#ASK FIRST

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So, this is what happened.

I heard Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ (who hasn’t?) and had one of those visceral reactions that you aren’t sure what to do with. My fists clenched. My stomach churned. That acrid taste of vomit reached up into the back of my throat.
Then I saw the music video and actually barfed in my mouth. Actually.
The extreme objectification of women, the laissez faire attitude about crossing women’s boundaries (“you know you want it”?!?), and Thicke’s smug expression were absolutely unbearable. Something had to be done.

Many rad folks have been critiquing Thicke and his shitty, smash hit. The ways in which it legitimizes sexual assault, degrades women, and further upholds rape culture have been written about all over the place. And still the song has continued to top the charts and burrow into our ears. So I wanted to do something different. Rather than write about all of my outrage, I instead went to my pal Mary with the inkling of an idea. She, using her extreme intelligence and amazing vocal skills, took Thicke’s song, rewrote it, and envisioned  a way better, sexier music video. Our friend Brendan shot and edited our vision, and all of our friends danced in it.

To quote Mary:

Art is powerful, and we are in awe of rad artists who write political rhymes. Writing this song and making the video is one of the ways we’re doing our best to promote enthusiastic consent and sex positivity in a shitty, heteronormative, patriarchal culture that objectifies women, normalizes rape, and blames survivors for their assault because they had “blurred lines” or because something they said, did, or were wearing made their perpetrator “know they wanted it.”

We don’t want to have to listen to Robin Thicke tell us he knows we want it over such a damn catchy beat. We wanna dance to music that’s sexy and radical.

The woman is a fucking genius. I can’t say it any better. So, I will leave it at that.
Enjoy! Please consensually get down to our version as often as you see fit.
See the original vid here, and download the song to play at all your sexy parties here.

(Lyrics & Credits below)

Lyrics

Everybody listen up
Everybody listen up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
Just watch this video
Baby and then you’ll know
To respect your lover’s lines

So he is popular, played on the radio
Makes money in rape culture by degrading you
But we don’t have to take it
Hey, hey, hey
No we can recreate it
Hey, hey, hey
Just let me demonstrate it

And that’s why you need to ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Consent is sexy
Shows you respect me
I’ll tell you what I need

Ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Cause if you grab me
I’ll get nasty
I’ll break your fucking knees

Why do fucking dudes think
a skirt means I want their dick?
I can get myself off
Keep your penis in your pants, Robin Thicke
Are you compensating?
Hey, hey, hey
You think you’re x-rated?
Hey, hey, hey
This what you teach your babies?
Hey, hey, hey

So he is popular, played on the radio
Makes money in rape culture by degrading you
But we don’t have to take it
Hey, hey, hey
No we can recreate it
Hey, hey, hey
Just let me demonstrate it
Hey, hey, hey

And that’s why you need to ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Consent is sexy
Shows you respect me
I’ll tell you what I need

Ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Cause if you grab me
I’ll get nasty
I’ll break your fucking knees

One thing I ask of you
Could I be the one who goes down on you?
Love the taste of you, the smell of you
But if you’re not into it that’s cool too
So just let me know if you want me to
Or tell me other things you like to do
Strap ons, butt plugs, back rubs and lube
If it’s consensual then it’s all cool
If you’re not feeling it, babe it’s fine
Then we can just go out to dine
Take you to the movies or for a swim
And you don’t owe me a single thing
You know I love when you ask what I want
And what I want now is your mouth on my cunt
Suck hard, lick soft, slip your fingers in
I want them all, but thanks for checking in!

Pass the vibe, get down, get up
Does that feel good? Does that feel good?
Baby like it should
Hey!

Don’t worry, I got dams, condoms, gloves to use for later
It’s good to come prepared, I like when sex is safer
Here’s my confession
Hey hey hey
I like these check ins
Hey hey hey
‘Fore we get sexin’

And that’s why you need to ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Consent is sexy
Shows you respect me
I’ll tell you what I need

Ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Cause if you grab me
I’ll get nasty
I’ll break your fucking knees

Everybody listen up
Everybody listen up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

Credits

Dance Dance Revolutionaries:
Alia
Beige Taupe
Brendan Anckaert
Cat
Emily “Bass Face” Davidson
J. Mary Burnet
Kaitlyn Ruth
Kaleigh Trace
Ma’am Stash
Rebecca R.
Smarzipan
Swayback
Tamara Huxtable
Vee

