Blurred Lines: The New Battle of the Sexes
Blurred Lines is about the new misogyny, which makes it socially acceptable to be sexually offensive to women.
BBC reporter Kirsty Wark makes a clear distinction between sexism, which she sees as an irrational bias against women’s equality, and misogyny, which is the dislike and deliberate denigration of women.
She focuses on four main manifestations of so-called “rape culture”: in stand-up comedy, social media, on-line gaming and adolescent male-female interactions.
The Year of the Rape Joke
2012 was known as the Year of the Rape Joke at the Edinburgh Festival. Several men Wark interviews argue strenuously that casual talk about rape is perfectly acceptable so long as it’s done in a humorous or ironic way. Others disagree. She talks to a psychologist who has studied the effect of sexual assault jokes on male behavior. His research shows that rape jokes validates the sexist views of men with underlying resentment towards women. After listening to jokes about sexual assault, they are more likely to oppose women’s equality in politics, in the workplace and in the home.
Misogynistic Social Media
Blurred Lines also examines several high profile incidents in which prominent females were subjected to vicious, graphic sexual slurs and rape threats on social media. The most highly publicized involved Caroline Criado-Perez, who received around 50 abusive tweets an hour for a 12-hour period after successfully campaigning for Jane Austen to appear on the ten pound note.
Misogyny is also extremely common in on-line gaming. Grand Theft Auto, the most popular on-line game of all times, is a classic example. It provides for players to score points by paying prostitutes and then mugging or killing them to get their money back. Meanwhile women gamers are frequently bombarded with sexually dismissive language and rape threats once male players discover they are female.
Recently Anita Sarkeesian, a Canadian media critic, tried to crowdfund a study on women’s roles in on-line games. The reaction she got was a barrage with graphically violent rape threats, in addition to having her crowdfunding site hacked and shut down. What was even more remarkable was that many of threat threats weren’t anonymous, as they were linked with Facebook pages.
Male Anger Towards Women
Wark, explores where this intense anger comes from by interviewing Australian feminist Germaine Greer, who shocked the world by discussing men’s unconscious hostility towards women in the Female Eunuch (1970). Greer maintains that many men still view a women’s position in family and society as subordinate. Thus they feel threatened by women assuming previously male roles.
Martin Daubney, editor of the British men’s magazine Loaded, has a somewhat different take. He blames the anger on extreme role confusion, especially among young men who have no jobs or clearly defined gender roles and see women passing them by.
The Role of Pornography on the Adolescent Brain
The documentary ends by examining the extremely violent on-line pornography teenage boys consume and whether this has an effect on their developing sexuality. According to the young women Wark interviews it does. They feel on-line pornography leads teenage boys to demand sex in the male-dominant way pornography portrays it. It also causes them to feel threatened and dismissive towards women who express sexual needs.
Another, more pernicious effect of ubiquitous on-line pornography, humor that makes light of sexual assault and the constant objectification of women in advertising is confusion about consent. This ranges from inappropriate groping at parties to gang rape which is posted to Facebook or live tweeted on Twitter.