Sexuality and Culture

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 79–97 | Cite as

“What’s your definition of dirty, baby?”: Sex in music video

  • Julie Andsager
  • Kimberly Roe


As sexuality in music video becomes more intense and more frequent, it requires more attention by scholars. This essay summarizes the findings of two decades’ worth of research on music video, most of which focuses on sexual and violent content in the videos. In addition, we suggest a typology of how sexuality is indicated and used by artists—especially female artists—to define their images and attract audiences.


Sexual Attitude Female Character African American Adolescent Music Video Sexual Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderman, J. (2002, October 29). Aguilera sells “Dirty” image, but will her fans buy it? Boston Globe, p. C1.Google Scholar
  2. Andsager, J. L. (1999). Contradictions in the country: Rituals of sexual subordination and strength in music video. In M. G. Carstarphen and S. C. Zavoina (Eds.), Sexual rhetoric: Media perspectives on sexuality, gender, and identity (pp. 224–237). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  3. Andsager, J. L., & Roe, K. (1999, winter). Country music video in country’s year of the woman. Journal of Communication, 49, 69–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aufderheide, P. (1986, winter). Music videos: The look of the sound. Journal of Communication, 36, 57–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baxter, R. L., De Riemer, C., Landini, A., Leslie, L., & Singletary, M. W. (1985). A content analysis of music videos. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 29, 333–340.Google Scholar
  6. Bennett, H. S., & Ferrell, J. (1987). Music videos and epistemic socialization. Youth & Society, 18, 344–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boucher, G. (1999, May 6). The Twain have met in Shania: A country contradiction, the singer sounds and sells like pop. Los Angeles Times, p. 6.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, J. D., & Schulze, L. (1990, spring). The effects of race, gender, and fandom on audience interpretations of Madonna’s music videos. Journal of Communication, 40, 88–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Calfin, M. S., Carroll, J. L., & Shmidt, Jr., J. (1993). Viewing music-videotapes before taking a test of premarital sexual attitudes. Psychological Reports, 72, 475–481.Google Scholar
  10. Carey, J. T. (1969). Changing courtship patterns in the popular song. American Journal of Sociology, 74, 720–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Garrity, B. (2002, October 19). Web premieres log on as key marketing tool. Billboard, p. 168.Google Scholar
  12. Greeson, L. E., & Williams, R. A. (1986, December). Social implications of music videos for youth: An analysis of the content and effects of MTV. Youth & Society, 18, 177–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gundersen, E. (1987, June 3). Radio stations shy away from “Sex.” USA Today, p. 1D.Google Scholar
  14. Hansen, C. H., & Hansen, R. D. (1988). How rock music videos can change what is seen when boy meets girl: Priming stereotypic appraisal of social interactions. Sex Roles, 19, 287–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hansen, C. H., & Hansen, R. D. (1990, April). The influence of sex and violence on the appeal of rock videos. Communication Research, 17, 212–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hardware (2003). Accessed May 28, 2003.Google Scholar
  17. Johnson, J. D., Adams, M. S., Ashburn, L., & Reed, W. (1995). Differential gender effects of exposure to rap music on African American adolescents’ acceptance of teen dating violence. Sex Roles, 33, 597–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnson, K. C. (2002, August 11). Child stardom: It’s a rare Stevie who can shed a “little” and survive. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. F1.Google Scholar
  19. Jones, S. (1989, winter). Cohesive but not coherent: Music videos, narrative and culture. Popular Music and Society, 12, 15–30.Google Scholar
  20. Kalof, L. (1999). The effects of gender and music video imagery on sexual attitudes. The Journal of Social Psychology, 139, 378–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Leming, J. S. (1987). Rock music and the socialization of moral values in early adolescence. Youth & Society, 18, 363–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Longino, M. (2000, October 1). Nashville’s makeover. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, p. L1.Google Scholar
  23. Lynch, C. (2001, April). Ritual transformation through Michael Jackson’s music video. The Journal of Communication Inquiry, 25, 114–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McKee, K. B., & Pardun, C. J. (1999). Reading the video: A qualitative study of religious images in music videos. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 43, 110–122.Google Scholar
  25. Pardun, C. J., & McKee, K. B. (1995). Strange bedfellows: Symbols of religion and sexuality on MTV. Youth & Society, 26, 438–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Peterson-Lewis, S., & Chennault, S. A. (1986, winter). Black artists’ music videos: Three success strategies. Journal of Communication, 36, 107–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rich, M., Woods, E. R., Goodman, E., Emans, S. J., & DuRant, R. H. (1998). Aggressors or victims: Gender and race in music video violence. Pediatrics, 101, 669–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Roberts, R. (1991, fall). Music videos, performance, and resistance: Feminist rappers. Journal of Popular Culture, 25, 141–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Segal, D. (2001, August 1). Arrested development: At 20, the music channel refuses to grow up. The Washington Post, p. C1.Google Scholar
  30. Seidman, S. A. (1993). An investigation of sex-role stereotying in music videos. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 36, 209–216.Google Scholar
  31. Signorielli, N., McLeod, D., & Healy, E. (1993). Gender stereotypes in MTV commercials: The beat goes on. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 37, 91–101.Google Scholar
  32. Singletary, M. W. (1983). Some perceptions of the lyrics of three types of recorded music: Rock, country and soul. Popular Music and Society, 9, 51–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Smith, S. L., Nathanson, A. I., & Wilson, B. J. (2002, March). Violence in music videos: Examining the prevalence and context of physical aggression. Journal of Communication, 52, 61–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sommers-Flanagan, R., Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Davis, B. (1993). What’s happening on Music Television? A gender role content analysis. Sex Roles, 28, 745–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Strouse, J. S., Buerkel-Rothfuss, N., & Long, E. C. J. (1995). Gender and family as moderators of the relationship between music video exposure and adolescent sexual permissiveness. Adolescence, 30, 505–517.Google Scholar
  36. Tapper, J., Thorson, E., & Black, D. (1994). Variations in music videos as a function of their musical genre. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 38, 103–113.Google Scholar
  37. Toney, G. T., & Weaver, III, J. B. (1994). Effects of gender and gender role self-perceptions on affective reactions to rock music videos. Sex Roles, 30, 567–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie Andsager
    • 1
  • Kimberly Roe
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Journalism and Mass CommunicationUniversity of IowaIowa City

Personalised recommendations