Pharrell Williams talks feminism, sexism & putting ladies’ booties in videos


The BRIT Awards are tonight. Is it just me or are they scheduled really early this year? I seem to remember that in years past, they were held in March or April? Maybe I’m just hallucinating again. Anyway, Pharrell Williams is due to perform at the BRIT Awards tonight and he’ll also be performing at this year’s Oscars because… against all odds, Pharrell is the hands-on favorite for “Best Song”. His song “Happy” (from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack) is everywhere and Pharrell’s Mountie hat is everywhere too. So Pharrell sat down with Time Out London (you can read the full piece here) for an interview, and I ended up charmed:

Does the success of ‘Happy’ make you happy?
‘Seriously, I find myself trying to be cool about it, but I’m really like… whoa! I’ve always produced music for artists who are going through this level of success, but I just didn’t know it would be this crazy. I’m like a kid with a sweet tooth waking up in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.’

Come on, it can’t be that alien to you. You’ve already got a shelfload of Grammys.
‘Look, as a producer, I’ve always been the guy standing next to the guy, and I was happy with that. But then the universe taps you on your shoulder and you realise that there’s more in store for you. It’s kind of like “The Karate Kid”. He thinks his exercises are just for washing cars – he doesn’t realise what he’s preparing himself for. I’ve spent 20 years preparing for this without even realising.’

A lot of your recent success has been down to two songs: ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Blurred Lines’. Did you ever get sick of hearing them last summer?
‘No, I was just very thankful to all the people voting, requesting, downloading, sharing and talking about those songs. I always think it’s really funny when a person claims to be the author of their own success. They think it’s all “I, I, I”. And then when people don’t like them any more, they get all like “But my success was supposed to happen!” No it wasn’t. You forgot who gave you success. The people. The fans.’

Robin Thicke got into a spot of bother with the lyrics and video to ‘Blurred Lines’. How come you didn’t?
‘I didn’t get away with it! There were lots of women who wanted to understand what we meant by those lyrics. But the two lines go: “You don’t need no papers/That man is not your maker.” Boom! Lyrically, you’re done: there’s nothing else to talk about. “That man is not your maker.” Plus that treatment was written and shot by a female director, who’s a feminist.’

So, sexy videos aren’t sexist?
‘Is it sexist when you walk around in a museum and a lot of the statues have their boobs out? The women in that video weren’t doing anything sexual: they were only dancing. Just because they had their boobs out, that was “sexist”. I didn’t do anything sexually suggestive to any of those women, I wouldn’t allow it. I have respect and I know the message that I want to put out. I’m a fun guy.’

Is your new album also about having fun?
‘Yes! When we were working on it, I kept asking, “Does this feel celebratory and festive?” My muse for it was women. I love them.’

What, all of them?
‘Look, I love them, because I know their importance. If women wanted to shut down this country, economically, they could just not go to work and the UK would be finished. If they wanted to kill off our species, they’d just decide not to have babies. And there’s going to be a huge shift, a huge shift. There will be a time when women get paid as much as men. There will be a time when, like, 75 percent of our world leaders will be women. All the presidents and prime ministers. There will come a time. And I’m going to be on the right side of that shift when it happens.’

Does that mean your videos will all be PG-rated from now on?
‘Oh no. I want to support women, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make another song where girls’ behinds are everywhere.’

On to the all-important issue of millinery. Will you be wearing that hat from the Grammys at The BRIT Awards?
‘I’m a little bit of a hippy, you know? I do what feels right. I can’t really take any cool points for it. At the moment, wearing this just feels right.’

Any idea what you’re going to play at the awards ceremony?
‘We’re going to play “Happy”. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll be taking advantage of this platform I’ve been given to do something fun. That’s what matters.’

Lastly, it seems like a lot of people are searching for ‘Is Pharrell Williams a vampire?’ on Google. Are you a vampire?
‘No I am not. I’m willing to go on record as saying that I don’t drink people’s blood. How do I stay so young-looking for a 40-year-old? I wash my face.’

[From Time Out London]

I don’t understand why the hat reflects his hippie sensibilities, but sure. Let’s go with that. And he IS a vampire. Forty years old and he looks mid-twenties. As for his empowered-woman speech and how women are what drives him and they are what drive the economy… sure. That’s true. But Pharrell is still going to ask them to get their asses out? Is this cognitive dissonance or can we live in a world where Pharrell is a mega-feminist who also enjoys video booty?


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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119 Responses to “Pharrell Williams talks feminism, sexism & putting ladies’ booties in videos”

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  1. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I can’t with the hat, but other than that I really like him. I was stunned that he’s 40.

