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8 years ago Emily Ratajkowski shot to fame in 'Blurred Lines'. She says she was assaulted on set.

This post discusses sexual assault and could be triggering for some readers. 

The video for the Robin Thicke song 'Blurred Lines' introduced the world to Emily Ratajkowski.

Eight years, and a lot of controversy later thanks to accusations it glorified rape culture, the now 30-year-old has made some allegations of her own.

In her new autobiography, My Body, Ratajkowski alleges that Thicke, sexually assaulted her while she was on set for the video.

Watch: 'Blurred Lines' by Robin Thicke. Post continues after video.


Video via Vevo.

She says Thicke groped her bare breasts from behind during filming, describing: "Suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt the coolness and foreignness of a stranger’s hands cupping my bare breasts from behind.

"I instinctively moved away, looking back at Robin Thicke. He smiled a goofy grin and stumbled backward, his eyes concealed behind his sunglasses. My head turned to the darkness beyond the set."

She says Thicke's actions made her feel "naked for the first time that day" but she'd been "desperate to minimise" the incident.

"I pushed my chin forward and shrugged, avoiding eye contact, feeling the heat of humiliation pump through my body. I didn’t react – not really, not like I should have."

The video’s director, Diane Martel, has told The Sunday Times she witnessed the assault and screamed at Thicke, "What the fuck are you doing, that’s it! The shoot is over!" 

"I remember the moment that he grabbed her breasts. One in each hand. He was standing behind her as they were both in profile," she said.

She explained that up until that point, “everything had been very sweet and enjoyable" and the women were comfortable. No men aside from the performers were allowed on set. 

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She remembers Thicke "sheepishly" apologising, before the shoot continued. 

Both Martel and Ratajkowski said he was drunk during the shoot which also featured T.I. and Pharrell Williams, alongside Ratajkowski, Elle Evans, and Jessi M'Bengue. 


Ratajkowski has alleged she was sexually assaulted on the set of 'Blurred Lines.' Image: Vevo.

Martel's vision for the video was to subvert power dynamics, placing men in the inferior position as the women ignored and mocked them.

"With that one gesture, Robin Thicke had reminded everyone on set that we women weren’t actually in charge.

"I didn’t have any real power as the naked girl dancing around in his music video. I was nothing more than the hired mannequin," Ratajkowski wrote. 

Thicke’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment, according to the Times.

The 'Blurred Lines' controversy.

Dubbed the 'most controversial' song of the decade when it was released in 2013, 'Blurred Lines' has been banned across numerous venues including nightclubs and university campuses. 

The song's lyrics tell the listener that sexual consent is a grey area with lines like: 

I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you're a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty 

It spent 33 weeks on the top of the Billboard Top 100 and garnered Thicke a Grammy nomination as a solo performer. But the backlash was also widespread.

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As Emily Bootle articulated for The News Statesman, "It can be difficult to articulate why these songs are more offensive than other sexually arrogant pop songs. For me, it comes down to a lack of female agency. The woman’s desires are assumed, her consent expected. Of course, pop can still be grossly misogynistic without doing this."

The same year it was released, an online photo essay exhibit called Project Unbreakable featuring women and men holding signs with sentences that their rapist said before, during, or after their assault, made headlines. It perfectly articulated what critics of the song had been trying to explain placing the song's lyrics into a real-life context.

Image: Project Unbreakable.

 

Image: Project Unbreakable.

 

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Image: Project Unbreakable. 

At the time, Thicke told GQ Magazine, "We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, 'We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.' 

"People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman'. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women." 

When asked directly by the BBC what he thought about critics who said the song promotes rape, he replied "I think they should all...I can’t dignify that with a response. That’s ridiculous." 

Williams, who was also in the video defended it to Pitchfork saying critics, "just want to be mad." 

He's since changed his tune, telling GQ in 2019, "I realised 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 behaviour. 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."

Earlier this year, Thicke told the New York Post, "We had no negative intentions when we made the record, when we made the video. But then it did open up a conversation that needed to be had. And it doesn’t matter what your intentions were when you wrote the song … the people were being negatively affected by it. And I think now, obviously, culture, society has moved into a completely different place. You won’t see me making any videos like that ever again!"

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In an interview with InStyleUK in 2015, Ratajkowski said 'Blurred Lines' was following her around like a bad, misogynistic smell. 

"I wasn't into the idea at all at first," she said. "Now, it's the bane of my existence." 

She initially turned down the opportunity, only agreeing after meeting with the director and learning that the video was supposed to be more playful than sensual.

The song has also been embroiled in a copyright lawsuit after Marvin Gaye's family alleged it ripped off his 1977 hit 'Got To Give It Up'. They won, and his estate was awarded $5 million.

Ratajkowski's autobiography is due to be released on October 19 and promises 'a deeply honest investigation of what it means to be a woman and a commodity.'

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Feature image: Vevo/Mamamia.

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