I believe music is a good way to communicate issues to students that they might not be aware of that they are engaging with every day and engage them with sex education issues indirectly through a medium that they are comfortable with, in order to foster a safe space where they might feel more open to discussion and dialogue. In this way, teachers are able to provide students with an opportunity to cast a critical eye over the issues presented in the songs. In terms of sex education, it is possible for teachers to introduce the topics of consent, legal issues concerning consent, sexism, and misogyny/misandry. Teachers can then use popular culture songs to have students analyze them for elements of these issues. In their analysis, students should be able to distinguish consensual experiences from non-consensual experiences. They can also discuss drug and alcohol use in songs where sexually explicit lyrics are present, and then question consent in each scenario, as well as any legal issues that would arise.
In addition, teachers can also have students look at each song for the presence of sexism and/or misogyny/misandry. I find in all the songs I analyzed for this project, men were always shown to be of masculine variety, while women were feminine, often submissive to the desires of the men, or otherwise stripped of their dignity. The rare exception is Nicki Minaj in her “Anaconda” when she denies Drake touching her; however, she is still depicted as an object for his pleasure. Sexual objectification is also present in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” as the women are walking around being instructed in how to be “good girls.” Similarly, in Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch,” four professionally-dressed women are drugged and caged while five men dressed in monkey suits dance around them, remarking that “we’ll do it like they do on the discovery channel,” despite in no way having gained these women’s consent. Of course, these are just examples, and students may in fact be able to find parodies of these songs, such as this one of Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”:
This example was designed to show how ridiculous the original is in its treatment of women, and the lyrics are very provoking (in a good way), but in doing so in just as ridiculous a way, I am of the opinion that it becomes kind of hypocritical, and therefore loses some of its credibility. These are all things students might expect to analyze and look for in a music-based module of a sex education class.
Students might even get the opportunity to create their own music videos in a sex education class. This falls right in line with artwork or art analysis in any class. Art gives students a great way to experience different cultures in an authentic way, as does music. For example, in his 2016 song “Ganz unten,” German rapper Sido describes life for German-Iranians in Germany. He explains that “vom wo wir kommen ist ganz unten,” meaning “from where we come is far below” (my own translation). He is speaking of how hard it is to grow up in another country appearing non-white. This song gives students an authentic look at German culture, especially from the perspective of immigrants and how they are seen from the perspective of the dominant culture. This type of song could even be used in a sex education class to demonstrate an interdisciplinary critical analysis of dominant cultures vs. subcultures, as well as make comparisons in a sex education context. For example, consider LGBTQ culture vs. the dominant culture. Depending on the geographical context, this relationship could be quite different. For example, all the songs I analyzed were written by North American artists, in countries that are (reasonably, recently) progressive in their attitudes toward minorities and subculture groups. However, teachers should take into account that different countries around the world could have a different official perspective when it comes to such issues such as (for example) homosexuality and women’s rights. The possibilities are endless, and there are so many connections teachers could make while incorporating music into their sex education material.