Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.None of this comes as any surprise, though some will try to explain away the study results' significance:
Whether it's hip-hop, rap, pop, or rock, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.
Songs depicting men as ``sex-driven studs" and women as sex objects, and which have explicit references to sex acts, are likelier to trigger early sexual behavior than those in which sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.
Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the next two years, compared with teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
...researchers tried to account for other factors that could affect teens' sexual behavior, including parental permissiveness, and still found explicit lyrics had a strong influence.Fulbright is right, I think, in saying that other factors, all of which relate in some way to family functionality, likely lay behind many teens' acceptance of misogyny, the objectification and subordination of women, the objectification of sex itself, and of non-committed sexual expression.
However, Yvonne K. Fulbright, a New York-based sex researcher and author, said factors including peer pressure, self-esteem, and home environment probably are more influential than the research suggests.
But surely the existence of family dysfunctionality should be more reason for society--and for the corporations and entertainers who cater to young people--to exercise greater wisdom about the music presented to kids.
Battling with low self-esteem and set adrift from strong, affirming familial ties, kids find their values where they may. Their situations call for society at large to act on their behalf.
The question this study raises is a simple one: What are we going to do about it as a society?
Of course, it would be wrong to infringe on the First Amendment rights of artists. The same amendment which protects their right to create misogynist music also protects others' right to speak a word from God and to worship Him. In America, we mutually agree to afford one another the opportunity to express themselves. Government censorship is not only wrong, I think, but also likely to be ineffective.
Rather, I think that the whole society needs to make it very clear to the mavens of the entertainment industry that we expect them to behave responsibly. We need to ask that they:
- Stop objectifying males by portraying them as nothing more than sex machines
- Stop objectifying females by implying that their worth resides only in the full expression of their sexuality
- Stop linking sex with violent domination of males over females
- Stop creating the expectation that sex is unrelated to commitment
Of course, down the road, such demands might need to be given the teeth of a boycott. But for now, petitioning all of the major music and film distributors, asking them to take a responsible attitude toward the safety and well-being of our kids makes sense. If people are going to make money off of young people, they should--as surely as those who market food, drugs, and other products--be expected to not endanger them.
What do you think?