Last week, a feminist parody of Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' video was briefly removed from YouTube, after it was flagged as 'inappropriate content' by users. A group of women from the University of Auckland created the song and video as a feminist backlash against the original - in which we see Thicke, alongside Pharrell and T.I singing 'nothing like your last guy, he don't smack that ass and pull your hair like that,' while being fawned over by semi-naked women. The parody features women squirting semi-naked men with cream and stuffing cash into the chaps' pants, while singing about sexism. Largely inappropriate, yes. But what is equally as inappropriate is that while one song was removed (albeit temporarily), the other topped the US charts for over ten weeks. And because Mr Thicke and his pervy pals claimed that it was actually an empowering celebration of women and the female body, it remains wildly overplayed. Well, strip me bare and cover me in dessert - now I feel liberated.
Yes, Mr Thicke, you have defended yourself and the song - we get it. What I don't get is that you have managed to portray the sexual objectification of women as an entertaining, light-hearted prospect. That seems a tad ominous. It's like we're all being a little bit silly. We mustn't forget the fun, lyrical references to sexual violence and rape ('I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two' - golly, lucky us). Singing a song about a 'good girl' - from what I can gather, because she is the 'hottest bitch' - is not the way to advocate an appreciation of women. In an age of rape threats on Twitter, it is not ok to have a fun song and kinky video with strong allusions to sexual and domestic violence. This is exactly why we need feminism right now - the idea that this is acceptable in the 21st century is absurd.
The point here (and I'll just divert here to highlight the overwhelming use of terrible grammar in Thicko's song - apologies, typo) is that whether it is intended or not, the video shows women as sexual objects and treats female violence with mild derision. Bitches having their hair pulled or bums slapped isn't entertaining. The video will be taken at face value, and not everyone will understand the joke. It is also easy to say that the reaction to 'Blurred Lines' was instigated by a bunch of robotic, shrieking crazies. Or in the words of Godfrey Bloom, Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire - 'shrill, bored, middle-class women of a certain physical genre.' According to Thicke, the song was about men, including mad old farts like Bloom, being in awe of women and their bodies. That is, when they're not reversing their cars into walls. When is this tiresome justification going to stop being an excuse for stereotyping women as tits and flaps?
So, yes, feminism is very relevant right now - we are still tackling gender stereotyping. Equal pay. Rape. Rape threats on Twitter. Domestic violence. Just this morning, the Guardian published shocking statistics compiled by a UN-led study: that nearly a quarter of men in the Asia-Pacific have admitted to committing rape. More than half of those men claimed that they had raped for the first time in their teens and 75% had raped because they felt sexually entitled. More than half did it for entertainment. In a region where 70% of the men stated that they faced no legal consequences. Is there a correlation between songs about blurred lines and how people perceive rape? Quite possibly. But we shouldn't be taking this risk - and this is why we need feminism. Without a backlash to these 'potential' references, lines remain undistinguished. Misogyny and sexual and domestic violence become trivialised.