Cover photo by Stefan Steinbauer. This Guest Piece Was Written By Jessica Eaton, a researcher, writer, and speaker in forensic psychology of sexual violence. 11 Minute Read.
TRIGGER WARNING
Trigger warning for graphic descriptions of sex acts, sex abuse, and pornographic scenarios.

It is often the case in music that women sing about loving men, and men sing about having sex with women. And it’s this that I want to talk about.

Disclaimer: In this article, I’m going to use a lot of heteronormative language; I am going to focus on male figures in pop culture and the violent language used in their music specifically toward women, and how it reflects similar language in pornography primarily produced with male interest in mind. Female artists do use derogatory, objectifying language in their music at times—especially as it relates to hip-hop, and rap—but the vast majority of music produced by influential male artists in certain genres relates more to normalized violence.

Related: Empathy Vs. Objectification: How Consuming Porn Can Lessen The Ability To Relate To Others

I noticed recently that the range of ways men sing, rap and talk about having sex with women in pop culture has become inherently violent. They aren’t talking about “getting jiggy” or “having fun” or “doing the deed”—I mean, they are not even calling it sex anymore. Not only that, but they are not even naming or identifying the woman anymore.

I decided to sit and think about all the violent ways men describe having sex with women these days, and came up with this list in about 3 minutes. I am sure there are many more.

List of violent terms to describe having sex with women:

Hit that

Hurt that

Smash that

Smack that

F— that

Merc that

Destroy that

Crush that

Beat that p— up

Beat it up

Ruin that

Bang that

Nail that

When we sing along, we unconsciously normalize what’s said

There are two main points here. The first is that sex is being described in very violent terms and the second is that the word “that” is used in place of “her” to objectify the woman they are talking about. These men aren’t saying “I would love to have sex with her” or “I would shag her” or even “I would f— her”—they are saying “I would f— that.”

“That” is not a pronoun. “That” is not a name. “That” is used for objects. I’ll come back to this point.

Related: How Porn Dehumanizes Women Through Sexual Objectification

The first point is the violence in the language. Hit. Destroy. Ruin. Bang. Beat up. Smash. Smack. Hurt. These are words that describe violence and injury. They don’t describe sex. They don’t describe the type of sex the average woman wants to have.

When I started to search the terms I had heard and read, I easily found memes, articles, discussions and blogs using this language about women in a completely normalized way. Men saying to their friends “The girl next door, I would ruin that!” or “She’s gonna get it hard. Beat that p— up!” The image of all of the guys saying they would rape the sleeping girl on the sofa. I found hundreds of song lyrics like the ones I have listened to.

The issue here is that many influential men in our popular culture and music industry are openly using sexually violent references to having sex with women, and then everyday adults (and children) are singing along to Chris Brown—for example—riffin’ about the women he wakes up to make them have sex with him again when they are too tired.

We are so oblivious to what we are listening to, this language quickly becomes the norm.

Related: Study Shows 88% Of Popular Porn Videos Contain Violence

After searching for evidence on each one of the terms I listed above, I found a website discussing what “destroy that” and “ruin that” meant and was surprised to find how open men were when talking about what they meant. I had thought that maybe it was being used semi-consciously by men who were using it in banter, but they were using it literally. One page defined it as “having sex with her so rough that you cause injuries, the more physical injuries the rougher it probably was.” One man said he used it with his friends to mean destroying or ruining a “nice girl” by having very aggressive sex with her or by taking her virginity.

This links to the second point I wanted to make—that this language dehumanizes and dementalizes women—it reduces them to their “p—” or their “ass” that the men are going to “hurt” or “hit” or “crush” or “beat that up.” They no longer converse about sex in human terms—they talk in metaphors and use disconnected, dehumanized language. They refer to women as “that” or they only talk about her body parts. She is there to be used, abused and hurt for their pleasure.

Where is this sexually violent language coming from?

Spoiler alert: it’s porn and misogyny. There is no doubt about where this is coming from. Work by experts like Julia Long and Gail Dines has long told us that porn has become more and more violent, with Long (2012) arguing that over 90% of porn now features violence against women, including hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, hurting, whipping and deliberately painful and extremely degrading sex acts.

You only have to look at the titles of porn films on Pornhub or other mainstream porn sites to see the way they describe women in violent and degrading terms to see where this is coming from.

Here are some examples that are on porn sites today, as of May 2018:

‘Passed out slut letting me f— her brains out’ (this film is of a clearly unconscious young girl being raped on Pornhub)

‘Unwanted painful anal’ (another allowed to stay on Pornhub despite clearly describing a rape)

‘Rip her up’ (the name of a series of videos in which women are raped)

‘Blonde babe gets brutally slapped and f—ed’

‘Beauty humiliated and ruined – BRUTAL’

‘Teen gets anally destroyed – hear her real screams and crying’

‘Heavily pregnant teen used by men’ (Pornhub allows this)

Violence isn’t only the norm, it’s the goal

We must talk about the way that violent materials depicting the rape and abuse of women and teenage girls are becoming the norm. Actually not the norm, the goal.

