I’ve been a sucker for a good falsetto since El Debarge. There’s something about the heavy treble and melodic keys in “Oooh, I Like It”, “Time Will Reveal”, and “Love Me In A Special Way” that always manages to trigger an 80s nostalgia like nothing else can. Thusly, I became somewhat of a casual fan of Miguel after the release of his sumptuously smooth mega-hit, “Adorn.” I sang it in the shower, blasted it through the speakers of my Toyota, and jammed to it while doing laundry. “Adorn” was just THAT good.
And then the record skipped, scratched, and teetered dangerously on the precipice of hell.
Being the casual fan that I was, I never purchased “Adorn” or the Art Dealer Chic, Volume 1 EP on which it was featured. I sang along then paused in shock as he precariously leapt into the mosh pit of screaming fans on Sunday’s Billboard awards. But until recently, I was truly oblivious to the existence of “How Many Drinks”, the rapey companion piece, the anti-“Adorn”.
Miguel begins “How Many Drinks” with the lyrics:
Frustration, watching you dance
Invitation, to get in them pants
Come closer baby, so I can touch
One question, am I movin’ too fast?
A few questions/observations if I may:
1. Why is Miguel experiencing frustration while watching this woman dance? Does he feel entitled to her? Is it merely lust?
2. Who exactly is inviting Miguel to “get in them pants”? The woman? Miguel, himself? (see entitlement above)
3. Is the dialogue between Miguel and this woman real or imagined?
*Sexual Harassment is any unwelcomed or unwanted sexual behavior or pressure which embarrasses, humiliates, or intimidates an individual. Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal, and even nonverbal and visual (such as staring or gestures that are suggestive or sexual).
Cause I ain’t leavin alone, feel like I could be honest, babe
We both know that we’re grown
That’s why I wanna know
How many drinks would it take you to leave with me?
Once Miguel asserts that under no circumstances will he leave alone, the song dissolves into a predatory quagmire. He uses the words “honest” and “grown” to infer that their supposed maturity green lights his right to intimacy. And if the manipulation weren’t transparent enough, he asks how many drinks it would take for him to convince this woman to leave with him. The lyrics identify alcohol as the primary tool/weapon of choice for coercion. It can also be inferred that were alcohol NOT involved, the woman may not consider leaving with him at all. This woman is never given any agency. She has no voice, no say in the matter. She is only permitted/expected to dance, accept as many drinks as it takes, leave with Miguel, and have sex with him.
*Drug Facilitated Rape typically involves the use of the “date rape drug” (Flunitraepam, Rohypnol, GHB (Liquid E or Liquid G) and/ or alcohol.
*According to recent studies, alcohol is the #1 drug used to facilitate a sexual assault. For rape which takes place on campuses, alcohol is being used in 90% of cases.
He croons further:
Yeah, you look good and I got money
But I don’t wanna waste my time
Back of my mind I’m hopin you say two or three
You look good, we came to party
But I don’t wanna waste my time
Miguel’s declaration that he has money infers that he believes this woman, and possibly women in general, are commodities that can be bought, used, and discarded. There is also an implication here that women are ready and willing to have sex with men because they have money and thusly, he is entitled. His ducks are in a row; all that’s needed is a bit of persuading.
*In a research poll for the American magazine, Ms, one in every twelve men interviewed admitted to having forced a woman to have intercourse or tried to force a woman to have intercourse through physical force or coercion; that is, they admitted to raping or attempting to rape a woman. However, hardly any of these men identified themselves as rapists.
And finally, he coos:
Temptation, is calling your name
Sweet persuasion, baby this is a game
Come closer, baby, if you like what you hear
Impression, is what I’m makin you feel
No, no, no
I ain’t judgin
If you do decide that you might be fuckin’ tonight, what?
More power to you if you do decide that you might be fuckin’ tonight
It is unsettling that Miguel compares his advances to sport, a game to be lost or won. He repeats endlessly that his time is of the essence and fucking is the endgame. Alarmingly the word “persuasion” is used explicitly. Persuasion is premeditated, and in this case, predatory. Miguel muddies these crude advances with phrases like “If you do decide” and “I ain’t judgin” to make it appear as though this woman has been given a choice. However, the initial harassment, incessant coercion, and introduction of alcohol make her ability to truly consent impossible.
“How Many Drinks” isn’t just a slippery slope, it’s a dangerous tumble into the gaping mouth and jagged teeth of rape culture.
*California Penal Code clearly states that having sex with a person who is intoxicated is illegal and may be punishable with a prison sentence.
*Legally, an individual cannot consent to sex if they are drunk; having sex without consent is RAPE/sexual assault.
*Alcohol impairs the victim’s ability to recognize a potentially dangerous situation. When drinking, one may not notice someone’s persistent attempts to get them to an isolated location or to get them to consume more alcohol. Intoxication also makes it much more difficult to successfully resist a sexual assault – alcohol produces a slow and ineffective response to an attack.
*In a study of students who had been victims of some type of sexual aggression while in college—from intimidation and illegal restraint to rape—the women surveyed reported that 68 percent of their male assailants had been drinking at the time of the attack.
For further reading on the topic: