As of Wednesday night, Humanists of Boston University have gathered more than 1,200 signatures on Change.org to petition Robin Thicke’s upcoming performance at Agganis Arena on March 4.
Humanists of Boston University argue that Thicke should not be allowed to perform on BU’s campus because his songs, and “Blurred Lines” in particular, promote and glorify sexual assault. Critics also argue that allowing Thicke to perform on BU’s campus will contradict all the efforts U.S. Pres. Barack Obama is making to combat sexual violence on college campuses. In the Change.org petition, given Thicke’s misogynistic reputation, Humanists of BU highlight the irony of having him perform on BU’s campus.
“Boston University has been a bedrock for feminism and ideologies of equality more generally,” read the petition. “It is a dishonor to our feminist history to symbolically idolize Robin Thicke by allowing him to perform his misogynist music at our university.”
The petition suggests that BU cancels Thicke’s performance, refunds any tickets sales and apologizes for encouraging such a performer on their campus. Although this is a noble attempt at showing the administration how serious people are about combating sexual violence on campus, this petition is misguided.
For starters, BU is not even the one holding the event at Agganis Arena. If these signatories really wanted to stop Thicke’s performance, they would need to petition against those organizing the Blurred Lines tour, and it is unlikely that they would discontinue such a big part of their tour just because some people are threatening to protest outside of the venue.
Second, people need to pay for their tickets to this concert; therefore, this concert is not a public event. No one is forced to go. Now, if BU sponsored publications or videos featuring “Blurred Lines,” that would be a different story.
Third, if anything, Robin Thicke is the lesser of all the evils regarding sexual violence in today’s culture. Even if he still performs at Agganis and doesn’t play Blurred Lines, fans and concertgoers would cause uproar because, well, does he even have any other songs that don’t make you want to hit the skip button?
There are countless songs out there that have a similar theme of sexual contact and aggression. But, at the same time, there is no arguing that this song takes it to another level. Even though this petition is unlikely to stop the concert from happening, it is definitely a step in the right direction toward combating this type of attitude toward sex in our society.
This petition has reached far outside of Boston, and has received signatures from all over the United States in states such as New York, Hawaii and Colorado. Additionally, WTBU, Channel 7 and Fox 25 broadcasted this story Wednesday night on their networks.
Serious conversation around a controversial issue is the first step to creating action — but it is the first of many. The next step is actually getting people to do something about it. And, unfortunately, a Change.org petition and a protest organized by a student group during the concert isn’t exactly the way to go about it.
Trying to eradicate the issue of sexual violence by a simple petition really dilutes the magnitude of the problem. The motivation behind this petition is rooted somewhere much deeper than Thicke simply just singing a song with the provocative lines “I know you want it” on BU’s campus. Rather, people are afraid his performance will reverse all the progress BU has made in regards to preventing sexual assault on campus.
In the past year, BU has made great strides in combating sexual violence on campus by instituting programs such as the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center. Having one concert of one sensationalized “misogynist” is not going to change the effectiveness of those resources. People need to focus on making a fundamental change within our culture, rather than just directing our efforts at bring down a pop star from the limelight.
People bought tickets to Thicke’s concert at Agganis, and Blurred Lines peaked the Billboard charts for a reason — the song is catchy and entertaining. But, the problem is not Thicke or his song, but rather it is the culture we live in.
Stopping one concert on a college campus won’t stop other artists from coming through Agganis and singing about a similar topic. For those critical of Thicke performing on BU, the solution is simple: don’t buy a ticket.