Are dirty pop lyrics pushing a sexual revolution?

“Kiss me. Infect me with your love pen. Fill me with your poison. Kiss me. Want to be your victim. Ready for abduction.”

That was awkward to read, right? But it is not awkward to hear. It’s listened to so much, it still gets time on the air waves. It’s so catchy, it was one of the top 10 songs on iTunes for months. The song won awards. Katy Perry started her Grammy performance this year with a few seconds of it and the crowd went wild.

“E. T.” by Katy Perry and Kanye West is a great dance song, and the other worldliness of it makes it true to Katy Perry’s style. But the lyrics are beyond explicit. In just the snippet above, Perry asks alien Kanye to make her his victim and have sex with her. Not the most positive message to send out to young girls between ages 12 and and 15 listening to pop music.

It’s the same story as Akon’s “I Want to F**k You” – it doesn’t even hide behind a title. And society wonders why more than ever before girls in this age group are getting pregnant and becoming teen moms. It’s reminiscent of the scene in Mean Girls where Regina’s younger sister is watching Girls Gone Wild and starts pseudo-flashing the television.

The music landscape seems to have changed exponentially since I was a kid listening to the harmless lyrics of the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. Yes, those bands talked about love. They may have alluded to sex, but they never talked about it as brazenly. And those bands were considered just as sexy. They were just as teen heart-throbby as the bands that exist today without talking about getting laid every night.

So many aspects of pop culture today shove once-taboo subjects in our faces. In some ways, these messages can have negative impacts on an audience, but is raunchy music really that bad? 

Sex is a private act. Some religions still frown upon or prohibit birth control. Watching porn is secretive and still considered dirty or perverse. Having sex before marriage can be a deal breaker for families and future relationships. White is still the traditional color for a wedding dress to symbolize purity. Explicit music lyrics will not change any of this because they are ingrained elements of our culture.

But what explicit music lyrics can do is hurl these private topics into the limelight, making it more socially acceptable to talk about sex. Girls are now able to ask their moms and doctors about birth control without fear of shame. Boys using porn and age-appropriate magazines to explore their hormonal urges is joked about on TV. It’s easier for parents to talk to their kids frankly about healthy sex now than it was for previous generations because kids today are surrounded by it.

Talking about sex has lead to better and greater production of contraceptives. Condoms are more readily available and thus more widely used. More girls are comfortable visiting the OB-GYN and receive more frequent examinations. More couples are encouraged to and are comfortable going to get tested. Less STDs has never been considered a negative concept, and it’s not bound to become one anytime soon.

This is not to say that every lyric about sex, or lollipops or love pens standing in for penises, or girls asking to be screwed benefits society. Few songs that broach these subjects stay within the realm of breaking down a barrier of taboo topics without crossing the line into sound porn.

But maybe with more humans on earth and more people having sex at a younger age, there is a greater need for songs to get it on to. And if an Enrique Iglesias song about “loving” a girl tonight is going to overpower the sound of a couple getting it on in the room next to me, so be it.

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