Robin Thicke’s “Paula”: He Still Hates Those “Blurred Lines”.

Robin Thicke, along with Pharrell and T.I., came out with arguably 2013’s most controversial song, “Blurred Lines”, about this time last year.

Now the son of Growing Pains actor Alan Thicke is back with a whole new album about his estranged wife, Paula Patton, entitled simply, Paula.

Thicke was caught with his hand on a female fan’s bottom and allegedly followed this up by cheating on his high-school sweetheart Patton, with whom he’d been involved for 21 years and has a son. The unflappable Patton seemed to take the split in her stride, at least compared to Thicke, who’s taken to social media and radio waves in an attempt to win his former ladylove back.

The fact that his forthcoming album’s tracklist consists entirely of breakup-and-makeup songs is supposed to be romantic, but to the discerning eye, Thicke’s predation that was front and centre in “Blurred Lines” has come to the fore yet again.

Not only does his public begging read as more desperate than romantic, it publicly shames the other party who’s chosen to deal with the dissolution of their marriage in private.

But we all know Thicke’s favourite pastime is to “degrade a woman” and that’s exactly what he’s doing with this ill thought out album. For some perspective, the titular woman filed for divorce from Thicke in February this year, and the album’s first single, “Get Her Back” was released in May, giving Paula a lead-time of three months. And it has only been a year since Thicke’s previous album, Blurred Lines, featuring the rape anthem of the same name, came out.

The actual Marvin Gaye medleys that Thicke has become so well known—and taken to court—for and that make up Paula aren’t the worst in the world, but it’s when listeners pay mind to Thicke’s lyrics that the album really starts to run into trouble. The calypso rhythm of “You’re My Fantasy”, for example, can’t rescue it from this little ditty: “Your legs on my walls/Your body’s on my ceiling”; while Thicke makes reference to the cheating rumours on the Motown-y “Black Tar Cloud”, crooning “I thought everyone was gonna eat the chips/Turns out I’m the only one who double dipped”. (Thanks for that visual.) The mumbly “Forever Love” is luckily accompanied by a lyric video because Thicke’s enunciation is so poor it’s hard to sing along like the 14-year-old sung along in Patton’s ear to Stevie Wonder’s “Jungle Fever” upon their first meeting as teens in early ’90s Los Angeles.

“Get Her Back”, the earwormy lead single is arguably the album’s only redeeming one however its problematic video, featuring scrolling text messages that we’re to believe were sent between Thicke and Patton atop close-up shots of a fake-bloodied and allegedly crying Thicke being groped by masked women who look marginally like Patton before they plunge head-first into cavities of water, references intimate partner violence, like much of the album.

Thicke carried out a thick (so to speak) and fast social media campaign for Paula, including the hashtags #GetHerBack and #AskThicke, which ultimately backfired in a flurry of negative feminist press. Thicke even went so far as to engage in a cross-promotion with 1800-Flowers, for which the “Get Her Back” bouquet will set you back a cool $350—but it comes with a free digital download of Paula, so you’re actually saving money. But it would seem that many music consumers are holding on to their pennies this time around: just 530 fans in the UK and a dismal 54 in Australia forked out for Paula.

Thicke might not be a one-hit wonder (remember his 2002 debut, the equally as rapey as “Blurred Lines”, come to think of it, “When I Get You Alone”?), he proves that perhaps sex was the only thing that sold “Blurred Lines”.

The Hollywood that Thicke grew up in would have us believe that male persistence is the way to a girl’s heart: “the boy keeps trying to get the girl until she says yes,” writes Jessica Valenti for The Guardian. “You need to look no further than the outrageously popular Twilight series—books and movies—to know that the stalker-as-romantic lead looms large in our cultural imagination.” Real life headlines about intimate partner violence suggest that stalking is more deadly than romantic.

Further to that, Alyssa Rosenberg writes over at The Washington Post that “the simple fact of male persistence ought to be enough to bring a woman around to loving him”, while Clem Bastow asserted on Daily Life that Thicke’s quest to “Get Her Back” is “about the feelings of the man in question, not the woman he is searching for or seeking to reconcile with”.

But that’s Thicke’s pattern (pardon the pun); he’s crafting a pop cultural narrative where he’s the ultimate NiceGuy™ and if Patton continues to reject him she’s a cold-hearted bitch. And if Thicke was hoping for a deluge of sales to help him convince Patton to take him back, he’s sorely underestimated the public’s keen nose for desperation.

