makeup sexy opinion every time someone expresses a pro-men in makeup being sexy opinion (even though there is nothing bad or wrong about your personal preference).
posted by eviemath at 11:08 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]




That was my new favorite thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 PM on July 24, 2013


Here's another gender swapped version. The guys are less hot, but more masculine. The production values are worse (somebody needs to take a lighting class) but still better than Ask First video.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:08 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Todd in the Shadows manages to ignore half of the chorus to get "rapey."

Also, Daft Punk is overrated and I'm fucking sick of Get Lucky.
posted by klangklangston at 9:14 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree with Todd in the Shadows. This song is rapey because the narrator jumps from the fact that the women is grinding on him to the conclusion that she wants to have sex with him. Grinding on some random dude at a club does not mean you want to have sex with him. Also, "somehow" the narrator knows she is a "bad girl", despite the fact that she says repeatedly that she is not.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:53 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


> The guys are less hot, but more masculine.

In the first gender swap version, there is ONE guy wearing an outrageous amount of makeup. The rest of them are wearing regular camera makeup with a touch more eyeliner (which, I can't help but add, is still less makeup than your average TV news anchor.)

However, the men in the second gender-swapped version are acting more theatrically submissive than the men in the first gender-swapped version.

So, what makes the men in the second version more masculine?

Answer:
It's a trick question. Neither being submissive nor wearing makeup makes a man feminine, any more than wearing pants or punching someone's lights out makes a woman masculine.

Answer in terms of conventional masculinity:
It's because the second version is a parody with the men playing their roles as artificial silliness for laughs. The first gender-swap version is not really parody, it's satire; they're playing it straight (so to speak, heh) to reproduce the dynamics of the original without such a broad conspiratorial wink to the audience.
posted by desuetude at 11:14 PM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Of course some people think the song is creepy. You have people here who thought Paperman and the language lesson marriage proposal were creepy.

If you ignore the context of the song, presume the worst of the performers, dismiss the lyrics and pretend flirting doesn't exist, sure, the song is creepy as hell - this can't just be a light, sensuous summer song, it has to be bad. And it's not like the unrated video helps, with its funny, even silly presentation of female sexuality.

As said above (and repeated by a few others), I don't think the video is unproblematic, but that doesn't mean the song itself is about a creeping situation or a creepy person. Again, context matters.

(And policing people expressing a lack of desire for men in makeup, one time, as equivalent to oppressing the genderqueer? Not cool.)
posted by gadge emeritus at 2:28 AM on July 25, 2013


"I agree with Todd in the Shadows. This song is rapey because the narrator jumps from the fact that the women is grinding on him to the conclusion that she wants to have sex with him."

I forgot that there is literally know way to know from the way a girl grabs you that she would want to have sex. That's clearly unpossible, and any interest expressed in having sex with said girl is clearly rapey.

Grinding on some random dude at a club does not mean you want to have sex with him. Also, "somehow" the narrator knows she is a "bad girl", despite the fact that she says repeatedly that she is not.

You don't make your point with scare quotes. In every instance of contact in the song, the girl is in control, and at the end, she does, in the narrative, choose Robin Thicke and go home with him (possibly cheating on her current boyfriend).
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Todd in the Shadows manages to ignore half of the chorus to get "rapey."

His point is that the song uses the same kind of language as is often used in less savory contexts. There are two totally valid interpretations of lines like "I know you want it" - on the one hand, the narrator may be accurately interpreting signals and conveying them to the listener with this second-person address. I think that's a totally valid read of this song (especially because of my assumption about what "blurred lines" is actually referring to, above.)

The other interpretation is that "I know you want it" is directed at the woman as a tool to negate her actual desires and replace them with the singer's. I think this is also a valid interpretation, especially when looking at the video, which involves a couple of guys leering at a bunch of (topless or not) women who look bored, uninterested, and not particularly thrilled to be there. It's a line a lot of women have heard, and are going to react to based on that personal experience. Which is seldom if ever pleasant and consensual.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:49 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


holyrood: However, when i listen, all i can make out reliably are lines like " i know you want it," or " but you're a flirt now!" or "you must wanna get nasty, "
No-longer-young person complains they can't understand the lyrics in this new hippity-hop music the kids are dancing to; decides it must be promoting immoral stuff. News at 11.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:14 AM on July 25, 2013


Guy still doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers; decides someone complaining about it is An Old. Doesn't make the news because it happens every damn day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:22 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


"No-longer-young person complains they can't understand the lyrics in this new hippity-hop music the kids are dancing to; decides it must be promoting immoral stuff. News at 11."

