Let's Talk About Sex, Baaaaby

Photobykrt_1 I'm not buying this study that U.S. teens have sex earlier because they're exposed to "Desperate Housewives" and Eminem lyrics.

American youth are doing it at a younger age than their European peers, and there is no way our media is nearly as sexed up as it is in Europe. It's got to be something else.

Our three years in Berlin were a 24-hour skin show. Lots of frontal nudity on television, women's breasts exposed on billboards, sex shops in malls, as well as a looseness with language that was initially shocking -- as in shockingly funny:

First week, we're tuning the FM dial, and find a rock station where the DJs are taking lunchtime calls from listeners and bleeping every couple of words. The calls keep coming, offering more and more reasons for bleeps, and the DJ's laughing everytime he gets verbally flipped off.  We're surprised that there is some sort of censorship in this German-language version of laddie radio. Except that no one bothers to censor what the DJ calls the program: "The F#$% You Show."

No one censored rap lyrics - usually in English - on the radio, and actually hearing what Eminem was saying in "My Name is ... Slim Shady" made him no longer seem like some sort of cuddle toy to my kids. It turned them off.

In school - middle school - our kids were taught to roll condoms on broom handles. My wife taught a boy - an actual prince - whose mother's picture was wrapped around utility poles in our neighborhood advertising a performance-art show that literally translated to Hanging Tits Over Berlin.

Anyway, I digress.

Jane Brown, a researcher at the University of North Carolina, conducted the study. This is from a NY Daily News piece:

The study, published in Pediatrics magazine, analyzed 170 popular songs, including hits by Nelly, Ja Rule, Jay-Z and Destiny's Child. They discovered 40% of the lyrics contained sexual content.

"The Simpsons" was the most popular TV show among the teens but the shows that included the most sexual content were UPN's "WWE Smackdown," and MTV's "Total Request Live."

The researchers interviewed 1,017 black and white adolescents from middle schools in North Carolina. Each teen was evaluated at age 12 to 14 years, and once again two years later.

Despite the flood of hormone-soaked shows and songs, less than 1% of teen media content focuses on sexual health or family planning.

"What's missing in the media are the three C's," Brown said. "Rarely is there a commitment, contraceptives or consequences."

So I turned to another University of North Carolina study, this one from UNC-Charlotte, which has teamed since 1998 with Advocates for Youth to study the differences in attitudes about sex in the U.S., France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Basically, we have more pregnancies and more abortions, more STDs, more sexual partners and start younger, the school's studies show.

How about it's because our culture still thinks sex is dirty, and what is forbidden is always inviting to the young. It's the tease that sells here. We could start by airing what rappers are really singing about. Maybe our kids would eventually turn the dial. Or maybe we should pass out condoms and brooms. Who knows, maybe they'd even clean their rooms.

Posted 04/04/2006 10:02:29 AM

I think the time has passed to merely snicker at problems like teen sex and (the resulting) fatherless babies. Don't simply replace one knee-jerk response -- "blame dirty media" -- with another --"let's have more dirty media." How do Europeans compare to the US regarding single-parent households? Since that stat, more than anything, will dictate teenage well-being, it's an obvious, though politically incorrect, question.

Daniel Rubin
Posted 04/04/2006 10:07:33 AM

Who is snickering here? Single-parent households? - more in the U.S. see: http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2004/09/bookrevs.htm Far more likely to see two parents, although not necessarily married couples.

That Dude
Posted 04/04/2006 10:11:52 AM

First off, who believes that European teens are having less sex than American teens? Cmon!

Posted 04/04/2006 07:43:28 PM

Amazingly, "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria got in trouble with ABC for mentioning she uses a vibrator. Why are American's so fearful of masturbation and sex toys?

Posted 04/05/2006 09:29:32 AM

Wow - how did I miss a discussion about my favorite form of entertainment? I'm much too busy. I don't agree that America considers sex "dirty." I think most America (e.g. the grassroots you were trying to stigmatize with that charge) think that sex is very powerful, very dangerous, and needs the social proscriptions that traditon has created. I think that is reasonable. I was performing at an international dance festival at Univ of Penna International House last year. I watched dance groups from India, China, Ukraine, and a couple others. Then an American couple - ballroom dancers - performed. Compared to the traditional non-American cultures they were practically naked. I winced as I watched them wondering what the foreigners (who were the majority in the audience) think of we Americans.

ping: MP3 Downloads, Find your favorite mp3 -->
Posted 04/30/2006 11:16:59 AM

Enter Artist or Song or Album name to search:. Download MP3 Music for $0.10 per song. MP3 Archive:. # - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M ...

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments