Monday, August 07, 2006

Songs, Teen Sex, and School Dances

Students at my school like to have sex with each other on the dance floor. It's pretty bad. They come up with something disgusting to do, the administration bans it at the next dance, and the students complain. I'm not sure why the boys need to grind their groins into the buttocks of the girls--yes, I know it feels good, but does the word appropriate mean anything?--and I'm not sure why the girls allow themselves to be degraded in public that way, but that's the reality. When I'm required to work dances at school, I insist on being stationed in the office so I can answer phones, guard drunks until the police and their parents arrive, and maybe grade a quiz or two. I will not watch children (or adults, for that matter) sexually gratify themselves in public.

I think some students hit the nail on the head this last year when they said there's no other way to dance to the kind of music played at school dances. And you know what? They're right! Listen to the rap and hip-hop so-called music they listen to. There's not as much music there as a beat. Watch dancing from the ancient days (like the 80s, for instance) and you'll determine, as I have, that one cannot apply such dance moves to today's rap and hip-hop. The only thing you can do to such a beat is thrust and grind.

Perhaps the music is a big part of the problem.

By saying that I don't intend to let any adults, especially the parents, off the hook for teaching children appropriate (there's that word again) public behavior. I merely point out that we don't help the situation by playing what amounts to porn music and then wonder why the kids get aroused.

Now, lo and behold, the Rand Corporation comes out with a study that says that teens that listen to sexually suggestive music have sex earlier than those who do not. Surprise, surprise.

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.

Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music "gives them a specific message about sex," said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.

"We think that really lowers kids' inhibitions and makes them less thoughtful" about sexual decisions and may influence them to make decisions they regret, he said.

The Rand study is slightly different from what my student told me--Rand focused on the lyrics, whereas my student focused only on the beat. I'm convinced, though, that both are correct.

Ready for another not-so-surprise?

Benjamin Chavis, chief executive officer of the Hip-Hip Summit Action Network, a coalition of hip-hop musicians and recording industry executives, said explicit music lyrics are a cultural expression that reflect "social and economic realities."

"We caution rushing to judgment that music more than any other factor is a causative factor" for teens initiating sex, Chavis said.

And nicotine is not addictive. Uh huh. But Rand wasn't finished just yet:

Martino said the researchers tried to account for other factors that could affect teens' sexual behavior, including parental permissiveness, and still found explicit lyrics had a strong influence.

So just who is Benjamin Chavis, anyway? From what he said above I'd say he's more concerned with recording industry profits than with the (black) children he's willing to use in order to make those profits. But who is this man, where have I heard his name before?

Oh, now I remember. He's not only converted, he's sold his soul. He's the disgraced former head of the NAACP, a former Christian minister who converted to Islam. And he supports this music and its lyrics.

Odd, I don't hear clamoring for this type of music among the imams of Cairo and Riyadh. Must be a distinctly Americanized version of Islam that this man practices. Here's what he says he's doing:

The organization's goal is "to use the influence and power of hip-hop to promote positive social change," Muhammad (ex-Chavis) said. "We're working to eradicate poverty."

Ah, yes. We're going to eradicate poverty by treating men as sex-crazed stud-horses and women as nothing more than men's sexual toys. Come to think of it, maybe that version of Islam is not so Americanized, based on how the most stringently Islamic countries differentiate between the sexes. How having more poor (often black) babies is a positive social change, and how that eradicates poverty, though, I have yet to understand.

The man is a purveyor of smut.

Update: Yes, I competely ignored MTV and its ilk in this piece. Then I read this, and I just have to wonder if the barbarians are at the gates.


Anonymous said...

Hey Darren, I found someone who might be able to whip these kids into shape. His name is Mark Spittle and he can shoot laser beams out of his eyes. He can even fly and has other amazing powers. Check it out.

Darren said...

Let's be clear, I blame adults for this as much as I blame the students. Perhaps even more so.

EHT said...

I would have a hard time chaperoning dances if I had to witness some of what you describe. I guess that's one thing that keeps this middle school certified teacher from actually teaching in a middle school. Is anyone actually listening to that trash before they let their child listen to it. I've had to ban my 9 year old students from getting together and chanting it because they happily recite the lyrics at the top of their lungs and seem oblivious as to what they are really saying. I can't believe any father would want to chaperone a dance and watch his daughter being treated like that. My husband would literally kill someone.

Anonymous said...

