TW: This article contains a frank discussion about sexual assault, rape and misogyny
Let’s talk about ‘Blurred Lines’. It’s probably been one of the most controversial songs of our generation because it has generated division. Last week the Edinburgh University Student Association decided to ban ‘Blurred Lines’ from playing in any of their buildings. Of course this was met with much revulsion from your typical lads, but what is more revolting, surely, is the lyrical content of the song.
Let’s get the fist thing straight. This is not just a song. Artists write songs when they’re inspired to do so by something they feel or an issue they feel strongly about. So in a way, this is a manifestation of opinion in an artistic way. Following this logic and the way most songwriters write songs, ‘Blurred Lines’ is one misogynist’s view on how women should be treated and how acceptable it is to treat women as nothing less than animals.
We tried to ban the song at the University of the West of Scotland. What we were confronted with though, was an unmitigated shit storm. Some people saw our campaign to ban the song as a personal attack on their music choice and freedom of expression. Some people thought it was just a song. Some people thought if we want this banned, what about all the other sexist songs and songs that glamourise rape and misogyny? We were even confronted with someone trying to use our own safe space policy and trigger warnings against us. A member of the Women’s Group at UWS has also been subjected to disgusting bullying and verbal abuse. If it’s ‘just a song’ why are people going to lengths like this to argue against banning it? All the people in question have been male and it’s just a reflection of the patriarchal hierarchy that still exists. It’s disgusting. No one should be treated in this way for doing something they think it is right and people that are involved should be ashamed of themselves.
It’s not just a song when it discusses the issue of consent. “I know you want it.” is often said by rapists to survivors to justify their actions. “You’re a good girl.” is often said by rapists to younger victims to make them comply with what they are doing to them. “You the hottest bitch in this place.” reduces women to nothing more than female dogs. Actually, dogs are probably treated with more respect than Robin Thicke’s women. Perhaps the lyric that has the worst connotations is “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two”. This condones and normalises violence. A few lines later: “He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that.” This line normalises objectifying behaviour. The kink and BDSM scene aside, behaviour like this towards women is being increasingly normalised whereby men are inflicting pain upon women during sexual proclivities. You can see this is pornography where men spit on, spank, slap and physically hurt women. Although this is predominant in the kink community, it seeks to send out the message that violence against women is okay because they enjoy it anyway!
We need to get a few things straight. Women who have been survivors of sexual assault should not have to listen to this song. It is a trigger. It ridicules their ordeal. It makes them feel like it was their fault. That is not the kind of environment we want people to socialise in, especially when the university has a safe space policy in place where women have the right to feel safe.
Banning this song from playing in student unions would be the start of showing artists that writing songs about tearing women’s arses in two, how they’re the hottest bitch in the place and how they’re good girls is absolutely not on. It would show that a zero tolerance approach to this kind of disgusting, misogynistic bile that we are being subjected to listening to on a regular basis.
If you’re reading this and you still can’t understand why it should be banned, or think it shouldn’t be banned, I urge you to take a trip to one of the establishments nearby your university. Women are not being made to feel like crap in our unions.