Misogyny for “fun” or misogyny with the intent of flattery is still misogyny. This simple equation seems to be lost on R&B crooners lately.
In Bruno Mars’s “Treasure,” he sings “Pretty girl you should be smiling / A girl like you should never look so blue.” His song, while intending to tell a girl (ahem, woman) that she is attractive, in fact tells her that she should be smiling for the pleasure others. Explicit here is the idea that attractiveness makes you deserving of happiness. Implicit is that, regardless of the legitimate reasons this woman is upset, he has the right to tell her to smile. It just doesn’t sit right.
Mars’s song is far from the most troubling thing on the radio right now. Last week, I nearly drove off the road with a terrible case of the icks when a new Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell and T.I. song came on the radio. The line “Just let me liberate you” in the first verse was cringe worthy. This ostensible offer to help quickly becomes insidious as the chorus comes in. Robin repeatedly declares “I know you want it” and insists that the subject of this song was “a good girl,” which he explains is both enticing and confusing. Then he reminds himself again, “I know you want it.”
The song comes from an album set to release at the end of July, titled “Blurred Lines.” The album has been criticized for its perpetuation of rape culture on numerous blogs and the Daily Beast (although they call it “rapey,” casually making something disgusting sound cute). The Hollywood Reporter is the latest blog to take on the problems with “Blurred Lines,” pointedly quoting Thicke’s unapologetic response in GQ:
“People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.’ So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, ‘Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.’”
Check out the article on The Hollywood Reporter by Jeremy Bergman.