MUSIC PREFERENCE, PARENTAL MONITORING AND GENDER AS FACTORS IN ADOLESCENTS’ SEXUAL PERMISSIVENESS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Technological advancement and urbanization has turned the world into a global community.  This trend brought about social changes in the society and to our social lives. As a result of this, there is a tremendous increase in the level of neglect and breakdown of moral values, especially among adolescents. Today, sexual permissiveness has become a characteristic of the social life of adolescents such that it has raised a lot of concern about adolescents’ behaviours in connection with sexual matters.

Petigny (1965) defined sexual permissiveness as the freedom to take part in sexual activities which were previously considered unacceptable or freedom to view violent and sexually provocative materials including movies, music, art and literature. Hornby (2010) defined sexual permissiveness as allowing or showing a freedom of sexual behaviours and matters that many people do not approved of. On that note, one could simply define sexual permissiveness to be toleration of a wide variety of sexual behaviours and attitudes. It could also be defined as the granting or inclination to grant permission; tolerance or lenience towards sex or ideas of sex or to have sex.

High prevalence rate of sexual activities among adolescents is likely to lead to an increase in teenage pregnancy, school dropout, academic under achievement, abortions, unplanned motherhood and maternal mortality, as well as infection with sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Onyeonoru and Adeboyejo (2007) posit that sexual experiences are more common among adolescents and that the age of first sexual experience is declining. They stated that this could be because there is now a higher prevalence of adolescents experiencing early sexual activity. Most often, it happens that the society do frown at these adolescents due to the series of problems they face.

Eya (2001) defined adolescence as the period when the individual has fully developed sexual maturity and is getting ready to accept the roles and responsibilities of adulthood. Maria (2003) defined adolescence as a stage where impetuousness and feelings of invincibility take precedence over rational decision-making leading to heightened tendency for risk-taking and for sexual experimentation. Simultaneously, it is a period characterized by loosening parental control in response to the individual’s transition from childhood to adulthood (Maria, 2003).

Adolescents appreciate the beauty inherent in permissive sexual relationship and are likely to confuse permissive sexual relationship with sexual fantasies. The resultant effect of this is that sexual behaviours, such as dating, could lead to indiscriminate sexual activities and unwanted pregnancies.    Onyeonoru and Adeboyejo (2007) reported adolescent girls as having their first sexual experience at the age of 12 years while boys have theirs at 14 years. The earlier adolescents experience sexual activity the higher the rate of child bearing and risky sexual behaviour (Dangal, 2005). He also noted that these risks are magnified in the young adolescents who engage in sexual intercourse always. Early initiation could be a factor in sexual frequency and once established, high-risk sexual behaviours are difficult to modify. Adolescent age at first intercourse is related to expectation for adolescent’s independence. Adolescents who start intercourse early are more tolerant of deviant behaviours, are academically underachieved, and have low moral values (Dangal, 2005).

Miller, McCoy, Olson and Wallace (1986), as well as Thornton (1990) opined that adolescents who begin to date earlier have more sexual experiences, number of sexual partners, and more level of sexual activity during later teens. Some adolescents hold that sexual intercourse is always right whereas some believe that it is wrong (Miler, Christensen & Olson, 1987). Adolescents who believe that sexual intercourse is always right initiate sexual intercourse early, have many sexual partners and stand the chance of involving themselves in sexual risk problems (Miller, McCoy, Olson & Wallace, 1986; Thornton, 1990). Once contact is permitted and dating begins, one could observe adolescents undergoing sexual thought and sometimes are likely to express it in their actions (Miller, McCoy, Olson & Wallace, 1986; Thornton, 1990).

Music on the other hand, throughout history has been an important adjunct to ritual and drama and has been credited with the capacity to reflect and influence human emotion. Music plays an important role in the socialization of children and adolescents (Leming, 1987; Roe, 1985). Keke (2011) defined music as sound that is organized into socially accepted patterns which could be viewed as life, as well as aesthetics. Nwadigwe (2002) defined music as the auditory art that deals with the presentation of sound in a melodious and rhythmic sequence to entertainment and communication. Music is an art concerned with combing vocal or instrumental sounds expression, usually according to cultural standards of rhythm, melody and harmony. It has for millennium been made of cultural expression for humanity.

