‘Touch Tank’ and Societal Misogyny


The song “Touch Tank” was released by alternative artist Quinnie in 2023. The song describes the speaker’s experience of receiving oral sex from a man, while also falling deeper into love with him because of the unconditionally accepting and gentle nature of their relationship. The song details the sexual experiences the two have together through the metaphor of an aquarium touch tank, hence the song’s name. The chorus’s main line, “He’s so pretty when he goes down on me,” became a trend on TikTok prior to its release. The trend began as a way for women to show off their relationships but quickly spiraled into an outlet for women to vent their fears surrounding receiving oral sex from men. How did a song about sharing a fully trusting and accepting experience become an outlet for fear rather than love (as the song is meant to be)?

“Touch Tank” begins with soft acoustic instrumentation and Quinnie’s muted vocals. One lyric goes, “Plus I’d rather get naked and swim in your blow-up pool / And dry our dolphin bodies off and question your tattoos.” This lyric’s descriptive imagery conjures up a sweet, teasing, domestic relationship between two people. Their relationship seems comfortable and lighthearted, while also playfully suggestive. The softness and simplicity of the muted acoustic guitar suggest summery, carefree moments. The song also employs a rising chord progression, which creates an intensely yearning, hopeful feeling. The lyric, “He’s so pretty when he goes down on me,” which launched the song into TikTok fame before it was released, describes the feeling of being loved and accepted unconditionally by a man. This feeling is what sparked the TikTok trend in the first place, which makes complete sense given the rarity of such a sentiment in most recent music. This is part of what made this song so popular. The speaker’s words, “He tells me he’s gentle when he wants to be /  I think he wants to be gentle with me,” are especially striking because of, again, the lack of this idea in current music. The idea of men as perpetually dominant figures (both emotionally and sexually) in relationships is hard to avoid, especially on social media platforms like TikTok. This idea of the gentle, soft, accepting male figure is hard to come by and beautifully described by this song. There is a beautiful relationship between two people in the piece, in which the male figure is gentle, caring, and vulnerable, and both people accept and love each other completely.

In the midst of “Touch Tank” becoming one of the hottest trends on TikTok, a saddening problem emerged. Initially, it was filled with women lip-syncing to the lyric, “He’s so pretty when he goes down on me,” referring to their boyfriends or male significant others. The trend was meant to show off their (mostly hetero) relationships’ similarity to the song. However, the trend quickly became an outlet for women to exclaim their fear and aversion to receiving oral sex from men, as well as their bad experiences with the act. Upon scrolling deep into the recesses of “Touch Tank” videos from the era of the trend’s popularity, you will find many videos in three categories: women who fear receiving oral sex from men, women’s stories of men being disgusted with their bodies and women being misogynistic towards other women concerning the trend. I found the most videos in the category of “women being afraid of receiving oral sex from men.” These videos’ captions say things like, “Me singing this like I don’t scream ‘NOO DON’T’ unless I’m fresh out of the shower,” (@cass.relf1), “He’s so pretty when he goes down on me (they do look pretty when they go down on me but I feel immense anxiety I do not look pretty),” (@leah), “Singing this like I didn’t full force clamp my legs shut and yank his head back the first three times he tried to do it because it’s been my biggest fear for most of my young adult life that I ‘stink’ or taste bad down there, I’m genuinely terrified of the day I don’t have a chance to shower before he tries,” (@owyn_5), “Singing this like I’m not scared of my own vagina,” (@bojack_baby), and so on and so forth. This deep fear of smelling “bad,” tasting “bad” or not looking “pretty” can be attributed to a lack of comprehensive sex education in schools and consequently internalized societal misogyny. Women who are not taught enough about their bodies don’t know that it is completely normal for their bodies not to smell like daisies and taste like the finest four-course meal all of the time, and neither do uneducated men.

The lack of knowledge about women’s bodies contributes to a societal disgust surrounding them, even though men’s bodies are rarely commented on this way. This is especially obvious in the next category: “Women’s stories of men disgusted with their bodies.” Numerous captions paired with “Touch Tank” say things like, “Singing this even though the one time my bf did he gagged and hasn’t done it since,” (@givinguponearth), “Singing this even tho when my bf did he open mouth sneezed on it and then blamed it on it being ‘too hairy’,” (@🦀), and many more. These disheartening captions are very revealing considering there are so many of them. So many people are both scared of and disgusted by vaginas, and this fear and disgust is only propagated further by this trend. The most heartbreaking of the three categories I noticed is the last one: “Women being misogynistic towards other women concerning the trend.” This caption was especially devastating, with one user saying that “My bf didn’t do it until 7 months into the relationship because of ‘bad experiences’ baby who scarred u with their rank c00ch1e? 😭😭😭” (@Em). When I first read this, I was at a loss for words. It both propagates the stereotype that vaginas are disgusting and enables misogyny towards other women, shaming them for the way their bodies naturally exist. This comment is especially saddening coming from a woman aimed towards other women because when all of our bodies are seen as disgusting, you’d think that we would form some sense of sisterhood. Unfortunately, the way many women fight this idea is by shaming other women for their bodies before they themselves get shamed as a form of self-preservation. If I think that other women are disgusting, then I can’t possibly be the same as those other women, right?

This whole trend is extremely problematic because it propels forward the idea that women’s bodies need to be “fixed” in order to appeal to men. The fear that all of these women have centers around their belief that men are disgusted with their bodies, which is both devastating and sometimes true. The popularity of the audio is an example of how deeply ingrained misogyny is in our society and a reminder of how damaging it can be. What’s worse is that the idea that women’s bodies need to be changed to appeal to men has been around forever. From feminine washes to cranberry juice, there are a myriad of ways marketed towards women to change their natural bodies to be more palatable for men. This belief that vaginas are naturally disgusting and need to be fixed is only pushed further through the “Touch Tank” trend. What’s even weirder is that the trend is in direct opposition to the message of the song. Quinnie recently posted a TikTok in response to the song’s virality. Her video response features her lip-syncing to an audio on the app sarcastically saying “That’s awesome,” with the caption, “Seeing my song trending again except it’s just everyone feeling insecure about their 🐱.” The popularity of this movement just shows that women are still seen as objects that need to be changed in order to please men.  This message is incredibly damaging and perpetuates the idea that women are not worthy of respect or acceptance, in direct contrast to the true meaning of Quinnie’s “Touch Tank.”

Graphics by Sydney Folsom