In the last couple of years at the middle school where I teach (mainly white middle class suburbia)the trend at dances has been girl-on-girl grinding. They are putting on a show for the boys. This is what they see in 90% of the videos played on MTV. For some reason it is "erotic" for two girls to cozy up but "gay" if two guys were to do it. The other thing I've encountered is casual kissing amongst girls. It's okay for girls to give each other "friendly" kisses on the lips (more than just a peck--mouths ajar but no tongue action). Fortunately, at the dances, we have really cracked down on inappropriate behaviors and have had many students call home and be picked up and banned from further dances. Unfortunately, it is often met with resistance/denial from parents about what they consider to be kids just being kids and the school being old-fashioned. In middle school you just cannot win with the parents. Half think the school is not strict enough and half think we run the school like a prison.

KauaiMark said...

Think the "Randy study" will do a bit on prostitot clothing next?

Darren said...

Prostitot. I had to say it aloud before I determined what you meant. Classic term.

Anonymous said...

If the teachers are the adults and are expected to set the example for these kids (as the parents are obviously not) why is this even allowed?


Darren said...

You mean, why don't we stifle their self-expression? Why don't we allow what's all over their televisions and on their radios and mp3 players?

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Dan Edwards said...

Good post Darren ! IMO, all this is a result of a lack of parenting. Schools would not allow music with inappropriate lyrics to be played at dances and other school functions IF the parents did their job and said NO to such music for their children at school, in their homes, cars, etc. But unfortunatly today, too many parents don't seem to know the word "NO" or just don't seem to believe that teaching their children that females are "B---hes", "hoes" etc., is worth the effort.

At school dances at my jr. high school, there tends to be a mixture of hip hop and mexican music, some of which, I have been told, glorifies los nuevos macho hombres de Mexico, the drug cartel banditos. Bad for people song lyrics are not just from the black ghetto culture.

Anonymous said...

well, when i was in high school i did my share of heavy making out but it was all done in private. i bet for these kids, the "dancing" is more about showing off for their friends than about really enjoying it.

especially for the girls--i see how the guys would like it but how could any woman really get pleasure from the "dancing" these kids are doing? seems to me like a giant step backwards to where it is all about the guy's pleasure and the girl is just there.

if i make out with a guy i want it to be nice for both of us.


Darren said...

Jennifer, doing it out of public view is all I as a citizen ask.

And Polski, I'm not so sure that teachers weren't complaining about dirty dancing and bad parenting causing it back in the halcyon days of the 50's. I don't know that there's any one cause or solution, but I think at this moment and on this cause I'll stand astride history and yell "Stop!"

graycie said...

I taught middle school up until four years ago, and the dances were horrible for just the reasons you put forth. Who turned off the lights on the dance floor? Our principal -- so there was no admin backup if we tried to tone down the group masturbation. I always opted for coat room duty.

One of our teachers was invited to a country club dance and went to see how the kids (we're talking rich, educated, white families here) danced when their parents were present. There was no difference! The parents thought it was "cute."

Now that I am in the high school, dance chaperoning has not been worded as mandatory, and I have not attended a single one (four years now). Someone in authority will have to specifically assign me to do it before I will condone it by my presence.

It is NOT socio-economic or racial. It is kids running families and thus schools.

Darren said...

With their parents *there*? Good Lord.

Is that a Vandal or a Visigoth I see coming towards me? It's so hard to tell in all the dust and smoke.

Ellen K said...

A good deal of this is about the music. Yes, I know that the lovers of rap and hiphop don't like this point of view, but you can't get away from the graphic images of how women are treated in these videos. And these are what the kids watch for examples of "mature teen life". My kids never cared much for rap, prefering other types of music, which I must admit all have their fair share of sex. But the sheer graphic nature of sex-as in pornographic rather than lusty-takes this to a whole new level. I guess when I started to notice it was when I subbed in a middle school and one girl told me her life ambition was to be a stripper. Wow. And this promotes and prolongs the image of women, especially African American women, as meat. So I don't play the stuff in class and I dont' listen to it on my own. And even as recently as the back to school dance, my son was complaining that even when students requested other standard music, such as the Rolling Stones or Beatles or Bon Jovi, all that was played was rap.

Anonymous said...

Seriously,I hate these kinds of studies, there are so many variables that aren't accounted for. Here's an idea; people who are more likely to have sex might like rap and hip-hop more then others. That would explain the results just as easily since most sexually explicit lyrics can be found in rap and hip-hop. In both musical and lyrical terms most of the more popular mainstream rap and hip-hop is worthless and even offensive, but I highly doubt that it really causes any significant difference in whether two teens have sex.