  2. megs283 says:

    I hate how people excuse behavior by saying “oh, that woman is a feminist.” Just because someone is a feminist (or a doctor, or professor, or what-have-you), it doesn’t mean that they (a) have good judgment or (b) speak for all of their gender.

  3. Newsgirl628 says:

    I believe it’s the “BET Honors”. The “BET Awards” air in June.

  4. Zadie says:

    The thing that bothered me a bit with the video wasn’t the fact that the women were naked, but the fact that the men were fully clothed. And it isn’t just this song – even when the woman is the star she is still naked and very sexual – like Beyonce, or Rihanna or Miley. That isn’t wrong, but I can’t really think of a male performer who uses sexuality to that extent.

    • V4Real says:

      Red Hot Chillie Peppers. On an MTV performance they wore nothing but a sock covering their penis.

      • Tapioca says:

        But there is a difference between “naked ” and “sexual”, and the RHCP were the former. There’s a Rammstein (German rock band) video for a song called “Mann Gegen Mann” in which they’re playing their instruments nude, whilst oiled-up naked men wrestle each other, and yet it’s an almost completely asexual experience!

      • V4Real says:

        @Tapioca so wearing nothing but a sock to cover your penis and doing some suggestive sexual movements is not considered sexual? AK did a couple of air pumps whilst wearing the socks.

      • TC says:

        Yeah, I totally remember that Chilli Peppers MTV performance, and there was nothing sexual about it at all It came across as more “Alpha Male” than anything else.

      • Mario says:

        @Tapioca good god, so basically you are excusing it? sigh…. smh

      • jay says:

        Men can be naked and it be considered humorous and light-hearted. There are a lot of bro comedies that have at least one scene where a male is naked. That’s mostly because men usually can be considered more than a sex object, especially if the dude isn’t ripped or lean.

        I think his defense of the song was weak. The lyrics he pointed out are pretty dubious, but they get worse with the added context of the song. He’s pretty much throwing feminism back in a girl’s face by saying “you’re a free woman, you can do what you want, you should be having sex with me”. Plus, saying that a feminist woman directed the video is like saying you aren’t racist because you have ethnic friends.

    • mytbean says:

      Men do not need to use their sexuality for power. Men have power already. That’s kind of the point and the problem.

      • lana86 says:

        getting your tits out doesnt get u any power. Money? might be. Attention? yes. Power?? no.
        Girls, -listen to yourselfs: u say -why are men fully clothed- it’s not fair. Then u make examples with nude men, but, apparently, that doesnt count- because it’snot sexual and “Alpha Male”. So, basically, the point is – woman being naked looks degrading, naked man doesnt. Why? no one knows :) just the mystery of our perseption :)

      • V4Real says:

        Great point lana86. I don’t think they really saw what they just did here.

      • Tara says:

        But is it a problem if the woman wants to show her bits, enjoys the attention, finds the exhibitionism sexually liberating and happily cashes the big paychecks? If you totally took men out of the equation would we be as judgemental? I think women should make up their own minds. Choice = voice.w

      • Nerd Alert says:

        I don’t think that’s the problem. I think the problem is that men are visually aroused and women aren’t. Sex sells, supply/demand, etc.

      • TC says:

        lana86 – On the contrary, I think women do get a great sense of power from being sexually titillating. It’s not the same power as men, who’s power usually comes from position and rank. But women gain sexual power through their looks, the way they dress and the clothes (or lack of clothes) they wear. Sexual power is the currency many women choose to use to get what they want because it works for many of them. Do I think it’s the way to go? No, but the reality is, it’s a “go-to” move for many women.

        With regards to my “Alpha Male” comment, I clearly didn’t see it as sexually titillating and I’ve seen them live doing this. But that’s my opinion. I think it’s something one needs to see for themselves to understand. Certainly talking about it is not going to convince you. But I didn’t find it an any way objectifying as I find the women in the Blurred Lines video. Just my opinion.

      • lana86 says:

        TC- i get what u talk about. Also, i agree that women get the “sense of power” by undressing or being “sexually titillating”. Basically, thats why they do it. I would say, though, that having “sense of power” is not the same as having actual power. It is more like getting high on attention, or that drunk feeling of “the world is mine”.
        If u were talking about using sexuality in career – i have my doubts about that being powerfull either. There is a risk of not being taken seriously, or actually making yourself more vulnerable.

      • TC says:

        At lana86 – Very true. I would totally agree with you that having a “sense of power” is not the same as having “real power.” But you have to understand that to women who have never had real power to begin with (and still don’t) in the same way as men have real power, it’s very real to them. Now, whether they’re using this sexual power to further their professional path, to get the man they want, or to just f*ck with somebody is not really my argument. I would assume all three circumstances have been at play. My point is that a sense of power or “pseudo power,” whatever you want to call it, is very, very real for many woman. And it doesn’t help that the behavior is enabled by the media industry (movies, TV, print ads) who’s images of women in powerful situations tend to be laced with sexual overtones. As if this is the way women should conduct themselves.

      • Steph says:

        Yes Lana. Either they are both sexual or neither is. It’s naked dancing. I actually feel like neither is a big deal, but if people feel one is bad, you can’t separate them like that. it doesn’t make sense to condemn the females and not the males. They were naked with hugely exaggerated penises. Come on.

      • Miffy says:

        @NerdAlert, I was just going to say that. There’s an aspect of biology to it. Whack Rihanna on stage with nothing but a sock covering her modesty, acting explicitly sexual and it’s something totally different to what RHCP did, despite the fact that they were four, fit, attractive young men at the time. It was something absurd and comical. There was nothing sexual about it. It was more akin to Jackass than soft porn.

        There is a biological perspective that I think gets overlooked when discussing sexism in new media. Are female performers having their sexuality exploited by men or are female performers exploiting male audiences with their sexuality? It’s a topic you can discuss in circles but there are valid arguments for both.

      • Nerd Alert says:

        It’s good to have someone on my side! It’s really easy to blame this all on the evil men and say that once they stop being such pigs and objectifying us then this will all be better. However, a music video is an ad for an artist, and there is a TON of market research that suggests that this kind of thing is done because men respond to basic nudity (of their preferred gender/s), while women do not.

        In short, naked women will get a straight man’s attention. If that were true for women, there would be naked men everywhere because women (statistically) spend the most money and have purchasing power.

    • SonjaMarmeladova says:

      I agree, Zadie. And I think that the RHCP naked stunt was more shock value than actually being sexual.
      I lost all respect for Beyonce after the Anna Mae reference in her song.

    • Ryan says:

      That D’Angelo video was pretty sexual.

  5. BendyWindy says:

    Can women be sexual without being degraded? That’s the 10 million dollar question. I think so, so I don’t see anything mutually exclusive about being feminist and making/watching/enjoying booty videos. I think they can be done well, they’re just not.

    • Lucinda says:

      Sure, it can be done. I don’t know how but I’m sure it can be done. Unfortunately this video was women, very young women at that, walking around naked and dancing for no apparent reason other than so Robin could watch them with a smile while singing and it would guarantee lots of views. That’s exploitation, not empowerment and I’m disappointed that he can’t see the difference.

      • BendyWindy says:

        To be clear, I’m not talking about the Robin Thicke video because I barely remember it. I was talking specifically about the assertion that we can’t take Pharrell’s possible feminism seriously because he says he may do a booty video in the future.

      • lana86 says:

        Lucinda – why do u use word “exploitation”? i mean, we are talking here about entertainment industry. To get views, u need to deliver boobs and booties. Those girls are adults, they agreed to that job and got their money. If u see their job as demeaning – well, then u should discuss it with them.
        I think it’s the time that women take responsibility for their own actions, instead of accusing men in exploiting them or waiting for men to “empower” them. (that’s the stupedest word ever, imho). If so many women who might have worked with their heads or hands choose instead to work as a sex toys or dolls, there is no one in the world who can “empower” them :D

      • Bridget says:

        @lana that is a really oversimplified view. You can’t discuss this issue without discussing the overarching power dynamics: that those with the most money and power within the entertainment industry as a whole are majority men, and also majority white men. It isn’t just that women can individually say ‘no’ to a job that requires them to just be a booty, it’s the fact that women’s primary role, whether as artist or background dancer, is so frequently sexualized and treats her as an object. And instead of faulting the women who take these jobs, we need to fault the industry that is treating them as interchangeable pieces of booty. Women shouldn’t have to sell their bodies in order to be successful.

      • lana86 says:

        Bridget – I actually dont fault anyone. Things are as they are. But my point is, that many women actually benefit financially from their booties alone, and if the industry was more modest, as u suggest, they would loose those easy jobs.
        U say “Women shouldn’t have to sell their bodies in order to be successful.” Well they dont have to, but it’s an easy option, and many choose it. Many women in industry exploit their looks and sexuality to be successful, and if it werent for that , they would have rather nothing to offer. It’s a free market – u sell what u r willing to sell.

  6. Kiddo says:

    It would have been nice if he avoided the use of ‘girls’ for women. I’m not going to get into the difference of art of versus blatant titillation, but I’ll just say his argument on the use of butts in video is a bit of a stretch. Not that I found the video offensive, just that there is a dichotomy there. We didn’t see any male butts shakin’ it.

