Blurred Lines ban: Should Oxford be next?

Some people think a song should be banned for being small-minded.

Edinburgh, LeedsKingston and two other universities have all controversially banned the song ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke from being played in their student union buildings, begging the question of whether the Oxford Student Union (OUSU) should be next to act.

The song has been banned for its misogynistic content and references to non-consensual sex, with many arguing it promotes a ‘soft-on-rape’ culture.

Should Oxford be next? We put the question out there, and here are some of the responses…

Sara Pine, OUSU Women’s Officer

Consent is crucial for students – sexual violence is too prevalent for students at Oxford. OUSU’s sexual consent workshops tackle the myths and misinformation around rape and sexual assault that feed into these forms of problematic behaviour.

Blurred Lines is a key example of this rubbish. The song is abhorrent because it explicitly advocates the lies that excuse rape: boundaries aren’t blurred lines, anyone saying no doesn’t actually mean yes, women shouldn’t be treated as ‘good girls’ for acting sexually for men. Freedom means any community being able to choose what media it consumes.

A group, common room or union should be able to act on this freedom and decide what values they want to embody. Rejecting this vile manifestation of rape culture isn’t an affront to freedom, but the actions of a free community instead.

Ellie Page, Teddy Hall feminist activist

This song is controversial for aspects which it shares, unfortunately, with other mainstream hits that are probably still played regularly at club nights in Edinburgh, Leeds and Kingston.

It is the combination of lyrics that condone non-consensual sex and the video which objectifies women in the extreme, that makes ‘Blurred Lines’ a particularly disturbing and uniquely offensive listening and viewing experience, and that has sparked such international outcry.

Whilst Robin Thicke is by no means the only singer/songwriter (if we may call him either of those things) to commit these sexist and pro-non-consensual sex offenses, it is extremely important to support nationwide boycotts, such as this, that share the ultimate goal of promoting gender equality and launching a public attack on rape culture.

Questioning sexual consent is not simply being ‘small-minded.’



Joe Miles

Blurred Lines is an awful and misogynistic song and I’m not too sad that Edinburgh Student Union has banned it.

That said, hip-hop and R&B as a whole has a questionable attitude towards women (“Birthday Sex” has lyrics that flat out imply rape, for example) and pretending that Robin Thicke has done something uniquely awful is counterproductive when the genre as a whole needs to buck its ideas up.



Oxford club promoter (requested anonymity)

Music should be thought of as independent from ‘rape culture’, and even though I do believe that some of the song lyrics are inappropriate, it’s never been a problem before as many older, very successful artists have sang a lot worse and still been loved.

I understand the implications of the song lyrics, which I do appreciate, are found offensive by some.

However, I think it is absurd to suggest that the entirety of the public will be driven to support or partake in misogyny because of one suggestive song.