SHAPE hosts discussion of ‘Blurred Lines,’ rape culture

Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators discuss Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video. The organization held an open discussion Thursday night about popular music and rape culture.

Sarah Nelson/Daily Senior Staffer

Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators discuss Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video. The organization held an open discussion Thursday night about popular music and rape culture.

Ally Mutnick, Development Editor

Northwestern’s Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators are un-blurring Robin Thicke’s lines.

The group held an event Thursday evening, drawing about 40 people to Fisk Hall to discuss the music video and lyrics to Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” and the presence of rape culture in today’s society.

Kyra Jones, co-director of SHAPE’s events committee, opened the discussion by playing the uncensored version of the song’s music video. Jones, a Communication senior, said her committee chose to focus on Thicke’s summer chart-topper due to the controversy surrounding the song.

Many critics have called the lyrics misogynistic, Jones said. But with so many songs that reference rape and sexual assault, she said she is skeptical of the way Thicke was being singled out.

“People came in wanting to bash Robin Thicke,” Jones said. “And I think it became a more nuanced conversation, which is what we wanted.”

Event leaders played other videos by Robin Thicke and showed lyrics from songs that also have what Jones called “a rape-y undertone,” such as the holiday song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Run for Your Life” by The Beatles.

Attendees at the event analyzed the chorus of “Blurred Lines” and debated whether the video promotes rape culture or celebrates the female body. Students considered opinions from varying ends of the spectrum, with some suggesting the video is demeaning and others speculating the song, specifically the lyric “Go ahead, get at me,” is Thicke’s way of giving his consent to his partner.

Students also discussed the intent of the video. Jones shared thoughts from the video’s director Diane Martel and Emily Ratajkowski, a model in the video. Martel told the blog Grantland.com that she found the video “meta and playful” but not sexist.

Andrew Kaplowitz, a Weinberg freshman, told the group he thinks the video achieved its goal of addressing the idea of blurred lines.

“Look at the discussion we’re having right now,” he said. “It’s still raising the question and raising awareness and calling attention to rape culture.”

Kaplowitz, a member of Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault, said the event was a good way for students to share opinions on a pertinent issue that is not clear-cut.

Jones ended the night with a discussion of sex in the media and asked attendees to talk about the roles of consumers and record companies. She noted the video received more than 200 million views on YouTube.

“What does that say about our culture and what kind of music and music videos that we like?” Jones asked.

McCormick junior Petrina LaFaire said she liked that the event prompted debate about the song and rape culture. LaFaire, a SHAPE member, said she enjoyed hearing other students’ perspectives.

“I really love talking about ‘Blurred Lines’ because I think there are so many different ways you can look at this,” LaFaire said. “I have really mixed views on this.”

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Twitter: @allymutnick