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Lines are not ‘blurred’

Bianca Almada | Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Though Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” has quickly become a dorm party favorite, I cringe every time I hear the song. Though it has a catchy beat and easy-to-memorize lyrics, it is the perfect example of how rape culture has perpetuated itself in modern life, especially in college.

Thicke sings to female partygoers, “I know you want it.” Never is this assumption appropriate. Nothing a woman does, short of stating it directly, implies she is asking for sex – not the way she dresses, not the way she flirts with a man, not what she drinks, not her reputation. What kind of audacity does a man have in order assume he can accurately read a woman’s mind, especially when it comes to sex? Thicke claims he knows because, “The way you grab me, you must wanna get nasty.” He fails to think she may be grabbing him to hold herself up straight, or to try push him away or that it was a drunken accident.

He sings, “Not many women can refuse this pimpin’.” The disgusting arrogance speaks for itself, as he cannot even fathom the idea that a woman would not want to engage in sexual conduct with him, since he is such a desirable catch. If he can assume this, he thinks, then why not go for it, even when the woman does not straightforwardly consent? He can “just tell” she consents. He does not understand consent always means verbal agreement from a woman in her right state of mind, and that anything else is sexual assault. He cannot assume the answer is always “yes.”  

Alcohol often plays a role in sexual assault. Thicke addresses this, singing, “If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say, if you can’t read from the same page.” If she can’t read from the same page, than she is clearly drunk or otherwise not in a sober state. She cannot consent to sexual activity, and to follow through with such action would be taking advantage of her and assaulting her.
Robin Thicke hates the “blurred lines” that make it difficult for him to decide whether he should pursue a woman. The bottom line is that if the lines are blurred as to whether a woman has consented, whether she is in the sober state of mind to be able to consent, or whether it would be appropriate to initiate sexual activity with her, then the legal, appropriate, respectful thing to do is always nothing.

What is so aggravating about the song, and about societal attitude about rape in general, is that it refers to these blurred lines as mere frustrations for men rather than as serious issues regarding legality and, more importantly, respect for women as more than sexual objects. Drunken, nonconsensual sex is addressed as a commonplace, faultless occurrence rather than as assault and rape. Further, women are the ones made to be responsible for their assaults, and they are led to believe it is their own fault because of the mixed signals they sent a man or because of their own irresponsible behaviors.

Workshops regarding sexual assault are usually directed exclusively at women, instructing them on “how to not get raped.” They are told to go to parties in groups, not to let friends go places alone with strangers and always to pour their own drinks. These are all good pieces of advice, and women should be held accountable for their actions. However, it is despicable that the responsibility of preventing sexual assault is often placed on women solely being taught to “not get raped” instead of on men being taught “do not rape” or “prevent your friends from committing rape.”

This is one of the major reasons why women blame themselves after being sexually assaulted. They think that if they had not been wearing that outfit, flirting so much, drinking so much, then they would not have been assaulted. But it is never the victim’s fault. No matter what a woman does, if she does not consent, then the only one at fault is the person who assaulted her, taking advantage of her weaknesses or incorrectly reading her behavior as an invitation for sexual activity.

This is rape culture, and it is everywhere. Open your eyes. The lines are not blurred.

Bianca Almada is a sophomore residing in Cavanaugh Hall. She is studying English, Spanish, and Journalism. She can be contacted at balmada@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.