26 July 2012 | 9:41 pm | Clem Bastow

Clem Bastow reviews Brian McFadden's Just The Way You Are (Drunk At The Bar).

Do you know what's special about this week? Tuesday 8 March is International Women's Day. In fact, it's the centenary of International Women's Day. In other, considerably less important news, I have now been a music critic for a decade. The horizon point between these two milestones is this: why, in this day and age, have I had the misfortune to recently review at least three major label releases that glorify date rape? The latest is Brian McFadden's new single, Just The Way You Are (Drunk At The Bar).


We talk a lot about the idea of "rape culture" these days: what it is, what it isn't, and why it is (or why it isn't). Rape culture does not mean, to purloin the wisdom of Antoine Dodson, that they rapin' errbody out there. Instead, it is a culture – of commentary, arts, music, popular thought – that normalises, excuses, trivialises and in some instances condones sexual violence, and it shuts down those who try to criticise it with cries of "political correctness gone mad".

Right now, I can't think of a better example of rape culture than a song with a chorus that runs, "I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit, dancing at the bar/I like it and I can't wait to take you home so I can do some damage/I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit dancing at the bar, I can't wait to take you home so I can take advantage."

As Nina Funnell noted this week, "Having sex with a woman who does not have the capacity to consent is not called 'taking advantage'. It's called rape. Calling it 'taking advantage' reclassifies an action from being a serious crime to a negative but essentially trivial behaviour with no legal dimension whatsoever."

All this is set to an utterly confounding hard house banjo breakdown that makes me long for the innocent and relatively tuneful days of Rednex's Cotton-Eye Joe.

Yo, Potato, you dense twit, let me break it down for you.

Conservative statistical estimates suggest that sexual assault or rape will personally affect one in five Australian women at some point in their life; more locally, according to a VicHealth survey in 2004, intimate partner violence is the leading cause of death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15 to 44.

McFadden is "Our" Delta Goodrem's intimate partner; apparently, he wrote this song as an ode to her, because she drinks only occasionally and he finds it "cute" when she gets blotto and he can, evidently, "do some damage". Delta is also a spokesperson for Avon Voices, a talent quest whose eventual winner's single will raise funds for The Avon Foundation For Women's global campaign to end violence against women and girls.

He has claimed the song is just a gag and it's not meant to have anything to do with rape. If that's so, how come the single artwork features McFadden posing a la police mug shot? That's because he gets a naughty little tingle from the knowledge that he's singing about something that is obviously very wrong.

McFadden's lame defence of himself, on Twitter, was: "and yes it is dumb lyrics and a dumb beat.... that was the point!!!! when did i ever claim to be john lennon? [sic]".

Wonder what Lennon would make of this. Wonder if he knew his Woman Is The Nigger Of The World (1972) would still be so relevant 39 years after its release: "We insult her everyday on TV/And wonder why she has no guts or confidence/When she's young we kill her will to be free/While telling her not to be so smart we put her down for being so dumb."

So go ahead and call me politically correct, call me a feminazi, call me a stuck-up bitch who just needs a good dicking: when you excuse rubbish like this (with arguments like that), you are a part of the problem. It's 2011 for fuck's sake. Happy International Women's Day.

This piece originally appeared in Inpress March 2011