It is played everywhere, and can be obtained in various recording studios, market, through the radio, television, and the internet, thus allowing adolescents to hear it in diverse settings and situations, alone or shared with friends (Knobloch-Westerwick, Musto & Shaw, 2006; Robert, Foehr, Rideout & Generation, 2005). Many adolescents can access music freely through their GSM/mobile phone. In this modern era, through music, teens are inundated by messages that glamorize and magnify sex (Lackey & Moberg, 1998). They posit that music among other media intensified and popularized the notion of flirting, dating and a variety of sexual behaviours. Intimate relationships may develop from social activities such as dancing, singing and local drama sketches.

Listening to music is considered by society to be a part of growing up (Roberts & Christensen, 2001). Music provides entertainment and distraction from problems and serves as a way to relieve tension and boredom. Some studies have reported that adolescents use music to deal with loneliness and to take control of their emotional status or mood (North, Hargreaves & O’Neil, 2000; Robert & Christensen, 2001). Music also can provide a background for romance and serve as the basis for establishing relationships in diverse settings (Robert & Christensen, 2001). Adolescents use music in their process of identity formation (Knobloch-Westerwick, Musto & Shaw, 2006; North, Hargreaves & O’Neil, 2000) and their music preference provides them a means to achieve group identity and integration into the youth culture (Chapman & Williams, 1976; Clark, 1973; Diamond, Bermudez & Schensul, 2006; Reddick & Beresin, 2002; Rosenblum, Daniolos, Kass, & Martin, 1999).

Certain feelings and memories may be associated with kinds of music one listens to repeatedly. Music by its very melody, harmony, rhythm, generates different emotions in different people. Music is classified into two broad dimensions; secular (non religious) and sacred (religious) music.

Secular music is an umbrella term for all non-religious music. That is music that is not affiliated with any religious practice or tradition. The vast majority of music in this modern world is secular. In this study, secular music includes: Rap/Hip-hop music, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Reggae, Jazz, R ‘n’ B, Traditional/Folk, Highlife and Dance Hall/Party Jamz.

Secular music is particularized on love songs, dance and dramatic works and other forms of entertainment that are capable of arousing the sexual interest of adolescents and/or luring them to sex. This is because, sexual themes and messages are more common in much of this music ranging from romantic and playful to sexual talks and dressing. Adolescents are likely to copy and imitate negative attitudes and dress codes that are sexually provocative from these music themes and musicians. They learn jargons and erotic vocabularies that fill their brains with sexually provocative words and behaviours (Keke, 2011). The sexually explicit lyrics of some secular music may lure more adolescents to unrestricted sexual behaviour.

Musical lyrics have become more explicit in adolescent’s lives with reference to drugs, sex, and violence over the years (Knobloch-Westerwick, Musto & Shaw, 2006). Gentile (1999) posit that a content analysis of the top ten CDs performed by the National Institute on Media and the Family in 1999 revealed that each of these CDs included at least one song with sexual content. Forty-two percent of the songs on these CDs contained very explicit sexual content (Gentile, 1999). Lyrics of some music genres, such as rock, heavy metal, rap, and new emerging genres such as reggae, have been found to revolve around topics such as sexual promiscuity, death, homicide, suicide, and substance abuse (Diamond, Bermudez & Schensul, 2006; North & Hargreaves, 2006; Reddick & Beresin, 2002). Lyrically, music can be used as a medium for criticism, commendation, reflection, questioning, rebellion, and many other thoughts or emotions (Solomon, 2000). When the musical language is employed to relay these thoughts or emotions the result can be significant (Solomon, 2000). Music is an integral part of teens’ lives and popular music may be a factor in early sex (Martino, Collins, Elliott, Strachman, Kanouse & Berry, 2006).

This could be because the nature of the messages conveyed to adolescents by these types of music is usually unrealistic, inaccurate and misleading. Yet the rate at which they consume this class of music, and do often accept the information it conveys to be a reality is increasingly alarming. Adolescents are persuaded by what they hear through constant repetition. Whatever they allow to occupy their mind will sooner or later determine their speech and action. For instance, when the music that the adolescents find most appealing contains a barrage of encouragement  towards sex; like in this number by Mavin Gay “sexual healing”, Flavour “Na abania”, or 2 Face “ if love is a crime”, it is not surprising  that they are affected by it.

Apart from the emotional effect music (secular music in particular) has on adolescents today; there are also verifiable physiological effects, such as the increase of adrenaline in the bloodstream which makes the music physically addictive (Bell, 1993). Bell (1993) noted that some types of music cause the outpouring of sexual hormones when the volume of the music is high, which is practically the norm, especially in concerts and places for dancing. These physical repercussions also serve as indicators of the effect these music can have on the sexual life of adolescents. That is why Bass (2006) asserted that the teens who listen to explicit music end up engaging in the types of behaviours described in the lyrics.

