Reblogged From Rewriting the Rules
I was late in the day to the Blurred Lines phenomenon. At a conference where I was talking about gender and sexual consent a colleague mentioned that I should really check it out. Since then I have followed some of the commentary online, not to mention the numerous parodies that have been produced (as with last year’s Gangnam Style). I was moved to write this post about how this might prompt some very interesting and useful conversations about sex (perhaps in the context of youth work or teaching on sex and gender in higher education).
For those who aren’t aware, Blurred Lines is a song, and music video, by Robin Thicke which has topped the charts this summer across 14 countries. It caused controversy both because of the inclusion of a group of skinny, near-naked female models in the video, and because of the lyrics which seem to suggest non-consensual sex. The repeated line ‘you know you want it’ next to ‘but you’re a good girl’ seems to support the common problematic assumptions that ‘good’ women shouldn’t be sexual, and that women can want sex even when they are refusing it. The ‘blurred lines’ idea seems t suggest that it isn’t always clear whether it is okay to have sex with somebody or not, which is a problematic message given the high rates of sexual violence.
It can be difficult to raise these kinds of issues – around gender and power, and around consent and sex – with people who enjoy the catchiness of the song and don’t particularly see a problem with the lyrics or video. Given how widespread these kinds of images of women – and messages about sex – are, there are many who struggle to see the difficulties.
Meg writes: For the Sense about Sex events I developed some groundrules which I had used in previous events to give a rough idea about how we might interact on the day. I was mindful that, at other events I’ve been to, sometimes one or two people have dominated discussion and others have felt unable to contribute. Also it can be easy for people to disclose something and then feel uncomfortable about doing so, or for debates to polarise in ways that don’t allow for any other opinions.
These kinds of groundrules obviously don’t solve all problems with human interactions! But my hope was that they might encourage people to think about process (how they interact) before getting into the content of the event.
I’m interested in exploring further ways of cultivating cultures of kind, constructive and consensual communication (e.g. group sizes, structure of discussions/workshops, venue environment, etc.)
The groundrules are in the pdf link and below. All feedback gratefully accepted as these are very much a work in progress. Feel free to use and adapt yourself if they are useful.
General Event Ground Rules
Running events, for various audiences, over the years, it is evident that it is worth all of us – whoever we are – thinking about how we interact on such occasions, especially when topics are personally relevant and/or politically charged.
This set of suggested groundrules may be helpful:
Treat speakers and participants with respect
It can be daunting to talk in front of a group, especially about your own work and ideas. It’s fine to disagree but try to keep criticism constructive and to own your perspective: ‘I think…’ rather than ‘you’re wrong’.