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Misogyny or Mars and Venus?

September 18, 2013

Cave Man

I'm starting to rethink my position on music videos (and other media) that I've always thought of as misogynistic. Maybe I've been too harsh.

Or maybe not.

I think the post Renee did a couple of week ago about Miley Cyrus' performance at the VMA awards may have first put the topic into my mind.

For the record, I think the discomfort people have with seeing Miley in a sexual light is mainly because they still think of her as Hannah Montana. At least part of the similar "Ewwww" reaction I have to Robin Thicke has to do with his strong resemblance to his father. Maybe most of Robin's fan base isn't old enough for the reference, but a Dr. Jason Seaver lookalike performing synchronized twerking (I admit, I had to look up "twerk" the first time I saw the term) is much more disturbing to me than a vinyl-clad Miley. Just sayin'.

But that's beside the point.

A few days after reading Renee's post, Billboard magazine declared "Blurred Lines" the "Song of the Summer." I'd heard the song a few times, found the hook catchy, but hadn't really paid attention to the lyrics. For the first time, I watched the unrated video and really paid attention to the lyrics. I was surprised at how offensive I found them. I'm not a prude, but seriously, yuck. This led to a link to another Thicke video, "Give It 2 U." This one left me speechless.

Then, just yesterday, Jezebel (a blog site featured highly on my favorites list) re-posted a Craigslist "Missed Connections" article from a women responding to a moron who shouted something offensive to her from a car window while she was waiting at a train stop (check it out; it's well worth the read). One of the responders posted a comic strip about a woman whose husband didn't understand why she was upset by men who shouted obscenities. His response: "If someone on the street said I look nice, it'd make my day."

Finally, and on the topic of "doing-the-same-thing-over-and-over-and-expecting-different-results," I took one of my occasional ganders at the profiles on a dating website. On this site, if you log in for the first time in a long time, your profile is (apparently) automatically shuffled to the top of search results. So, my random, infrequent visits inevitably trigger a bunch of messages from men who are new to the site. Let me make a couple of things clear: There is absolutely nothing even vaguely suggestive about my on-line dating profile. In the pictures, I'm dressed conservatively and in the text I don't make any references to my sexual habits or preferences. Also, I'm fifty-fricken'-four. And I don't lie about my age.

And, yet...

I inevitably get messages from men saying things like, "You are so sexy," or "Your pictures really turn me on." And, quite often, requests that I post pictures in a bathing suit, or that show more of my body. If I then go to these men's profiles, they often have uploaded shirtless pictures of themselves.

I used to find this stuff offensive, but now I realize that these men are communicating in a way they wish women would approach them.

In that context, I asked myself the question: Are artists like Thicke, who write lyrics in which they brag about the size of their penises and call women "the hottest bitch in this place" really misogynistic jerks? Or, are they just so, em, thick that they think that women find this behavior attractive?

My fantasy conversation with Robin Thicke (and friends):

  • Thicke(and his ilk): "You know you want it."
  • Me (and other women with IQ's bigger than their shoe size): "No, actually, you have to work a little harder than that to make me 'want it.' Sorry."
  • Thicke (and Bret Michaels on any incarnation of Rock of Love): "But I'm an attractive rock star. Therefore, you should just want it."
  • Me (and other women who would prefer prolonged dental surgery to appearing on Rock of Love): "Being attractive and a rock star doesn't necessarily mean you're the kind of man I could fall for. So, no, I still don't want it."
  • Thicke (and 2 Chainz, Pharrell, and whoever came up with the idea that twerking is a legitimate dance move): "Who said anything about falling for me? We're talking about wanting it. You know, it.
  • Me (and the producers of the Defined Lines parody): "Are you referring to your penis? Because I'm not turned on by open discussions of sexual organs."
  • Thicke (who, along with all his aforementioned counterparts, is now genuinely puzzled): "You're not?"
  • Me (and pretty much all the women I've ever met): "Nope."

Conversation now ends, because Thicke and all his cohorts are completely hornswaggled, and must go rethink their entire creative existences.

Okay, so maybe this blog post didn't actually enlighten anyone. But I can dream.

P.S. Although I no longer assume that the men on the dating sites with their shirtless pictures and innuendo-laden messages are being deliberately offensive, I don't answer them either. My dream man would rise to a higher plane without being prompted. Are these unrealistic expectations?

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