The decision whether to attend or to boycott Tyga’s performance today is a critical one. It is not simply a matter of deciding to spend time having fun listening to a famous artist’s music for one night. Instead, it is a political choice—one with serious, tangible implications.
Following the announcement that hip-hop artist Tyga would be the festival’s headliner, a petition entitled “Cancel Tyga at Yardfest” circulated the Internet, garnering over 2,000 signatures supporting the cancelation of Tyga due to the pervasiveness of violent and misogynistic lyrics in his music.
In response to the petition, the College Events Board and the Harvard Concert Commission announced this past week that they had decided to keep Tyga as the headliner of this year’s Yardfest, but had delayed when he would perform to allow students critical of Tyga to finish their dinners and to head over to an alternative concert by hip-hop artist Shea Rose in Eliot Courtyard.
As a strong supporter of the petition, I was highly disappointed when the college decided to maintain Tyga’s performance. I have decided to express my disapproval in the only reasonable remaining manner: by boycotting Tyga’s performance. I urge other Harvard undergraduates to do the same.
Tyga’s headliner status at Yardfest this year has concrete consequences. Ironically, April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, yet Harvard’s passive decision to allow misogynistic music to blare through the Yard will only detract from society’s overall progress toward gender equality and women’s rights. This is morally unacceptable.
Unfortunately, it is too late to disinvite Tyga. Whether we like it or not, Tyga will perform at Yardfest tonight. Even if he doesn’t choose to sing songs that explicitly contain misogynistic lyrics, his presence on the stage at Yardfest will beget the consequences described above.
However, there is still a chance to make a statement. It is not too late to challenge the sexist attitudes depicted in Tyga’s lyrics or diminish the terrible symbolic effects of his performance. The solution is to boycott Tyga’s performance. Tyga’s performance has the symbolic power to reify rape culture, but we also need to realize that attendance, or lack thereof, possesses symbolic power.
If you decide to attend Tyga’s performance, you are making a political statement. You are sending the message to your peers and society as a whole that you tacitly condone sexism and violence against women. You will be supporting patriarchal structures and obstructing gender equality. You will be helping perpetuate rape culture and making sexual assault more likely.
But you may say Tyga has been unfairly singled out: former Yardfest headliners had sexist themes or messages in their music. But the past is no excuse for the present. This tradition of sexist music needs to broken sometime, and I believe that that time is now. We need to set the precedent tonight by boycotting Tyga’s performance.
You may even raise the point that the petition against Tyga’s performance and a boycott of his performance would be interpreted as a personal attack against Tyga. But the only way to combat misogynistic undertones in music is to begin somewhere, and in this case, it is with Tyga’s performance. Students need to recognize the unique symbolic power of Tyga headlining Yardfest and realize that the selection of Tyga as the headliner of this year’s Yardfest sheds light on the values the university stands for.
And an attack of Tyga is not a protest of hip-hop in general. This is proven by the promotion of the alternative performance to be held in Eliot Courtyard by hip-hop artist Shea Rose.
I am going to attend Yardfest, listen to the opening performers, eat dinner and socialize with my friends. Then, when it comes time for Tyga’s performance, I am going to leave Yardfest and instead attend Shea Rose’s performance. By being absent during Tyga’s performance and opting to attend Shea Rose’s performance, I am voting for gender equality and healthy, respectful attitudes toward women.
Join me in this boycott. Make a bold statement that you believe in the worth and value of women, that you support gender equality, and that you trust in the dignity and equality of all humans. By boycotting Tyga’s performance, we can take a step forward together in creating a more fair and just world.