Rape Crisis spokeswoman Katie Russell said,“Certain lyrics are explicitly sexually violent and appear to reinforce victim-blaming rape myths, for example about women giving 'mixed signals' through their dress or behavior, saying 'no' when they really mean 'yes'.” Media that objectifies women leads males to believe women are less than human and can be treated poorly because they are just objects for men's’ pleasure, so it must be okay to sexually harass or rape a woman. People see it all the time in media how women are used for men's pleasure. Blurred Lines is just one example of media that dehumanizes women down to just an object. Another example of media objectifying women are ads portraying them as things like this ad:
Ad for beer: Photo courtesy of Gran Imaginador
Photo courtesy of infogr.am
Photo courtesy of thesocietypages.org
I can't be the only one who thinks these are ridiculous, right?
The Gender Ads Project is a website that exposes thousands of ads objectifying women. Click on the link to view the ads.
Many people may argue that the media’s portrayal of women is free speech as well as some people’s attitudes toward victims. Mens’ rights organizations are very outspoken about their opinions on rape. But there is a line between free speech and hate speech, which is illegal. There have been incidents where men’s rights organizations have attacked victims online and accused them of false reporting. While promoting rape culture and objectifying women in media may be free speech, it still leads to rape and victim-blaming.
What exactly is “rape culture?” It is a culture where rape is normalized or accepted, even expected. We see it in our everyday lives from fraternity orientations on college campuses, to rape jokes, to not believing victims, to aiming sexual assault prevention courses at women and teaching them how to avoid being raped rather than teaching men not to rape. Even women feeling less safe on college campuses than men are is an example of rape culture. After all, 1 in 5 women have reported being raped while 1 in 71 men have reported being raped.
Now, Blurred Lines in particular embodies all of my points. I think we can all agree that the video degrades and objectifies women, but it also suggests an implication of victim blaming when the song talks about a woman really wanting it and giving mixed signals, and promotes rape culture, as the top song is often played normalizing the message it carries. If males take the message as normal, then they will actually think no means yes. With all the spectacle around women's bodies and rape, eventually someone is going to be raped. This is shown in Project Unbreakable, which is a photo exhibit online that features pictures of rape survivors holding signs quoting their abusers. Some of the photos had lines that are said in the song like “I know you want it” and “good girl.” The majority of the pictures also had quotes from family and friends that were blaming the victim. Things like “what were you wearing?” and “what did you expect?” and “you should have known better.” This victim blaming leads to people not reporting attacks because they do not want to be blamed for the wrongdoing they had no control of. A whopping 60 percent of rapes are not reported to the police because of this. Not only has this sprung from the normalized idea that women should expect to be raped or that they were asking for it, but also it underestimates the character of men and holds low standards for men. Instead of censuring the rapist, the victim is blamed. Boys will be boys right? Wrong. We can fight this phenomenon of rape culture if we stop making excuses for the attackers and stop degrading women. So next time you are watching television and come across an ad that portrays a woman as a beer bottle, or a magazine advertisement that shows a woman being used as a table, stop and think about the message you are getting. Oh, and next time you hear the song Blurred Lines on the radio? At least try to resist singing along with the admittedly catchy tune and think about what is actually being said in the lyrics. When you pay attention to the words, the message is quite shocking and it is disappointing to think that it was the #1 pop song for 6 weeks.
Conclusion, updated [May 26, 2014]
My original argument was not changed by any comments and still stands. Objectification in media leads to the promotion of rape culture and victim blaming. During the process of reading blog comments I did learn more about the men's rights counter argument. I went more in depth and clarified more about what their arguments are and how they feel about this pressing issue of rape. Interesting questions came up about the men's side of this problem and how not all men can be blamed. Also some questions got me thinking about victim blaming and who does it and why it happens. It all sort of ties back to rape culture and its prevalence media. This is important to digital citizenship because a good digital citizen is smart and critical with media. A good digital citizen would look into the actual meaning of the media they are consuming and realize weather there is a good message that they want to receive, or if the message they are getting, such as in blurred lines, is not a good one. Perhaps, more importantly, a good digital citizen will see a problem in today’s media and online world and speak up about it. They will not just accept something as horrible as rape culture being shoved down their throats, they will question it and form their own beliefs and opinions. This process of blogging has opened my eyes to the problems of the digital world, and put me on the path to becoming the type of digital citizen to change it. I fully intend to stay on this path of questioning media, and I hope to bring others along with me.