Pharrell Now Freely Admits That 'Blurred Lines' Was Chauvinistic

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Pharrell in the "Blurred Lines" video.

Depending on your perspective, "Blurred Lines" was either the catchiest bop of Summer 2013, or a rage-inducing example of casual sexism and rape culture.

The lyrics of "Blurred Lines," by Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell and T.I., were for many sexual assault survivors nothing less than triggering—thanks in particular to a refrain that included the words "I know you want it." The first sound Pharrell even made on the track was a cat-called "Hey girl, come here!" done in a style familiar to every female human that has ever dealt with street harassment.

The accompanying video did not help matters. There were two versions released—one in which partially clothed models are objectified; another in which the same objectified women wear only flesh-colored panties. Both versions feature a scene in which Thicke's penis size was described by, of all things, silver balloons.

Though an enormous hit at the time ("Blurred Lines" reached the top of the charts in countries around the globe, and is certified Diamond in the United States. having sold the equivalent of over 10 million copies), it has become somewhat of an albatross for everyone involved. Not just because of accusations of its misogyny, but also because in 2015, a jury found both Thicke and Pharrell guilty of copyright infringement due to the song's resemblance to Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up."


Finally though, something positive has come out of "Blurred Lines." In a new interview with GQ, Pharrell talks openly about how the song changed his perspective on sexism, what he calls "chauvinist culture" and toxic masculinity. In it, he says:

“Blurred Lines” opened me up. I didn't get it at first. Because there were older white women who, when that song came on, they would behave in some of the most surprising ways ever. And I would be like, 'Wow.' They would have me blushing. So when there started to be an issue with it, lyrically, I was, like, 'What are you talking about? There are women who really like the song and connect to the energy that just gets you up.' And 'I know you want it'—women sing those kinds of lyrics all the time. So it's like, 'What's rapey about that?'

And then 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. And I was like, 'Got it. I get it. Cool.' My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel. Even though it wasn't the majority, it didn't matter. I cared what they were feeling too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn't realized that. Didn't realize that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind… I haven't been the same since.

While it's frustrating for many that Pharrell was unable to recognize all of this before "Blurred Lines" was released, seeing an artist humbly acknowledge problems with their own musical output is incredibly refreshing. It also can't help but broaden the horizons of anyone still defending the lyrical content of "Blurred Lines." Perhaps now Robin Thicke—who once called the track a "feminist movement within itself”—will get the memo.