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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers: Study Examines Condom Messaging in Hip Hop and Rap Music, 1991-2017

A recent Rutgers School of Public Health study found that mentions of condom use operate within and reinforce the misogynistic norms of the music industry.

Dr. Marybec Griffin, from the Department of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy at the Rutgers School of Public Health, along with colleague Dr. Adele Fournet from the Department of Music at New York University, conducted a lyric analysis of all tracks in the top ten albums between 1991 and 2017, as listed on the Billboard US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums Year End Charts. Of the 3,732 songs analyzed, 1,171 songs contained sexually explicit messages and 98 songs had mentions of condom use. Since 2010, sexually explicit messages have increased in rap music.

The study builds on the growing feminist critique of gender inequality and misogyny in the music industry from a public health standpoint. The study also expands on the analysis of the role of popular culture in understanding sexual attitudes and behaviors of youth.

Findings revealed that even when promoting condom use, the lyrics do so in a misogynistic framework. Additionally, the researchers found that condom use was promoted as an indicator of masculinity, while simultaneously asserting female sex partners as untrustworthy. The findings indicate a cultural climate in which there is lengthy subordination of female sexual agency even with a safe-sex practice like condom use.

“Our analysis contributes to the available literature on media messaging and condom use,” said Dr. Griffin. “Analyzing this messaging is important because condom use is widely advertised in pop culture and adolescents are particularly susceptible to values depicted in mass-media messaging,”

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