An all-male a cappella group at Princeton University has stopped a long-standing tradition of performing "Kiss the Girl" from Disney's "The Little Mermaid" over complaints that the song is misogynistic and violates the principle of consent.
The decision came after an opinion piece in the school's newspaper penned by a sophomore who called the song's performance "an offensive and violating ritual."
Noa Wollstein says the lyrics raise serious issues and "unambiguously encourage men to make physical advances on women without obtaining their clear consent."
"The song launches a heteronormative attack on women’s right to oppose the romantic and sexual liberties taken by men, further inundating the listener with themes of toxic masculinity," she wrote.
But it's not just the song's lyrics that Wollstein takes issues with. During the Tigertones performance, members of the group call up a male and female member of the audience to sing and dance with them. At the song's conclusion, the audience members are urged to kiss each other.
"Too many people have felt uncomfortable and violated by this practice to continue its justification on the basis of popularity or tradition. The fact that it has continued as long as it has is disturbing," Wollstein wrote.
The president of the Tigertones wrote a letter to the editor apologizing and saying that the group is removing the song from its repertoire "until we can arrive at a way to perform it that is comfortable and enjoyable for every member of our audience."
"Many of the recent criticisms of this performance reflect on internal conversations our group has been having for some time. In the last few years, we have taken intentional steps towards ensuring that audience participation is more voluntary and consensual. These steps have clearly not succeeded in guaranteeing total comfort for both participants or in obtaining continual consent. Performances of this song have made participants uncomfortable and offended audience members, an outcome which is antithetical to our group’s mission and one that we deeply regret," Wesley Brown said.
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