Nick Ahad: The blurred lines between what is and what isn’t acceptable

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It really is time to nail colours to masts here.

Last year was seen by some as a line in the sand against pop music that is appallingly anti-women. The outcry against the – very catchy, there’s no denying – song, Blurred Lines was utterly justified. The fact that the outcry was so noticeable and widespread was regarded in some quarters as marking something of a sea change in the attitude towards mainstream music that is virulently misogynistic.

A song, a work of art however you look at it, Blurred Lines was played on almost all mainstream radio stations. A song that included lines sung at a woman telling her that she “wanted it”. The Blurred Lines to which the song refers are the lines between consensual and non-consensual sex. Yes, really.

As someone who grew up listening to a lot of rap music, and who still enjoys listening to it today, is there more than whiff of hypocrisy when I say that thank goodness the outcry against Blurred Lines was loud and sustained? No. I make the choice to listen to songs featuring lyrics that are, I can’t deny, really quite questionable. The line between what I think is acceptable in a piece of entertainment I choose to listen to privately however, and what I think should be easily accessible to all the public, is anything but blurred.

So 2014 should have been a year when we emerged from the anger of the previous year inspired by Blurred Lines and embraced a new feminism. I read on Twitter last week a great definition of a feminist. It went “Do you believe men and women should have equal rights? Yes? Bam, you’re a feminist”. If you exit that sentence with an affirmation of anything other than the fact that you are a feminist, then you’re wrong. This year we should have been able to hold our heads high, proud that we all stood together and said that songs like Blurred Lines were no longer acceptable in the charts, that they shouldn’t be played on our radios.

Then last week I heard on a local commercial station a song which has reached No. 2 in the charts and which features a man singing about a woman being “face down and…” I’m not allowed to write the rest of that lyric in a decent newspaper, even though you might well hear it on the radio in the middle of the day. No, I’m not some prude. Yes, I still listen to rap music and yes, some of it features some seriously questionable lyrics and yes I am still able to separate a piece of entertainment like the rap I listen to from my personal politics and what I believe is actually right and wrong. But I am an adult and I choose to listen to that music. It’s not the sort of music you might happen across on the radio while, say, you are out driving with your daughter in the car.

It’s 2014. The lines between what should and what should not be acceptable on our radios, is not blurred. Not to any right-minded person.

Are we not better than this yet?