The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Should we hate those ‘Blurred Lines’?

Manchester Students’ Union is yet to join the ban on Robin Thicke’s hit song


Robin Thicke’s controversial ‘Blurred Lines’ has been boycotted by six students’ unions across the UK.

The student’s unions of Leeds, Edinburgh, Sheffield Hallam, Derby, Kingston and West Scotland have all removed the song from the playlists within union buildings.

Alice Smart, from Leeds Students’ Union, told The Independent that the decision had been made because the song “undermines and degrades women.”

Kirsty Haigh from Edinburgh Students’ Union said that they have “a policy on zero tolerance towards sexual harassment, a policy to end lad culture on campus and a safe space policy – all of which this song violates.”

The National Union of Students has come out in support of the ban, calling ‘Blurred Lines’ “deeply offensive and dangerous” and encouraging other students’ unions to join the boycott of the song.

‘Blurred Lines’, which includes lyrics such as “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two”, “do it like it hurt” and “he was too square for you / he don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that” has sparked condemnation from women’s groups and rape charities across the world.

It has also become the fastest selling digital song in history, achieving Number One in 14 countries including the UK.

In an interview with GQ magazine, Robin Thicke said that the song originated from him and Pharrell Williams “Acting like we were two old men on a porch hollering at girls like, “Hey, where you going, girl? Come over here!””.

However, he defended his song from its criticism, saying: “All three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.”

“People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.”

“So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, “Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.””

Helen McCarthy, a third year English Literature student, told The Mancunion: “I think people generally assume that a catchy chart-topper is going to be perfectly innocent, but ‘Blurred Lines’ is actually a really abhorrent song.

“Lyrics like “I know you want it” and “The way you grab me, just wanna get nasty” are going to perpetuate this idea that women should always be up for sex, and be making themselves readily available for sex.

“Anyone who thinks ‘Just don’t listen to it then’ is the answer, has clearly not experienced the kind of harassment that the song endorses.

She added: “I think the union should follow suit and ban it, and not doing so is just damn hypocritical.

“They want the union to be a safe place for people of all genders, races, religions and sexualities, and playing a song that endorses rape and sexual harassment is not going to aid that cause.”

However, Brogan Thompson, a third year Criminology Student, said: “I don’t think it should be banned as it’s only a song, and you can’t blame a song for someone’s actions.

“You can’t put the blame on just one pop song, especially when there are lots of other songs and films that are probably worse than this.”

Chloe Barr, also a third year studying Environmental Management, agreed: “It’s just a song and its lyrics shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”

Tabz O’Brien Butcher, Women’s Officer, said to The Mancunion: “Manchester Students’ Union has not currently banned ‘Blurred Lines’. However, if women students wish to make this change in their Union then as Women’s Officer I am there to support them to explore how they might take this idea forward.

“Much popular music is derogatory and undermining to women, and Blurred Lines is no exception.

“However the scale and depth of feeling about this particular song from a wide range of students across the country can’t be ignored and it’s important that Students’ Unions continue to listen and respond to students’ experiences to make sure that student spaces are as safe and inclusive as possible.

She added: “Robin Thicke made a statement saying it was ‘a pleasure to degrade a woman’. I think we need to do more than banning a single song.”