Sex Is Not the Enemy

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"Sex Is Not the Enemy"
Garbage - Sex Is Not the Enemy.jpg
Single by Garbage
from the album Bleed Like Me
  • "Never Be Free"
  • "Honeybee"
Released June 13, 2005
Format Digital download,
7", CD, DVD single
Recorded 2003–2004
Smart Studios,
Madison, Wisconsin
Genre Alternative rock, hard rock
Length 3:07
Label A&E Records
Songwriter(s) Garbage
Producer(s) Garbage
Garbage singles chronology
"Bleed Like Me"
"Sex Is Not the Enemy"
"Run Baby Run"

"Sex Is Not the Enemy" was a single released from Garbage's fourth album Bleed Like Me in June 2005 in United Kingdom. It was released as joint-second single from the album—around the same time the song "Bleed Like Me" was released in the U.S. and there was a parallel release for "Run Baby Run" in Australia and Europe. "Sex Is Not the Enemy" followed later that summer in Australia.

Following on from the top ten chart position for predecessing single "Why Do You Love Me", and despite the band promoting the single with headline show at London's Brixton Academy, "Sex Is Not the Enemy" failed to replicate that success in the UK, peaking in the top thirty, becoming their last Top 40 hit in there.

Song profile[edit]

"Sex Is Not the Enemy" was first written in 2003 at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin. On August 15, singer Shirley Manson wrote on her online journal that it sounded "like old school Garbage".[1]

"Sex Is Not the Enemy" was influenced by the February 1, 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy, which led to a censorship row in the media after singer Janet Jackson's bare breast was exposed by Justin Timberlake in what was referred to as a "wardrobe malfunction". Manson noticed that the incident was featured on the USA Today cover for three days in a row with no mention of the Iraq War. Manson felt the media "was only focusing on Janet's beautiful tit, which I thought was bizarre".[2] The singer declared that there are "a lot worse things to have your children see on TV that parents are happily plopping their kids down in front of", and thus she wrote a song "sort of dealing with that and dealing with the idea that this administration is really clamping down on reproductive rights and stuff like that. So it's sort of heavy, but it's coated in this really anthemic, upbeat party song."[3]

Over time, Manson would work on the lyrics to the song, writing in her view that the Bush administration had clamped down on gay rights, reproductive rights and people's civil liberties.[2] Later, she recalled "'Sex Is Not the Enemy' is sort of a manifesto in a way. I had no idea it was until I looked back and thought, 'This really is an anthem to my sexual politics'".[4] Guitarist Steve Marker added: "At first it wasn't supposed to be anything other than a party song."[5]

Musically, "Sex Is Not the Enemy" was mutated a number of times during writing; after some changes the band went back to the song's original verse melody, Manson writing on her journal there was "at least three different versions of this song".[6]

On May 25, Garbage confirmed a list of 14 songs being worked on for the record, including "Sex Is Not the Enemy",[7] and on December 14 confirmed that the song would be included on the finished album Bleed Like Me.[7]

On March 28, 2005, Garbage performed the track on Canal+ Album de la semaine before debuting the song live on stage at the Paris Olympia the following day.[8]

"Sex Is Not The Enemy" would later appear as a regular item in the band's Strange Little Birds and Rage and Rapture Tour during 2016–17, with the latter tour normally seeing the song performed second after "No Horses".

Single release[edit]

On April 10, "Sex Is Not the Enemy" was confirmed by Garbage drummer Butch Vig confirmed to fans in Los Angeles that the track would be the second UK single taken from Bleed Like Me.[9]

In the weeks prior to release, XFM was the only major radio station to playlist "Sex Is Not the Enemy"—neither Radio One or Radio 2 did. Garbage did not perform any television promo for the single bar a few interviews on TRL, Popworld, CD:UK and hit40uk.[10] On June 9, Garbage headlined a sold-out concert at Brixton Academy [2] and a day later performed at the Download Festival[8] in advance of the single; on June 19, they returned to the UK to perform the single along with "Why Do You Love Me" at T4's televised Party on the Beach show.[11]

