I'm not much of a fan of what Big Music is jamming down our throats nowadays (especially rap, which they insist on spelling without a leading 'c', and which I characterize as "boasting to a drumbeat," which line I cribbed from someone else I can't recall at the moment and for which Google shows one hit - my previous reference to it - which now marks a personal record for most 'which's in a parenthetical remark).
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I'm about the last person I would expect to defend rap, but when the attack against it is even stupider than the music itself, I figure I gotta say something. It would appear that Modern Youth is powerless to resist sexual lyrics:
Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.
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
OK, so it's kind of my ox being gored here with the rock and everything, but whatever.
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 following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Among heavy listeners, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who said they listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
That's 76% more likely; hardly what I would consider 'almost twice as likely.'
Even granting this fairly strong correlation, nothing in the study (at least, nothing in the story) really establishes causation. There doesn't appear to be any acknowlegement that the relationship may be reversed - that teenage horndogs tend to like songs with sexual lyrics.
The first 'expert' quoted is a teenaged editor for a 'teen sexual health web site,' and even she admits that she doesn't pay attention to the lyrics...
Natasha Ramsey, a 17-year-old from New Brunswick, N.J., said she and other teens sometimes listen to sexually explicit songs because they like the beat.
"I won't really realize that the person is talking about having sex or raping a girl," she said.
...before remembering to get back on message.
Even so, the message "is being beaten into the teens' heads," she said. "We don't even really realize how much."
. . .
"Teens will try to deny it, they'll say 'No, it's not the music,' but it IS the music. That has one of the biggest impacts on our lives," Ramsey said.
To be sure, the article makes room for a dissenting viewpoint...
However, Yvonne K. Fulbright, a New York-based sex researcher and author, said factors including peer pressure, self-esteem and home environment are probably more influential than the research suggests.
"It's a little dangerous to just pinpoint one thing. You have to look at everything that's going on in a young person's life," she said. "When somebody has a healthy sense of themselves, they don't take these lyrics too seriously."
. . .
"A healthy home atmosphere is one that allows a child to investigate what pop culture has to offer and at the same time say 'I know this is a fun song but you know that it's not right to treat women this way or this isn't a good person to have as a role model,"' she said.
...which of course must be immediately outweighed by the scaremongers:
David Walsh, a psychologist who heads the National Institute on Media and the Family, said the results make sense, and echo research on the influence of videos and other visual media.
The brain's impulse-control center undergoes "major construction" during the teen years at the same time that an interest in sex starts to blossom, he said.
Add sexually arousing lyrics and "it's not that surprising that a kid with a heavier diet of that ... would be at greater risk for sexual behavior," Walsh said.