  7. V4Real says:

    My son loves that song “Happy”

    The interviewer is right. It was mostly Thicke who carried the brunt of the criticism for that video. But I understand that being that it was his song and Pharrell and T. I. were just guest performers.

    As much as I love Pharrell I can’t believe he compared half naked women to statues in musuems. Pharrell statues are not real. The women in that video were. I do agree with what he said about the lyrics in the song. People who found the song degrading and sexist only pointed out the lyrics that proved the song to be such. They never spoke of the lyrics that came before such as the lines he mentioned above. One line said “the way you grab me; must wanna get nasty. Which was suggesting that it was the girl who was making the first move. Debaters only spoke about what came after that.

    I can kind of understand people finding the video distasteful but the song was not degrading. If they found this song degrading I’m guessing they never heard Nine Inch Nails Song “Closer”

    • Amanduh says:

      Haha…I always thought if I were a stripper, “Closer” would be my big finale (whatever that means )…
      I dunno about the video… Loved the song, and I liked the video (although rather jealous of Emily Ratajkowsi’s breasts…good Gawd!). I could see the outrage if the girls were forced to dance topless, but they looked like they rather enjoyed it. If the girls don’t mind being topless in a music video, why should we?

    • Lucinda says:

      Yeah, I read the lyrics and didn’t get all the screaming. Then I watched the video and found that quite offensive. Plus, I always thought the song sucked.

    • blue marie says:

      Man I love “Closer” and still blare it whenever I hear it. (pretty much all that CD was good though) I might need to take a listen during lunch.

      • V4Real says:

        Haha “Closer” stuck out to me because I was listening to it this morning on my drive to work.

      • Nerd Alert says:

        “Closer” is a really good song for me when I’m in a certain mood. I think you know the one. I love that song SO much. What I like about a lot of Trent’s songs is that they can go both ways, just like a lot of Maynard’s (Tool/A Perfect Circle). That is, as a woman you can easily put yourself into the voice of the song and it works just as well. A woman could sing “Closer” and it would still work, even the feeling you from the inside part and even the penetration part.

        OK, now I’m going to listen to some NIN…I’ve really been enjoying the 90′s this week.

    • MorticiansDoItDeader says:

      V4real, pharrell’ compared women to statues because he views women as objects. This will be the third time I’ve mentioned this in this thread, but the uncensored video for “lapdance” by pharrell’s former group N.E.R.D is a compilation of women’s body parts being groped or licked by pharrell and others. The entire video is about objectifying women and fetishizing lesbianism. (As in women are enjoying sex with each other strictly for the benefit of the men watching them)

      • Miffy says:

        The art nerd in me wants to contest the objectification term so badly here. In reference to his statues comparison, what I think he meant was that there has been a very looooong history of an appreciation for the aesthetic of the female form. He is right, since man worked out he could make marks with a burnt stick on a cave wall, he’s drawn boobs. Is it objectification or glorification? It’s possibly the same. You can’t put something on a pedestal without objectifying it to some extent. But there has been a prehistoric preoccupation with the female form, which could be viewed as empowering but could also be viewed as an unintentional method of removing the individual from the vessel.

      • MorticiansDoItDeader says:

        Miffy,did you watch the lapdance video? I’m
        thinking you didn’t if you’re contesting the term objectification and excusing it as art.

      • Miffy says:

        Oh no, I was specifically referring to the statues comparison, not the Lapdance video (which I haven’t seen in its entirety so I’m not going to comment on)

  8. Anoninga says:

    I admit to not following this much, but didn’t he have a song or two come out in the 2000s that were huge summer hits? If that’s the case, why are people treating him like a new star?

  9. JaDeRu says:

    I could be wrong. It has happened before. But just because a duck says it’s a feminist, walks like a feminist and quacks like a …never mind. Bad analogy.
    Just because this female director calls herself a feminist doesn’t mean her actions support that.
    I don’t know, just my opinion, but the fact that the women were half naked and the men were telling them they “want it” was the exact opposite of supporting women.

  10. Aims says:

    I don’t really enjoy women in a background as props. Not to say that I don’t think the human body isn’t beautiful. I think its a cheap tactic to draw attention to one’s music. I also think Robin thicke is a huge douche and a borderline predator. I’m a feminist and I don’t always agree with other feminist but I think we can agree on if you’re going to go nude at least do it where your not looking over your shoulder to see if the ” artist” is going to pounce you.

  11. Krista says:

    Eh, I don’t really buy his feminist perspective but otherwise I can’t help but like the guy.
    He gave a cute interview years ago where he geeked out about his high school marching band and tried to convince kids to join theirs. It really endeared me to him.
    Also his face. Swoon.

