Friday, March 21, 2014

Talk to your sons about Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and "Blurred Lines" too

'Blurred Lines' is arguably the most popular song ever. 

Critics such as Tricia Romano of The Daily Beast suggested that the song and the music video trivialize sexual consent. She charges that many female fans were uncomfortable with both the song and the video. Her article quoted feminists who interpreted the song's message as being promotion of rape culture on account that the moniker "Blurred Lines" and portions of the lyrics like "I know you want it" encourage the idea "no doesn't always mean no" and that some women who are raped are asking for it. Criticism was also leveled at the song's video, which has been labelled "eye-poppingly misogynist".

Thicke, noting that all three male singers are married and have children, claimed that the Diane Martel–directed video was tongue-in-cheek.

All of this leads to a larger discussion.
"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, writes Eric Clapp, a pastor, on his blog. "And, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about parents talking to their daughters about sexuality,"

However, Clapp goes on to point out how there are barely any commentaries, articles, or blog posts that talk about:
... how Robin Thicke was on stage with a woman young enough to be his daughter while thrusting his pelvis and repeating the line “I know you want it” while T.I. non-chalantly raps about much more graphic stuff. 

Both performers should be held accountable for what they did. As blogger Melissa Wardy points out:
It was rehearsed, there were many adults involved in making the decisions about what the audience would see. I think we can hold performers responsible for their art free of censorship, as the audience we have every right to comment on and critique. This act went on stage with those responsible knowing plenty of young people would be seeing it. I’m rather certain they were banking on that.
Shelli Latham elaborated:
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.
There is a body of research that shows how viewing images of objectified women gives men “greater tolerance for sexual harassment and greater rape myth acceptance,” and helps them view women as “less competent” and “less human.".

How do you talk to your tween/teen boys about older men using younger girls like sex objects? What are the implications and implicit messages around male performers being surrounded by barely-dressed female backup dancers? How would your boys answer this question: When so many of the female performers are so scantily clad, is that self expression of sexuality or the symptom of something more insidious?

Why were none of the men nearly naked?

Boys, how do you feel the representations of women at the MTV Video Music Awards affect your female friends and family members? What expectations does your family have around how their boys will treat girls and women? Did what you see or heard about from the VMA’s live up to that or fall short?

Clearly, singing about “blurred lines” has great potential to reinforce a culture that already trivializes the importance of consent.

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