Problematic Song Lyrics

As young women growing up in a world where music surrounds us, whether that’s on the TV, radio or played in clubs and bars, the misrepresentation and degradation of women is constantly echoed around us.

Even thinking about this song enrages me. Blurred Lines peaked at number one in at least 25 countries, becoming the number one song of 2013 in several of them. Yet, this highly misogynistic song celebrating the ‘blurred lines’ of consent, should not have been given this spot in the charts or in my opinion even produced. If the song title is not enough to cause concern, the lyrics ‘I know you want it’ suggests a complete lack of consent and is full of assumption that is extremely problematic. This not only perpetuates a toxic stereotype of male dominance and female submission but is actually celebrating the rape culture that for so many women across the world is terrifying and dangerous.

Music is a very important thing for many, and we need to start to question the content of the lyrics in the songs all around us:

1. Blurred Lines- Robin Thicke

Even thinking about this song enrages me. ‘Blurred Lines’ peaked at number one in at least 25 countries, becoming the number one song of 2013 in several of them. Yet, this highly misogynistic song celebrating the ‘blurred lines’ of consent, should not have been given this spot in the charts or in my opinion even produced.

Throughout the entire song, references to what could be interpreted as a rape scene are made ‘Do it like it hurt, like it hurt’ ‘Baby, can you breathe?’ this not only suggests that while he hasn’t been given any direct consent but chooses to believe he has, he is now endangering the woman by forcing himself upon her. Theses lyrics are extremely explicit and the visual imagery that is seen in the music video also provides a problem regarding the sexualized female form that can be evidently seen. This song was extremely accessible for many teenage boys and girls on platforms such as YouTube, not only causing a problem regarding their individual safety and to what they are exposed to in the lyrics, but it also shapes their views and opinions regarding consent.

By idealising these issues through the music video it teaches young boys that consent isn’t important and that ‘no doesn’t always mean no’. This is a highly toxic message to provide as organisations such as ours are constantly trying to combat issues regarding sexual assault, so I don’t understand how a song with lyrics as harmful as these can be praised while trivializing sexual assault.

2. U.O.E.N.O-  Rocko featuring Future and Rick Ross

A second lyric where by rape culture is again celebrated is in the song U.O.E.N.O by hip hop artist Rocko featuring Future and Rick Ross. Ross raps the lyric ‘Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it’. Suggesting that he used a drug and then took her home to take advantage of her in a vulnerable position. By making subjects such as sexual assault and ‘date rape’ drugs normalized, it not only encourages these kinds of actions but it makes assault survivors feel less validated. These song lyrics are completely harmful for women and men as they encourage the violation of women and the fact that it is seemingly acceptable.

3. ‘All About That Bass’-Meghan Trainor

This familiar, catchy, char-topping pop tune  also raises a cause for concern. While celebrating the ‘boom, boom that all the boys chase’ it suggests that if you have curves or a larger bottom or boobs then men are going to view you as beautiful. Although this song prides itself on body positivity and acceptance with lyrics such as ‘skinny bitches’ it seriously degrades those who are skinny or aren’t as curvy as figures like Kim Kardashian or Nikki Minaj who possess the iconic ‘hourglass figure’.

Meghan Trainor also sings ‘boys like a little bit more booty to hold at night’ while this message not only suggests that your beauty is defined by how males feel about you, it again marginalizes those who are thinner. Why can’t this pop tune celebrate loving every single size and figure of our bodies not dependent on how others view our worth but how we regard ourselves? Does this song really have to make those who are curvier feel better by calling those who are thin ‘stick figure Barbie doll’? Instead of encouraging self -doubt and knocking self -esteem of those women who don’t fit into this ideal of ‘all the right junk in all the right places’ let’s embrace body positivity of ALL shapes and sizes because we are all individually unique and that is what makes us beautiful.

4. Taylor Swift – ‘Blank Space’

This catchy pop tune has been a worldwide hit, but unfortunately, the tale behind it seems to promote the over-generalised stereotype that all women are insanely jealous, destructive beings. It also solidifies the idea that it’s acceptable for women to be both physically and mentally abusive in relationships, therefore making society believe that women can’t be domestic abusers. The lyrics, combined with the video released for this song portray that idea perfectly.

One example of this is in the video where Taylor gets progressively angry at her boyfriend for being on his phone and messaging other people while he’s with her. Yes, it’s annoying when you’re not being payed attention to, but the video implies that she’s angry because he’s speaking with other people that aren’t her, which shows clear signs of an unhealthy and mentally abusive relationship. This is further backed up through the line ‘oh my god, who is she? I get drunk on jealousy’, which shows how Taylor is unhappy with him speaking to other females, again showing signs of controlling within the relationship.

Taylor also, unfortunately, shows evidence of physical harm in the video – pushing him away and throwing a vase in his direction, as well as stabbing a portrait of him with a knife, burning/cutting up his clothes and attacking his car with a golf club. It’s safe to say that if this was the other way round, and there was in fact a man carrying out these actions towards Taylor, it would be deemed much more unacceptable by society and fans alike. Unfortunately, this implies to society that every woman is ‘crazy’, even if they don’t show it.

Although this is just my personal interpretation from the song/video, I think it’s important to see how important it is that women represent women well. Yes, it’s okay to show unhappiness/anger in a relationship, but it doesn’t have to be done in a way that might not only imply that women are always likely to act in an unacceptable way, but also upset victims of domestic abuse that may have had similar things happen to them.

Written by Samantha Hall and Emma Randall (@_samanthahall_ and @emmarandall99 on Twitter).