  12. blue marie says:

    And this is why even wearing the mountie hat I would still hit it. He always makes me smile.
    Why can’t a feminist like a little booty?

  13. AlmondJoy says:

    I’ve been obsessed with him for years. Some of his answers made me give slight side-eye but I STILL love reading his interviews. Pharell is so talented and he has so much fun with music! When he’s on stage its obvious that he loves what he does.

  14. AlmondJoy says:

    Oh and I wish they had asked him about his son, Rocket Man. (Crazy name, right?) The kid is so adorable!

  15. mytbean says:

    I have no issue with women using the power of their sexuality nor men reacting naturally and appreciatively to that. But Pharrell sounds like a politician dodging something. There’s a difference between the classic nude form set in marble and intentionally oiled up, thrusting, gyrating, erotic nakedness – and he knows that.

    He SAYS that he’s all for feminism and women power but his rambling makes me think that he feels that he’s contributed to the blatant objectification of women for entertainment but doesn’t want to be called out for it.

  16. Dani says:

    I understand everyone’s point of women being degraded in the videos etc. etc. but why doesn’t anyone ever stop and think that maybe if these women weren’t okay with being half naked and dancing in some singers music video then this would be a non issue? These women went and auditioned or whatever you have to do to be in a music video, willingly took their clothes off and took money home at the end of it all. No one forced them to take their clothes off and grind on Robin Thicke. They did it because they want to and if they’re okay with it I don’t think anyone really can say anything. Rhianna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Miley, they all don’t mind being ‘sexual.’ Women being sexy/naked shouldn’t really be having people yelling sexism! feminism! degradation!, especially if they chose to do it.

    • Lucinda says:

      We don’t know how desperate (or not) those girls were to be in a video. They are very young. They may have thought it was great. Certainly a possibility. However, what comes across in the video is a creepy old man leering at a bunch of naked young women. So even if the participants are willing, it doesn’t discount the degrading effect of the video.

      • V4Real says:

        @Lucinda who said “However, what comes across in the video is a creepy old man leering at a bunch of naked young women”

        LOL! That was the point of the video. Thicke and Pharrell said it in an interview. They were pretending to be old men leering at young beautiful women. That explains the dancing that T.I. and Pharrell were doing. T.I. even did the infamous Redd Fox dance where he put his hand over his heart as if he was having a heartattack.

  17. Virgilia Coriolanus says:

    He’s FORTY. Oh my God–I thought he was like 25.

  18. cro-girl says:

    I’ll never understand why they got so much flak for Blurred Lines. It was a fun song with a funny way of expressing a fun concept and… boobs. Nothing wrong with boobs. Can’t we just let men be men about some things?

    • mj says:

      No, we can’t, because we live in a culture that condones and even endorses the degradation of women. Its patriarchal-driven goals are to serve men. When men let me walk down the street without demeaning catcalling under the guise of light-hearted compliments, I will let men be men. When men stop glossing over naked women as props, I’ll let men be men. When men stop creating a false sense of owning our feminine sexuality, I’ll let men be men. Until then, until the myth of the cool girl who is cool by men’s standards (doesn’t mind taking her clothes off, lets him go out whenever, lets the male gaze dictate reproductive choices and clothing choices and salaries) I will not let men be men as they currently are.

    • Aisha says:

      Men have been being men about all things for centuries in case you hadn’t noticed. It’s only recently they’ve been asked to maybe turn it down a notch but that’s clearly asking way too much because boobs or something.

    • Lauraq says:

      Nothing wrong with boobs and men appreciating them. I have big boobs, I wear low cut tops, and I don’t get pissed when dudes glance at them (GLANCE. You don’t need to eye bang my cleavage).
      Everything wrong with saying ‘You know you want it,’ when a girl says no. Whether or not they intended it to, Blurred Lines mimics many lines girls have heard from their rapists, and that’s why some, myself included, don’t like it.

  19. Lucy says:

    He seemed so sweet and full of life at the Grammys, and he sounds adorable here. I’m still side-eyeing his collaboration with the Thickehead but…I just can’t hate him for that.

  20. Susan says:

    Why weren’t the men in the video near- naked too?

    Isn’t feminism, at its core, about establishing equality between the sexes? If the director or whomever wanted to convey such a message, the dudes should’ve been in their birthday suits.

    Instead the video reminds me of the antics that ensue when a gaggle of dudes hit up a titty-bar. It conveys a clear line between men and women and the existing power struggle between the sexes wherein women are encouraged to use their bodies as a device to regain a semblance of control over ogling men.

  21. mia girl says:

    I really love Pharrell and love, love the song Happy.

    That said, I’m glad he’s comfortable with women because he’s about to lose the Oscar to a couple of them – co-writer Kristen Anderson-Lopez and singer Indina Menzel (even though she doesn’t really get one).

