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miley wasn’t alone on that stage

[This is where I would normally post a photo but I refuse to sensationalize anything else about this subject.]

I was driving home from Jazzercise this morning, feeling all pumped up and happy, and singing along with the radio when Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke came on.

Up until now, I’ve only heard it playing in the background of stores and restaurants, and I’ve probably even hummed along to it because it’s definitely a catchy tune. I know it’s been the subject of some controversy, though, so I decided to really pay attention to the lyrics.


Here’s the chorus:

And that’s why I’m gonna take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines 

He repeats “I know you want it” endlessly, and goes on to say “You’re the hottest bitch in this place.”


When I got home, I – against my better judgment – watched the video and saw the inspiration for Miley Cyrus’ appalling performance on MTV the other night. I get it.

Unfortunately, so will millions of young girls who will internalize the loud-and-clear message that baring their bodies and publicly flaunting their sexuality is empowering and representative of strength and confidence. Especially when the men are fully dressed and blowing cigarette smoke in their face.

Smart move, guys.

Thicke himself has defended the song as “a feminist movement in itself.” Uh-huh. He went on the Today show to explain how the lyrics have been “misconstrued” and how he was just trying to make a “funny” song. Ha ha ha. And then he apologized for a joke he had made about “What a pleasure it is to degrade women.” Hilarious.

So if you’re going to criticize Miley, you should also be criticizing the man who empowered her to get up there and prove she “must wanna get nasty.” The man who was right up there on stage with her. The man who is almost twice her age. The man who was wearing a suit while she writhed around in her underwear, just like in his video.

Why are we so riled up about Miley when she was only following the rules set by Thicke? And why isn’t he experiencing the same public flogging?

Blurred Lines has been called “rapey,” which is a horrifyingly cutesy term to use for a criminal act. It’s as despicable as “legitimate rape.”

Somehow, rape seems to have become accepted as a form of sex. Not a good one, mind you, but, well, you know, sometimes the lines get blurred.

And that’s why this is a dangerous song. It makes it very easy to rationalize “blurred lines.” You know, “Well, she was rubbing up against me and I know she wanted it.”

Boys and girls, listen up. There are no blurred lines. Yes means yes, no means no. If a good girl says yes, it’s consensual sex. If a bad girl says no, it’s rape.

Boys, contrary to what the song would like you to believe, girls can prance around naked and still not want to have sex with you. If you have sex with them anyway, you are guilty of rape and will go to jail.

Girls, contrary to what the song would like you to believe, you don’t have to walk around naked to prove you’re strong and independent. And, if you do want to walk around naked, you still don’t have to have sex with anyone.  You are not a bad girl for wanting to have sex or a good girl for not wanting to. Period.

A judge in Montana just sentenced a rapist to a mere 30 days in jail, concluding that the 14-year-old victim was “as much in control of the situation” as the rapist, who also happened to be her teacher. “It wasn’t this forcible, beat-up rape,” explained Judge Baugh. You know those blurry lines.

The child committed suicide.

Am I blaming Robin Thicke for this? Of course not. But his song has been number one on the Billboard chart for 12 consecutive weeks, which means it’s becoming part of our country’s collective conscious. What it should be doing is sparking a reaction in our collective conscience. But, you know, sometimes the lines get blurry.


  1. Pamela Lear says:

    I’ve been saying this for weeks, and most people I talk to tell me the lyrics are harmless, that’s it’s just a fun summer song with a catchy tune. Ha! It is such a shame, and now it’s gotten more attention because of the VMA’s. I feel sad for Miley Cyrus. She is caught up in the maelstrom of a vicious, demanding, sexualized society where media and promotion are controlling factors. Robin Thicke is a 36-year old married man with a young child; how can that be OK? In watching the VMA performance, I was shocked and saddened at just about everything – – nothing about it was sexy, cute or interesting, and there wasn’t even any musical or dancing talent displayed on that stage. Another issue is the way the black women were used (and abused) and portrayed as the back-up to the skinny white princess figure; my favorite article about this so far is at http://lilith.org/blog/2013/08/miley-cyrus-and-a-whole-lot-of-wrong/. I commented on that also.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      It is a catchy tune and would be a fun summer song if it had DIFFERENT LYRICS! I feel sad for Miley, too, and the fact that she thinks this is the only way to prove she’s no longer Hannah Montana. Robin Thicke is disgusting. I’m going to go read the article you link to now. Thanks for sharing.

  2. *standing up and applauding* Yes!! Well said!! And I particularly loved your last lines “What it should be doing is sparking a reaction in our collective conscience. But, you know, sometimes the lines get blurry.”


  3. Thanks for posting this. I love the tune and the beat, but the lyrics always grate me, just like the ones from the songs I loved in the 70’s do now that I actually know what they were saying. The kids do need to know there aren’t any blurred lines.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      There are way too many catchy songs with bad messages that objectify women, but the whole idea of “blurred lines” takes it that one step further. Inexcusable.

