Over at Feministing, some late commentary on one of last month’s big feminist pop culture outrages: Robin Thicke’s video for Blurred Lines. For those who missed it, the song’s title and lyrics play on the idea of blurred lines between yes and no, wanting it and not wanting it, teasing and delivering the goods. That kind of thing.
The blog writer, atypically and thus notably (and self-declaredly) a man, writes about how he initially paid little attention to the vid, and not just to the prancing semi- or bare-naked ladies (depending on which version you watch), but also the part where it shows the words “ROBIN THICKE HAS A BIG DICK,” because “that’s pretty much the message of every music video I’ve ever seen a dude make.”
He goes on to say:
That’s the danger of brushing aside this video and the potentially “rapey” lyrics, as I first did (a function of my privilege as a hetero man).
The verdict seems fairly universal: Blurred Lines is “kind of rapey.”
And I find that kind of interesting, and kind of ironic, in these days of not only “no means no” but “yes means yes” (which happens to be the title of a book by Feministing’s founder), because if there’s anything that blurs the lines between yes and no, consent and non-consent, rape and not-rape (not to mention “rape-rape”), it’s the word “rapey.”
Who’s the genius who came up with this oh so cutesy-poo wordy-word-word, and who are the sheep who first carried it into and infected the flock with this self-undermining meme? Just a guess, but maybe the same ones who decided the term “rape culture” doesn’t serve to normalize what it so cleverly names, or that “What about the menz?” is an effectively dismissive comeback when confronted with issues of social impact that any successful movement for structural social change must eventually deal with.
But of course that assumes that feminism still IS a social movement and not just a publishing genre.
It’s hard to trust or defend or take seriously a feminism that while unable to get much traction on its political agenda has managed to inject into its own discourse a word that explicitly and by design blurs the lines on one of its core issues and principles: rapey.
But isn’t that just the kind of incoherence we’ve come to expect from blogospheric pop feminism, where conceptual slipperiness plays happily with the language police, and where institutional interest finds that maintaining a siege mentality outweighs any need to shake off the dead weight of ossified theory and maybe, just maybe, hold on to previously hard-won gains (abortion rights, anyone?) which, as they’re systematically taken away like candy from (“unborn”) babies, justifies the siege mentality.
Have you heard the one about the girl who cried backlash?
Below, shrunk down to teeny-weeny size, in honor of the true dimensions of both Robin Thicke’s dick, and feminism’s intellectual vitality, political muscle, and current cultural influence, is the Blurred Lines video that everyone’s been just forcing themselves to watch over and over and over and over again. (Would you believe me if I said I haven’t seen it? Pinky swear!)