    If Let It Go doesn’t win, my daughters won’t be so Happy.

  22. Nerd Alert says:

    I like Pharrell, and I think he did an okay job of not putting that nakedness decision all on Robin Thicke, who has previously taken credit for that naked women decision. It would have been less classy to say “meh, it was all his idea and it’s his song at the end of the day,” but that’s what I took from Robin.

    Anyhow, I don’t think the men have to be naked for the video not to be sexist. Just because something isn’t exactly equal doesn’t make it sexist. There’s relatively little demand for seeing naked dudes because, as a matter of fact, women aren’t as aroused visually as men are. Women are aroused by more complex things, like romance and foreplay. Touching, tasting, imagining. Seeing naked dudes doesn’t do it for women, so naked dudes aren’t everywhere like naked women are.

    Simple example. Who here reads romance novels? Romance novels outsell every other genre by a long shot; I think they even make up the majority of book sales and they are all marketed to women. Is that sexist? Nobody complains that there aren’t romance novels for men, because men generally don’t get their jollies by reading.

    Everything you see and hear for public consumption–music, movies, ads, books, everything–has been marketed to you. There is a reason women are constantly objectified: that’s what sells to men, who already represent a lower portion of consumerism. If you take away their booties and their boobies, men in general are less interested, and marketers know this.

    Unfortunately to change it is a little bit more complicated than traditional feminists would have you believe. If you want to remove the objectification of women from the media, you will have to change the very basic nature of men. Good luck.

    • V4Real says:

      Perfectly stated Nerd Alert.

    • Jay says:

      I am an active feminist and I had NO problem with the songs lyrics or the video. To me the lyrics expressed something way different then what some folks tried to make of it.

      As for the naked women … well, I suppose I just dont have a problem with naked people as long as it was/is their choice to be naked.

      Did I personally liked the video? No.
      Did I think it was kinda dumb and pointless and done purely for shock-value and attention and, well, boobs? Yes.
      Do they have the right to do whatever they want in their videos? Also a YES.

      • Nerd Alert says:

        I agree, re: the lyrics. I actually find the lyrics empowering. I took them to mean that there’s a woman with a sexual appetite who fancies the singer but won’t let herself go too far, and he’s encouraging her to lose her inhibitions. I’m over-analytical by nature, though.

        I should have also stated that I am very much a feminist and was not trying to shade what I consider to be traditional feminists. I hope I didn’t offend you. I’m just very sex-positive and sometimes find that I’m at odds with my peers in that I find no problem with (willing) boobies and booties out all over the place. I don’t find the current level of female sexualization in the media to necessarily be sexist.

        @V4Real and @Amanduh —Thank you both, esteemed Celebitches :)

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        Yeah, I didn’t understand how people could cherry pick lines and say it’s talking about rape. I felt the whole thing was really about flirting with each other in a nightclub. And I didn’t find the video at all sexy, even with boobs everywhere. I found it, actually pretty funny and silly. And the only reason they even did a naked version was to get more attention for the song–which worked.

      • Nerd Alert says:

        I agree, Virgilia. Seeing all the comments, it seems people are having problems separating the lyrics from the video. The lyrics aren’t rapey, IMO. I very much appreciate that you can recognize the marketing value of that video, because that was obviously its intent: to bring more attention to the song.

        Does the video objectify women? Hell yes it does. Do I think that is wrong or anti-feminist? No, I do not.

      • Miffy says:

        I think where the hackles (started) rising in regards to the lyrics was the line ‘I know you want it’, which, apparently, is one of the most commonly uttered phrases by assailants during sexual assaults. (which is unfortunate as they seem to repeat it 3,492 times in the song… I think, I don’t know, that sh*t went on forever) The over-analysis and cherry picking of lines there after was just follow up IMO.

      • Lauraq says:

        Nerd Alert: We can all agree to disagree. I was sexually assaulted as a child, and when I told my mom about it as an adult, she suggested that I really wanted it, and told me I should be a ‘good girl’ and keep it to myself. That’s why I have a problem with the lyrics. ‘I know you want it’ and ‘You’re a good girl’ are used pretty frequently in rape.

      • MorticiansDoItDeader says:

        @nerdalert, actually I was just reading a piece over at gawker a few days ago that says women are visually aroused by all types of sex regardless of their sexual orientation but men are strictly aroused by straight sex (if they are straight) and gay sex (if they are gay). The research challenges what we are made to believe, which is that men are more easily aroused visually.

      • Nerd Alert says:


        I would love to see the study that gawker did the piece on, but I don’t personally trust media outlets to accurately report scientific findings. On most occasions, journos/writers get results wrong or quote a study that has poor methods and is scientifically inadmissible.

