Local advocacy group criticizes Justin Timberlake song - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Local advocacy group criticizes Justin Timberlake song

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Whether it's over the radio, on television or in stores, they're songs we hear over and over again. But Justin Timberlake's latest single "Take Back the Night" is striking the wrong chord with some people.

Take Back the Night is also an annual international march that speaks out against rape and sexual violence. Nationally, the organization threatened Timberlake with a lawsuit.

Cathleen Wilson of HOPE Works puts on Burlington's Take Back the Night celebration every April. She hopes the song brings awareness to the event.

"My first reaction was OK, great, maybe people will talk about Take Back the Night the event and generate some interest," Wilson said.

Wilson says the bigger issue is society's tolerance of negative sexual messages. She points to many songs, including Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble When You Walked In."

"We have gotten so used to messages that rape is normal, that sexual violence is normal, aggression and sex go hand in hand, and it seems to be our culture is steeped in those messages and music is steeped in those messages," Wilson said.

She points to another chart-topping song, "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, where the chorus repeated over and over again is "you know you want it."

"Those we know are words perpetrators use over and over when assaulting victims, saying, 'You know you wanted this.' So, they're damaging for victims and they normalize the words that perpetrators use when they're committing sexual assault," Wilson explained.

Wilson says lyrics like this reinforce self-blame in victims.

"People have become numb to violence in the media and it makes it hard for us to point out how damaging it could be. People will say, 'Oh, it doesn't really bother me,'" Wilson said.

Wilson says you can fight back against demeaning lyrics by listening to songs closely and watching the videos. Know what you're consuming and what the unintended impacts are and then hopefully seek out alternatives.

As for Justin Timberlake, he says he didn't know about the foundation and wanted people to know his song had no association with the organization. Take Back the Night has since dropped the lawsuit, saying it would not be the best use of anyone's time.

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