Polygraph Eyes - A story of blurred consent.
A few weeks back, whilst shifting through my weekly Spotify discover playlist, I came across the song Polygraph Eyes by Yungblud, otherwise known as Dominic Harrison. The song quickly became a favourite. It was full of catchy pop-punk melodies and glorious Yorkshire accented singing but more importantly contained a poignant and powerful message. The song is a true anthem about sexual harassment, the blurred lines of consent and the ‘lad mentality’ and ‘hook-up’ culture expected on a night out clubbing.
The song explores how a night intended to be fun can quickly change into a night of regret and shame. The lyrics follow the all too familiar story of a girl heading out clubbing with friends, looking forward to a night of drinking and dancing. Things take a sinister turn when the ‘blokes start to get heavy’ and take advantage of a girl under the influence by taking her home. The next morning the girl wakes up in the stranger’s bed, greeted with the phrase ‘cheers love for last night’. The lines of ‘she can’t even run…, she can’t even walk…, she slurs when she speaks…, but you hear what you want when she can’t even talk’, clearly express how consent is commonly breached when alcohol is involved.
Yungblud explains that he has noticed (and I am sure you will recognise this situation too) of drunk girls being targeted in clubs, being forcefully kissed by strangers and even possibly stumbling out of the clubs with guys not nearly half as drunk. The song helped me recognise and realise that I have been harassed in this way on a night out and furthermore is a situation I have been witness to time and time again. I only now realise how wrong these types of situations are. As Yungblud explained in an interview about the topic, “no one wants to admit that they are the catalyst in something that is wrong”.
I really appreciate how the song explores sexual harassment not in the - kidnapped in the street and raped – perspective. Unfortunately, sexual harassment often occurs in scenarios and settings like clubs and pubs where the behaviour, as described in the song, is expected or even encouraged. Since I moved to my university residence I can personally attest to feeling pressured to participate in the club ‘hook-up’ culture university students tend to promote. Further, this college culture promotes a ‘hook-up’ culture which revolves around living in proximity to one another. It makes it so much easier to take someone back to your room or vice versa when we all live together. This is despite the boundaries of consent being blurred, very clearly blurred. Furthermore, it is often in these situations where the blame is more easily put on the victim. Saying that we shouldn’t drink alcohol, wear revealing outfits or even go to places like clubs where the likelihood of being groped and encouraged to participate in sexual activity, are all examples of victim blaming. Just because a girl may decide to do these things, it does not give a guy the right to take advantage of her.
The song is especially powerful in the chorus. The chants of ‘leave it alone mate, she doesn’t want to go home with ya’ needs to be drilled into the heads of those who think it is appropriate to start chatting up the drunkest person in the room rather than giving them the proper help they need. It is what we, as uni students who drink and party should expect our mates to remind each other about on nights out.
We can change our partying culture for the better by not accepting these forms of harassment and being there for our mates. It starts here; recognising that these things do happen, talking about it, and preventing it in the future. Check out the full music video above.
- Phoebe Spurrier