Letter to the Editor: Nelly sets bad example

To the Editor:

As a woman on this campus, I am deeply discouraged by the announcement of Nelly headlining the upcoming Spring Concert here at Bucknell. I am deeply concerned by the message that bringing such an artist sends to the Bucknell community, given Nelly’s notorious affinity for degrading and objectifying young females in the name of entertainment. Furthermore, I am disappointed that the University would endorse such a message given the overwhelmingly negative nature of the Campus Climate Report in regards to sexual assault.

The Campus Climate Report revealed that women routinely experience unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances at parties, and that as a university, Bucknell ranks in the top five among peer schools of reports of forced sexual interactions. The report also acknowledged that the social scene at Bucknell is controlled by men and driven by alcohol. As a woman who has been the brunt of these negative, alcohol-fueled interactions on this campus, and having both personally experienced the pain of sexual assault, as well as helped friends struggle through their own experiences, I am disgusted that a place I have considered my home for the past three years would sponsor an artist that shows no respect for more than half of Bucknell’s student population.

My first encounter with Nelly’s degrading portrayal of young women in his videos and lyrics was at Common Ground, a University-sponsored retreat. A documentary was shown that focused on the negative and hypersexual portrayal of women in the media. Nelly’s “Tip Drill,” along with its video, was a centerpiece in the documentary. Lyrics from the song include: “It must be your ass ’cause it ain’t your face,” and “It ain’t no fun unless we all get some/I need a tip drill/We need a tip drill.” The definition of “tip drill” also bears looking up; it brings to light much of the disgusting nature of the song. The video that accompanies the song contains images of barely clothed women having money thrown at them and champagne poured on their backsides, which culminates with Nelly taking a credit card and swiping it through a woman’s butt crack.

The use of women as sexualized props in music videos is not by any means confined to Nelly’s “Tip Drill,” but nobody can deny the pervasive nature that these videos have in the larger culture, and it sets a startlingly low standard of behavior for students. As an institution that is admittedly struggling with creating a respectful male-female dynamic on campus, it is troubling to me that as a student body, we would support hosting an artist who has historically stood in stark contrast to the ideals that we are trying to promote. It makes no sense to me that Bucknell would invite such an inspiring artist, John Legend, to come to campus, and then within the same semester, invite Nelly. In light of recent events, specifically the empirical evidence presented in the Campus Climate Report, how can we deny that these messages will unfortunately continue to inform our peer relationships here on campus? If there ever has been a pivotal moment to definitively change the campus climate and prove that we are actively working to become more informed and respectful students, is it not now? If we truly believe that the statistics in the Report were not indicative of the Bucknell student body, then why not prove it to ourselves?

Christine Perry

Class of 2013

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