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Katy Perry & Kanye’s “E.T.” – Letting Women Know Rape is OK

February 21, 2011

I listened to Katy Perry’s new song “E.T.” that was recently remixed with some fresh verses from none other than Kanye West. It’s a pretty catchy song, which is evidenced by my turning it up even though I had a strong suspicion it was Katy Perry who has yet to impress me with any of her other singles from Teenage Dream (or her performance on the Grammys).

If you’d like to listen…click below (the song is slightly sped up):

Like I said, I like the beat of this song and it’s super seductive. But after listening closely to the lyrics I got a little weirded out. What bothered me was the theme which seemed to be about an alien (Mr. West) having his way with a human woman (Ms. Perry aka Mrs. Russell Brand).  This song is not about seduction…it’s about abduction.  It’s in the lyrics:

Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me
Infect me with your love and
Fill me with your poison

Take me, ta-ta-take me
Wanna be a victim
Ready for abduction

Kanye adds what it’s like to be the one with all the power:

Rockets on deck
Tell me what’s next
Alien sex!

I’mma disrobe you
Then I’mma probe you
See, I abducted you
So I tell you what to do.

Last time I checked, stories of being probed by aliens (as funny as they may be) were always against the will of the person getting probed. So basically what we have is the role-play of a woman getting raped put to a slow, sexy beat. Kanye doesn’t even give any semblance that it’s going to be consensual, even his tone is aggressive…and Katy is inviting him to make her his victim. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this?

I know that the “faux rape” – looks like rape on film but isn’t in reality – is a big hit in the world of pornography…so much so that one of the last episodes of Bones (one of my favorite shows) had one as part of its plot. But at least on that show they had a bit of a discourse as to whether it was right to make faux rape porn. It might let those watching fantasize about an activity that’s clearly illegal and morally wrong, but it doesn’t mean it won’t affect how they view women or approach sex with a woman who is giving her consent.

So why is the role play rape scene in this song? I’m assuming people are attracted to it for some reason or another. Men get off on the feeling of total power, women get off on the feeling of being controlled? Yes? Is what gets a woman off even considered when using this theme? I’m not saying that no woman in this world enjoys being in a momentary state of giving up sexual control to another person.  What I’m saying is that whenever role play rape is portrayed as being enjoyable, it’s usually for men. In fact, there’s psychological research that shows that women who equate sex with being a submissive role have a much harder time reaching orgasm. Where’s the fun in that??

I wanted to bring this to light because the faux rape/role play rape is now being introduced to a very wide (and young) audience, making it seem totally normal. Ms. Perry has a history of using sex as a means to get attention…ahem “I Kissed a Girl” skyrocketed her to stardom with the college-girl-attention-grabber equivalent of kissing another girl in front of a whole bunch of frat dudes and she had whipped cream coming out of breasts in the video for “California Gurls.” I’m sure that’s all this is, just another attempt to get people to pay attention because she’s portraying a fantasy – a woman who wants to get raped.

But I wish she would make that more obvious.

Because I definitely don’t want to be anyone’s victim…I don’t care how good his last album was.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2011 9:17 am

    Thanks for this post.
    I am as disturbed as you are, and I’m sure a lot of other people are as well. I was also drawn in by the music, and then freaked out by the lyrics. I never thought pop music would start to popularise rape fantasies, but I guess I should have taken note when Eminem rapped about his homicidal anti-female fantasies, accompanied by Rihanna in Love The Way You Lie.
    So then: We need to keep being good role models, keep empowering ourselves this way, and help other women and men empower themselves too.

  2. o_O ? permalink
    February 28, 2011 3:40 pm

    “Kanye doesn’t even give any semblance that it’s going to be consensual…and Katy is inviting him to make her his victim.”

    Uhm… Katy is inviting him… isn’t that consensual enough?

    • March 14, 2011 7:07 pm

      Hi o_O
      The point is that Katy is also promoting the idea the girls want rape, which is a dangerous fallacy and leads to things like that 11 yr old in Texas being blamed for her own gang rape. Yeah, that’s real.