On June 13 "Sex Is Not the Enemy" was released in the United Kingdom on CD, DVD and limited edition 7" vinyl.[12] At the start of that week, the 7" was issued in white vinyl in a regular picture sleeve, but by the end of the week, stores were stocking copies with a limited red taped cover.[13] "Sex Is Not the Enemy" debuted on the UK singles chart at #24; the next week falling to #66 before leaving the chart. The single performed only slightly better on the Scottish chart, reaching #22.[14]

Warners serviced a few remixes of the tracks to clubs[15] and on July 3 a digital download bundle of the single and B-side "Honeybee" was made available from iTunes[16] but these did not improve sales of the single. By August 29, new unofficial 12" vinyls were in circulation featuring remixes of the song by Freaks (Justin Harris & Luke Solomon[17]) and by DJ Hell/Fischerspooner side-project Naughty.[18]

Despite rumours of a U.S. release for "Sex Is Not the Enemy",[19] and a July 4 video premiere on Music Choice,[20] no single was released.

In September 2005, "Sex Is Not the Enemy" was released to Australian radio [21] up-front of the band's September 21 Australian tour Canberra debut show;[8] and on September 11 FMR released a Bleed Like Me special edition with a bonus DVD, which included the "Sex Is Not The Enemy" promo video and "making of" documentary.[22]

"Sex Is Not the Enemy" ended up being the final single release from Bleed Like Me in both Australia and the United Kingdom. When Garbage disbanded on a self-imposed hiatus following the completion of the Australian tour and the UK release of "Sex Is Not the Enemy", follow-up "Run Baby Run" was cancelled.[23] On May 22, 2007 it was officially confirmed that "Sex Is Not The Enemy" would not be included on the band's greatest hits album Absolute Garbage,[24] most likely due to the song's commercial failure in the UK.

Track listings[edit]


"Sex Is Not the Enemy" was backed with B-sides "Honeybee" and "Never Be Free". Both tracks were recorded during the sessions for Bleed Like Me.[7] An acetate of "Never Be Free" leaked from Chrysalis Music Group in 2003, but the track did not end up on the internet.[25]

While Vig describes "Honeybee" as "Neil Young-esque, with a druggy feel",[26] Manson wrote the song was "pretty dark and twisted. It's a lusty, yearning moan."[27] "Honeybee" featured drums performed by Matt Walker, while "Never Be Free" credited John5 with guitar. Both tracks were written and produced by Garbage, although "Never Be Free" may have originally been a John Lowery co-write.[25] Producer James Michael may have also worked on the track at one point.[28]

Music video[edit]

Shirley Manson's "arrest" on stage at the climax of the "Sex Is Not the Enemy" video.

The video for "Sex Is Not the Enemy" was filmed on April 20 and April 21 and was a low-budget video shot by Sophie Muller.[29] On the first day of shooting, both Manson and Muller shot scenes in a hotel room and at Times Square in New York City.[30] On the second day the band filmed live footage at their show at Washington D.C.'s 9:30 Club.[31]

The video featured a stunt where Shirley was arrested on-stage after exposing her breasts (actually a flesh-coloured bra) and was dragged off the stage by hired actors posing as policemen, visually referencing and almost parodying the song's take on the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy. The audience were not let in on the stunt; and afterwards boo-d and heckled at the venue,[29] many of the audience thinking it had been a Punk'd stunt.[30] The band was filmed rehearsing for the stunt, and footage was included on a mini-documentary on the "Sex Is Not the Enemy" DVD.[29]

Butch Vig recalled: "We shot a lot of footage of Shirley running around New York. She was getting up on a soapbox with a bullhorn and just yelling at people. And it was funny, 'cause people thought, 'Oh, another crazy woman.' They just ignored her."[29]

The video first aired in the United Kingdom the week of May 16,[32] after a full day of exclusive streaming from Garbage's website[33] and premiered in the U.S. on July 4.[20] In 2006, the "Sex Is Not the Enemy" video became available to download on digital stores worldwide.