  4. Exactly what I’ve been saying all week. Great job.

  5. The un-censored version of the music video has all naked women.
    It is a sad state of affairs all the way around. I think the pervasive disrespect for women in all media is damaging to the collective conscious

  6. You are so on the mark! It has been getting worse and worse and worse… We ought to sneak into best buys and put stickers that say PRO- RAPE on his CDs. Just sayin’ Really, what can we do? Money. Sex. Rape. Dehumanization.. Corporate backing. It is sickening.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      I wish I had an answer, Nancy. You’re right — it all comes down to money, and as long as that music sells, that’s what we’ll be hearing.

  7. sisters from another mister says:

    Remember when music videos were fun, entertaining and creative … that is what I remembered when I saw the VMA’s were going to be on. I said to my girls 11 and 15, oh we should watch them. Then my old addled brain promptly forgot … sometimes my old addled brain serves me well.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      There is something to be said for middle age! Yes, I remember when music videos were innovative. We’ve come so far from creativity — it’s all sex and shock value now.

  8. Now I am mad that Stephen Colbert had Thicke sing this on his show. You make a strong argument. Thank goodness and badness that my college aged daughter is taking women’s studies courses as she has always acted as though my strong feminist notions were unusual. Now she is more enlightened even if she still rolls her eyes at things I say.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      My daughter, too, Kymberly. This new generation of girls may have to start fighting just the way did. How did we come so far just to go backwards again?

  9. I watched about 5 seconds of the unrated Robin Thicke video for that song before I had to turn it off. I don’t understand why on earth we’d want to produce something like that. And the song lyrics…well they’re not the only lousy song lyrics out there. I didn’t see the Miley performance but you couldn’t pay me to sit down and watch anything she does. She’s come a long way from Hannah Montana. And not in a good way. I guess it’s all about what sells…sad.

  10. Lois Alter Mark says:

    That video made me want to throw up, Michelle — along with the fact that it’s already gotten over 15 million views. The “clean” version, which is almost as disturbing, has gotten over 153 million views. Yes, sex sells.

  11. I feel like a jerk. I had no idea that’s what the lyrics said. Yuck.

  12. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator says:

    Thank you Lois.

  13. Fantastically written, Lois! I’m disappointed in myself for contributing $1.29 to his wallet (way before any of this came up, because yeah, it’s catchy), but so glad I’ve never ever liked anything of his before and didn’t even consider springing for the whole album price. Also found out later that there’s a whole law suit filed by Marvin Gaye’s estate because it’s remarkably similar to one of Marvin Gaye’s songs. Not that there isn’t a lloonngg history of thievery, rape and cop killing in the music industry. I don’t know yet what the solution is, because I can’t abide censorship either. We just have to keep writing and talking to our daughters and providing positive role models and examples, until we come up with something better.

  14. Yeah, I heard the lyrics a month or so ago when my teen boys were in the car with me. I told them we were going to change the channel and why. They thought I was odd, yet not exactly. They definitely got the message that the song is NOT contributing to our culture in a good way. After that, I noticed THEY turned the channel when it came on, even if they thought I was elsewhere. Some things about our culture are very sad.

  15. I agree entirely with what you say here. And I love this (and the 2 paragraphs that follow it): “Boys and girls, listen up. There are no blurred lines. Yes means yes, no means no. If a good girl says yes, it’s consensual sex. If a bad girl says no, it’s rape.”

    What I’m not sure about is whether the message in the song is having the impact you think it is. In my experience teaching college students (the major audience for the song), no one is actually paying attention to the lyrics. Sure, they hear them and dance to them, but they are not actually aware of the meaning behind them or what they imply. . . just as they don’t bother to read much of anything else any more!

    • San Ann says:

      Don’t forget that even what is not being consciously being paid attention to is Unconsciously taken in all the same, like a subliminal message.

  16. I am so glad we do not watch or listen to this type of music. I do not even know what she did but it’s the “world” at work. It’s sad.

  17. Didn’t even know who he was so you can see this shit don’t stick. If everyone stopped talking about it and did something like not buy the hype we would be better off in my opinion. And to think my parents thought the Beatles were wild.

  18. I like the beat and tune of the song, it’s catchy, but the lyrics are disgusting if you ask me.

  19. I missed the show, but I’ve heard a lot about it on the radio talk shows on my way to work!

  20. AMEN!!! I’m so disgusted with both Miley and THicke! They are BOTH out of line with this song and the musical performance. It is just wrong. And the lyrics are just as you said. They are insinuating that it is ok to “take it” because they “knew she wanted it”. Yeah…that isn’t a good message to go over to kids. I honestly couldn’t have said it better than you. You vocalized everything i have been feeling all week long about this debunkle.

  21. A thoughtful post. I do see that there is a line between taking charge of one’s own sexuality in a way that rewrites degrading stereotypes and being exploited for the sexual needs of others. You are making interesting observations and getting into layers of interpretation. I know how I want to perform my own sexuality. And I’m not comfortable with Miley’s interpretation and Thicke’s role in objectifying her for his pleasure (symbolic though it may be being a performance). I haven’t seen the video or even listened to the song, but it does seem to promote the whole “no means yes” problem. I say, “err on the side of caution” and “when in doubt, don’t push the boundaries.” I don’t see Miley as liberated but as enslaved by her need for attention, fame, money, social media buzz. She doesn’t project peace and happiness. I hope that she can find a peaceful place before she does something truly self-destructive.

