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