Why banning Blurred Lines is not the answer

The universities of Kingston, Derby, Leeds, Edinburgh and West Scotland have all banned the playing of a particular song by Robin Thicke on campus. But is this really the right way to address the sexist piece of garbage that is ‘Blurred Lines’? 

Nobody hates that song more than me, but is censorship really the best way to tackle the issue? I am inclined to agree with philosopher JS Mill, who says that “the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race… If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

This basically means that by banning one side, we are either losing the truth or by banning the wrong side we are taking away the thing that highlights just how right we were. We know how disgusting the song is because it’s lyrics reflect some major problems with society. Without Blurred Lines there may not be such widespread debate about sexism; in its own twisted way it has helped boost the discussion on things like sexism in fresher’s week and on campus in general. Banning the song is not really a legitimately helpful move, because we already know how repugnant it is after its five weeks at number one. Why aren’t we questioning the fact that it even got to number one?

The project unbreakable “from the mouths of rapists” article is an effective and incredibly moving way of showing how repugnant the song’s message is. We are given great reasons not to listen to the song and having the choice not to listen to Robin Thicke after reading something like that is much better than just being told we’re not allowed to listen to it full stop.

In my opinion the best way to combat the views it reflects is to completely take the piss out of them and show the world how ridiculous Robin Thicke and his song are. We need more of this, please:

Why not play Robin Thicke in the union and follow it immediately with a parody? The comparison takes the creepiness out of the song and shows just how incredibly stupid, ridiculous, sexist and shit (I could go on) it is. It’s like being afraid of something – add a handbag and a coat to Snape and he’s not as scary now, is he Neville? Put up posters of him with the words #THICKO splashed over his face. Play an edited version with a Benny Hill dub whenever he chases the girls around on a big screen. Hilarious and undermining to Robin Thicke, it will highlight the songs abhorrence and make it into the joke that it is. The problem with banning it is that it makes it look like it really is something to fear instead of deflating its ridiculous message and showing we aren’t putting up with this shit anymore.

Anyway, aren’t there bigger fish to fry? Banning the song isn’t the most proactive thing we could be doing. Perhaps stunting the growth of sexism and misogyny by teaching kids about feminism in schools? I didn’t know anything about feminism until I got to university, and I sure wish I had done.  Or how about tackling the rife fresher’s sexism, like the examples shown in this article, that are happening to girls in every university? Being confronted by sexist material like “Fuck me I’m a fresher” pisses me off, but I wouldn’t ban it. I would retaliate with another poster that says “Fuck off I’m a fresher”. Or maybe a stricter policy on those men who harass women in clubs, or even just having someone to report it to in a club would be a start. A bouncer once told my friend he hoped she would get raped on the way home, so I’m thinking bouncers shouldn’t be the only option there.

In short, undermining Thicke and his idiocy is the answer rather than censoring him. Seeing both sides allows people to realise how ridiculous the wrong one is. Don’t sweep it under the carpet; it’s the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and saying LA LA LA. Face the problem and fight back, either by mocking sexism in order to disarm it or by taking some proper action that will reduce instances of sexism in real life situations.

Originally posted for The National Student: