‘Blurred Lines’ condemned by Balliol JCR

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Balliol’s JCR has passed a motion condemning Robin Thicke’s  ‘Blurred Lines’, meaning that the chart topping song will no longer be heard at bops or in the college bar.

The motion, put forward by Balliol Women’s Officers Krista Halttunen and Emily Troup, was passed by a “substantial majority” at a JCR meeting held on Sunday.

The original motion proposed to ban the song – which topped the UK charts for five weeks – for its lyrics, which it claims,  “promote damaging and unhealthy attitudes to sexual consent” and “make sexual assault sound acceptable”.

Explaining her motivation for forwarding the motion, Emily Troup commented: ”We wanted to make a clear statement that Balliol does not support a song which promotes such an unhealthy and damaging attitude to sexual consent”.

She added: ”We were really pleased when the motion passed and particularly happy at the discussion it incited. Sexual consent is such a important issue, particularly for university students and we really hoped the motion would get everyone thinking about it, which it did!”

Krista Halttunen stated that the motion was ”a way for the JCR to make a political statement regarding the issues the song brings up, such as sexism in media and trivialisation of sexual assault[…]we wanted to keep JCR events welcoming for people who might be very deeply offended by the song.”

She continued: “I’m happy about the result; we had a very good discussion, and I think the passing of the motion shows that Balliol JCR cares about these issues”.

The motion did face opposition at the General Meeting however, with some JCR members questioning the consistency of a ‘Blurred Lines’ ban. One attendee commented that a ban would be an act of  “popularism” and “getting on a bandwagon”, given the existence of other songs with “bad messages”.  Another suggested that the song was “sleazy”, rather than promoting rape.

It was also argued that an “institutionalised ban” was “too far”, suggesting that it would be equivalent to “censorship”. After discussion, it was decided that an amendment would be made to the original motion, changing the word “ban” to “condemn”.

The wording of the resolution was therefore amended to read: ”The JCR resolves to condemn the playing ‘Blurred Lines’ or any remixes thereof in the bar or at bops”.

Following the meeting, Balliol JCR President, Alex Bartram commented: “The debate was strong but polite on both sides and lasted quite a long time, so I’m confident that everyone got the chance to give their opinion”.

“Fundamentally, the argument that won out was that while people were in no way restricted to listening to the song in their own time, playing it in a public space such as the bar or a bop would make people feel uncomfortable.”

He added: ”As far as I see it, the JCR should be a space within which people feel safe, but also a place where people are unafraid to articulate their own opinions one way or the other. Tonight’s debate and resolution went some way to showing that it is, which is great”.

The successful passing of the motion by Balliol follows that of a number of student unions across the country to ban or condemn ‘Blurred Lines’. Since the University of Edinburgh set the precedent in September, seven other student unions have banned the song from union events, including the University of Leeds and Kingston University. Durham University has voted against a ban.

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