Way back in the early seventies, when I began my life as a teenager, I used to hear a song on the radio that mystified me.
It was a hit record for a well-known R&B singer. In it, a woman is telling her lover how deeply she feels about him. Some of what she says to him:
First you take my heart in the palm of your hands
And you squeeze it tight
Then you take my mind and you play with it all night
You take my pride
And you throw it up against the wall…
You take my name
And you scandalize it in the streets
Anything you wanna do or say
Is alright with me
The chorus of this ode to joy is a declaration that what this man is doing to her hurts so good.
I seriously wondered as a kid, “How does something hurt so good?” To me, “hurt” and “good” didn’t belong in the same sentence.
Several years earlier another tale of female devotion had hit the airwaves. Some of what the woman of this song laments:
You’re out on the streets looking good
And baby, deep down in your heart you know that ain’t right
And you never hear me when I cry at night
I tell myself that I can’t stand the pain
But then you hold me in your arms and I say it again
So come on and take another little piece of my heart now, baby
Break another little bit of my heart now, honey
Have another little piece of my heart now, baby
You know you got it, if it makes you feel good
Both of these records make a good matching set with another popular “love song.” The singer tells her man:
You’re a no-good heartbreaker
You’re a liar, and you’re a cheat
And I don’t know why
I let you do these things to me
My friends keep telling me
That you ain’t no good
But oh, they don’t know
That I’d leave you if I could…
The way you treat me is a shame
How could you hurt me so bad?
Baby, you know that I’m the best thing you ever had
And the chorus? The singer informs us in her marvelous, breathy way:
I ain’t never loved a man
The way that I love you.
Each of these songs is a work of art. And works of art don’t have to be politically correct or provide comfort to those listening, viewing, or reading. Each of the women singing these songs did so with great artistry and conviction of her own.
I used to wonder what songs like these say about the female psyche. I mean, the female protagonists of these songs sound like masochistic losers. “Oh, it hurts so good. Keep doing it, if it makes you feel good. Don’t ever say we’re through.”
But none of these songs was written by women. All three came from the imaginations of men.
Did these guys have some kind of inside information on the way women think and feel? Were the songs just fantasies of the ideal woman – you know, a submissive?
I can’t tell whether these songs say more about the male mind or the female mind. But each one of them resonated with the music-loving public, and are still loved.
Can you imagine a hit song in which a man is saying this kind of stuff to a woman?
Nope. Wouldn’t sell.
- Franklin, A. 1967. I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You. On I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You [Record]. New York: Atlantic Records.
Franklin, E. 1967. Piece Of My Heart. On Piece of My Heart [Record]. New York: Sony Records.
Jackson, M. 1973. Hurts So Good. On It Hurts So Good [Record]. UK: Spring/Southbound Records.
0 thoughts on “"Hurt Me…Again," by Alpha Unit”
These songs seem like they probably brainwash women to be with abusive guys. Maybe these songs are why so many women are with stupid abusive guys.
The songs simply represent the feelings that many women in similar situations do have. It is a well-known phenomenon that many women (and not few men) are hooked on partners that treat them poorly—including cheating and beating. Articles, even books, have been written on the topic.
(The suggestion by Patrick, more or less the contrary, is highly naive.)
See, that’s what I don’t quite understand. Why would someone be hooked on being abused?
In these songs, there’s either a strong suggestion or the outright statement that the sex is what makes such a thing worthwhile.
SO its naive in your opinion to think musical lyrics affect someones worldview? Of course the sentiments in the song have existed independently of the song but that does not mean that the song didnt win over a few converts.
I think you are on to something, actually.
If nothing else, a lot of these songs can leave people with the impression that there’s something “normal” about being in these situations.
The human mind in general, and the female in particular, is a mystery. The facts may not always be what we expect, but that it something we have to live with. (Why does a former alcoholic go on a drinking binge, after years of abstinence? Why does a former smoker light-up a decade after his last cigarett?) However, it need not be true that these women are hooked because of the mistreatment: This does happen too, but many just endure because they are hooked—not the other way around.
Look at your original statement: “These songs seem like they probably brainwash women to be with abusive guys. Maybe these songs are why so many women are with stupid abusive guys.”
This is something far more than you what you say in your reply. It is obvious that lyrics can affect people, but to go from there to your original statement is a giant leap and a reversal of cause and effect. On the one hand, we have a long-standing result of evolution; on the other, a handfull of songs drowning in a stream of traditional romance.
Outside of pseudo-scientific gender-studies, a bit more perspective and rationality is due.
Your reading something into my initial statement that is not explicitly written. The songs are not the cause but they can encourage women to engage in that behavior and the result is that more might engage in that behavior than would otherwise.. how many more… who knows.
You’re right about the human mind. Quite a mystery. I think I get why some people really enjoy inflicting pain. What I still wonder about is someone who likes to have pain inflicted, though.
From what I hear, there’s a certain point beyond the pain at which you get pleasure instead.