The controversy over the lyrics to “Blurred Lines” wasn’t always clear to Pharrell Williams, but it is now.
In 2013 the popular song, performed by Robin Thicke, rapper T.I. and Williams, drew criticism for containing lyrics that some perceived to be promoting rape culture.
In particular, the song’s use of the phrase “I know you want it” dismissed the importance of consent.
At the time, Williams told GQ, he “didn’t get it,” in part because he knew women who enjoyed the song and connected to its energetic spirit. Then, he said, “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,” he said. “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.”
He added: “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.”
Late last year, a five-year legal battle over the copyright of the song ended in the family of Marvin Gaye being awarded $5 million.
Williams and Thicke had been accused of copyright infringement due to the song’s similarities to Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”
Williams spoke to GQ for its issue about the evolution of masculinity and what it means today.