No, it means that when I'm playing it, she hasn't listened to much outside the chorus, and she gets harassed enough to be uncomfortable about it.

I understand her objections, and the objections of other people here, but I don't think they're supported when considering the song as an entire text. Which is why Todd in the Shadows annoyed me — he's pretty blatantly cherry picking. But that doesn't mean that she's old or out of touch, it means that we have a different perspective on the same song.
posted by klangklangston at 1:06 PM on July 25, 2013


EmpressCallipygos: Guy still doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers

Nothing in the comment indicated he "still doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers". The comment he was responding to said the song makes them think of those issues even though when you acutally listen to the lyrics, it doesn't bear out that reading.
posted by spaltavian at 1:23 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad The other interpretation is that "I know you want it" is directed at the woman as a tool to negate her actual desires and replace them with the singer's. I think this is also a valid interpretation,

I don't think it is, as it requires an assumption outside the text. The reading with the fewest assumptions is "hey, this guy is cocky!".
posted by spaltavian at 1:27 PM on July 25, 2013


nooneyouknow: Also, "somehow" the narrator knows she is a "bad girl", despite the fact that she says repeatedly that she is not.

Where does she say this? Does the women speak anywhere in the lyrics? Does she get quoted?

narrator jumps from the fact that the women is grinding on him

The lyric sites I'm reading have him saying "grab", rather than "grind", which is a bit more evocative.

Either way, not sure about your framing. If a woman "grinding" or "grabbing" a man on the dance floor in an amourous manner can just be playing around- and don't get me wrong, it is!- surely the man can be playing around with bravado, too.

It's a song about two people flirting and dancing and being sexy. You have not assume a lack of consent for it to be a problem; you can acknowledge that in the real world there is a huge problem in this regard without seeing it here.
posted by spaltavian at 1:40 PM on July 25, 2013


Nothing in the comment indicated he "still doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers". The comment he was responding to said the song makes them think of those issues even though when you acutally listen to the lyrics, it doesn't bear out that reading.

As this thread itself will attest, whether or not the lyrics "bear out that reading" is actually an open question. And to my mind, if one person who has decided on one reading of the lyrics is writing off someone who has the other reading on the lyrics as a "no longer young person" who "can't understand the lyrics in this new hippity-hop music" and "decides it must be promoting immoral stuff", they are turning a deaf ear to the many valid reasons for why these same lyrics could be interpreted thusly - despite the numerous threads discussing those very reasons on Metafilter and elsewhere in the internet.

Ergo, someone who doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers.

Mind you, I don't think that the lyrics mean to be read that way, but I can certainly understand why others would think so. Much as I disagree that "Baby It's Cold Outside" discusses date rape, but I can understand why others think so. And so that is why I do not write off the opinions of those people as the words of "a no longer young person who does not understand hippity hop".

At the very least, it was a rude thing to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:21 PM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where does she say this? Does the women speak anywhere in the lyrics? Does she get quoted?

I assumed the narrator was quoting the woman when he called her a good girl. Otherwise, where did he get the idea that she was a good girl?

The lyric sites I'm reading have him saying "grab", rather than "grind", which is a bit more evocative.

That was me speculating. With dancing and "must wanna get nasty", I assumed she was grinding.

surely the man can be playing around with bravado, too.
Interesting. I hadn't looked at that way - that he is just playing/teasing when he says "I know you want" and not serious.

It's a song about two people flirting and dancing and being sexy. You have not assume a lack of consent for it to be a problem; you can acknowledge that in the real world there is a huge problem in this regard without seeing it here.

I kind of agree with you. If you are looking through this song through the lens of flirty people at the club, then no problem. If you are looking at through the lens of rape culture, problem. It reminds of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" that way.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:49 PM on July 25, 2013


Luckily, we're on the internet, so we can read the lyrics rather than speculating.
posted by klangklangston at 3:06 PM on July 25, 2013


Here's the thing. Two (or more) people look at the same set of lyrics and interpret them two (or more) ways. Two or more people look at a video and interpret in different ways. Everyone is convinced they're right but clearly someone here isn't.

That's the point: "I know you want it" it is an interpretation. But like the ladies are singing, "No way to know I want it, Unless I say I want it. Ask first!"
posted by DarlingBri at 3:21 PM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which, again, ignores the vast number of times in which consensual heterosexual intercourse has been enjoyed by both parties without an explicit asking. So there is, in fact, a pretty ample set of evidence that yes, it is sometimes possible for a man to know that a woman wants to have sex without "Would you enjoy some intercourse, ma'am?"

So, yes, while multiple interpretations are possible, the way you've formulated it actually eliminates the interpretation that it is consensual.

I understand their point; in general I agree with their point. In the particular, it's a poor example and it's counterproductive to insist on their interpretation in this instance.
posted by klangklangston at 3:58 PM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


nooneyouknow: The lyric sites I'm reading have him saying "grab", rather than "grind", which is a bit more evocative.

That was me speculating. With dancing and "must wanna get nasty", I assumed she was grinding.


I think the following line makes it even clearer:

The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me


He's explicitly telling the woman that the ball is in her court. It's more "come and get it" than "I'm taking it".

EmpressCallipygos: Nothing in the comment indicated he "still doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers". The comment he was responding to said the song makes them think of those issues even though when you acutally listen to the lyrics, it doesn't bear out that reading.

As this thread itself will attest, whether or not the lyrics "bear out that reading" is actually an open question [snip] they are turning a deaf ear to the many valid reasons for why these same lyrics could be interpreted thusly


No, I'm saying that Holyrood was accepting that reading can't be borne out, but still said the song creeped her out. The age thing was certainly rude, but the response didn't come within a country mile of denying women have to deal with that sort of thing.
posted by spaltavian at 4:53 PM on July 25, 2013


I'm pretty sure the title of the song explains everything.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 AM on July 26, 2013


No, I'm saying that Holyrood was accepting that reading can't be borne out, but still said the song creeped her out. The age thing was certainly rude, but the response didn't come within a country mile of denying women have to deal with that sort of thing.

So wait, you and I both agree that accusing someone of being "old" simply because they didn't get the same read on the lyrics was a rude thing for IAmBroom to do, yes?

If so, why am I the one getting the callout?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:03 PM on July 26, 2013


EmpressCallipygos: So wait, you and I both agree that accusing someone of being "old" simply because they didn't get the same read on the lyrics was a rude thing for IAmBroom to do, yes?

Yes, but that clearly wasn't the part of your comment I objected to. Your original contention was:

EmpressCallipygos: Guy still doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers

I disagreed:

Spaltavian: Nothing in the comment indicated he "still doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers".

You then repeated this specific assertion:

EmpressCallipygos: Ergo, someone who doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers.

And only then added as an afterthought:

EmpressCallipygos: At the very least, it was a rude thing to say.

The "rudeness" was never the main thrust of your argument nor what I took issue with. I agree it's rude, I disagree with the main point you made. "Rudeness" doesn't somehow imply someone "still doesn't believe that women face issues with creepers".

I wasn't "calling you out", i.e., I was not castigating you for violating site etiquette. I was disagreeing with a point you made as part of the discussion.
posted by spaltavian at 12:21 PM on July 26, 2013


So there is, in fact, a pretty ample set of evidence that yes, it is sometimes possible for a man to know that a woman wants to have sex without "Would you enjoy some intercourse, ma'am?"

a) Nobody is saying that isn't possible and a thing that happily happens b) if we've just met in a club and you think I'm "the hottest bitch in this place" and you're the one I've "backed my ass into" on the dance floor, whilst you seem to think the signalling is clear, I do not give consent by semiphone. The rest of our evening is going to go a lot better for both of us if you clarify whether I in fact do or do not want it. That's the way I roll; if you roll differently, we're going to have contretemps in the parking lot.

So, yes, while multiple interpretations are possible, the way you've formulated it actually eliminates the interpretation that it is consensual.... I understand their point; in general I agree with their point. In the particular, it's a poor example and it's counterproductive to insist on their interpretation in this instance.

