REO Speedwagon started performing "Whipping Boy" on tour in 2014. "It's a song about our belief that people have a natural desire to be treated as equals," lead singer Kevin Cronin said in a Songfacts interview
. "Every human being wants that, and if someone isn't being treated that way, they will do what it takes to gain that equality for themselves - it's been shown throughout history.
I feel like it's true in society, it's true in personal relationships. It's one of those things that is just real, and that's really what the song is about: Nobody wants to be anybody else's whipping boy."