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Sexualization in Lyrics of Popular Music from 1959 to 2009: Implications for Sexuality Educators

Abstract

This study analyzed sexualization in lyrics of popular music in the final year of six decades. The study sample was comprised of Billboard Hot 100 year-end songs from 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2009 (N = 600). Regression analysis was used to compare the presence of sexualized lyrics from 1959 with other study years. Male artists’ lyrics (OR = 2.163; p = .029; CI = 1.080–4.333), non-White artists’ lyrics in 1999 and 2009 (OR = 2.670; p < .001; CI = 1.554–4.586), and 2009 lyrics (OR = 3.439; p = .003; CI = 1.515–7.809), were significantly more likely to contain sexualization. Recent research associating sexual content in media with adolescent sexual activity together with findings demonstrating a connection between exposure to objectifying media and self-sexualized behavior make this study’s findings significant to sexuality educators desiring to improve sexual health outcomes and promote healthy adolescent sexual development. Sexuality educators should be cognizant of the recent significant trend toward the inclusion of sexualization in music lyrics and the probable impact such music may have on adolescent sexual behavior and attitudes.

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Correspondence to P. Cougar Hall.

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Cougar Hall, P., West, J.H. & Hill, S. Sexualization in Lyrics of Popular Music from 1959 to 2009: Implications for Sexuality Educators. Sexuality & Culture 16, 103–117 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-011-9103-4

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Keywords

  • Sexualization in music lyrics
  • Sexualized lyrics
  • Sexual content in music
  • Sexual content in media
  • Sexualization in popular-music lyrics
  • Adolescent sexual behavior
  • Adolescent sexual development
  • Sexuality education