I am not insisting. Who's insisting? I'm not saying that's the only possible interpretation; in fact, I've gone out of my way to acknowledge there are multiple ways to interpret this song, the lyrics, and the videos. Nobody has "eliminated" jack. I am saying their interpretation is my interpretation and that therefore, I approve of this message.

And counterproductive to the production of what, exactly?
posted by DarlingBri at 11:35 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am in agrrement with DarlingBri. Yes, a thorough and careful review of the song lyrics indicates that they are open to multiple interpretations. There's also, as the Dave in the Shadows video pointed out if weakly, ample evidence that guys who use some of the phrases from the song ("I know you want it" being the most egregious example) tend, on the whole, not to be terribly concerned with womens' consent. So any insistence that women shouldn't find the song creepy or problematic in any way (quite apart from the video) kinda comes across as supporting rape culture, or at least as having been under a rock for a number of years and lacking awareness of stuff like the Schroedinger's rapist problem, gaslighting, etc.

An academic discussion of textual interpretation in this instance, that respects that alternate interpretations can exist, and can be based in part on people's past experiences, is fine by me however.
posted by eviemath at 5:49 AM on July 27, 2013


So this morning I was reading something online on a slightly related but mostly different topic (for the curious: sexism against women in male-dominated academic fields) on a different web site (for the curious: Captain Awkward), which got me thinking back to some of my undergrad experiences. And the way one thing leads to another, I got to remembering the following experience.

A group of us were taking one of those (the uber ultra complete!!1!) sexual purity/experience tests, as you do as a late teenager thrown into a college experience with a bunch of other late teenagers with few commitments, not a great deal of sexual experience in some or many (depending on the individual) respects, and lots of hormones. Anyway, one guy had answered "yes" to the question "have you ever coerced someone to have sex?" So I noted that that was rape. He was kind of shocked (to his credit, he certainly didn't want to think of himself as being the sort of guy who would rape someone). I think the exchange went something like:
Me: "That's rape."
Him: "What?!"
Me: "Coercing someone to have sex is rape."
Him: "But... I didn't... I mean, she agreed to it, in the end."
Me: "Did she want to have sex with you, regardless of whether or not she agreed?"
Him: "Well.... But I didn't force her."
Me: "There's a lot of reasons women feel pressure to have sex, but when it comes right down it it, having sex with someone who doesn't want to have sex with you is rape."
Anyway, after some debate over the exact meaning of the term rape, and the role of coercion versus use of physical force, I believe we dropped the topic and moved on after me pointing out that, definitions and exact wording aside, coercing someone into having sex is not cool. I didn't have the language for it at the time, but coerced sex is very, very far from enthusiastic consent, and is, in fact, on the other side of the ethically okay line.

Then, at this point in my recollection, the controversy over "Blurred Lines" suddenly popped into my head, causing me to stop in my tracks a moment and go, "of course, that is exactly what is wrong with the song, and yeah, it is that bad."

Let me explain.

Nowadays, in my thirties, I still deal with sexism, including some of the same types of sexism I dealt with as a teenager, but there are many faces to sexism that I haven't, personally, encountered in quite a few years, and so have stopped thinking about quite as frequently. For example, I know myself better these days, and am more confident in who I am in general, and in my sexuality and sexual interests and interactions in particular. There's always more to learn of course, but I have developed more skills and experience in talking about relationships and sexual interactions with people, including potential sexual partners, that I didn't have or didn't have any practice with when I was younger. And also, being more confident and open about these things now, that seems to sort of pre-empt guys talking to me in certain ways that they used to. Those inclined to express negative opinions about womens' and girls' math and science abilities seem to generally know better than to express that outright around me, for example. And I haven't had any one tell me that I need to play down my intelligence or self-reliance, confidence, or competence in order to attract a mate in many years.

