Archive for August, 2006

August 8, 2006

This Just In: Sexy Music Leads to Teen Sex (Maybe. Kinda. It depends on how you define "sexy" and "teen" and "leads to.")

You might have seen the headline on CNN yesterday, “Sexy Music Triggers Teen Sex.” The study bears the imprimatur of the supposedly objective Rand Corporation, and appears in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics. There must be something to it, then, right? (Will pediatricians add rap music to the household safety talk they give to new parents? The one where they ask about firearms and carseats?)

Over at Pediatrics, people with more smarts than I are pointing out the methodological flaws in the study. I slogged through the article in its entirety and laughed out loud when I came to this part:

Our results suggest that the relationship between exposure and behavior may (emphasis mine) be causal in nature, because we controlled for teens’ previous sexual experience, as well as factors like parental monitoring, religiosity, and deviance; however, our correlational data do not allow us to make causal inferences with certainty. . . . It is important to point out, however, that at the time of the third survey, about half of our sample had become legal adults (18–20 years); initiation of intercourse in this group would not be considered early according to US norms and might be considered healthy.

Half the participants were 18-20 when they initiated intercourse? But it’s rap music that lead them to it?

Then there’s this:

We also observed an association between time spent listening to music in general and changes in sexual behavior. The more time teens spent listening to music, the more likely they were to advance in their noncoital sexual behavior and to initiate intercourse. . . It may be that listening to popular music, regardless of its content, results in heightened physiologic arousal that, through a process of excitation transfer incites sexual behavior among teens.

And to think, they laughed at Cardinal Strich when he banned the “hedonistic, tribal rhythms” of rock and roll music from all the Catholic Schools in Chicago in 1957.

Here’s what they hope will come of their hard work:

[O]ur findings suggest a need for intervention. Reducing the amount of degrading sexual content in popular music, or reducing young people’s exposure to music with this type of content, could delay initiation of intercourse and related activities. This, in turn, may reduce sexual risk behavior and sexual regret.

God, where were these people in the Disco era? I might have so much less to regret.

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August 2, 2006

Go See This Movie

I took my sports-loving eight-year-old girl to see the documentary The Heart of The Game this afternoon. The filmmaker Ward Serrill (seated next to Darnellia Russell) followed the Roosevelt High School girls’ basketball team and coach through seven seasons. The initial draw for Serrill was the quirky coach, Bill Resler, who teaches his charges to go for blood while at the same time truly believing and communicating that it’s not about winning. (With seconds left and a mere two-point lead in the finals of the state championship, he followed through on his promise to play every player in that game–even the inexperienced freshman.) When the sensational Darnellia Russell joined the team, she brought another compelling storyline into the film. At the end of her junior year, Darnellia becomes pregnant and drops out. She has her baby girl and then returns to school only to be told by the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association that she was disqualified from playing–because she had dropped out. I’ll stop here because you really should watch how this story unfolds rather than have me spoil it for you.

I wasn’t planning to talk to my daughter about teenage pregnancy and choices and the judgment this country still apparently loves to heap on the “unwed” mother. But this was as good an occasion as any.

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