90s at 9 'Prison Sex' The Cycle of Abuse

It's a song about the cycle of abuse.

"Prison Sex" was Tool's second single from their debut studio album Undertow. 

It is a song about the cycle of abuse. Lead singer Maynard James Keenan has been quite vocal about his dislike for his stepfather so it makes many wonder if this is an autobiographical song. The lyrics of the song change from the perspective of the victim realizing what's happening to the person responsible for the abuse. It demonstrates that learned behaviors are perpetuated. 

Before a live performance in Montreal in 1996 Keenan said, "This song is about recognizing, identifying, the cycle of abuse within yourself. That's the first step of the process: realization; identifying. The next step is to work through it. But this song is about the first step in the process, which is recognizing."

In 1993 when the song and video first came out there was a concern over it being too graphic and offensive. MTV even pulled the stop motion video from rotation for a while. In 1995, it was nominated for the MTV Music Video Awards' Best Special Effects category. 

Tool "Prison Sex" 1993