What are these Blurred Lines?

This article first appeared on Tearfund Lifestyle, 5 September 2013.

It’s no wonder Blurred Lines was a smash hit this summer – whether you attribute it to the original risqué music videos (both ‘clean’ and explicit versions), the wish-you-could-erase-it-from-your-memory Thicke/Cyrus duet at the VMAs, or simply the deliciously funky bass line, this song sticks in your head. The problem is, if you don’t stop to listen to the lyrics, you might end up singing along to some fairly troubling notions. The idea of a whole generation blithely repeating, hashtagging and retweeting ideas of #blurredlines of consent is worrying in itself.

Which is why, one day, I decided to put on a silly hat, grab a pastry, and make a video in reply.

Now there have been many replies to #blurredlines, including some from Thicke et al. The director of the infamous music video(s), Diane Martel, has claimed that by getting the video girls to look directly into the camera, they are placed in the ‘power position.’ Unfortunately, even if that was intended, the disgust many viewers have expressed shows that this is by no means clearly conveyed in the girls’ performances. One man’s subtle playfulness is another man’s misogyny, perhaps. But whatever you might say about the Good Girls’ performances, an important point is this: they are mute. They do not speak, sing or rap; they pout. They don’t look offended, incensed or even upset that they are being likened to ‘animals’; instead, they remain doe-eyed and pet-like, reduced to purring at being informed of what they really want. We may be blessed to live in parts of the world where women are not systematically oppressed or subjugated, but if we think we’re rid of sexism and misogyny in the West, it seems we are sadly mistaken.

That’s why I made yet another Blurred Lines video response – I wanted women who are strong in the knowledge of their own convictions to have a voice. Perhaps the ‘blurred lines’ of which the trio are singing stem, in part, not from the Good Girls saying no, but from them saying nothing at all. The ability to upload and express my own views (apparently shared by a fair few lovely people on Twitter!), both as a woman and as a citizen in general, is wonderful, and not to be underestimated. Because, just like the women in the video are mute, countless women both far and near are being silenced by an abusive partner, a controlling family, or an oppressive government. Just because they’re not speaking does not mean they have given their consent.

I had a lot of fun making this video, and I hope it makes you laugh. But ultimately, I hope it’s an encouragement not to quietly accept everything we are told about ourselves – our demands, desires or desserts. There’s only one voice that can tell us these things, and it’s that of our Father in Heaven. And the ability to speak out and pursue this truth: that’s #liberation.

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