Blurred Protest Lines: Read the petition to ban Robin Thicke from performing at Agganis Arena

Forget deporting Justin Bieber, there is now a petition to prevent Robin Thicke from performing at Boston University’s Agganis Arena on March 4. The change.org petition, titled Cancel Robin Thicke’s BU Performance, is directed towards the school’s administration, noting that the Grammy-nominated artists’ lyrics — especially in last year’s mega-hit “Blurred Lines” — promotes rape culture and misogyny.

Created by a group called Humanists of Boston University, the petition has more than 1,100 signatures. Agganis can house 7,200 spectators for concerts.

Boston Magazine [hat tip] notes that a small protest held on Commonwealth Avenue the night of the show in also gaining traction.

Here is the petition in full:

Cancel Robin Thicke’s BU Performance

On Tuesday March 4th, 2014, Robin Thicke will be performing on BU’s campus at Agganis Arena. He is certain to accrue a lot of publicity for BU. However, Thicke’s current celebrity status is not due only to his hit songs, but also his misogyny. On January 22, 2014, President Obama signed a memorandum demanding a solution to sexual assault on college campuses, to which BU should take heed (Whitehouse.gov). Having Thicke perform is a political statement that is out of touch with the realities of sexual violence and Boston University’s own history. Thus, we suggest that Robin Thicke’s performance be cancelled.

Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” celebrates having sex with women against their will. Lyrics such as, “I know you want it,” explicitly use non-consensual language. And while watching the extremely explicit video, the insinuations grow from subtle to explicit to obnoxious.

Is this even an issue if it is just one song? Art cannot be understood without its cultural context. One in five women in America experience rape or serious sexual assault in their lifetime, a figure that goes up to one in four during college (cdc.gov). Most of these crimes go unreported, largely because of the shame society places on women who survive sexual assault. Rather than condemn the perpetrator, rape culture leads us to blame the victim. Indeed, the context of “Blurred Lines” is not simply sexily clad women; the context is systemic patriarchy and sexual oppression.

However, another context highlights the irony of BU having Thicke perform: the feminist context of BU itself. In 1864 BU’s School of Medicine was the first in the country to award an M.D. to a black woman, Dr. Rebecca Crumpler. Other notable alumnae include Jan Felshin, an openly gay woman who advocated for girls participation in and access to sports, and Caryl Rivers, a current journalism professor who covered many pivotal moments of the second wave feminism era. In 1967, BU students rallied behind Bill Baird to challenge a Massachusetts law banning birth control. This act led Baird to win a 1972 case that legalized birth control across the entire country. Today, BU maintains a Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center as a resource for assault survivors, and provides annual mandatory training to every student group.

Clearly, Boston University has been a bedrock for feminism and ideologies of equality more generally. It is a dishonor to our feminist history to symbolically idolize Robin Thicke by allowing him to perform his misogynist music at our university. We kindly suggest that BU cancel Thicke’s performance, refund any ticket sales, and apologize for insinuating that sexism, or any form of baseless discrimination, is permissible at our institution.

  1. OMG I can’t believe how people have misconstrued the lyrics to “Blurred Lines.” First question–why in a million years would a rising music star write a song bragging about rape??? Come on.

    The song is playful and goofy (with genius syncopation). You can’t now reinvent the lyrics to mean something sinister.

    The first part of the song is talking about how electric their chemistry is. He’s saying, “maybe I’m wrong, but it sure seems to me like you are as attracted to me as I am to you.”

    He’s also saying that the guy she’s with is a loser and a prude. It’s not the Madonna-wh*re dichotomy. She is being given permission to let loose and have fun without everyone judging her (kinda how you guys are doing now). His complaint is that a woman should not have a bad reputation based on her sex life. She’s a good (girl) person and she has earned this reputation. She deserves it.

    Also, when guys have sex they “score” but when women have sex they are sl*ts. That’s the double standard people should be correcting. He is saying, “guess what, you’re both a good person and a sexual being, and that’s okay.”

    “You’re far from plastic” reinforces his position that she is a classy lady and an interesting person.

    So much of the sex talk is just that– talk. Both men and women use this language today. Both sexes try to convince the other person that they are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Of course there is going to be big talk. Again, if the language is too coarse for you, either you take things too seriously, or maybe you are the prude.

    And the use of the term “b*tch” is not politically incorrect (or it shouldn’t be). In the words of Whoppi Goldberg (in a segment of Best of Jimmy Fallon this week, where she is transported back in time to Downton Abbey), “B*tch, please.” It has become like the expression, “fugetaboutit” (forget about it) as explained in the movie, “Donny Brasco,” where the expression has so many different uses and meanings that it can’t be categorized as meaning only one thing.

    Examples: (1) Look at these b*tchin’ jeans I just bought; (2) That math problem was a real b*tch; (3) Stop b*tching about it and just do it; (4) I got my b*tches (girl’s girlfriends) with me; (5) What up b*tch? (greeting between friends); (6) Quit being such a little b*tch about it (said by both men and women to either men or women); (7) Ain’t that a b*tch (how unfortunate).

    And lastly, this song is not describing a rape. I think some people are sensitized by bad experiences, to the point where they can’t be entirely objective. They are projecting their own feelings when reading situations. I feel for them, and I’ve been there too, but you have to adjust your perspective to take into account that you have become somewhat radicalized.

    Both the man and the woman in the song are jumping off a cliff together. They are transitioning from friends to lovers. This is an exciting, amazing time, usually involving joy and fun, because the two of them belong to their own private club from now on. They don’t have to front anymore. Now they are “partners in crime,” very sexy.

    I hope I hit all the points. Generally, I have dead-on accuracy when interpreting social context. I would be really surprised if I were wrong. By the way, I am female.