  22. VERY well said! I know the song….but I’ve been hesitant to watch the video that everyone is talking about. Sad all around!

  23. The way I interpret the lyrics, is that he’s taking a woman who has been in a stifling relationship, and facilitating the exploration of her sexuality. I don’t see it as rapey, I think people have taken a select few lyrics, and passed them around outside of the context of the whole song.

    I think a lot of women are fighting in the name of feminism, but they forget that they’re fighting to ensure that a woman can do whatever she chooses with her body. If that means showing it off in a Robin Thicke video, so be it. Nudity is such a big deal here in the US, and if we didn’t put such an emphasis on it, we would all be a lot more confident with our bodies.

    I thought the video was cute. The dorky brunette dancing around, T.I. brushing one of the girls’ hair like a little boy brushing his mama’s. Speaking of mamas, the first time I saw this video was when my 53 year old mother linked it to me in a message on facebook, saying “Have you seen this? Oh my gosh, it’s so cute!”

    I feel bad for Miley. She’s fighting so hard to get out of her Disney Sweetheart image. That performance was embarrassing to watch.

    • Shauna @ Momma Candy says:

      This. All this.

      I interpret the song in the exact same way. As consensual. And why is everyone acting like this is the most controversial song ever written? Hello! Madonna…the 90’s…Justify My Love.

      And if the women’s movement is about empowerment, Miley sure looked awfully empowered. She’s not some helpless child. She’s an adult who made her own decisions. Personally, I don’t think she did anything that was all that provocative. It was a terrible performance, yes, but slutty or provocative? Nothing I haven’t seen a drunk girl do at a club.

  24. I loved this post. Miley had me worrying because I’m now the mom of a girl–but really I should be worrying about my boys, too. I’m so glad that they are all still young enough for me to shelter them from all of this…

  25. I don’t have the link for it, but one of my grown daughters told me there was a parody of this video with a role reversal. meaning all the women were fully clothed and the men were running around in their underwear.

  26. Tricia van Dockum says:

    Hi, Lois. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I was in the car with my 10-year-old-daughter bopping to the tune when I started listening closely to the lyrics and turned off the song. I explained to my daughter how listening to degrading lyrics like that does impact your thoughts and can have a negative effect on how you see yourself and your place in the world. Miley Cyrus is another story…she just seems lost right now. Her management should be criticized for making her think this is the way you change your image post-Disney. Very sad…all of it.

  27. Lois, kudos to you for calling it like it is. Miley is a hot mess, but the song and Thicke are even worse in my view. Sad days indeed!

  28. Agreed. I also thought the performance was downright embarrassing, as there were no good dance moves going on there at all! At least have some sort of choreographed dance moves for the VMA’s!!

    I also feel the organizers of the VMA’s should not have allowed the performance to air – as in the rehearsals I am pretty sure they would have seen/known what was coming. It was aired for all and sundry to view on not just national, but International tv!!

    Thicke should have been asked these very questions and not all the slack end up only on Miley. She is so young, and caught up with wanting to change her “look” thinking she would create a new trend, but it backfired.

    By the way, the uncensored video of Blurred Lines is really offensive.

    I also cannot imagine that Robin Thicke’s wife sitting in the audience that evening, really thought that “performance” was okay! (she has said she was fine with it.)

  29. It’s sad how blurry things are getting. Great post!

  30. I have never heard that song and did not watch the video or MTV performance. What I saw in the clips in the aftermath was enough to disgust me though. And yeah it’s not fair the blame seems really disproportionate. It reminds me of last year when Kristen Stewart “cheated” with (I can’t even remember his name) and everybody raked her over the coals and were merciless and the guy scarcely got mentioned at all, though it is evident he was the instigator.

  31. The thing is, I don’t think the song is all that catchy. I think it’s pretty lame, in addition to the lyrics and the unrated video being extremely offensive.

    I have a friend who said although she finds the lyrics objectionable, she likes the song because it’s good to exercise to. This is the same friend who took the stance that the lyrics of, “Pumped Up Kicks” were socially irresponsible and that it was irresponsible for Foster the People to write such a catchy tune to go with the lyrics. The fact is, there is actually some back story to, “Pumped Up Kicks” and it does not promote violence, it’s about a kid’s reaction to bullying. So it seems to me, people will always find a way to justify something if they like it enough.

    I don’t see Miley as being such a victim. She fully participated in that video of her own free will and she apparently has enough clout to get someone to perform a song with her that she wasn’t even originally part of. That doesn’t excuse Thicke’s participation, but Miley’s the one working on changing her image so hard. The irony is, she just looked stupid, and is by no means an exceptional dancer. And yes, using the larger-framed African American women as back-up dancers, just made the whole thing more offensive. She thought it would add to her vibe while still maintaining the appearance of a tiny (white) little sprite.

  32. Glad that I read this because I had no idea what the song was about — it was all about Miley prancing around acting trashy. I do not blame Robin Thicke for that, but another man, her father, Billy Ray Cyrus. He should have taught her to respect herself more than to act like that in public 🙁


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