Monday, 19 April 2010

Pop songs that piss me off: She Said by Plan B

As a feminist, a lot of things in our pop culture piss me off. That's a given. But nothing in recent weeks has come close to provoking the sheer rage that this song does:

You might be watching this and thinking, what is this song about? Why is it making Helen so angry? It's catchy and musically interesting and the video has some cool dancing! All of this is true and it makes me sad that I have to hate Plan B for it. Let's get the lyrics up for closer inspection.

she said i love you boy
i love your soul
she said i love you baby oh oh oh ohh

she said i love you more than words can say
she said i love you bayayayayby

so i said, what you sayin girl it can't be right
how can you be in love with me
we only just met tonight
so she said.. boy i loved you from the start
when i first heard love goes down
something started burning in my heart
i said stop this crazy talk
and leave right now and close the door
so now up in the courts
pleading my case in a witness box
telling the judge and jury
the same thing that i said to the cops
on the day that i got arrested
i'm innocent i protested
she just feels rejected
had her heart broken by
someone she's obsessed with
she likes the sound of my music
she makes out a fan of my music
so i love them diamonds to lose it
cos she can't separate the man from the music
and im saying all this from the stand
but my girl cries tears from the galleries
got bigger than i ever could have planned
like that song by the Zutons Valerie
so the jury dont look like they're buying it
and she's making me nervous
and i'm just screw faced like i'm trying it
their eyes fixed on me like i'm murderous
they wanna lock me up
and throw away the key
they wanna send me down
even though i told them she...


so i said why the hell you gotta treat me this way
you don’t know what love is
you wouldn’t do this if you did
oh no no no noo
...sorry about that. But I think it was necessary - you have to watch the video and hear or read all the lyrics to figure out what is actually going on. If you let it wash over you, you'll probably miss what the song is about. It's about a woman who falsely accuses him of rape. If you don't believe me, watch it again.

Where am I getting this from? Okay. The lyrics make it obvious that he has been falsely accused of a crime by a woman other than his girlfriend. The video together with the lyrics make it obvious that he slept with her and then rejected her, causing her to make this false accusation against him. I ask you: what other crime is there that she might accuse him of in this situation? I've tried to think of one.

Now comes the tricky part: explaining why this makes me incandescently angry. The immediate objection that is bound to be raised is: 'but this happens! Sometimes women do accuse men of rape, [insert case here as read about in tabloid of choice], why are you angry about Plan B rapping about it? Do you want to pretend it never happens?'

No. I am aware that there are occasions on which women have made the appalling and horrifying decision to falsely accuse someone of rape. It is of course an utterly detestable and unjustifiable thing to do, but it happens. Now, when this terrible thing happens, what do the tabloid media do? They sensationalise it, of course! They put it up in a big flashy headline to let everyone know: this is what women are like! Careful what do you (or who you do), boys, because they're out to get you! This has a threefold effect:
1) It puts the idea in people's heads that an accusation of rape is just as likely to be false as it is to be true.
2) Consequently, it makes it even harder for genuine rape victims to report their case and convict their attacker (more on this later).
3) It makes women aware that if you want to ruin a man's life, here is a way you can do it.

In other words, it makes everything worse for everyone.

So, back to Plan B. Is he sensationalising it? Actually, it'd be very difficult to argue that he is. The crime he is accused of is never directly referred to, and it doesn't seem to have been widely discussed (a Google search for "Plan B" + "She Said" + rape only turned up a few reviews stating that his music deals with subjects such as rape). So, given that he's being fairly subtle about it, why am I so angry?

Not being a Plan B fan, I had to do a little research into the album from whence this song came. It turns out the album tells a story about a singer who is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit (this one, I guess) and his whole life is ruined. So, to clarify: he's the victim of a false accusation of rape, he is imprisoned for it and it ruins his life. Guys! This is exactly what the tabloids were trying to warn you about! False accusations of rape ruin lives!

You know what else ruins lives? Actual rape. And it's a hell of a bigger problem in our society than fake rape cases. Research suggests 1 in 4 women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape. Only a small proportion of actual rapes are reported. Only a small proportion of reported rapists are charged. And only a small proportion of charged rapists are convicted. The BBC news website gives me a conviction rate of 6.5%*. Everyone (who knows anything about the reality of the situation) knows that the justice system is not a friend of the rape victim. So why is Plan B presenting us with a story in which an innocent man ends up among that 6.5%? How unlikely does that seem? What motivation does he have for concocting such an unlikely story which also supports the negative effects on both women and men that the tabloids create?

I wouldn't like to speculate. I can only assume his reason was that it was an edgy, controversial subject. And that's just not a good enough justification for bolstering our society's tendency to disbelieve a rape victim.

Plan B, allow me to adapt your lyrics: you don't know what the reality about rape in the UK is. You wouldn't do this if you did. Oh no no no no.

[Thanks to Rosie, resident Plan B fan, for confirming my suspicion about the song.]

* to see a clearer breakdown of the increasingly small percentage, click here:


  1. how has this not had more hits? it's hard to believe more people aren't even a little bit freaked out by the subtext to this track

  2. both are crimes, why does there need to be a comparison. these accusations result in a man losing his family, friends, jobs because the investigation period automatically sides with the accuser and lasts long enough for the whole world to abandon the accused. it is traumatic. it is another crime. just like rape, just like homicide. why is it okay to make a big deal about all the crimes, but not this one? even if a crime affects only one person on the planet, it is worth mentioning. justice is not for the masses, it is for the person affected by the crime.

  3. Excellent post; the video for this song creeped me out even more than the lyrics.

  4. Thanks so much for this! I heard chorus on the radio and I liked the song but then I listened to the entire song on youtube and I was horrified by the subtext.

  5. This sort of attitude makes me sick. Men who are falsely accused of rape suffer at least as much than rape victims themselves and frankly I believe that you intentionally misrepresent how common the problem really is. Rape victims can suffer PTSD almost as badly as war veterans but in the Western world (where this song is referring to) there is no damage to the womans reputation and there is a huge support system in place to assist the victims to recovery. For anyone accused of rape the damage to their reputation is almost always completely irreparable. They also lose everything they have ever worked for - their careers, their families and their friends. There is literally no support system whatsoever for these victims. I think the issue here is your personal lack of empathy for men - which is completely ingrained in our collective psyche so I can't blame you personally for that. You only have to look back at the white feather brigade for evidence of this! Males are considered disposable by society and that is an issue that anyone who truly cares about gender issues from an objective standpoint really needs to work against.

  6. For anyone who genuinely believes that false rape allegationss are not a big deal.