In an unusual piece of research, investigators at the University of Pittsburgh graded the sexual aggressiveness of lyrics, using songs by popular artists on the US Billboard chart. The lyrics were graded from the least to the most sexually degrading. They then asked 711 students aged 15 to 16 at three local high schools about their music preferences and their sexual behaviour.First, there is something strange about using the term "degrading" instead of the usual "graphic." I should think that people who listen to graphic lyrics are already interested in having sex and are not merely learning that sex is somehow mandatory and perfunctory. If you are inclined toward sex, graphic lyrics aren't degrading. And it's not right to classify any dominant sexual male as degrading the woman. That says more about the classifier than the lyricist!
Overall, 31 percent of the teens had had intercourse. But the rate was only 20.6 percent among those who had been least exposed to sexually degrading lyrics but 44.6 percent among those highly exposed to the most degrading lyrics.
The study's lead author, Brian Primack, said music by itself was not the direct spark for sex but helped mould perception and was thus "likely to be a factor" in sexual development. "These lyrics frequently portray aggressive males subduing submissive females, which may lead adolescents to incorporate this 'script' for sexual experience into their world view"...
"Non-degrading" lyrics described sex in a non-specific way and as a mutually consensual act, while "degrading" lyrics described sexual acts as a purely physical, graphic and dominant act.
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, lyrics by Prince on his album "Purple Rain" prompted wives of senior politicians in Washington, led by Tipper Gore, to set up the Parents Music Resource Center.Oh, for the love of God, leave Prince alone. Now, of course, his lyrics were very sexy, and he did influence many of us women to want — and even have — more sex. But the song that upset Tipper so much was "Darling Nikki." Read the lyrics. Nikki was not an innocent, subordinate female degraded by a dominating Prince. Nikki was the dominant one, and if anybody was overcome or degraded, it was Prince. It was the dominant female that freaked out Tipper.
Anyway, if you have young kids, protect them from graphic song lyrics. That is your job. But don't lose your mind and start calling things degrading unless they really are. All sorts of song lyrics, including some of the most beautiful old standards, depict a relationship in which one person — usually the singer — is overwhelmed by and enslaved to his or her lover. It's ridiculous to get bent out of shape over that.