Also, when did sex become this thing that everyone should be so ashamed of. Teenagers have been having sex for thousands of years, and yet now, very recently, is when it is being viewed as something wrong. Your wording of your post says it all, "It's pretty bad. They come up with something disgusting to do." You clearly show that you are so uncomfortable with anything sexual that you think of it as both bad and disgusting. If two people are comfortable enough to dance the way they do at out dances in front of others then why complain?

I'll agree with you on one thing, parents are a leading cause of all of this. I believe the main reason that students are so sexual in their dance publicly is due to the fact that more parents these days are so over protective that true privacy is hard for teenagers to find. At a dance their parents are gone, and that's good enough for them. Who gave you the higher moral ground to say what is and isn't appropriate anyway? Please come up with something better then tradition and/or society since obviously the times are changing and the norm along with it.

Darren said...

Ronnie, you're way out there. There's nothing wrong with sex--there's plenty wrong with sex in public.

And no one gave me the "moral high ground" to say what's appropriate. I merely look at community standards of *adults*, those standards of the community in which I live and function, and expect you to live up to them. Norms are always changing, and teenagers are always trying to push the envelope, but that doesn't mean that you're entitled to do what you want merely because you want to.

Anonymous said...

But why care? Why does it bother you so much? Why should it bother anyone at all?

Darren said...

For the same reason that I don't want to see masturbation in public.

For the same reason that we separate the sexes in public restrooms.

Ellen K said...

I would disagree with a couple of points. First of all, have you read teh lyrics to some of the rap hits? They are filthy. It's not Etta James innuendo, its more like in your face nasty. And these are still, despite their size, children. Do we really need to encourage children to experiment sexually? I don't think so. And much of the problem is the very public nature of how they dance. Basically its having sex with their clothes on. It's not acceptable in normal adult circle to behave in such a publicly obscene fashion, yet some parent accept it as a part of what they percieve as their "culture" and others, a much more dangerous group, like to push their kids into provocative adult situations because it makes their kids appear to be popular. There have been several books on the topic and I have seen these Moms in action. They are the first ones to have boy-girl parties in fifth grade, they let their daughters "date" in sixth grade, they ignore the signs of sexual promiscuity and even provide birth control all so their child will "fit in" and be "popular". Isn't this the same thing as prostitution, but with fame and "friends" as the payback. Plus, kids are dumb and think they will live forever. They often avoid the obvious, don't take precautions and end up pregnant or worse, infected with HIV. So think again, should we really be looking the other way while they grind against each other, or should we get the fire hose, yell stop, and end it then and there?

High Power Rocketry said...

Damn kids.

Anonymous said...

These raunchy lyrics arent affecting these teens but only a reflection of what already present in society. These rap and hip-hop artists make the "nasty" music to appeal to the mass majority that enjoy the songs. So if you want to get rid of the innapropriate behavior resulting from song, you have to change the society that causes the music artists to make them that way.

but this article is clearly ignoring a whole other side of the equation

Anonymous said...

I have to smile while reading these posts. How far the glorious have tumbled? Flower Power! Peace Man! Power to the People! Love makes the World Go Round! I remember when I was in high school a gazillion years ago. Whe had dance monitors and half them were nuns. The music back then was called the devil’s music and slow dancing was all the rage. The monitors patrolled the dance floor with a ruler and measured the distance between the dancing pair and would physically move you to the approved distance apart or ban you from the dance floor if you did not the get the message or got caught too often. The only parts of your body that were allowed any amount of long-term contact was your hands and your cheeks. The ones on your face. The elders of my generation made many of the same comments that I see posted here. I admit that I don’t like the music of today’s generation any more than the elders of my generation did of mine. I believe it is more about rebellion, discovery, camaraderie, and power than anything else. I remember the warnings that I got from my mother about allowing a boy to get to close and too familiar with my body while dancing. I remember her admonitions about starting fires you can’t put out and the probably outcome of ruined lives, reputations, lost dreams and futures from a simple reckless, shameful act that I would probably not enjoy and would certainly not care to remember. She gave me the wait until marriage spiel and I bought it just as much as the children today do. Take some comfort in the fact that even though we did have a couple girls get in the family way. Some got married. Some didn’t. All in all, we turned out a fairly stable and productive lot. I can only hope that this generation will fair as well.

Linda B