Elsewhere: [HuffPo] Robin Thicke Cheated on His Wife, Claims Socialite Lana Scolaro.

[HuffPo] Marvin Gaye’s Family & Robin Thicke’s Label Settle in “Blurred Lines” Dispute.

[Time] Robin Thicke’s #AskThicke Hashtag Completely Backfired.

[1800-Flowers] Robin Thicke Flowers & Music Download.

[Vulture] Which Country Hates Robin Thicke the Most?

[The Guardian] Robin Thicke’s Video: Further Evidence That We’re Romancing the Stalker-Esque.

[WaPo] The Real Problem with Robin Thicke’s Creepy Attempts to Win His Wife Back? They’re Boring.

[Daily Life] The False Romance of “Winning Her Back”.

Mother to Daughter: Second- VS. Fourth-Wave Feminism.

While I’ve only begun calling myself a feminist in the past few years, I think I’ve always had feminist tendencies: I’ve always believed in reproductive rights, I’ve tried never to judge a woman based on her choices and it’s been instilled in me that, as a woman, I can do and be anything I want to.

A lot of this is thanks to my mum, who is a ’70s bra-burning hippie feminist through and through.

Though recently, as I increasingly immerse myself in current readings of feminism, I see just how far we’ve come, baby, and how the second-wave feminism of my mother’s era is worlds apart from today’s discourse on gender equality.

There have been many debates between second-, third- and fourth-wavers about who did, and is doing, more for the movement.

At a 2011 Melbourne Writers Festival presentation on why we still need feminism, Sophie Cunningham asserted that feminists under 25 can’t really grasp the concept because they’re still young and beautiful and have men falling at their feet. She also observed “a sort of ‘bottleneck’ in modern feminism”, where white, Western feminists aren’t able to incorporate intersectionality into the fold, which was a criticism of SlutWalk, one of latter-day feminism’s most high-profile conquests. Pardon me, but wasn’t it foremother Betty Friedan who was accused of being racist and homophobic with The Feminine Mystique?

Perhaps the most contentious issue is the constant bickering amongst young feminists as to what, exactly, feminism is. You’ve got women undertaking such obviously feminist tasks as Marissa Mayer overseeing Yahoo! and Beyonce nearing total world domination, yet they’re reluctant to call a spade a spade. And the non-feminist media would have you believe there’s infighting going on about who is allowed to be a feminist (definitely not Taylor Swift!).

But, I think, the feminist movement of today would like to believe it’s accessible to all kinds of women (and men): straight, gay, bi, male, female, trans, black, white, mixed-race, rich, poor, able-bodied and non-able-bodied, sex workers, etc. Can second-wave feminism of yesteryear say that?

This divide is illustrated by Germaine Greer’s infamous comments about Julia Gillard’s clothing choices and how they accentuated her apparently undesirable body shape last year on Q&A and feminists everywhere taking to their respective platforms to mostly disagree with her. One such vocal detractor was Mia Freedman, who said Greer “broke my heart a little bit” when she took herself “down in a hail of self-inflicted friendly fire while the world watche[d] in embarrassment.” When the two women appeared together on a recent episode of Q&A, Freedman was asked to clarify her response: did it mean she wasn’t a fan of the “ground-breaking, arse-kicking lightening rod for social change who ignited a feminist movement from which every woman in the western world has benefited” anymore? Was this an example of the abovementioned feminist in-fighting?

Freedman responded that while she has nothing but respect for the woman in whose water she grew up and who influenced her mother’s feminist awakening, “feminism needs to have a lot of different voices… It should be really, really broad and inclusive.” Essentially, feminism should accommodate both the foremothers and their daughters.

Freedman went on in that same episode of Q&A to—what some would describe as—shame sex workers, or “prostitutes” as she archaically called them, which ignited a backlash of her own. So much for that broad inclusion she waxed lyrical about…

While liberating housewives of Germaine and Freedman’s mother’s era from “the problem with no name” and ushering in the birth control pill are milestones women of today must be thankful for, they’re very much narrow-minded accomplishments: The Feminine Mystique appealed to white middle-class women and many women can’t afford the birth control pill, a predicament that still exists today. And second-wave feminism was very much responsible for the sexual liberation of a generation of people, but I’m not so sure that transfers to the hook up, raunch and porn culture/s of today (as Freedman’s comments about sex workers above would indicate).

For example, when I was living at home and Girls of the Playboy Mansion came on the TV, my mum would make me turn it off (keep in mind I was 22 by the time I moved out and this was not long before that). When I brought this up recently as an example of her generation’s reluctance to embrace sex positivity, she launched into a tirade that ended with her calling into question the women who pose for Playboy’s sexual promiscuity.

We must acknowledge that media like Playboy is an inherently patriarchal construct, but I think making the assumption that any woman who uses her sexuality as a commodity is a slave to said patriarchy is buying into the notion that feminism works against: women have no autonomy. Much like the debate over women in Islam (and don’t even get me started on the fight I had with my mum about asylum seekers that, similar to the Playboy exchange, ended with her defensively inquiring about the legality of people seeking asylum via boat), certain kinds of feminism need to broaden their scope to take into account the lives of all women, whether we agree with their choices or not.

This close-mindedness comes from a lack of access to new information and technologies and willingness to learn from and hand the reigns over to the feminists of today, I think. While many feminists of all ages count the works of Greer, Friedan and Naomi Wolf amongst their collection of feminist tomes, how many second-wavers can say the same about the musings of Jessica Valenti, Clementine Ford, Rachel Hills and the myriad feminist bloggers? That face of feminism has certainly changed to make it much more accessible. What once was narrowly accessible at rallies, underground meetings and in academic journals is now available wherever you look: Gillard speaking up against sexism in parliament, movements like SlutWalk and Destroy the Joint and all across the interwebs.

So on this Mother’s Day eve, it’s important to acknowledge the gender equality path paved for me by my feminist foremothers, including my actual mother, but also to recognise that we have, indeed, come a long way, baby. Maybe that’s something that second-wavers need to consider, too.

Related: Why Young Feminists Still Have “A Long, Long Way to Go” In the Eyes of Second-Wave Feminists.

Taylor Swift: The Perfect Victim.

Elsewhere: [The Atlantic] 4 Big Problems with The Feminine Mystique. 

[The Guardian] The Tragic Irony of Feminists Trashing Each Other.

[MamaMia] Germaine Greer: You’ve Lost Me.

[MamaMia] No, I Won’t Apologise for My Sex Worker Comments.

[Daily Life] Stoned for Having Short Hair.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

In one of HuffPo’s articles of the year, Jessica Valenti discusses likeability versus success. [The Nation]

The lesson to take away from the radio station prank turned suicide catalyst: it gets better. [MamaMia]

Maya Newell, the girl who asked what effect changing the marriage act would have on the children of same-sex partners on this year’s final episode of Q&A, talks about what it’s like growing up with two mums. [Daily Life]

Australia’s most influential female voices and feminist moments of 2012. [Daily Life]

It must be the week for it: Clem Ford on cultural appropriation. [TheVine]

Mia Freedman interviews Caitlin Moran. [MamaMia]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Channing Tatum is People magazine’s Sexiest (White) Man Alive. [Daily Beast]

What Tony Abbott could learn from Mitt Romney. [TheVine]

Rachel Hills on Jessica Valenti’s new book, Why Have Kids? and the “motherhood mystique”:

“‘The relationship you have with your child is certainly impactful. It’s one of the most important relationships you’ll have in your life,’ Valenti says. ‘But a good relationship doesn’t necessitate you losing your identity. In fact, most people would call that a bad relationship. A good relationship is supposed to make you the best version of yourself, happier and more active. So that’s what I’m aiming for.’”

Makes sense. [Daily Life]

Unpacking what it means to be a woman with tattoos. [MamaMia]

On the gym clothes as regular clothes phenomenon and why women are the only ones who can pull it off. [TheVine]

The allure of hate-watching, -reading, -listening, and just plain -ing. [Daily Life]

A junior feminist takes Hasbro to task for gender inequality in Guess Who? [Jezebel]

Which US TV shows have the most and least racial diversity? [TV Equals]

Cameron Diaz wants to be objectified. [Daily Life]

Maybe you should try being a woman on the internet before you proclaim the web has a certain “new niceness” about it. [Jezebel]

My old suburb Richmond makes the news on Jezebel for all the wrong reasons: playing host to a “comedy debate” about whether or not rape is funny. Facepalm.