As a teenage girl, however, even one raised in a strong feminist household where my parents made sure I received positive messages about gender and female sexuality, it was hard to escape the ubiquitous cultural messages that:
* As a female, I shouldn't have my own sexual urges, or if I did, they should conform to some narrow range of culturally acceptable expressions
* As a female, I was not capable of understanding and articulating my own sexual urges and sexuality
* As a female, males around me and society/culture in general had the right to identify, define, and name my sexuality for me
* In particular, as a heterosexual female, guys I dated knew better than me what I wanted, or should want, and how I should be sexual; and in some ways, this was their responsibility, not mine
These messages came from individuals I interacted with directly, as well as from advertising, books, movies, songs, etc. They were stated directly, or implied indirectly or by example (eg. predominance of one model and complete lack of representations of other models). They were ubiquitous. Like, remember the post last year about that computer game where, as the player, you are a women, and these guys keep popping up and saying various typical street harassment phrases, and you have to shoot them? And there was one review of the game, I think on some popular gaming review web site, by a guy, who was like, "at first when I started playing this, it was a joke. But then I kept playing. And the thing is, there's no way to win this game. These guys, they just keep popping up, no matter how many of them you shoot. It's not one of those games that you win, it's one of those games where you see how long you can make it without losing. And the longer and longer I played, the creepier and more distressing it got. It just wouldn't stop. And now I think I have some glimmer of what these women in my life have been talking about, with regards to their experiences of harassment."? Ubiquitous. And what it adds up to is a general cultural (and often very specific, from individual people that women, especially teenagers, know) gaslighting preventing women from defining their own sexuality, replacing it with an external (usually male) narrative instead.

And that's coercive.

And that's what Robin Thicke is doing in this song. He is telling a women, in these lyrics, what her sexuality is; defining it for her, telling her that how she described herself is inaccurate. It doesn't matter that her boyfriend or ex-boyfriend in the song also did this. It doesn't matter if, when song-charater-woman eventually gets to figure out and define her sexuality for herself, it happens to agree with what song-character-Thicke is telling her it is. Her sexuality is for her, and her alone, to determine and to name. And if song-character-Thicke ends up getting sex from song-character-woman through this sort of coercive, gaslighting convincing her that her sexuality is actually what he says it is in the song, I don't care if you call that rape, or morally-but-not-legally rape, or coercive sex, or something else: it's not cool.

And I can totally see why younger women, who are closer to this particular face of sexism, are the ones I have seen be more outspoken against the song. It is a catchy, fun tune. It is a grey area, and hard to explain exactly why it feels wrong or off. And that's also why it's so important to talk about.
posted by eviemath at 1:43 PM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm unambitious
I'm nothin' special
but we should bone cause I'm a NICE GUUUUUUY
I'm not an asshole
I don't insult you
I interrupt you I'm a NICE GUUUUUY
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:18 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]




DarlingBri: So there is, in fact, a pretty ample set of evidence that yes, it is sometimes possible for a man to know that a woman wants to have sex without "Would you enjoy some intercourse, ma'am?"

a) Nobody is saying that isn't possible and a thing that happily happens
Actually, DarlingBri, you yourself claimed the women in the video say that:
DarlingBri: But like the ladies are singing, "No way to know I want it, Unless I say I want it. Ask first!"
posted by IAmBroom at 10:49 AM on August 13, 2013


IAmBroom, I believe most thinking people have already understood Darlingbri isn't intending for an exact script to be followed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:00 AM on August 13, 2013


Your childish insult aside, DarlingBri claimed no one said what she had exactly said. You may know it is typical for her to say things she does not believe, but I do not.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:40 AM on August 15, 2013


Rescripting Sex

From my perspective, you're really searching hard for that interpretation, IAmBroom.
posted by eviemath at 11:13 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eviemath, I think that link's broken...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:50 PM on August 15, 2013


Here you go.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:51 PM on August 15, 2013


"From my perspective, you're really searching hard for that interpretation, IAmBroom."

Well, since the whole thread was about searching hard for an uncharitable interpretation, and there's more to support IAmBroom's contention than the one in the FPP, it seems pretty fair.
posted by klangklangston at 5:13 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


erg, smartphone use fail. Thanks for providing the correct link, Rustic.
posted by eviemath at 10:50 PM on August 15, 2013