The harm of women is becoming glorified, not normalized. When women like Long, Dines, Bindel, and Blac talk to us about violence in porn, they are not talking about a light tap, they are not taking anything out of context or exaggerating, they are talking about the sexualisation of choking women, beating women up, raping women on camera and hurting them so badly during sex acts that they cry out for help, pass out or scream in pain.

It hasn’t taken long, but this acceptance and arousal of sexual violence against women has slipped into common everyday language about sex with women. Role models in hip-hop, rap, and RnB are using this language in their hit songs. Children and adults are singing along to these lyrics. Hit that. Hurt it. Beat that p— up. Smash that. Destroy that. Ruin it.

Related: How Porn Fuels Toxic Rape Culture And Sexual Assault On College Campuses

In a study conducted in 2006, Fischer and Greitmeyer found that men who listened to sexually aggressive and violent lyrics were more likely to choose for women to suffer painful situations than the men who had listened to normal music lyrics in a controlled study. In a follow-up study, men listening to misogynistic lyrics were more likely to subject women to ice-water-treatment than men who did not listen to the misogynistic lyrics.

However, its incomplete to argue that these lyrics and language only affect men and boys—the reality is that these lyrics, language, imagery, and porn affects women and girls, too. They are also absorbing these messages as normal, and as shown by the work on hypersexualization of girls by the APA in 2007, girls and women normalize and accept these sexually violent behaviors because they have been taught by society that they are supposed to enjoy them.

Adding sexually violent lyrics to some of the bestselling songs in the world is a clear method of normalizing male violence against women and girls.

What can we do about this?

Parents and caretakers of children and young people

If you are a parent of an older child, there is absolutely no point in trying to protect them from these lyrics—they are everywhere! Instead, focus on bringing your children up to be critical thinkers and media-savvy.

Teach them that everything they see in the media, music, advertising and news outlets are trying to manipulate them or sell something to them. Teach them clear and positive ways of talking about sex. Teach them to say “have sex with” or “make love to” or even “sleep with.” ANYTHING that isn’t negative or violent.

Talk to them about the language—use the songs on the radio as an opportunity to start to comment on the language. When something sexually aggressive or degrading comes on the TV, use co-viewing to start a debate or discussion about what you are seeing. Make a comment and ask their opinion. If you don’t teach your children about sex, the internet will.

Do you really want your sons or daughters thinking that porn sex is real? Do you really want your son choking teen girls? Do you really want your daughter to think that being forced to have anal is normal? If you don’t watch any porn and this blog has terrified the life out of you, have a bit of a search and see how quickly you come across violent porn. I bet it takes you less than 60 seconds of scrolling.

Professionals working with children and young people

If you are a professional, you can do absolutely everything I have listed for parents and you can also make it your mission to educate other professionals about the way language is changing to encourage the normalization of sexual violence towards women and girls—especially as you may be working with young people you can influence through your direct work, counseling, youth work or in school sessions.

I deliver porn workshops to children and trust me, they know WAY more about porn than you think they do. I learn something new about porn every time I talk to kids about porn. Don’t think that when you deliver your porn workshops in school, you will be shocking those teens—you will be talking to a large majority that have not only watched porn but have been significantly influenced by it. Seriously, I’ve taught teenage girls who have told me that they thought that having pubic hair was disgusting and weird because none of the women in porn have any.

If you can’t face workshops about porn, build some on song lyrics and music videos—you will get all the same discussions. Teach other professionals, talk about the impact of porn, consider it in your line of work and if you can, talk to young people about porn and violence.

Other adults in society

If you are an adult in society but you don’t work with women or children or have any children of your own, you are still responsible for making our society safe. We all are.

Be aware of what you are listening to. Be aware of your language. Stop watching violent porn. Stop watching porn altogether. Seek support if you feel you need help about the amount or the type of porn you are watching. If you are reading this and you know someone or you are someone who is turned on by violent porn, look for some support.

Related: Change Begins With One: How You Can Actively Choose To Fight Sexual Exploitation

If you want to affect change, get involved in anti-porn activism and help to change the world. Read up on the famous porn performers who have left the industry due to abuse, rape, drugging and injuries. Read their first-hand accounts of the violence and hatred in porn. Read Anti-Porn. Read Pornland. Read Porn Inc. Read about the abuse and rapes of Jenna Jameson and why she is now an anti-porn advocate.

Be the change you want to see

I don’t know about you, but I want my sex to be healthy, pleasurable, consensual and safe. I don’t want anyone to beat it up, hit it, nail it, destroy it or ruin it.

Recognize this language everywhere you hear it or see it, and avoid contributing, supporting, or normalizing it where it exists.

About the Author

Jessica Eaton is a researcher, writer and speaker in forensic psychology of sexual violence, the founder of VictimFocus and The Eaton Foundation and has a specialism in victim blaming of women and girls in society. You can follow her on Twitter, and visit her website by clicking here.

Get Involved

SHARE this article and speak out about the ways that porn normalizes and even romanticizes violence.

Send this to a friend

Like all websites, we use cookies. By continuing on this site, you agree to our use of cookies. More

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close