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Teen Sex Apparently Driven By Music, Not Libido

There is a new study claiming that music with sexually explicit lyrics causes teenagers to have sex earlier. The lead author is Steven Martino, a Rand researcher, and the study will be published in the August issue of Pediatrics; the data come from telephone interviews with 1,461 participants, aged 12 to 17.

I haven’t read the study itself, but here’s an A.P. article, which trumpets the news in its headline: “Sexual Lyrics Prompt Teens to Have Sex.” Here’s an excerpt:

Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.

Whether it’s hip-hop, rap, pop or rock, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.

Songs depicting men as “sex-driven studs,” women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.

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.

So there does seem to be a correlation between sexual music and sex. But does that make the relationship causal? Wouldn’t it make sense that the kind of teenagers who want to have a lot of sex are the same ones who want to listen to sexual music, and the ones who don’t want to have a lot of sex (or at least refrain from doing so) are the same ones who don’t listen to such music?

On the other hand, if the findings of this study are true, it sure makes things easier on all the people who are promoting birth control, safe sex, abstinence, and the like. Instead, they can just ban all the sexy music.