The song Blurred Lines generated a huge amount of controversy when it was released in 2013. British entertainment and media news website, Digital Spy, called it “smooth and soulful” but in the wrong hands “crass and chauvinistic.” Rolling Stone magazine called it “The Worst Song of This or Any Other Year.”
Pharrell Williams, producer and co-writer of the song, said in an interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, that the song taught him a lot and it wasn’t what you might expect. When he wrote the song, his intended message was that women are “good girls” but even “good girls” have bad thoughts, so there’s a blurred line. He says while most people got the message, a few took it the wrong way and called him a woman hater.
Williams defends the song saying that all he was trying to say was that man is not a woman’s maker and he’s not her creator. Men cannot give birth nor can they create an egg. The point of the song for Williams is that women are not possessions and they don’t have ownership papers.
As soon as the song was released, Williams knew instantly that he wanted to make an album to honour women. He wanted to show his devotion to a demographic that took care of him for over 20 years. In an interview with New Musical Express, he says he sees an imbalance in society that, in his opinion, is going to change. “A world where 75 percent of it is run by women – that’s a different world,” he said. “That’s gonna happen, and I want to be on the right side of it when it does.”
A hero’s journey is a journey of personal evolution toward wholeness and healing. American mythologist, Joseph Campbell, once told feminist and psychotherapist Maureen Murdock that women don’t need to make a hero’s journey, because in the whole mythological tradition, women are already there. All a woman has to do is realize she’s at the place where people are trying to get, said Campbell. When a woman realizes what her wonderful character is, she won’t get “messed up” with the notion of being “pseudo-male.”
Sounds like a wonderful perspective, doesn't it? But Murdock was stunned with this answer. As a psychotherapist and feminist, she found it deeply unsatisfying. Women don’t want to embody Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in Odysseus’ long absence, until she is eventually reunited with him. She says women do not want to be handmaidens of the dominant male culture, giving service to the gods. They don’t want to follow the advice of a traditional society and return to the home. Women want a new model that understands who and what they are.
Pharrell Williams has recently started to use his voice to shine a light on women’s rights. “We have to remember,” he says, “that a man can’t make an egg and he can’t give birth. If women wanted to…shut this country down, all they’d have to do is not go to work and not come home.” The economy would be finished if that were to happen. “If women got tired of the way we are handling ourselves as a species, all they gotta do is to hold hands and not make any more babies and we’re done."
"That’s my thing,” Williams says. “Equality. We need it.”
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Debbie L. Kasman
Principal Newcastle Public School and Author of Lotus of the Heart: Reshaping the Human and Collective Soul