Could the representations of sex in music be harmful?

Sex in music can have its pros and cons, but can its representation create harm?

Amelie Baker
13th February 2023
Sex and music - whilst explicit songs definitely make for awkward listening with the parents, does this have further implications for how we view sex?

Like any form of media, music can choose to present sex as and how they wish, which usually leans towards the negative. Sex is complicated to say the least, and is further complicated by the invasion of wider patriarchal and heteronormative discourse - hurtful ideologies which are often reproduced within the media, and, therefore, music. For example, a common theme in many music genres is the presentation of sex as a kind of conquest, a lifestyle wherein the more women you shag, the more successful and masculine you are.

Indeed, to quote Post Malone, “I’ve been fucking hoes and popping pillies, man I feel just like a rockstar”, summarises this harmful attitude towards sex and female bodies as symbols of success; commodities to achieve the ultimate ‘rockstar’ status. This sort of ideology is made ever more dangerous by music’s constant presence within our lives; is this really the sort of representation that we want speaking directly into our ears?

Credit: YouTube

However, that being said, music can also be used to actively counter these harmful representations of sex that position women as passive objects, and completely sidelines non-hetero sex. There are now many artists out there breaking this stereotypical attitude towards sex, and using the medium of music to start normalising sex as an act of self-love, an expression of love of others, as well as recognising and exposing the negative and controlling stereotypes that surround sex. 

It all depends on the choice of the artist: to reproduce society's detrimental approaches to sex or to fight against it

Whilst music can express damaging attitudes towards sex, it also has the power to counteract this and invite new outlooks of sex into our everyday lives, enabling the normalisation of sexual aspects that have previously been demonised and condemned. It all depends on the choice of the artist: to reproduce society’s detrimental approaches to sex or to fight against it.

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