        So to your point, if what you’re saying is true and assuming the study is credible, that would point more to pr0n and somehwhat censored sex scenes, I think, since you are discussing gay or straight sex and not individual images used for marketing. From the research I’ve read, women are more likely to be aroused when there are two people engaging sexually, which supports your point. If there is just a naked person of the preferred sex, men are much more likely to be aroused than women. On a personal note, this describes me. I would be aroused by most interactive nudity, gay or straight, but not by seeing a naked man in a music video (or a naked woman).

        However, I was discussing a music video and the mainstream sexualization of women vs. men for marketable products (like music) and the role it plays in consumerism. IMO, a music video is advertising the artist. In marketing, you only need to grab someone’s attention, not make him or her feel like rubbing one out. I don’t think my assertion is incorrect that women are paraded around naked to get men’s attention and that the reverse is not done because it doesn’t really work that well.

        FWIW, I do agree with you that Pharrell is not the feminist he made himself out to be, but I do think he is a feminist.

      • MorticiansDoItDeader says:

        @nerdalert, here is the study the gawker article sites. It was a federally funded study and measures arousal patterns in men and women. Take from it what you will, but it’s pretty self explainatory.

      • Nerd Alert says:

        Thanks Mort, but I was talking about the .pdf with the actual methods, results, conclusions, and confidence intervals that would have been peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal. While that link has a MUCH better description of the study than gawker probably has, it is not the actual paper that I would have looked at.

        As it happens, though, I’ve read the actual study you’re discussing and it doesn’t apply to my argument, re: marketing sex. It applies to actual arousal stimulus in gay or straight men or women, and does not conflict with my marketing argument.

        At any rate, I didn’t suggest that the point of a music video and the point of a pr0n video are the same, so we are not disagreeing on anything.

    • Miffy says:

      I like you, Nerd Alert! Well said!

      • Nerd Alert says:

        Thank you so much! I like you, too, Miffy :)

        I’ll be keeping an eye on your posts. You’re quite smart! I love that in a lady. Or a man. Cheers!

      • MorticiansDoItDeader says:

        @nerdalert, I was responding to what you said above “There’s relatively little demand for seeing naked dudes because, as a matter of fact, women aren’t as aroused visually as men are.”

        The study directly challenges this issue.

        I feel as though you’re arguing semantics at this point and trying to discredit a valid study because I didn’t publish the link from a peer reviewed journal (but rather, an easy to peruse synopsis of said study). for what its worth, I was a biology major and am familiar with the use of peer reviewed articles to back up claims. The fact remains that the study is valid and does disprove what you claimed above.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Good points, Nerd Alert. Here is my question though. You wrote, “There is a reason women are constantly objectified: that’s what sells to men, who already represent a lower portion of consumerism.”

      The 2nd half of your sentance is most important to me. WOMEN are the biggest spenders of household money. We have become the family bread winners, we have been the ones deciding how money is spent in households for YEARS now. WHY then is there this continued catering to men? Why do females get objectified instead of catered to?

      I have done research in regards to Hollywood and media, and when there are male directors or writers (tv or film), you get less than 25% of characters being female. If you have a woman as a member of that team, the number of women characters goes up to 48% (should be noted, women STILL aren’t being equally represented even then!)

      Why are the “money people” still following outdated markteting plans, hiring teams of men to write and direct, directing markteting campaigns at men, when the number show they would be more successful if they both catered to (and hired) women?

  23. judyjudy says:

    That HAT! I like to imagine there’s a tiny little Pharell underneath…he could tip his hat and the little man would tap dance on his head and then he would put his hat back on and wink at us.

    Need more coffee!

  24. Leila in wunderland says:

    I don’t think nudity, raunch, and overt sexuality are anti-woman, or that you can’t like and portray those things while being a feminist. I also have to say that I’ve seen so many sexualized images of both sexes, but that doesn’t lower the status of either sex for me or decrease my respect for either. And since looking at half-naked men is not seen as bad, and it’s not seen as bad for actors and actresses to have their semi-nude, naked, or sexualized roles in movies and TV shows, then why is it bad for people like Beyoncé, Miley, and Rihanna to do what they’ve done?

  25. shump says:

    Pharrell is not a great feminist, but he’s cute, talented, and at least he realises he should be on the side of feminism, which is a start. I’m willing to consider him a work in progress, but Blurred lines will always get a big fat side eye full of WTAF from me.

  26. MorticiansDoItDeader says:

    Oh pharrell, don’t think I forgot about this video where you fetishize lesbianism, grope women’s breasts and treat them like objects

    *the above link is SFW, but do not click on the uncensored video.