In an African tradition/culture, traditional music, which is a type of secular music, should not be left out. It is very common in African/Nigerian tradition in particular. Traditional music according to the International Council of Traditional Music (ICTM) appears to encompass folk music. According to Forcucci (1984) folk music has been with us since the dawn of history. They are extensions of the term folklore, which was coined in 1846 by the English antiquarian, William Thomas, to describe the traditions, customs, and superstitions of the uncultured classes. These folk are sometimes identified as the rural or peasant people of a country (Nettl & Myers, 1976) although Rhodes (1966) believed that folk music exists in all classes of society. Sometimes the folk are considered a particular ethnic group or nationality (Nettl & Myers, 1976). According to Park (1967) folk music is part of a folk culture and the culture’s lore, including its ballads and stories which are passed down by word-of-mouth from generation to generation. Folk music is developed in isolated areas where there was limited outside contact (Malone, 1968). The people within these communities used it to preserve their traditional cultural values. Folk music includes most indigenous traditional music. In an African setting, and Nigeria in particular it is composed mostly of traditional instruments like gong, ekwe, clay pots, flute, drum. Examples include: “Atilogu”, “Ikorodo”, “Egedege”, “ Egwu ogene”, “Okwe”, “Jefte”., Akuko n’egwu”. Many adolescents on the bid to learn these music which is done mostly at night engage in sexual activities which results in pregnancy and its consequences.

Sacred music encompasses all forms of music that address the issue of ultimate reality. They deal with divinity, life here and now, life after death, morality, Word of God, etc. Examples of sacred music include Gospel highlife, praise worship, hymn, contemporary Gospel music, etc. Sacred music includes songs of testimony, persuasion, religious exhortation, or warning (Gold, 1958). The researcher is focusing on Christian sacred music. Sacred music, is music that is written to express personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, and as well give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. In this study, sacred music is that music which preaches the word of God. It focuses on religious or spiritual matters. Sacred music in general deals with religious (largely Christian) themes based on sacred texts and traditions. Like other forms of music, the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of sacred music varies according to culture and social context. It is composed and performed for many purposes, including; aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the market place. Sacred (religious) music, as observed by Pollick (2012) encompasses a number of subgenres, from the original Negro spirituals to the most contemporary Christian “praise and Worship” songs used in modern worship services. Sacred music evolved from two separate but influential paths: Caucasian religious hymnody and African-American traditional spirituals.

Sacred music has positive spiritual effect on adolescents, by uplifting their spirits in worship to God when they sing, listen to, and dance gospel music and biblical texts (Keke, 2011). Sacred music draws the mind away from material reality toward eternal realities. It has often been said that behaviour comes out of belief systems hence, it is expected that the more one listens to sacred/religious music, the more one is drawn to Gospel values, which tend to be conservative on sexuality. Religion plays an important role in individual’s sexuality as its principles, regulations and practices affect one’s everyday interactions.

Greenberg, Bruess and Haffrien (2000) opined that religious and spiritual beliefs influence feelings about morality, sexual behaviour, pre-marital sexual behaviour, adultery, divorce, contraception and abortion. Adolescents who take religion to be worthwhile have its positive impact on sexuality as assertiveness, postponement of age of first sexual experience, diminished pre-and post-marital sexual permissiveness, responsible relationship in marriage and parenthood. Adolescents who have no religious affiliation are most likely to initiate sex as teenager (Forste & Heaton, 1988), and those who belong to churches that promote abstinence are least likely to have sex (Miller & Olson, 1988). Religiosity, as indexed by frequency of church attendance and perceived importance of religion is associated with postponing intercourse; and so, adolescents who consume sacred music are likely to be less permissive to sex.

Parental monitoring (especially in traditional Nigerian society) is considered as one of the many variables of interest that may be a factor in adolescents’ sexual permissive behaviours. This is because all parents want their children to be upright, honest, kind and helpful to others, and will do their best to instill these qualities in their children.

