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A Guide to Guilt-Free Dancing to Blurred Lines

Auckland U’s Law Review Girls have been hailed for their overnight ascent to feminist global domination, all thanks to their song entitled Defined Lines. The parody features such wit-packed lines as “We ain’t good girls/we are scholastic/smart and sarcastic/not fucking plastic” and “If you wanna get nasty/just don’t harass me/you can’t just grab me/that’s a sex crrrrime”.

It is hilarious, it’s accurate, and it’s downright clever. But, I still love Blurred Lines! If it comes on when I’m on the dance floor, I’m going to groove out to it! So what does this mean, for me, a feminist? If I disco down to this tune, am I—-a sexist?

I am prepared to argue, not. Let’s look at the lyrics: “Okay now he was close/tried to domesticate you/but you’re an animal/baby it’s in your nature. Just let me liberate ya/you don’t need no papers/that man is not your maker.” The common criticism of this line is that it reads that women are wild things needing to be tamed; Thicke is purporting to liberate women by freeing them from social confines of domesticity, when really his song reinforces stereotypical power structures in which women are submissive, etc. However, when I consider if I am offended by this line, I have to say no. Am I a wild animal in danger of domestication? No. But if I were I’d be a tiger and he’s right, there would be no domesticating. I’m also not in need of liberation, I think we’ve covered it, but hey, it was sweet of him to offer.

We also hear the following lyric: “So, hit me up when you pass through/I’ll give you something big enough to tear that ass in two.” First of all, this is T.I., not Thicke, and yes, for the first time in the song, I find myself genuinely offended. It implies violence. I don’t like that. Then again, I have to note, that Defined Lines responds to violence with violence: “We’re feeling the frustration/from all the exploitation/prepare for your castration.” I don’t like that either.

Next we have the infamous, “You’re a good girl/I know you want it.” It’s patronizing, yes. But I have to say I use the phrase ‘good boy’ on men to patronize them. The phrase “I know you want it” has been translated as a nod from Thicke to rape culture. Do men know what women want? I don’t have time to answer that question. However, if a guy in a bar were to walk up to me and say, “I know you want it,” I would say one of two things: “you got it, let’s go” or “nope, I don’t.” It really is that simple.

The theory behind exposing these songs as misogynistic sexist monologues seems to be that such exposure will clarify the lines. I disagree, completely. The lines are not blurred because Thicke sings about them being so. Forget about Robin Thicke for a second: why don’t we just assess the cause of the blurriness? First of all, everyone is drunk. This is not helping. One wonders just how blurry the lines are when everyone is sober. Secondly, the lines might be clearer if women were clearer about them. Why don’t we teach young girls how to respond to a man who thinks he knows what she wants? Why don’t we teach young men that despite Thicke’s claims to sorcery, men can’t read minds. They need to ask. The same applies where the woman is the initiator.

I am still left with the femistentialist crisis: am I blurring the lines by dancing to this song? Nope: how I dance and what I dance to is not indicative of what I choose to do with myself as a sexual being. Feminism is choice, period. I support the rights of women to engage in BDSM, or to stay at home barefoot and pregnant; and other women should support my choice to dance to this song. Nothing sets women back like some women saying that other women set women back: when we critique choice, we undermine the fundamental right of a woman to make any choice she pleases.

Now, what is with the girl holding the lamb? Where are they all walking to? Why does Thicke think that ‘hug’ rhymes with, well, what he thinks it rhymes with? I don’t have the answers to these questions. All I know is that if Blurred Lines comes on, I am dancing to it. And if Defined Lines comes on, I’m dancing to that too!