klang, I have not known you in past comment threads to so vehemently defend against women's defining their own experiences, eg. in this case pointing out that the language particularly of the chorus of this song is strongly reminiscent of other experiences we've had with rape culture. Maybe this is a cultural difference thing? I was recently reading "The Ethical Slut" (don't ask; it was complicated), and the authors seemed to be big fans of methods of cruising more commonly used among gay men that didn't involve a whole lot of verbal communication. It is certainly conceivable to me that some groups of people can successfully navigate hook-ups with non-verbal conventions that are sufficiently well established within the group. In general, however, there are a lot of complicated factors that come into play in the straight men hitting on women setting. Women in this thread are telling folks (not just aimed at you any more) that the language of this song is the same as language used in situations where they have felt pressured to have sex or present a certain sexuality for men. That's the context that this song falls into. There is a hell of a lot more to support the contention that the song's lyrics contribute to or reflect rape culture, than there is to support IAmBroom's nitpicking of whether DarlingBri meant that men should always ask women in legally unassailable language if they consented to sex, versus merely somehow verbally communicating this in a not necessarily quite so rigorous manner. It is totally okay that your experiences with the sort of language used in the song have been more positive. I wish the rest of us could say the same. That doesn't make our experiences non-existent or illegitimate.

For what it's worth, I, personally, think that explicit verbal consent is hella sexy. (Complicated situation vaguely alluded to above was complicated in positive ways as well as less positive ways.) It has the distinct advantage of not relying on in-group knowledge of non-verbal cues and cruising conventions, as well. At the very least, someone telling me, "I know what turns you on better than you do. You get turned on by this." is a real turn-off. YMMV. I also once got into a big argument with my mother sparked by her informing me of what curtains I wanted. Guess I'm just a fan of maintaining my own agency. And yeah, now that I've thought about the whole topic more, I would agree that "rapey" is not an entirely inaccurate description of song lyrics that take away a woman's agency in defining her own sexual experience.
posted by eviemath at 11:17 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


eviemath: klang, I have not known you in past comment threads to so vehemently defend against women's defining their own experiences

He's doing no such thing. He's arguing against an interpretation of the song. The song is not anyone's experience. The song may very well trigger a personal experience in people, but that's doesn't mean that assocation is an accurate reading of the song. And it certainly doesn't mean someone saying the song doesn't advance a certain position is not letting women define their experiences. (Especially when you explain your reaction by insisting the song says something like "I know what turns you on better than you do. You get turned on by this" when it doesn't.)

Speaking of vehemence, "vehemently defend against women's defining their own experiences" was a particulary nasty way of trying to shut someone down. "You disgree with me about what some lyrics mean? Oh, well that's because you're a sexist".
posted by spaltavian at 6:12 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, let's try to review the recent comments some:

* I claimed that the song lyrics can reasonably be interpreted as, to use common language, shutting down the personal narratives of straight women hit on by straight men vis-a-vis their sexualtiy. This was in a very long story comment that perhaps no one made it through all the way.

* EmpressCallipygos and IAmBroom had a quite polite disagreement about an interpretation of DarlingBri's comments over time.

* IAmBroom referred to EmpressCallipygos' comment as a childish insult, and rather than addressing the substance of EmpressCallipygos' claim that DarlingBri's comments were consistent, repeated the claim that they were inconsistent but in a more insulting manner.

* I weighed in that in my opinion, IAmBroom's interpretation of EmpressCallipygos' interpretation of DarlingBri's comments was a stretch.

* klangklangston weighed in that he agreed with IAmBroom's interpretation of EmpressCallipygos' interpretation of DarlingBri's comments, but also added in the comment that the "the song's lyrics support rape culture" interpretation of the song was a stretch.

* I addressed klangklangston's second comment, about interpretation of the song itself, using the language that I had used in my longer comment. Which, perhaps, no one had read, so in retrospect an explicit reference probably would have been more productive. While klang's defense of his interpretation of the song lyrics has arguably been vehement, I did make my own analysis/interpretation of his comments when I connected up his claims that the "song lyrics are rapey yo" interpretation was unsubstantiated with my claim that straight women of the sort that the song's narrator speaks to might have a privileged interpretation of how the song lyrics might tie in to rape culture. Let's be clear: klang did say that the "song lyrics are rapey yo" point of view was "searching hard for an uncharitable representation." That's not a value-neutral statement on the worthiness of various possible interpretations of the song lyrics: it is klang stating that he thinks that a certain position is inaccurate, despite how it ties in with the experiences of the people who put forth that position. Let's also be clear in that the overall argument is not about how the song lyrics can be interpreted in the absence of all cultural expectations, but whether or not the song lyrics contribute to rape culture. So the experiences of the listener do indeed matter. My choice of wording around letting women define their experiences mirrored my analysis of the song lyrics from my long-form story comment, which, admittedly in retrospect, I should have referenced explicitly rather than assuming good will on everyone's part in having read my unusually long-from story comment.

