Sexy rap videos suspected to be damaging to young girls

NEW YORK Tue Oct 16, 2007 6:18pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Watching rap music videos that are overly sexy and violent can lead to alcohol abuse and promiscuity among young black girls, according to a study into sexual stereotypes in rap music footage.

The research was based on a survey of 522 African-American girls aged 14 to 18 who were asked how often they watched rap videos, questioned about their sex lives and asked to provide a urine sample for a marijuana screening.

U.S. researchers found young black girls who spent more time watching rap music videos were more likely to binge drink, have sex with multiple partners, test positive for marijuana and have a negative body image.

"In rap music videos, the glamorized depictions of alcohol use are often portrayed in conjunction with sexual imagery and portrayals of drug use are often depicted as normal," wrote the researchers in a report appearing in the Journal of Women's Health.

The study comes amid a growing debate about lyrics in rap music, with activist Rev. Al Sharpton demanding the end of terms degrading to women such as "bitch" and "ho."

Legislation proposed in New York state calls for $3 billion in pension fund investments to be redirected away from music companies that distribute rap music with offending lyrics.

Researchers from the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory Center for AIDS Research, School of Medicine at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia and the University of Alabama, Birmingham, set out to see if the amount of exposure to sexual stereotypes linked to risky behaviors seen in these videos.

They said many psychosocial factors can adversely affect self-image, health status, and the likelihood of engaging in high-risk behaviors among young girls.

But one such factor is exposure to rap music videos, which often portray African-American women as hypersexual and amoral and include content related to violence, sexuality and drug and alcohol abuse.

The researchers studied rap music videos and found they often overemphasized women's sexualized and physical appearance and placed them as decorative objects rather than active agents in the videos.

Susan Kornstein, executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Women's Health, said the study did find an association.

"The findings from this study suggest that African-American girls' perceptions of stereotypical images of women in rap music videos may contribute to adverse health outcomes," Kornstein said in a statement.

The report, entitled "Images of Sexual Stereotypes in Rap Videos and the Health of African-American Female Adolescents," concluded that there was a need for greater awareness and education about the risks associated with this media exposure.

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