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"Girls we've surveyed told us that they listen to these songs. But what do you think they picture as they hear lyrics about 'doing it hard' and 'dirty' and 'rough'? How confusing and even frightening it must be to imagine, even before you've had your first boyfriend, that that's what grown-up sex is like. The answer is sex education. And educators who don't include lyrics as jumping-off points for sex ed are missing a wonderful opportunity to address what kids are learning from people far more powerful than their health teachers. With middle-school girls you still have the power to open up discussions. So listen to the lyrics and talk about them when you can."
Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D.
Co-author, Packaging Girlhood
Music plays a prominent role in the Girl Net. Music can be a wonderful part of your daughter's life, helping her to develop her artistic and creative skills. Much of the music girls like is fun and harmless, but many songs have lyrics that are inappropriate for young girls. The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls reports that girls are exposed more to sexualized material in music than in any other media.
Girls are listening to music almost two hours a day.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study, "Generation M," both girls and boys between the ages of 8 and 12 listen to music on average almost two hours a day. More than 80 percent of all kids aged 8 to 18 have radios in their rooms. Even girls under the age of 8 are listening to their radios, and by the time they're tweens, they're using iPods and watching music videos on TV and the Internet.
The lyrics may disturb you.
The lyrics in many of the most popular songs in videos and downloads are filled with sexually degrading imagery and adult language. Lyn Mikel Brown recommends that parents go online or watch music videos with their daughters so they can address specific instances of inappropriate lyrics. However, she urges parents not to condemn their daughters' music as a whole — which could be alienating and make conversation difficult — but instead to talk about what some of the lyrics mean.
Music videos are frequently provocative.
Women — and even teen girls — in music videos are often wearing provocative clothes or enacting sexual fantasies. Instead of demonstrating a skill, such as playing an instrument, women typically dance. It's not just rap, pop, rock, or hip-hop that sexualize women and girls — even country music videos show women dressed in revealing clothing much of the time, giving girls the message that to be famous, to be on TV, you need to be sexy. "Music videos interweave a lot of high-risk behaviors into slick packages," notes Rachel Simmons. "In just one video, girls can watch a celebrity drinking and being sexually objectified — all while wearing amazing clothes and accessories and performing her hit song. These women are presented as having status and privilege — and they attract girls' attention."
But girls are dancing to the music.
Dancing to music in her bedroom, on the playground, and with her friends can be an active, healthy way for your daughter to have fun and to express herself and her love of music. But sometimes imitating music videos can become inappropriate. "Girls have been learning to dance by watching television since 'American Bandstand.' Today, music videos are teaching girls to bump and grind. Few girls take the time to reflect on what their behavior communicates or invites; they are merely mimicking what our culture has designated as cool," says Simmons.