Alternate versions[edit]

Track title Length Remixer/Producer Notes
"Sex Is Not the Enemy" (single & radio version) 3:06 Garbage Digital release
"Sex Is Not the Enemy" (Ils Vocal remix) 5:49 Illian Walker No commercial release
"Sex Is Not the Enemy" (Ils Dub remix) 5:49
"Sex Is Not the Enemy" (Devil's Gun remix) 6:15 Devil's Gun

Release history[edit]

Release date Territory Record label Format
June 13, 2005 United Kingdom A&E Records 7", CD single, DVD single
July 3, 2005 Digital single
Sept 11, 2005 Australia FMR Airplay

Comprehensive charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
European Hot 100 (Billboard/Music & Media)[34] 78
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[35] 24
UK Physical Singles (The Official Charts Company)[36] 21
UK Scottish Singles (The Official Charts Company)[37] 22

Credits and personnel[edit]


  1. ^ "08.11.03 Studio Diary #2". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  2. ^ a b c "'Sex' Talk". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Shirley Manson as quoted on Bleed Like Me Electronic Press Kit" (Retrieved – 2007-07-03)
  5. ^ "Steve Marker as quoted on Bleed Like Me Electronic Press Kit" (Retrieved – 2007-07-03)
  6. ^ "11.15.04 Studio Diary #33". Archived from the original on 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
  7. ^ a b c "News Archive 2003–2004". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
  8. ^ a b c "2005 Setlists". Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  9. ^ "3 Different Singles Planned". Archived from the original on 2006-02-20. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  10. ^ "Garbage on CD:UK and Hit40UK today". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  11. ^ "Sunshine, sea and... Garbage. T4 on the Beach!". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  12. ^ "New single! Sex Is Not The Enemy, out today (UK)". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  13. ^ "Sex Is Not The Enemy UK 7" red". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  14. ^ ""Scottish singles chart w/e 26/06/2005", Daily Record June 2005" (Retrieved - 2007-07-03)
  15. ^ "SINTE Re-Mixes surface". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  16. ^ "iTunes online release information" (Retrieved - 2007-07-03)
  17. ^ "Freaks". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  18. ^ "New Sex is not the Enemy mixes surfaces". Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  19. ^ "Garbage news". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  20. ^ a b "DIRECTV FREEVIEW Events - July 2005:". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  21. ^ "Festival Mushroom Records :: Artists". Archived from the original on 2005-11-05. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  22. ^ "Garbage down under + "Bleed Like Me" special edition". Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  23. ^ "Garbage Binned", Daily Record August 2005" (Retrieved - 2007-07-02)
  24. ^ "New Best Of Album". Archived from the original on 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  25. ^ a b "Bleed Like Me: Never Be Free CDR". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  26. ^ "Q magazine March 2004 issue" (Retrieved - 2007-07-02)
  27. ^ "08.18.03 Studio Diary #3". Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  28. ^ "Marilyn Manson's John 5 to participate on Garbage's next album". Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  29. ^ a b c d "Garbage Single: Sex Is Not The Enemy". Archived from the original on 2005-11-05. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  30. ^ a b ""Making of Sex Is Not The Enemy (video)"" (Retrieved - 2007-07-02)
  31. ^ "Fans Comment: Garbage punks fans at the 9:30 Club". Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  32. ^ "Garbage: Sex Is Not The Enemy". Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  33. ^ "'Sex Is Not The Enemy' video online". Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  34. ^ "Garbage Singles: Hot 100 Europe". Retrieved 2011-02-09.
  35. ^ "TOP 40 OFFICIAL UK SINGLES ARCHIVE (25th June 2005)". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  36. ^ Music Week issue dated June 25, 2005
  37. ^ Regional Scottish Chart published in Daily Record newspaper, dated 25th June 2005, compiled by The Official Charts Company

External links[edit]