When SGA announced that we were bringing Jason Derulo to TCU, I and many others were ecstatic. Of all the artists we’ve brought, he is the most inclusive and possibly the most popular among TCU students. On Sunday we were able to come together as a student body and celebrate our victory over OU by singing and dancing at an insanely fun show, and I remain proud of the concert SGA and Student Affairs were able to produce.
But there is a conversation that I want to get started. It’s one I’ve been having with students and faculty alike ever since we announced Jason Derulo, and as the Student Body President, I want to urge you to become a part of it too. The issue is this:
Do Jason Derulo’s lyrics represent a positive treatment of women? And if not, do lyrics like his negatively affect culture?
It is an interesting and serious question. My answer has been that some of Jason’s lyrics do objectify women, but just because you listen to certain music doesn’t mean you have to agree with the lyrics. It’s a beat to nod my head to, not gospel to guide my life. Additionally, I would argue that Jason is an artist, and artists have freedom of expression because that’s what makes art special. Basically, I said: “C’mon. It’s not a big deal. He’s a popular musician and most people realize that you shouldn’t treat women the way he does in his songs.”
To a large extent, I still believe that argument. But I have grown to realize, through these conversations, that many people disagree. They argue that Jason’s music objectifies women, and that by accepting misogyny on a large scale, we are constructing an unequal and less-than-human concept of a woman that permeates how we see women in our day-to-day lives. Basically, they say: “Words matter, and Jason’s lyrics promote the objectification of women. If we are supposed to be promoting gender equality at TCU, why would we endorse this view?”
Look, I’m like you. I’m a 21-year-old college student who is still learning every day. I think women should be treated with the utmost respect, but I definitely listen to pop music that says otherwise, so if you think this is no big deal, I totally understand. But to be honest, I’m struggling with it.
How can I hate when guys catcall girls, yet listen to “Wiggle”? How can I object to someone valuing my sisters only for their looks, yet sing along to the rap in “Talk Dirty To Me?” And most importantly, how can I be fighting as Student Body President to put an end to a culture that makes women develop eating disorders and men think sexual assault is ok, yet be fine with bringing Jason Derulo to our fall concert?
Those are hard questions – really hard – and they deserve to be taken seriously.
Let me be real with you – I stand by the reasoning I presented earlier, but I continue to question it. And by questioning it, I am learning about gender equality and empathy in a whole new way. See, questioning beliefs, seeing from other people’s points of view – that’s how we learn. That’s how we grow. Starting a conversation is how we move forward as human beings.
Do I think some of Derulo’s lyrics objectify women? Yes. Do I think they have a negative impact on our campus? I’m still figuring it out. Do I think that the entire campus engaging in this conversation will be productive for all Horned Frogs? Absolutely.