This post talks about sexual consent and lack thereof. Please exercise self-care and skip this post if you need to.

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Last week  The Man of Mans wrote to a local radio station asking them to remove the song ‘Kiss You Inside Out’ from their rotation. You can read the entire letter here but the gist is this – The MoMs heard the song and felt the lyrics were describing a coercive sexual encounter.  He didn’t like it and thought it was suitable for radio play, hence the letter.

The discussion that ensued after I posted the letter  was fascinating. Some of you – like me – agreed wholeheartedly with his analysis. Others felt the song, while perhaps distasteful, should still be allowed on air. Quite of few of you offered  an alternative perspective. Specifically that the words in ‘Kiss You Inside Out’ are those of a dominant singing to a consenting, submissive partner.

Pause!

I need to throw in a couple disclaimers here.

First thing: I don’t have a lot of  firsthand knowledge when it comes to Dominant/submissive relationship practices. Most of what I’ve learned has come from books, a couple of workshops and chatting with various friends. So if you’re reading this and thinking ‘Pfft! I know WAY more about D/s than this gal’, well…yeah. That’s probably true.

Second thing: As per the first thing, the rest of this post will be a lot of me pondering things and asking questions.

Play!

When I heard ‘Kiss You Inside Out’ I had exactly the same reaction as The MoMs. The Dom/sub idea didn’t even cross my mind until I saw the comments in response to the letter.  I have to admit, I was pretty entrenched in my original analysis, partly because I’d had a very strong, very negative emotional reaction to the song. The words made me feel threatened and unsafe. They triggered memories of people who felt it was their right to decide how, when and where I would be touched.

If that *is* in fact what this song is about, I still don’t like it. But I am willing to consider that this song could be about something else entirely. Maybe it is a song about some hot, kinky power dynamics. And if it is, does that change the inferences around consent?  Am I comfortable assuming that the un-named “girl” in this song has given her sincere okay and is fully on board with this scene.

I once read a collection of Dom/sub erotica. In many of the stories the consent/negotiation parts of the encounter were either absent or alluded to but very briefly. My sense wasn’t that the authors didn’t care about consent, but rather that it’s such a consistent, necessary aspect of D/s encounters that it didn’t need to be stated outright. It was like, ‘This is intense power play. Obviously, everyone involved negotiated their boundaries and limits before the story started. So just sit back and enjoy book porn!”

Now some of those questions I promised you…

What do you think, readers? If ‘Kiss You Inside Out’ is a song  about dominant/submissive sex,  is it reasonable to assume  consent has been given, even the song doesn’t specifically confirm that for us? And if so, is it safe to assume that the general listening audience gets that distinction?

There’s a line in the song where Hedley implores their partner to “give up the fight”. I have to admit this line upsets me. My understanding of sexual submission is that it’s a willing surrender not a fight That phrase makes me feel that this person is being told to give in regardless of any reservations she might have. Did some of you interpret that line differently? Are there scenarios wherein power struggles are consensual as well?

I’ve also been thinking about what opportunities for conversation might come out of this song – particularly with youth, who are pretty likely to be listening, especially if this song is getting frequent airplay. Is there an opportunity to use a song like ‘Kiss You Inside Out’ to start a positive conversation about kink?  How might that talk go? If you were going to have that conversation, what might you say?

I have no definitive answers, just lots of questions brought on by some really interesting, insightful reader comments. Thank you for that. If you’d like to venture an answer to any of these questions, ask another one or just share your thoughts please have at it. Conversations about sex and consent should always be happening.  Let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. The Maven says:

    I had to go watch t he video so I could see (hear) what you’re talking about. Something about the song rubs me the wrong way, for sure. The first verse definitely concerned me, and parts of the chorus were equally disturbing. I’m not well-versed (get it? GET IT?!) in D/s relationships, so I’ll leave that to those in the know. But I am concerned about young people listening to the song. To me, it sounds like he’s singing, “I want you so much I’m going to take you whether you’re ready or not, but that’s okay because I LOVE YOU.” That song is sending all the wrong messages, and I’m worried that those messages are being heard by ears too inexperienced to filter them out. I’m pretty open-minded about my music, so the fact that it bothers me so much says something.

    The big concern for this parent is that Hedley is not a red flag musical act. By that I mean, if your child says, “I’m listening to the new Hedley song,” it’s probably not going to ring any alarm bells like it would if your child says, “I’m listening to the new Eminem song.” Not every parent will check out the words, or use them as a teaching opportunity on what NOT to do. But now that you and The MoMs have brought it to my attention, I have listened, and I will use it to open a discussion with my teenage son. So thank you!

  2. Robin says:

    OK – 2 disclaimers. I haven’t listened to the song, only read the lyrics from MoMs letter last week. AND – sub/dom is not something I’m into (when I read that kind of porn I actually just don’t get it) (Ok so a little scarf around the wrists is nice, in the context of fun with my completely trusted and long term partner… but I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here). But here’s what I think.

    I think that the general public – including children – who are listening the radio, shouldn’t be subjected to vulgar, anti-female lyrics. (I also think you cannot assume that the general public is going to make the leap that this is a consensual sub-dom relationship. Even if it is what it’s about, it’s really, really reaching to imagine that your average hot 89.9 listener is going to be thinking that hard) As a parent, when I’m in the car with my kids I have to change the radio station periodically in order to not introduce my kids to these kinds of ideas before they have developed sufficient critical thinking skills to have the conversation we’re having right now. Not just this song – “wanna take a ride on your Disco Stick” also has no place on the public radio. We rate movies and TV to protect children from this kind of content but radio is still a free for all. It’s not like you can put parental controls on the radio the way you can on the computer or the cable channels. At best, you can restrict access, but I don’t think that restricting access to the radio is especially reasonable. I don’t want my children in a bubble – not at all – however there are certain kinds of content that our society generally agrees is inappropriate for children – so why do we permit this kind of content on the public radio, and think it’s cute when our 5yo sings along to Lady Gaga? it’s not cute. it’s gross. And it contributes to the gross oversexualization of children that is rife in our society.

    Do I personally have a problem with anybody’s consensual relationship, or anybody making art of any kind about it? Not at all. Have at it. But in any other context, if I don’t like the art, I don’t have to look, or pay to go to that movie, or buy that book. But at the risk of sounding prim (and you know I’m not!!! ), the radio is free, and public, and I don’t think that sexually explicit or anti-female material belongs there at all.

  3. Bryn says:

    Just listened to it for the first time. Lyrics notwithstanding, both the tune and the video give me the vibe of a caring relationship.

  4. christo says:

    How come nobody said anything when “Every Breath You Take Come Out”? It was the number one “Love Song” of 1983 (see http://www.bobborst.com/popculture/top-100-songs-of-the-year/?year=1983) and is still considered a classic today (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czJ0CFn87T4) . The lyrics are far worse and leave even less room for interpretation.