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Music Lyrics: Sexual Aggression and Violence

Is there a relationship between music lyrics and sexual aggression?


This issue is kind of new for some, but these days, the kind of words spoken, or should we say, sung in many of the popular songs have some type of sexual violence and promiscuity in them. We’ve discussed how song lyrics tolerate and even encourage teens and young people to engage in sexual activities. But in this article, we will go further and examine if the same lyrics are also responsible for making teens and the youth become sexually aggressive and violent towards other people.


The violence portrayed by the media is a very disturbing issue for most parents. Logically, children and teens do not become violent just because of media exposure. But one thing is for sure – constant exposure will become a factor that influences them to be more aggressive and cruel to others.


But when it comes to music media content, how far can songs go in terms of encouraging negative behavior?


According to a study done by psychologists Anderson, Carnagey, and Eubanks, the lyrics one can hear from a song can definitely influence his/her thoughts, ideas, and even behavior. But this does not mean each one of us will instantly embrace what we hear from the music. The fact is the more a person listens to the same type of music, the more she/he becomes attached to it. A very common example is when you really don’t like a song, but because it is very popular you always hear it playing wherever you go, and you unknowingly memorize its lyrics.


Consequently, people who have great interest in rap, R&B, and hip hop music will likely be influenced by those genres. At first, this seems to be fine. But if one examines the kind of messages portrayed in many of the popular songs, it may give reason to hesitate.


Nowadays, violence and aggressive language is pretty common in musiQuotationviolence and aggressive language is pretty common in musiQuotation
c. In fact, there have been hundreds of researchers who have dedicated themselves in finding out the behavioral consequences of listening to certain genres. For every parent’s sake meanwhile, this is a very crucial issue that needs to be learned and addressed since it is certain that their children and teens spend a large part of their time listening to music they like.

While violent behavior in general has been proven to be a direct consequence of negative content in music, there hasn’t been that much focus on whether a song can also be a source of sexual aggression. Nonetheless, a research report by St. Lawrence and Joyner (1991) concluded that there is a significant level of acceptance by men who listen to violent rock music that women can be sexually violated. Although the study focused on the likelihood of sexual aggression by men who do not have a particular religious background, the fact remains that consistent exposure to violent and sexually tolerant songs can lead to aggressive sexual behavior.


But we should keep in mind that not all types of music promote sexual aggression. For instance, the same study conducted by St. Lawrence and Joyner (1991) showed that classical music actually creates a sexual arousal response for many respondents. But this doesn’t mean that classic songs have sexual lyrics or material in them. This just shows that the behavioral response of a person is still within his control and that whether or not there is a manifestation of sexual violence in a song, there is no certainty that the person’s behavior will be instantly influenced by it.

On the other hand, it is quite accepted that hip hop and R&B music are the main sources of sexual aggression involving teens, at least from the music media perspective. In the article entitled “Black youth violence has a bad rap” by Mahiri and Conner (2003), it was said that the hip hop and rap culture is the most evident society of people who deliberately express and represent sex, violence, aggression and crime especially against women.


This data in the same research provides a very alarming reality for our children and teens. Let us try to connect the dots:

  • If we look at the weekly or monthly Billboard charts, most songs that are listed in the top fifty are hip hop and R&b.
  • Current trends tell us that children and teens comprise the largest portion of the population that listens to music.
  • Hip hop, rap, and R&B are the most popular music genres that represent tolerance for sexual aggression, violence, and crime.

If you add it all up, you have a perfect recipe for disaster – the precipitation and eventual acceptance of sexual aggression by the youthQuotation the precipitation and eventual acceptance of sexual aggression by the youthQuotation
. It’s at this point that many people throw up their hands and say “there’s nothing we can do. The kids are going to find a way to listen to the music they want and act out the behavior they want.” This goes along with the “they’re going to have sex anyway, so let’s just give them condoms” line of thinking. It disregards the fact that parents are responsible for the behavior of their children. Sure, kids are always going to rebel. It’s part of being human and growing up. That doesn’t mean that parents should just give up the fight. Once parents understand the weight of the purpose in their lives to raise up a good man or woman, and they are consistent and loving with their discipline, they will find just how powerful their influence is in their child’s life.







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