The Man of Mans has written what I think is a pretty rad letter regarding a popular, but in my opinion, disturbing new song. I’m posting it here with his permission. The letter quotes song lyrics which might be triggering for some. As always, take care of yourself and skip this post if you’d like.
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to you to express my concern over the song “Kiss You Inside Out” by Hedley, which is currently receiving significant airplay on your station. I find the content of this song highly objectionable and do not feel it is appropriate music for the radio. I recognize that your mandate is to play contemporary hit music, and that this song is quite popular. However, I believe that as a privately owned radio station, you have the right to play, or not play, whatever you wish, and I hope that you will exercise that right and remove “Kiss You Inside Out” from your rotation.
I first heard “Kiss You Inside Out” on your station (which I listen to regularly) approximately two weeks ago, and was immediately struck at how the words and tone of this song strongly hint at sexual assault under the guise of romance. I include here the first part of the lyrics in their entirety (as found on lyricsmode.com) to provide full context, but I have taken the liberty of highlighting lines that I find particularly problematic.
I don’t know if you’re ready to go
Where I’m willing to take you girl
I will feel every inch of your skin
And you know I can rock your world
Imma be the calm in the storm you’re looking for
I’ll be the shipwreck that takes you down
I don’t mind if you lie in my bed
We can stay here forever now.
Turn off the lights
Take off your clothes
Turn on the stereo
Give up the fight
I’m in control
Why don’t you let it go.
Yeah, I wanna know you inside out
I’ll spend my life trying to figure out
Just close your eyes and shut your mouth
And let me kiss you inside out.
The entire song reads as an attempt to initiate sex that is coercive and demanding. The highlighted portions above (the latter of which are repeated 3 times) show this most strongly, implying consent has not been given, or even asked for, that the woman has no control over the situation, and that she should keep her mouth shut and accept what is happening.
I find the message of this song extremely offensive, all the more so because the music behind it clearly shows that this is supposed to be a love song, implying that women should actually want to be with a man who expresses himself in this way. This is not a song about love, it is a song about rape, and as such, it has no place on the airwaves.
Because this is a letter as opposed to a conversation, I feel obliged to try and speak to what I imagine may be some arguments against my request. I am not implying that you or your station will make these statements, but I have heard variations on them from many people on several occasions, so as said, I feel obliged to pre-respond to them.
“This song is romantic; it’s what women want.”
Romance has always been portrayed in an incredibly narrow way in popular culture, and at no time has this portrayal been particularly indicative of “what women want”, in part because there is no such thing; women are far too large a demographic to collectively “want” anything. But I believe it is fair to say that virtually no one wants to be sexually assaulted, and that very few women would describe being coercive and demanding as romantic traits. The real problem with songs like this is that they make it harder for everyone, but especially young and impressionable people, to tell the difference between appropriate and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
“It’s no worse than anything else out there.”
First, I hope that your station strives to a higher standard than this. Second, as said above, amongst the dozens of songs I hear on the radio every day, this song immediately stood out as particularly offensive.
“You’re taking certain lyrics out of context.”
I feel the full context, which can be seen above, only strengthens the distastefulness of the highlighted lyrics.
“Not playing a song because you think it’s offensive is censorship.”
Every company has a code of ethics under which it operates, and it has the right to not engage in practices that violate those ethics. This is not censorship, it’s a private company conducting business in the way it sees fit.
I hope that you are willing to take a stand against the misleading and dangerous portrayal of sexual assault as love, and that you will choose to no longer play “Kiss You Inside Out”. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Do you have anything to say about this song? Please share you thoughts in the comments.