TRIGGER WARNING: contains references to sexual assault and links to articles that explicitly mention sexual assault.
I’m getting seriously bored by how long this has been in the media, not because I don’t care about the issue, but because everyone is just repeating the same stuff: banning the song from Students’ Unions amounts to censorship and is against Freedom of Speech, blah blah blah… But every single debate I have read seems to overlook the fact that some (around 20) institutions refusing to play a certain song, is not censorship but rather boycotting. People can still access the song; in shops, on the radio, on the internet. This song has not been censored in the UK.
If Robin Thicke’s unpleasant song is played in Students’ Unions, he will receive royalties each time it is played. I think that the SUs should be making this point when announcing their decision to ‘ban’ the song: they are boycotting it, refusing to endorse it by giving the singer money and airtime, not committing a totalitarian example of censorship.
The ‘Blurred Lines’ lyrics are by no means the most misogynist you can find, but this is not the point. As this blog post shows, some of the lyrics in this song are horribly similar to things that rapists and sexual assaulters have said to their victims. And as this recent study shows, even the phrases used by mainstream lad’s mags are linguistically similar to the phrases rapists use to justify their crime.
What is so upsetting about these examples is that they display just how normalised and acceptable it is to say these things – so acceptable that many people have trouble even understanding how the Blurred Lines lyrics can be construed as misogynistic. Once again, the media portrays us as man-hating feminists overreacting to ‘just a bit of harmless fun’.
Rowan Hope Campbell