Directors: J. Mary Burnet & Brendan Anckaert
Videographer & Editor: Brendan Anckaert
Written & Performed by: Kaleigh Trace & J. Mary Burnet
Thank you One Block Barbershop and Venus Envy

16 thoughts on “#ASK FIRST

  1. Michelle Clark

    This is a great video. Robin Thicke’s version is constantly on the radio, but I have a hearing disability, so lyrics usually take me a while .. (as in I’ll know when the actual words are, when I look them up, haha!) So I was jammin’ to it for weeks before I really reacted.
    It’s a big problem in today’s music, the way that every other song promotes rape culture.
    Step by step instructions for misogynists to get lucky, made popular by a catchy beat.
    I’m so sick of this problem, and proud that there are women here in Halifax working to get that word out.
    Now if only we could make teens (and their parents!?!) understand!

    • Thanks Michelle!
      We apologize that our video doesn’t have closed captioning. We were under a time cap and so editing that feature in didn’t happen, though it really should have.
      We are stoked you like our song though! Woohoo consent!

    • Hey Noma,

      Thanks for your feedback.
      We recognize that white people are overrepresented in this video. This is an unfortunate truth and a failing on our part, especially considering the ways that the systems of oppression we’re talking/dancing about (sexism, heteronormativity/rape cultue) are hugely exacerbated through their intersection with racism for people of colour. This is our attempt to add to many rad conversations that are happening about consent and sex positivity. We apologize for its shortcomings and thank you for reminding us to be aware of our white priviledge.

  2. Thank you! Your rebuttal song is both clever and powerful.

    I’ve never heard of this Robin Thicke – I don’t pay attention to American pop culture, because it bores me – but I was both angered and disgusted when I looked up his song. I’ll never understand how a song that misogynistic and cruel could become so popular.

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work!

  3. illiteratolivia

    This. is. incredible. inspirational. empowering. all of the above. I’ve shown all my friends and watched it on repeat since yesterday.

    I’m working for this online women’s magazine (http://www.illiterat.com/) that I’m slowly attempting to make more radical than it currently is. I hope some of my work will be an empowering as yours. Thank you.

  4. Randy

    So you’ve replaced a supposed “rape culture” song (which actually contains an explicit request for consent “One thing I ask of you / Lemme be the one”) with one that advocates violence (“I’ll break your fucking knees”). Way to go.

    (If this appears twice, it’s because my browser said it blocked a cross-site scripting attempt, so I tried again)

    • Hi Randy,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Admittedly, the line “I’ll break your fucking knees” is violent. We debated long and hard on its inclusion. Ultimately, we chose to include it because while we don’t advocate violence, we respect (and want to honour) some people’s intense reactions after having experienced sexual assault. (‘I’ll break your fucking knees’ follows from ‘If you grab me’, and is not issued at random).

      We also chose to include the line in response to a line in the original Thicke version that reads “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.” We believed that that line, and the way in which it endorses sexualized violence, deserved a rebuttal.

      Lastly, we appreciate that you hear the Thicke version as a potentially positive model of consent. Considering that his song is obviously much more popular than ours, we hope that someone is taking good messaging from it, rather than only hearing the bulk of the lines (which read: “I hate these blurred lines, I know you want it”.)

  5. Jen

    Great video. I only watched about ~1 minute of the horrible original video. I was mostly confused because it made no sense but once he said “You’re the hottest bitch in this place” that was enough for me. I’m so glad someone (you) actually did something about it. Thanks for making this. I truly believe that nothing will change until MEN begin speaking out against this twisted mind set. This is a start. I’ll be sharing this video. :)

  6. jillian

    Great video. You made is explicit without making me feel gross and used (like the original did). I can’t believe how popular it is, its like no one really listens or read the lyrics. I tried to tell my brother (who loves the song) how its degrading for women and the video was gross, but he thought i was overreacting. Love that you took a stand. Hope this becomes more popular and maybe that Robin sees it and the others like it. I think he’s actually attractive and has a good voice, why he wants to write like this is beyond me.

  7. STP

    Thank you for this! Because A. It’s great and B. I had to watch a ton of Blurred Lines remakes for an assignment and a lot of them were not so great.

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