Justin Bieber’s New Song ‘What Do You Mean’ Facing Criticism

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“No means no” is a common theme when discussing date rape. College rape and date rape cases number in the hundreds every year. Justin Bieber’s new song entitled, What Do You Mean is facing criticism for the lyrics. The problem phrase is: “What do you mean when you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no? When a role model writes and/or sings lyrics which use such a phrase as “yes might mean no,” it makes a statement. Since pop stars, like Bieber are emulated, they need to pay attention to what the lyrics teach.

In Bieber’s new music video, there is a questionable scene in the bedroom. First, the woman is enthusiastic but the she pushes Bieber away. The lyrics of the song are more generalized about relationship confusion. However, in light of the all the press about rape culture within the university lifestyle, recent studies indicate there is more to discuss.

According to the University of Sciences, the definition of date rape, also known as acquaintance rape is, “Non-consensual sexual intercourse by a friend or acquaintance.” Here are two key details about the definition:

  1. Non-Consensual: Having sexual intercourse without granting permission; this can be with a friend or someone a person might have just met.
  2. Unable to Consent: If incoherent or unconscious due to drinking/drugs, sleeping, etcetera, one is not able to grant permission, therefore it is considered rape. Sexual assault is not always a forceful act.

A report was issued in January 2014, entitled, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action by the White House Council on Women and Girls. There are several vital points and statistics within the article. Here is a sampling:

  • The majority of victims are female: approximately one in five will have been raped sometime during her life.
  • Also at risk are males: one in 71 will have been rape victims in their lifetime.
  • Racial identity is not a factor among victims.
  • Most rapists are known to the victims: Female stats – those assaulted by a former or current partner is 51 percent, and 41 percent were victims of acquaintance rape. Whereas, stranger rapes only account for 14 percent. Male stats – those raped by an acquaintance was 51 percent, and only 15 percent reported stranger rapes.
  • Reporting: less than 12 percent of all rapes at the college level are reported.
  • College rape: “many survivors are victims of what’s called incapacitated assault:  they are sexually abused while drunk, under the influence of drugs, passed out, or otherwise incapacitated.”

Due to the overall damage rape causes, Bieber’s newly released song, What Do You Mean, is facing some real serious criticism. One Tweeter wrote, “Let’s do away with pop songs where a girl nods yes when she means no and vice versa, [okay]? Bieber’s response was, “Girls are often just flip-floppy.” He also complains that girls do not say what they mean, hence the song.

There are other artists whose songs include the word rape. For example:

  • Eminem’s song, Medicine Ball – “I will rape all the [deleted obsenity] cat dolls then call you kitten.”
  • Black Eyed Peas’ song, Valley of The Dolls – “I said babe lemme rape you.”
  • The Black Keys’ song, Baddest Man Alive – “I’m the man who stole the golden fleece. I date rape Beauty right in front of the Beast.”
  • Paradiso Girls’ song, That’s Just What I Like – “All the girls in the club wanna date me. On my body like they all wanna rape me…”
  • There are many more. Most are very vulgar.

Hip-hop and contemporary Pop music artists’ fans are between the ages of 13 and 34. However, there are reports which indicate 70 percent of hip-hop music owners are teenagers. Another report says the average user is college educated with a mean age of 26 years old. The rape-culture is present in many modern lyrics. By comparison, the words in Bieber’s new song What Do You Mean are mild, however, it is facing criticism.

By Cathy Milne


U.S Government: Rape And Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call To Action
Billboard: Lena Dunham Tweets Disapproval of Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean’ Lyrics
Direct Lyrics: Justin Bieber What Do You Mean
Direct Lyrics: Songs Using The Word Rape

Featured Photo Courtesy of Elliot Margolles’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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