    • womanaman says:

      Oh comeee on, it wasn’t his fault, label wanted him to do that, he didn’t want to touch them, but accidentally he did, and these women were having fun anyway, because it was made for fun and to celebrate sex, you know, it wasn’t sexist video at all because everybody was just having fun!!!! :P

  27. ParisPucker says:

    It’s hard to stay mad at him when he looks and sounds the way that he does. Pharrell didn’t get as much flak for the boobies-rape-song because that’s not his general vibe, or history with his music; LeDouche is (AKA: R Thicke). He gives me the heebees-sexual-jeebies this one does. Plus, Pharrell’s talent is all encompassing. I really heart him and saw him perform before – he just gives it his all and is just adorable. I want to put him in my pocket and take him home! (Ok, am done now).

  28. Hannah says:

    Ok I don’t agree with everything he says but I love him. He is hot and talented and seriously he is 40??

  29. WendyNerd says:

    I don’t know much about Pharrell, but I do know the difference between sexualization and objectification. Sorry, but you can sexualize a group of women without being pigs about it. That video was not about empowering a woman sexually. There was a clear power dynamic going on there. If it was just about celebrating sex, the men would have been just as nude. And the women would have done more than stand around and be topless. They didn’t even seem into it. They were dead eyed. For it to be sexual and not objectification, there needs to be some semblance of equality and some semblance of engagement on the part of the woman. There was none. They were objects.

    I’m pretty happy with any guy that speaks well of feminism, and I do appreciate that. But don’t try to make shitty excuses. I mean, it’s cool that he voices support for women’s empowerment, but when you’re trying to make excuses this weak, your words hold less weight. Still, good for him for at least trying to voice some support.

  30. Jae says:

    “Is it sexist when you walk around in a museum and a lot of the statues have their boobs out?”

    Well… yes.
    I mean’ seriously. Why pretend that art has no relation to power dynamics? And that most of the artists and intended spectators through history have been men?

    See the famous Guerilla Girls Billboard:

    See also: “Ways of Seeing” –

    • Nerd Alert says:

      That’s really interesting…I will be watching the video for sure. I’m not an art historian or anything, but since it’s such an old trade, I wonder how it has changed from early art. The famous historic pieces I can think of are male models. I also wonder if there is a gender preference for visual art? I remember reading a very good essay on how female artists are not taken as seriously as male artists, who focus more on sexuality.

      Now I’m going to go all research crazy on this…thanks!

      Oh I just realized your name is my middle name, spelled exactly. I’ve never seen that before.

  31. Miffy says:

    ‘I love all women’

    …. Seriously? Isn’t that testament enough to the guy’s penchant for sexism?
    I like the dude, he comes across as a charming guy and I like some of his music but that line ‘I love all women’…. yup. Would you say the same about gay people or a specific ethnic group or race? It’s right up there with ‘some of my best friends are…’

    You’re not going to love ALL women, Pharrell, because we’re people. Some of us are more unpleasant than others, some of us have personalities that just won’t click with yours, some of us might have a more sedate sense of humour than yours, some of us are just plain boring because, guess what! We’re just normal humans… with boobs. Most of which you wouldn’t feature in a music video even if we offered because, just like our personalities, our boobs don’t all fit into one category either.

    End of rant.

    • theNood says:

      I find your opinion interesting. I worked with a man once who said he loved all women and I believe he did. We worked in retail and if there was a good looking woman in the front area he would come out the back and say there was a good looking woman out there. If there was a funny woman out the front he would comment on her, he loved women. He treated women with respect, he was courteous, he was never vulgar or rude in front of them. When we would go out after work and he was invited he would rarely come with us saying, “no thanks, I want to go home to my beautiful wife.” He would buy a bunch of flowers for his wife one week and a bunch of flowers for his daughter the next week. He did this every week and every year I worked with him, which was 4 years. During the week his wife would make a list of chores for him to do on the weekend. When I jokingly suggested he must hate his wife doing that, he replied that no, it was fantastic because he had such a bad memory that nothing would get done if his wife didn’t do it.
      As I said I truly believe he loved all women, he got joy from them and enjoyed their company.

      • Miffy says:

        He sounds like a sweet guy but I’m not sure that it was so much a case of him ‘loving all women’ as much as it was that he was a nice person. Implying that you automatically like someone because of their genitalia is difficult to consider sincere.

  32. I Choose Me says:

    I frigging hate the way he dresses but I can’t hate on him. Oh and holy spit he’s 40?! Damn.

  33. Naddie says:

    I just can’t hate Pharrel, but I have all my weapons against men who claims to “love women”. They love pussy, not women. These are the men who only like women when they’re sexualized.