Thursday, August 29, 2013

Talk With Your Sons About Robin Thicke

Lutheran pastor Eric Clapp has a fantastic article on reaction to the Video Music Awards.

I highly recommend reading his whole article, but here's a little of it:
If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter with any kind of regularity over the past few days, you’ve probably heard countless friends or followers sounding off on any number of objectionable things about the performance. Undoubtedly, 99% of things written about it throw around words like “obscene”, “offensive”, and the like. 
There have been a number of different parenting websites or blog posts who have come up with good ways to talk to your daughter about Miley. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about parents talking to their daughters about sexuality. 
But is no one going to hold anyone else on stage or behind the scenes accountable for that performance? Are we really going to have another one-sided conversation where we only talk to the girls about their sexuality while we completely ignore the boys in the room about their standards of behavior too?

Clapp quotes an excellent article by Shelli Latham:
Girls' sexuality is so much the focus of our ire. Women who have sex are dirty. Men who have sex are men. Girls who dress to be ogled are hoes. Men who ogle are just doing what comes naturally. This is the kind of reinforced behavior that makes it perfectly acceptable to legislate a woman's access to birth control and reproductive health care without engaging in balanced conversations about covering Viagra and vasectomies. Our girls cannot win in this environment, not when they are tots in tiaras, not in their teens or when they are coming into adulthood. 

Also on my mind is all of the original critique of Blurred Lines, especially Elly Brinkley's article:
I don’t think very many people are criticizing the song on the grounds that Thicke is going to go out there and start hurting women. The issue is that the song seems to undermine the importance of consent in sexual relationships. The very title of the song draws from the rhetoric of rape apologists who believe that date rape isn’t real rape and that sexual assault is often a “gray area.” 
Thicke’s defenders have argued that the woman in the song seems to want what’s going on. Some of the lyrics seem to indicate that the woman is interested.  We don’t often think of songs as works of fiction, but they are. I would think that Thicke would certainly say that it is fictional. Thicke, in writing the song, created the character that is depicted. Does he have a right to say that she actually does express consent? 
There is nothing productive about arguing whether the character actually/secretly wanted the attack. 
The idea that “she was asking for it” is a classic example of victim-blaming. That we might use that argument in public depictions of assault just points to how deeply rape culture permeates the way we think about sex. The fact that we don’t automatically believe that a lack of clear consent constitutes rape shows how rapey our culture can be. On TV, in movies and in music, there are “Blurred Lines”–and this is not a good thing. 

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