Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

The Relationship between Exposure to Sexual Music Videos and Young Adults' Sexual Attitudes

Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

The Relationship between Exposure to Sexual Music Videos and Young Adults' Sexual Attitudes

Article excerpt

Understanding sexual relationships and gender-specific norms is a fundamental task involved in the social development of adolescents and young adults (Arnett, 2000). Although parents and peers are generally acknowledged to be important sources of messages about sexuality and gender schemas (Ballard & Morris, 1998; Sutton, Brown, Wilson, & Klein, 2002), the media and television in particular are believed to play a critical role in sexual socialization among young people (Arnett, 2002; Brown & Steele, 1995). Content analyses show that sexual references and innuendoes are prevalent in television programming (Olson, 1994; Ward, 1995). With compelling story lines and appealing images, television provides numerous examples of sexual and romantic interactions such as dating, initiating sexual activities, and gender-appropriate sexual behaviors (Ward, 2002). These highly accessible materials containing explicit information about sexuality help young people to construct their own perceptions about sexual relationships as well as gender roles. However, in spite of television's potential role as a socializing agent, the bulk of sexual themes and portrayals in this medium are inaccurate, stereotypical, and unrealistic (Huston, Wartella, & Donnerstein, 1998). Because of television's slanted view of sexuality, concern has been raised that heavy exposure to these images may have harmful effects on young people's sexual socialization. One genre that has received strong public criticism, but remains empirically under-examined, is music videos.

Sexual Portrayals in Music Videos

Since Music Television (MTV) was introduced in 1981, music videos have become one of the most popular forms of entertainment among young people (Hansen & Hansen, 2000). The visual and auditory representation of music videos provides a powerful channel through which young people may learn about society, culture, and behaviors (Sun & Lull, 1986). With their high accessibility and immense appeal, music videos have the potential to affect this group's sexual and gender socialization (e.g., Hansen & Hansen, 2000).

Content analyses show that since its inception, the music video genre has been overflowing with sexual content. Specifically, 40% to 75% of music videos have been found to contain sexual imagery (Baxter, De Riemer, Landini, Leslie, & Singletary, 1985; Gow, 1990; Greeson & Williams, 1986; Pardun & McKee, 1995). Baxter et al. (1985) reported that 60% of MTV music videos had sexually suggestive content or "the portrayal of sexual feelings or impulses" (p. 337). Sommers-Flanagan, Sommers-Flanagan, and Davis (1993) showed that 90% of the 30-second intervals from 40 videos featured implied images of sex. Although sexual portrayals are prevalent in music videos, they tend to be mild and implicit, relying heavily on innuendo through clothing, suggestive behaviors, and light physical contact (Hansen & Hansen, 2000; Ward, 2003). Most of these content analyses were conducted more than 10 years ago, but because today's music video market is bolder in depicting sexual content (Smith, 2005), it is only reasonable to expect that the amount of sexual imagery in today's videos would stay the same as before, if not increase.

Not only are music videos replete with sexual imagery, they also treat sexual relationships in a stereotypical way (Arnett, 2002; Vincent, Davis, & Boruszkowski, 1987). Studies revealed that the depiction of men and women is polarized along the sex-role stereotypic dimension. Males are typically portrayed as more aggressive and dominant, whereas females are portrayed as more dependent and passive (Arnett, 2002; Seidman, 1992). Moreover, men are more likely to be shown as sexual animals with a relentless urge to have sex with women, whereas women are more likely to be shown as sexual objects with a heavy emphasis on physical appearance and sexual attractiveness (Hansen & Hansen, 2000). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.