Edinburgh University is right to ban popular art which endorses rape culture


There can be no dispute that in his Blurred Lines video, Thicke portrays a violation of women’s rights. His already shaky argument that his lyrics are a “feminist movement within itself” becomes even less convincing when combined with the imagery of half naked, perfect-bodied women literally acting as sexy-surfaces to place a toy car upon.

There can be no misunderstanding about the sheer chauvinism represented by every iota of this production.

I applaud Edinburgh for banning Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” and felt warmed by the words of the Vice President of EUSA, Kirsty Haigh (pictured above), “The decision to ban Blurred Lines from our venues has been taken as it promotes an unhealthy attitude towards sex and consent. There is a zero tolerance towards sexual harassment, a policy to end lad culture on campus and a safe space policy – all of which this song violates.”

Jeremy Dobson’s article for Impact about the ban seems to me to be addressing entirely the wrong questions; “why does a university organisation feel the need to filter what students hear in their buildings?” is completely off point. Whilst I can see how censorship issues crop up, it is clear that by banning the song, the university is not attempting to stop students listening to it outright. It is a statement. The University of Edinburgh is unashamedly making a stand against the (overtly obvious) message of the song and will not tolerate its promotion within its organisation.

They are not questioning the intelligence of their students, nor challenging their free will, but taking control of the environment that it wishes its students to learn in. At university, we are taught how to think not what to think. This ban is a good example to set about reflecting your own values within your own establishment. Why wouldn’t you make your microcosm adhere to the ideal of the macrocosm?

Yes, the ban is unlikely to result in a complete boycott of the song over the UK. But it is a stance, a reflection, a question mark posed and published to everyone about how far it is acceptable for production to blur moral lines even if just in the form of “a light-hearted song”.

There must be a break in the circle somewhere…neutrality only ever aids the oppressor

As for the view “‘Blurred Lines’ never encouraged sexism, sexism encouraged ‘Blurred Lines’” I think the writer is defending apathy by viewing sexism in the media as a linear problem. Thicke’s song is not the start of sexism, but it is makes clear that sexism is still present within today’s society. There must be a break in the circle somewhere, turning a blind eye to such things only makes women being objectified acceptable. Neutrality only ever aids the oppressor.

I might also add that the ban was the result of a constitution change decided at a Welfare Council meeting which addressed the proposition made by student, Lauren Tapp, claiming, “popular culture normalises sexualisation, objectification, and sexual violence against women”. At the end of the meeting, a vote was taken which showed a landslide win. Edinburgh should be congratulated for working so closely with its students, causing its actions to promote the fundamentals of the Union and the student population alike.

We live in a time where rape is a very real and serious problem. Thicke may not have published a “textbook encouraging harassment”, which it seems Impact writer would understand the banning of (so at least we’re agreed on that point). But popular culture is not to be underestimated in terms of influential value, even if it “wasn’t meant to be taken seriously”.

Jo Estrin

Follow Impact Comment on Facebook and Twitter

CommentLead articlesVoices
2 Comments on this post.
  • Chloe
    26 September 2013 at 14:41
    Leave a Reply

    Great piece. Keep fighting the good fight, ignore the enormous chauvinist element Nottingham University heart-breakingly seems to include. Some of them will never be able to empathize with the way women are poorly treated so casually in so many student social situations, but if we can change the mind of one in a hundred then it makes it all worthwhile in the end.

  • Catherine
    26 September 2013 at 16:52
    Leave a Reply

    Why wouldn’t you make your microcosm adhere to the ideal of the macrocosm?
    Hit the nail on the head!

  • Leave a Reply