* spaltavian ... I will take some time and careful thought before tackling this one. I am... glad that you recognize that not letting women define their own experiences would be a sexist thing to do?

While klang's "searching hard for an uncharitable interpretation" rankled, it wasn't on the level of "your childish insult", imputing someone's honesty, or ... let me take some time before addressing spaltavian's comment. One could argue that my "vehemently defend against women's defining their own experiences" was an escalation over klang's language. (Although in my defense I did try to fully explain my reasoning or justify my strong assertion, rather than just throwing it out there.) How about we de-escalate with the name calling all around, eh? Stick to commenting on each other's actual words and actions, rather than imputing uncharitable motives.
posted by eviemath at 12:33 PM on August 16, 2013


eviemath: * spaltavian ... I will take some time and careful thought before tackling this one. I am... glad that you recognize that not letting women define their own experiences would be a sexist thing to do?

Denying someone's actual experience or insisting that women don't have to deal with harrassment/discrimination/intimidation would be sexist. (Or, I suppose someone could just be profoundly naive, but that would be very rare in our culture.)

But disagreeing with someone over what a song means- even if you find that song relates to a personal experience- does not deny anyone's experience.

That's not a value-neutral statement on the worthiness of various possible interpretations of the song lyrics

It certainly isn't. Why should it be? I don't think that's a reasonable reading of the song either. That doesn't mean I don't think those problems exist in the larger world. Deprecating your view of a song is not the same thing as deprecating your experience, even if that experience informs your view of the song.

Say I read Atlas Shrugged, and I argue that since it really hit home for me the the privilege the rich have over the poor, that must be meaning of the novel. You wouldn't be denying the lived experience of poor people, or deprecating my views on class when you tell me that's not what the book is about.
posted by spaltavian at 1:21 PM on August 16, 2013


There are two distinct issues here:

1. Whether the guy character in the song is denying the gal character in the song her agency to define her own sexual experience.

2. Whether, in arguing that the "this is rapey" interpretation of the song lyrics is absurd or far-fetched, klang and others are denying the experiences of rape culture of women arguing for the rapey interpretation of the song.

These two issues are interrelated, but let's take them one at a time. Can I ask you to read my long-form story comment above, so's I don't have to type it all again, and respond to that?

Or would you prefer to take issue 2 first? For a reasonable discussion of this, I would need to you work, at least temporarily, under the hypothesis thst the song does indeed promote rape culture in that it depicts a guy telling a gal what her sexuality is instead of letting her define it for herself. Are you okay with making an argument conditional on this hypothesis?
posted by eviemath at 3:05 PM on August 16, 2013


eviemath: * EmpressCallipygos and IAmBroom had a quite polite disagreement about an interpretation of DarlingBri's comments over time.

* IAmBroom referred to EmpressCallipygos' comment as a childish insult, and rather than addressing the substance of EmpressCallipygos' claim that DarlingBri's comments were consistent, repeated the claim that they were inconsistent but in a more insulting manner.
EC's reply was to insinuate that "thinking people" agreed with her. Hardly polite. A childish insult, in fact. Further, I did address her claim - DarlingBri quite simply stated one opinion, and later claimed no one in the thread had done so. That's the whole story; there really isn't much there, other than DB's odd denial of her own quote.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:57 AM on August 19, 2013


Just as a by the way for my fellow fossils, I got a pretty strong Robert Palmer flashback from the Robin Thicke video, and found it pretty meh + smarmy, personally (same as I felt about Palmer), but I had actually seen the gender swap version DarlingBri linked first before Robin Thicke, and totally loved it, so for me, that's my Blurred Lines song/video.

I've seen about eleventy billion videos of fully dressed guys singing about sexy sex with a gaggle of hot, pouting, scantily dressed model types furnishing the scene, so something that upsets that paradigm in an unexpected way like the gender bending approach of Mod Carousel's version is incredibly fun and refreshing. I'm not outraged by the Thicke version, but I think the best thing about it is seeing the musical responses that have been made.
posted by taz at 1:21 PM on August 19, 2013


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