Editorial: Students show moral inconsistency

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On Friday and Saturday, roughly 5,000 Brown students will pay money to crowd the Main Green to applaud and cheer along Waka Flocka Flame and Pusha T. We will give them tens of thousands of dollars, both out of the University’s operating budget and directly from our pockets in ticket purchases. Why?

Rape culture bears a relation to the lyrics that Waka Flocka Flame and Pusha T will sing. Rape culture is one of the most pervasive and entrenched causes of sexual violence. Aspects of our society — including music, television and film — blend violence and sex in a way that either explicitly or implicitly encourages sexual aggression.

While some dispute the rape culture narrative, this is a campus that overwhelmingly accepts the existence of rape culture in our society. Last fall, the Janus Forum invited Wendy McElroy, a fringe women’s rights activist, to speak on a shared stage with Jessica Valenti, a more mainstream voice on these issues. Criticism of McElroy’s views on rape culture was so loud that President Christina Paxson P’19 felt obligated to weigh in through a campus-wide email, writing explicitly, “I disagree.”

Why does Paxson not feel the need to clarify that her administration does not endorse Waka Flocka when the musician says, “All I wanna do is sit back and watch you move and I’ll proceed to throw this cash”? Or Pusha T when he says, “Don’t let your side bitches settle in. Might have to head-butt your Evelyn” — a reference to Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, who pled guilty for head-butting his wife, Evelyn.

The reason is that for some inexplicable reason, no one is protesting. Instead, we are patronizing these performers.

The Brown community has been proudly vocal and unequivocal in its condemnation of sexual violence. In addition to those who publicly criticized McElroy, 3,436 Brown community members signed a petition organized by Imagine Rape Zero — a movement that aims to reform the University’s response to sexual assault on campus — over the last year. An estimated 400 students gathered on the Quiet Green last month to protest the University’s handling of two date-rape drug and sexual assault cases, and around 40 students participated in the second annual March Against Sexual Assault last week. Across these efforts, a large and representative segment of the student body has come together to advocate more effective policies to combat sexual assault.

If we are going to stand up to the forces in our society that perpetuate sexual violence, we cannot be selective. We cannot protest the people we do not want to listen to and willfully ignore those with artistic talent.

Indeed, young people in this country are learning far more from musicians and actors than from academics and social scientists. If we want to prevent another generation of backward and damaging values, we need to be strict in our commitment to minimizing those who perpetuate sexual violence.

This is not to argue that these or similar artists should be censored or prohibited. They are absolutely legally entitled to say whatever they please, regardless of how disgusting. But we do not need to invest in them or offer them a stage.

If this sounds like a buzz-kill at a time when we all want to distract ourselves and enjoy a weekend before finals, it should. But pushing against the forces of society for meaningful change takes more than periodically signing a petition.

On one side of University Hall, we protested together for justice for sexual assault survivors. On the other, we will come together in even greater numbers to patronize rape culture. No one is obligated to protest Waka Flocka and Pusha T. But in our collective conscience, are we comfortable with this juxtaposition?

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15, and its members, Natasha Bluth ’15, Manuel Contreras ’16, Baxter DiFabrizio ’15, Mathias Heller ’15 and Aranshi Kumar ’17. Send comments to

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  1. Rape culture is a moral panic for people with poor logical faculties.

    That said, we could definitely have some better musical acts. And to think we had Ray Charles come!

  2. Gren Statois says:

    Is it possible that Chris is a subject of those lines, and that she likes being there? Why else would she let people mouth off those lines like that.

  3. Strippers promote rape culture? That’s what WF is rapping about in your quote. Feels lazy to equate that with the domestic violence in PT’s quote.

  4. Jessica Valenti is not even close to mainstream. She is a one agenda hack whose analysis and conclusions have been proven wrong time and again. In US and UK general society she is viewed as an extremist joke. Just read her Guardian columns and play “correct the error”.

    Sorry editorial board.

  5. How about 50 shades of grey when the safety word is ignored? How about mad men? How about certain scenes in game of thrones?

  6. Robert Riversong says:

    If this campus is a world in which Jessica Valenti – one of the most extreme radical feminists alive today – can be called “a more mainstream voice”, then this is a campus which has fallen off the intellectual cliff into the morass of myth, ideology and dogma.

    There has never been a “rape culture” in the US, the incidence rape has been in a precipitous decline in the last couple of decades, and the college campus is the safest place in America for women 18-24.

    Yet college women can still demand special status, special privilege and special (paternalistic) protections simply by propagating the myths of the “rape culture” meme.

    For the backstory on the way the meme of “rape culture” was created from misandric feminist leadership and eventually insinuated into almost every facet of US society, including nearly every media story on the “epidemic” of campus sexual assault, Google: All Sex is Rape – All Men are Rapists

    For an in-depth expose of the evolution of universities from institutions of higher learning into witch-hunt tribunals for the “rape culture” advocates, Google: New Puritanism – New Paternalism: The “Rape Culture” Narrative Demeans Women, Demonizes Men, and Turns Universities into Witch Hunt Tribunals

  7. this article implies Brown students are actually logically consistent in any way with anything they believe and not brainwashed libtards

  8. ShadrachSmith says:

    With Hillary running for president, your college days will be filled with feminist campaign memes empowering outrage about all sorts of imaginative things. Bummer, huh 🙂

  9. Student '16 says:

    I appreciated that you all pointed out obvious and ridiculous liberal hypocrisy, but will be disappointed if I don’t see Alexander, James, Natasha, Manual, Baxter, Mathias, and Aranshi out on the green protesting Friday or Saturday. Challenging you all to protest these artists today and tomorrow and live up to your words.

  10. Thank you for writing this.

  11. Literally saw half of the editorial board tonight at the Spring Weekend concert!

    But, you know, it’s not hypocritical if you scold other people for doing it…

  12. For being touted as a “diverse” group of artists, I find the chosen acts to be pretty cemented in genres that appeal to a certain niche. It’s unfortunate that BHD used inflammatory language to make its case (inserting “rape culture” into any piece undermines any productive conversation).

    Brown should invite more affordable, local (regional) artists of different genres which would lower the ticket prices but attract a more diverse crowd of students.

  13. Other Commenter says:

    It’s probably worth noting that the lead singer of Modest Mouse was accused of sexual assault in 1999.

  14. ShadrachSmith says:

    How long will it be until there is a Hip Hop act called Rape Culture? Today the opinion in ELONIS v. UNITED STATES came down and makes clear that prosecution for speech requires at least some established mens rea on the part of the speaker to communicate an actual threat, and not just the impression of a threat on the part of listeners:

    The legal justification for ‘safe spaces’ that lets the feminists decide what is offensive just took a torpedo below the waterline.

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