  3. April 13, 2011 9:34 am

    1. a person or thing that suffers harm, death, etc, from another or from some adverse act, circumstance, etc: victims of tyranny
    2. a person who is tricked or swindled; dupe
    3. a living person or animal sacrificed in a religious rite

    usage Using the word victim or victims in relation to chronic illness or disability is often considered demeaning and disempowering. Alternative phrases such as who experiences , who has been diagnosed with , or simply with and then the name of the disability or illness, can be used instead.

    If you put the definition of victim into the song lyrics it would read “I want to suffer from harm, death… from an other” I am ready for abduction. This is sick I am very disapointed that Katy doesn’t either see this or care. She’ll continue to sing that she want to be raped to the world so that little girl can get it stuck in their heads singing I want to be a victim, I want to be a victim…

  4. Jessica permalink
    April 16, 2011 12:13 pm

    So glad to read this! I heard the song with Kayne and thought the exact same thing. I was starting to worry that everyone else was OK with it and that no one else thought the song is downright disturbing.

  5. nikki permalink
    May 3, 2011 6:31 am

    Just like some men might be into the whole faux rape fantasy thing (as you assume men are when you bring up faux rape porn) some women are too… as long as it’s consensual it’s fine. Assuming that these women don’t exist is just plain sexist. Also, the fact that you point out that Katy’s ‘begging for attention’ just because she uses her sexuality is a little sexist a slut-shamy.

    • August 1, 2011 9:55 am

      No. “Victim” means there is no consent. If you’re consenting, you’re not a victim. A person cannot WANT to be a victim because then they WOULDN’T be a victim. Yet the idea that one can voluntarily be a victim is one of the most common reasons why it’s so difficult to get rape convictions in most countries — it’s assumed that women WANT to be raped, and WANT to be victims, which is bullshit. And honestly, I’ve seen NOTHING in Katy Perry’s lyrics to indicate that she has any understanding of S&M, so I highly doubt that’s what she’s on about. If it were Gaga, I could see it, especially having seen some of the really obscure fetish videos she shows at her shows. Anybody who thinks this song is about any kind of S&M really could not know much about it.

      • Kevin permalink
        January 19, 2012 2:50 pm

        But….it’s right there in the lyrics, “wanna be a victim” ??

      • Sandy Gonsalves permalink
        April 17, 2014 6:47 am

        “A person cannot WANT to be a victim because then they WOULDN’T be a victim. ”

        What about role playing and sadomasochism? This song is a simulation of a sexual fantasy.

  6. Maria permalink
    May 20, 2011 10:13 am

    Really, I think you are too easily offended. It’s a song about Aliens. There was bound to be something about abduction, so really, stop trying to make this song mean something more than it does. She didn’t even write this so stop blaming her because if she had passed on it, you’d be writing about any number of other pop singers who would have sung it in her place.

  7. Paul permalink
    June 26, 2011 8:26 pm

    When I first heard the song, I heard the original version and despite my dislike of Katy Perry, I was hooked and never thought anything bad about it. When the remix version, I immediately noticed the rape-like lyrics Kanye added and was disturbed and pissed that he ruined a song I liked so much. Reading this article makes me realize that maybe the song was problematic already. I honestly think that the lyrics “Wanna be a victim/Ready for abduction” come from the lack of punny phrases one could use as lyrics for sex song about aliens, but it doesn’t make them any less cringey. Which really pisses me off bc I love this song.

    But then again, Perry is notorious for ignoring problematic lyrics in her songs. Who else remembers when she told her boyfriend in “Ur So Gay” to hang himself with his H&M scarf? That’s not nearly has bad as when someone confronted her with it later and she blew it off.

    Here’s another good article about Katy’s problematic nature. http://www.feastoffun.com/topics/culture-style/music/2010/11/10/if-katy-perry-crapped-in-a-pizza-box-would-you-eat-it/

    • smartiepop permalink*
      July 2, 2011 9:37 pm

      Thanks for the link! Her new song that nonchalantly includes having a threesome on your average alcohol-saturated Friday night as if it were as carefree as running through sprinklers is also troubling. I realize I sound like a prude, but considering that most teens have ZERO REAL sex ed (and rely on porn to figure it out), this cannot be a good combination for American youth.

  8. August 28, 2011 9:35 pm

    Do you know how hard it can be to be a feminist Kanye fan?

