TW: sexual assault
You may recognise the American supermodel from Robin Thicke’s hit song, Blurred Lines. If you know the meaning of Blurred Lines, it will come as no surprise that the controversial song has become even more controversial.
In Emily Ratajkowski’s upcoming book, My Body, she mentions the alleged assault. “Thicke returned to the set, a little drunk to shoot just with me. Out of nowhere, I felt the coolness and foreignness of a stranger’s hands cupping my bare breasts from behind. I instinctively moved away, looking back at Robin Thicke.” She later said that she felt “humiliation pump through [her] body.”
Diane Martel’s vision for the video was to overthrow power dynamics, placing men in the inferior position whilst the women ignored and mocked them. Ratajkowski mentioned how Thicke’s actions changed the feeling on set “with that one gesture, Robin Thicke had reminded everyone on set that we women weren’t actually in charge.” Martel witnessed the assault and wrapped up production on the spot. She also mentioned that Thicke “sheepishly apologised”.
Thicke reportedly apologised to the supermodel, however, an apology is not enough. This cross over from professionalism to sexual assault should never have happened. Thicke has yet to comment on the assault.
This isn’t the first time Blurred Lines has been in the press. The song released in 2013, over 8 years old, has been accused of glorifying rape culture, with lyrics such as “I know you want it” being repeated. It later was banned from many nightclubs and university campuses.
Co-writer Pharrell Williams has admitted that he is ‘embarrassed’ by the lyrics, with Robin Thicke stating that they did not intend for the lyrics to be sexual. “I have never and would never write a song with any negative connotation like that.” In recent years Pharrell has attempted to distance himself from Blurred Lines. In 2019, he told GQ that he didn’t get why the song was receiving backlash as some women enjoyed the song. He followed up with, “I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman, and it doesn’t matter that that’s not my behavior. Or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women.”
In a world where women are repeatedly ignored and humiliated for speaking out against sexual assault, it seems that in the 8 years since the release of this video that the music industry still has a lot to answer for.
It’s time for change, that’s why we’re here. At Cactus City, we have all witnessed and experienced inequality within the music industry. It’s not just important to us, it’s necessary to create safer spaces for everyone in the music industry, including directors, producers and models like Emily. We need safer spaces and we need representation of women in music.
Safer spaces for women will create good change for men too. The toxic male culture we see will just not be sustainable anymore, creating safe havens for EVERYONE.
If you have been affected or want to know more about safe spaces in the music industry please have a look at our resources:
Report sexual harassment within the music industry: https://musiciansunion.org.uk/safespace
24/7 Hotline: https://www.rainn.org/
Live chat helpline: https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/