Rookie talks cultural appropriation:

“I’m uncomfortable saying ‘you can do this if you are ethnically Indian’ (even if you are culturally something else, like American), because then it gets into the very kind of essentialism that racism is made of. Like, is it OK for me to wear native Iraqi Arab garb, even though I have never set foot in Iraq, because my parents are from there? I don’t think so, but a lot of the arguments about this subject reduce it to a matter of ‘you can wear things from your personal heritage but no one else’s,’ which, again, is essentialist… [a]nd bordering on dangerous? Because then you get into people deciding if someone LOOKS ‘ethnic’ enough to wear ‘ethnic’ signifiers and you start trying to read skin colour…

“… As long as there’s black-people stuff and white-people stuff and Indian-people stuff, can we really talk about being seen as just PEOPLE?”

“The cult of the selfie.” [Daily Life]

Feminism VS. Fashion. [Bullet]

Image via People.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Mark Zuckerberg gets engaged, racism ensues.

Celebrities: what gives us the right to judge them?

“The disappearing bush is a burning issue”: “Just like the rain forest and the ozone layer, pubic hair has been disappearing on young, fertile, desired and desiring bodies…” Must read.

Flavorwire’s top ten teaching flicks. Long live Mr. Holland’s Opus!

The beauty of “the lesser-watched-sitcom”.

The benefits of being an introvert:

“… Extroverts are more likely than introverts to be hospitalized as a result of an injury, have affairs (men) and change relationships (women). One study of bus drivers even found that accidents are more likely to occur when extroverts are at the wheel… [Introverts are] more likely to wear ponytails and glasses and be the subject of a bet featuring Freddie Prinze Junior as the Popular Guy trying to ask her to prom…”

The infiltration of “like” into every (mostly female) conversation. Like, you know, whatever!

Disney and fat-phobia.

Is rape biologically imperative for men?

Why won’t Bristol Palin acknowledge her sexual assault?:

“[Feminist author and blogger Jessica Valenti ponders the] … impact Bristol’s story will have on the thousands of young women who read her memoir: ‘Not calling it assault—and blaming herself, as she does in the book—sends a dangerous message to young women who may have similar experiences.’ She writes that Bristol’s sense that she had ‘sinned’ and ‘had’ to marry [Levi] Johnston ‘broke [her] heart a bit’. Mine too.

“But I actually wonder if Bristol’s story, with all its heartache and ambiguity, might actually serve as a bit of entry level feminism for her readers. What transpired between Bristol and Levi, after all, was not remotely uncommon, and nor was Bristol’s reaction…”

Rachel Hills on Mad Men.

Lumping penis-Tweeter Anthony Weiner, adulterer and sexual harasser Arnold Schwarzenegger, and alleged rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn in together: are they just afraid of “being invisible to women”?

Speaking of, ladies, make sure you don’t marry a man other women find attractive. The good-looking ones always stray, if Weiner is anything to go by.

My two criticisms of this theory are 1) um, when did the popular consensus lean toward “Weiner is hot”? and 2) Paul Newman. One of the best-looking men who ever lived, and faithful to his wife til the end.

Furthermore, what about that study that said relationships where the man is better looking than the woman last longer because the women puts in more effort to keep him?

Maybe Voltron was right in telling us not to believe the studies…

The myth of the female praying mantis.

“Can we honestly expect corporations to be bastions of morality and ethical behaviour?”

Victoria’s Secret’s target demographic: real women who want to know how their lingerie will make them feel, or 15-year-old boys?

Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson’s 60 Minutes interview was a few weeks ago now, but Annabel Crabb’s commentary on the topic of our lack of respect for the Prime Minister is timeless:

“Surely she has earned the right not to endure infantilising questions about whether she really loves her boyfriend. And as for the awful matter of the First Nuptials (a grim sequence concluded the interview, with much chummy speculation from Wooley on who would be the ‘popper’ and ‘poppee’ of the marriage question, and more nervous giggling from the PM)—well, it’s fairly rude to ask, even without a national audience watching.

“Why do people feel they can take such liberties with this prime minister?”

25 things you need to know about Green Lantern before you see it. (Warning: ruthless spoilers ahead).

Strange True Blood bedfellows.

“Scientists VS. Shock Jocks: Who Do You Believe” on the subject of climate change?

Leggings running pants as pants.

Naww, this makes me want a dog even more. Even a blind, mangy, abused one. It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. And it’s better for an animal to feel love before loss.