Recently Robin Thicke and his song, “Blurred Lines” have come up against a lot of popularity, as well as a lot of criticism. For our purposes, we’ll focus on what his song says, or more accurately, doesn’t say about consent. Click here for the lyrics, and here for the clean video.
Thicke refers to hating those “blurred lines” as they represent the difficulty in ‘reading’ another person and what they want. This view of gaining consent not in concrete terms, but through suggestion and assumptions, is a dangerous game that can lead to sexual assault. Consent can only be given in explicit terms, anything less does not equal consent.
Here’s a short catalog of the “signs” that the girls in the video are giving that are supposedly signifying consent:
- “making eyes”
- walking back and forth
- licking their teeth/lips in a “seductive” way
None of which actually communicate any real message, let alone give Thicke a reason to say “I know you want it” eighteen times in four minutes.
[the kind of reasoning used in this song is also a pillar of victim blaming, where people analyze the actions of the victim to decide whether it was their fault. Often saying something along the lines of "her skirt was too short, she obviously wanted it." WRONG. NO ONE "WANTS" TO BE RAPED.]
So let’s get this straight. Maybe someone is “making eyes” or maybe they’re just zoning off in your direction. Maybe they’re trying to seduce you with their amazing dance skills, or maybe they just love to dance. Maybe they’re walking back and forth in front of you because they think you’re cute and want to get your attention, or maybe you’re just on the way to the restroom. Maybe they’re doing something with their tongue in a sexually suggestive manner, or maybe their friend just told them they have broccoli stuck in their teeth.
Consent is never an assumption or a hint, it is never anything other than an explicit “yes I want to ____” or “no I do not want to ____” and usually a combination of the two “ no I do not want to ____but yes I want to ____.” This is true whether your fill in the blank is “go get coffee”, “be hugged” or “have sex.”
The only way to get rid of those blurred lines, is to stop trying to figure out what someone wants on your own, and instead just ask them. Always remember that any sexual activity lacking consent is sexual assault.
Be sure to join us at the Consent Fair during DAWG Daze! September 24th from 1-2pm in the HUB room 337!