Friday, 4 October 2013

Blurred Lines?

by Clemency Flitter 

blurred lines, robert thicke, rape culture
Blurred Lines has been heavily criticised for condoning rape
It is said that in the West we live in an equal and progressive society; but how can that be the case when almost half of men (between the ages of 18-25) believe it is okay to continue to pursue sexual relations with a woman even if she has changed her mind and is no longer giving consent? Perhaps even more worryingly a further 1 in 4 men said that they would have sex with someone they knew was unwilling. These statistics will not be helped by songs such as 'Blurred Lines', heavily criticised for trying to blur the line between consent and rape. This song, which contains the lyrics such as “And that's why I'm gon' take a good girl. I know you want it”, has even been banned from 5 UK universities but this has not stopped it spending weeks as a No 1 hit. How can we call ourselves a progressive and modern society when rape culture is still so pervasive, a big issue, but one people still refuse to address?
Songs like 'Blurred Lines' enforce the idea that consent is subjective. Even worse, they add to a culture of victim-blaming that has become so commonplace even in “equal” countries such as America and the UK. In August this year a 54-year-old teacher from Montana was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl. He was given a mere 30 days in prison for an act that ultimately led to the teen taking her own life. At the trial the judge ruled that the pupil was “older than her chronological age” and “in control” of the situation. And rapists in America are still given rights: in 31 states a rapist can sue for custody and visitation rights for any child conceived from that rape. This is just a couple of examples of blaming the victim and giving rights to those who should have forfeited them.

rape culture
Women are often blamed for their rape because of what they were wearing
Today women are criticised for wearing revealing clothes or being out late; women are constantly told that if they go out at that time or wear that outfit that it is their fault if they get raped. How can we call ourselves a modern society when we treat women as responsible for the actions of rapists? These ideas put across a message that is harmful to both men and women. For women, it says that they must restrict their life to fit around the actions of a few despicable people. For men it degrades their very sex by putting across the idea that men are incapable of walking past an attractive woman without being compelled to harass her. As well as this, people are often grossly misinformed about the number of falsely claimed rapes. A survey found out that Americans believe that 50% of reported rapes were false claims; in reality the number is between 2 and 8%.
Although in recent years there have been efforts to improve the conviction rate, still less than 1 in 100 reports of rapes leads to a conviction. For some of these cases the reasons for this will be lack of evidence, or legitimate doubts. But for many more the reason will be that there is simply no will to prosecute. Rape victims are treated notoriously badly by the police and law enforcement services. Often their claims are not taken seriously and there have been numerous cases of rape allegations being dropped because it was deemed the victim did not fight her attacker hard enough. All this leads to even fewer rape cases being reported, only adding to the idea that rape is a crime that is easy to get away with.

With rape still such a major issue in the criminal justice systems of western societies, it is shocking that songs such as 'Blurred Lines', that glamorise rape, are allowed to be played on radios and television shows. The ideas that this song puts across just confirms misinformed ideas that many have about consensual sex and rape. It’s about time that people took a stand and make sure that those so-called blurred lines become more defined.


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