Letters to Editor, Opinion

LETTER: On Robin Thicke at Agganis

Dear Boston University Administration,

On Tuesday, March 4, Robin Thicke will be performing on Boston University’s campus at Agganis Arena. Such a popular artist is certain to accrue a lot of publicity for BU, which is likely an enormous economic incentive. However, Thicke’s current celebrity status is not due only to the buzz surrounding his music, but also his misogyny. On Wednesday, Jan. 22, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum demanding a solution to sexual assault on college campuses, a call to action to which BU should take heed. But having Robin Thicke perform is a political statement that is out of touch with the realities of sexual violence and BU’s own history. To rectify this offense, we suggest that Robin Thicke’s performance be canceled.

Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” is about, and 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, which mainly involves fully clothed men being surrounded by women reduced to sexual objects, 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, and that figure goes up to one in four during college, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these crimes go unreported, in part because of the shame that continues to be placed 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, there is another context that highlights the irony of BU having Thicke perform, which is 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, Caryl Rivers, a current journalism professor who covered many pivotal moments of the second wave feminism era, and Rebecca Watson, a public speaker on the treatment and representation of women in religious institutions and the secular movement. In 1967, BU students rallied behind Bill Baird to challenge a Massachusetts law banning birth control. It was this act that led Baird to win a 1972 case that legalized birth control across the entire country. And 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.

Without a doubt, Boston University has been bedrock for feminism and ideologies of equality more generally. Thus 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 administration rescind its offer to Robin Thicke, refund any ticket sales and apologize for insinuating that sexism, or any form of baseless discrimination, is permissible at our institution.

Sincerely,

Humanists of Boston University
Humanist Alumni of Boston University
Hoochie: Feminist Thought from Boston University

2 Comments

  1. Fascist feminazis doing the damn thing as per usual. Why do these psychos hate freedom so much?

  2. This has absolutely nothing to do with killing his freedom of speech. Do you know why we have the First Amendment? To criticize fascist governments who are quick to throw their citizens in a hole and forget about them. Freedom of speech isn’t about stupid song lyrics, it is about having the power and means to criticize your government if you want to. It means being able to do it without having to worry about your wellbeing or your family’s. It means being able to assemble in a square and scream for your rights. This has nothing to do with stifling Thicke’s freedom of speech because what the actual hell is his song worth? Jack.

    This isn’t about Thicke’s freedom. It’s about how he treats people like a commodity in his videos and encourages people to .