Exposure to Sexual Lyrics and Sexual Experience Among Urban Adolescents

     The paper reviews the article “Exposure to Sexual Lyrics and Sexual Experience Among Urban Adolescents”, where the authors analyze how the popular music exerts influence upon the urban teenagers.

Brief summary of the target paper

The purpose of the target paper is to track the independent association of exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex in a cohort of the urban teenagers and their sexual behavior.

The authors assume that the interest to lyrics describing degrading sex prepossess teenagers to begin their sexual activity. The authors appeal to socio-cognitive theory observing social models, media sources in particular. Most of the students listen to radio or players every day, the majority of them listen to the music players in their bedrooms.

The authors predict that these teenagers, preferring lyrics describing degrading sex, are more sexually active relatively to their peers who prefer lyrics describing nondegrading sex and sexual outcomes.

The researchers asked 711 ninth-grade students at three urban high schools to complete their surveys. Students introduced their favorite artists and indicated how long they are listening to music (hours per day). The authors scrutinized the lyrics of the top popular songs and found that three quarters of them contain the descriptions of degrading sex.

They proved that students who prefer songs describing degrading sex were more sexually active (more than twice as likely to have had sexual intercourse, and those who had not had sexual intercourse were nearly twice as likely to have progressed along a noncoital sexual continuum).  Thus, the authors showed the direct relation of the interest to degraded sex theme in popular songs and early sexual activity. This association can have the practical importance for the sexual educators to understand better the picture of sexual perception among the urban teenagers and to improve the level of their sexual knowledge.

The impact of popular music to behavioral model of teenagers is irrefutable, though it can not be studied separately from other social and biological factors.


In their discussion authors say that the exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex is one of the strongest associations with sexual activity.  I find this conclusion justified compared with the exposure to lyrics describing non-degrading sex. The descriptive analysis shows the meaning of parenting type, race and other secondary characteristics. I think the practical importance of the work could increase if the influence on song lyrics can be examined adjusting to some other factors.

1)  Social factors.

It is very important to understand how adolescents make decisions to begin their sexual activities. Young sexual activity itself is not as dangerous as the spread of sexually transmitted infections and adolescence pregnancy. The age of the first pregnancy could depend on four factors:  presence of a family member with a drinking problem, early punishment with a belt or other object by a family member, first drinking experience and first wanted sexual experience. (Adolescence, 1999). I propose to sort out the poll results adjusted to the family specifics. Researchers could ask students if one or more members of their family have drinking problem, if there was the case of family violence, and so on. This adjustment could help the researchers to divide the impact of the family factor more distinctly.

Biological factors.

The environment matters are not among the single ones some researchers consider being biological factors: genes and heredity are the reason of early sexual life beginning. It is important to note that some researchers affirm that the race is very important for the early sexuality. “Black teens appear more influenced by perception of their parents’ expectations and their friends’ sexual behavior than by what they see and hear in the media.”Â  (Pediatrics, 2007) I find the division of the results adjusted to the race very reasonable.

3) Other media influence.

In their discussion authors say that music has more influence than other media. However, movies and TV still remain important for the society. The advertising has a serious impact on the modern people world-view, meantime a lot of ads address to human sexuality. For example, the authors of the target paper cite the lyrics of popular song as degraded sex description:

“I melt in your mouth girl, not in your hand”.

This metaphor for oral sex was borrowed by popular artist “50 cents”Â from the M&M chocolate’s advertising slogan. I find that TV programs usually portray higher levels of sexuality that exists in reality.  Watching TV teens could believe that this situation is real and go to early sex. That is why the authors could ask the students about their favorite TV programs too and do not analyze the exposure of song lyrics solely.

4) Consequence not the reason.

At last, authors admit in their discussion that the sexual lyrics in popular songs don’t stimulate teenagers for sexual experiments.  Sexual active teenagers can find and purchase songs focused on sex. They prefer simple and even rude words to feel elder and to upgrade their self-rating. Thus, the exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex could be the consequence not the reason. I propose to ask students when they started listening to their favorite music and when they had the sexual experience to clarify this issue.

It is obvious that the association exists between lyrics describing degraded sex in popular songs and teenagers early sexual experience. However it is necessary to include in the analysis some more factors to understand the lyrics influence more clearly and so to increase the practical meaning of the research.

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