  9. December 19, 2011 3:50 am

    Er, not by any means the biggest Katy fan, but I (and basically everyone I know) always interpreted the lyrics to be about falling in love with someone so different, so otherwordly that it compares that unusual person to an alien. And the line “Wanna be a victim/Ready for abduction” is merely using the reference of alien abductions as a metaphor. As for Kanye’s verse, it was quickly tacked on to increase the song’s profile by including a popular rapper on it, but it wasn’t part of the original song.

    I think one would have to be insanely hypersensitive to get the idea that this song promotes rape. A very far reach to make this claim. Seriously, we’ve become so politically correct that almost any and everything offends someone on some level, even when there’s nothing actually offensive to be found.

    Also, if teenagers are getting their sex ed from songs, then the problem really isn’t with the singers making these songs. Sexually suggestive songs have been around for ages now, shouldn’t have society imploded long ago? I think we need to stop making entertainers responsible for raising our kids as well, it’s taking the onus of being a good role model away from the parent, and if anything encourages them to be lazy at child-rearing because they know they have the safety net of blaming celebrities for their failings as a parent.

    • Sammantha permalink
      January 19, 2012 1:44 am

      One, this is NOT a very far reach. “Alien” is the metaphor in this song, or at least as close to one as you can get in a Katy Perry song.

      I think you’re forgetting the lack of subtext in all of her music. Nearly everything is to be taken on face value, just like a lot of pop music (and not just “these days” either, but for awhile). “Wanna be a victim/Ready for abduction” might also be a metaphor, but for what? There are plenty of other ways to reference aliens, so why wanna be a VICTIM? Forget the second part, part for a moment and focus on that.

      Just as someone else has already pointed out, one cannot be a consensual victim, and the perpetuation of that is what makes rape culture so prevalent. “Girls who flaunt their sexuality are asking to be victims” is so plainly what this song is pushing that it makes me nauseous.

      And just because society in recent years has begun to push more for political correctness does not mean that things like this aren’t capable of falling through the cracks. There are still plenty of problems with lyrics, movies, television and the like because not everyone is willing to subscribe to this new state of said “correctness”. They have their own moral views, and they’re not going to bend completely to anyone else’s, regardless of whether or not they’re wrong.

      Which is, you know, why people still rape people at all. Because THEY still view it as okay.

      And it’s not a matter of teenagers learning about sex only from songs, and it’s not that every suggestive song is capable of ruining someone’s mind, but (again to borrow from someone else) imagine a little girl who knows nothing about sex just hearing this song on the radio and getting it stuck in her head.

      Regardless of intent, the irresponsibility of this terrible song means that this kid is going to have it stuck in her mind that being sexy equates to her wanting to be taken advantage of. “Wanna be a victim”.

      And yes, I agree that it’s a parents responsibility to make sure that their kids only listen and watch age-appropriate things, but they can’t keep this song from playing when they aren’t around. And no one’s willing to take the responsibility to keep it off of their either.

      It’s not the sex that’s damaging, it’s the romanticism of being taken advantage of that’s the problem here.

  10. Andre permalink
    June 24, 2013 2:31 pm

    i think is about BDSM c: if a women wants it is not rape. She says she wants it so it’s not rape, is about the fantasy of control wich is the base of BDSM, that is feminist and fun and sexy and consenting.

  11. Sandy Gonsalves permalink
    April 6, 2014 7:02 am

    I am not sure if the person who still wrote this article reads comments on here still, but I highly doubt this individual understands something about rape fantasies and actual rape. And that the person in submission (Katty) IS in control NOT the person dominating (Kanye). And that’s what this song is about, the SIMULATION of a sexual fantasy. What this person also needs to understand that yes, violent pornography can negatively influence the way men and women perceive women,but it only does so upon very frequent viewing and is more likely to be instilled in adolescence than in adulthood. The song is NOT promoting a rape culture, what IS promoting a rape culture is by claiming that the SONG is promoting rape culture. Because then you blur the lines and are not differentiating SIMULATION from actual rape. This song talks about a simulation of a rape fantasy, talk more about making that distinction rather than how you think the song is going to influence people’s perception of women.

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