Li, Stanton and Feigelman (2000) defined parental monitoring to include communication between child and parent (or guardian) and supervision of children in terms of knowing where they are, what they are doing and who their friends are. It is defined as the process of observing and supervising children’s activities and whereabouts (Dishion & McMahon, 1998) and requiring conformity to family and community norms (Amato & Fowler, 2002). Parents can play a vital role in helping adolescents develop the cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal skills necessary for them to assess appropriately the pleasures and dangers of sexuality so that they can make informed sexual choices and keep them safe and foster positive sexual self-concepts (Savin-Williams & Diamond, 2004). Nwafor (2007) also noted that adolescents who are in high parental involvement differ in their self concept.

Parental monitoring is the greater parental knowledge of the adolescent’s activities. Such knowledge may be a proxy, for parent-adolescent closeness and this reflects enhanced channels of communication of parental values and skills. The impact parent create on adolescents, is likely to influence their sexual life. Parents who supervise their adolescents in “a warm but demanding” way can reduce their adolescents’ risk of becoming sexually active or getting involved with alcohol and drugs (Li, Stanton & Feigelman, 1999).

Wright, Peterson and Barnes (1990) noted that the strength of peer influence on sexuality is mediated by parent-adolescent communication. Though adolescents may get information about sex from friends, schools and books, but parents are very influential, especially in their sexual attitudes. In addition, sexual permissiveness and intercourse are related to parental discipline and control. This is because adolescents who are closely monitored and/or supervised by their parents has low tendency of being sexually permissive; “the eyes of the hen protects her eggs”. Moreover, the elderly sibling’s sexual attitudes and behaviours may contribute to the adolescent’s sexual behaviours. If the elder siblings are sexually active, earlier sexual activity of the younger siblings may occur due to role modelling (East, Felice and Morgan, 1993). Jacobson and Crockett (2000) posit that parental monitoring is associated with postponing intercourse. Parental monitoring may restrict opportunities for casual sex in situations that adolescents cannot readily control although the effects of supervision on initiation of sexual behaviour may go beyond opportunity restriction. Limits on listening to secular music might influence adolescent’s values, partly by restricting exposure to sexually explicit content which is preventive of early sexual initiation and teenage pregnancy.

Generally, the type of family an adolescent came from as well influences the rate of his/her permissiveness to sex. Scholars who subscribe to the family control argument assert that two-parent families offer the greatest stability, supervision and control, with the result that adolescents delay sexual activities. Also, Coley, Mederros and Schindler (2008); and Sally (2009) have found that adolescents who frequently did things like eating dinner together as a family or engaging in fun activities or religious activities together were less likely to have sex, had fewer sexual partners, and had less unprotected sex. Family activities, as an aspect of parental monitoring, were centrally important support for adolescents, providing opportunities for emotional warmth, communication and transmission of values and beliefs. In addition, teens that lived with stepparents or in a single-parent household had notably higher levels of risky sex behaviour than teens that lived in stable and biological parent families (Sally, 2009).

Gender in this study refers to the fundamental physical and biological characteristics based distinction of human being into masculine and feminine. It is also considered as a variable of interest. According to Newcomer and Udry (1985), adolescent males are much more likely than adolescent females to report that they have engaged in sexual intercourse. This is because the adolescent females are more likely to consider the consequences of sexual intercourse like pregnancy and other social assaults. What the male is after is to satisfy that sexual urge he was having at that moment. That’s why Whitbeck, Hoyt, Miller and Kao (1992) pointed out that adolescent males are less inclined to consider affection a precursor to sexual intimacy than the adolescent females. Problems like unexpected pregnancy, social assault and other consequences make the female counterparts more likely to postpone sexual intercourse and are sexually less permissive than the males.

Although adolescent males and females hold different values concerning   sexuality, personal values and attitudes contribute directly to sexual expression for both (Plotnick, 1992). Sexual behaviour that contradicts personal values is associated with emotional distress and lower self-esteem; these values are likely to match local social norms (Miller, Christensen, & Olson, (1987). Adolescents who hold positive attitude about sexuality are likely to initiate sexual intercourse early, thereby facing the consequences of sexual risks.

Statement of the Problem

The consequences of sexual permissiveness may be far-reaching. This may include preoccupation with sex, which may hinder intellectual/cognitive development, early exposure to sex, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy, as well as emotional exuberance due to disappointment in sex-centred relationships. Music preference has long been cited as a factor that might influence adolescents’ sexual permissiveness. The amount and explicitness of sexual emotion and ideas on lyrics of some genre of music is seen to be increasing leading to fears that this, despite the gender and without close parental monitoring, may be encouraging adolescents to engage in unsafe sexual behaviours and/or to begin sexual activities at an earlier age.  This study will specifically attempt to provide answers to the following questions:

 

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