Effect of Rap and Hip Hop on Women Juvenile Delinquents

Literature Review

This chapter provides a review of the literature dedicated to the study of delinquent behavior among female juveniles. The influence of hip hop on deviational conduct of teenage girls has yet to be thoroughly examined there are many books and scholarly articles that can immensely contribute to understanding of this issue. In order to get deeper insights into this problem, it is necessary to discuss the peculiarities of this particular age group and pay close attention to various social and psychological theories, explaining the development of adolescents. Furthermore, it is of the crucial importance to discuss detrimental impacts of mass media, popular culture and particularly hip on growing juvenile girls. This section will focus on such aspects as representation of both sexes in rap music, objectification of women, and promotion of violence. On the whole, this question has been a subject of heated debate among many sociologists, psychologists and criminologists, this specific area of research has not been fully explored.

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General characteristics of adolescence

The knowledge of adolescence is essential for this research because uncovers the causes of many problems that teenagers have to face. This is the transitional during which social and cultural identity of a person is formed. Many scholars argue that this period is marked by rapid and significant altitudinal changes towards the reality. According to Benjamin B. Wolman, the most crucial feature is increased susceptibility to external environment which can be either positive or negative (1998). This partially explains why popular culture (including rap) enjoys such an enormous popularity among adolescents. Additionally, Benjamin Wolman argues that during that period, practically all adolescents (irrespective of their age) attempt to rebel against their parents and try to do everything that may contradict the principles of the older generation (1998, p 86). The author does not connect adolescence with various subcultures; however, his ideas are of great assistance because they show that growing interest in hip hop is just an effort to appear more original.

During this period the perception of ones own self is shaped, and unfortunately, the tendency to deviation may also be implanted at this age. The results of the study conducted by Johannes Landsheer and van Dijkum show that very often juvenile delinquency is bound to grow into constant delinquency (2005, p 731). Moreover, the crime rate among teenage girls has significantly risen over the last two decades. The researchers believe that this increase can be attributed a large number of factors and one of them is the adverse influence of popular culture. This research is important because it proves that delinquency among juvenile females has become of the most urgent problems in modern society.

Sociologists and psychologists have not determined which of the sexes is more responsive to external environment. Nonetheless, there is evidence suggesting that females are much more attentive to the new tendencies in culture. David DuBois et al claim that in the vast majority of cases girls establish much higher standards of self-assessment (DuBois et al, 2000, p 17). However, they often fail to notice that these standards are usually set by other people or popular icons to be more exact. They try to emulate every pattern of their behavior forgetting that occasionally this may prove perilous for them. Naturally, one cannot state that these data is conclusive because it is rather difficult to grade the impact of mass media especially by means of quantitative methods.

Usually, pubescent age is subdivided into three stages: early; middle, and late periods. The exposure to harmful external environment for instance, rap is most dangerous at the intermediary phase. During it teenagers develop their concepts about ethical principles, moral and immoral actions. Psychologists believe that at this age female juveniles are more concerned with their sexuality and they judge mostly by the criteria established by mass media (Wolman, 1998). However, these criteria may frequently be false. This is just general survey, which aims to show that due their age teenagers (both girls and boys) are immensely exposed to outward risks. As it has been previously noted their conduct or misconduct is motivated by desire to contradict their parents (or older generation) and their tendency to imitate what they perceive through media. The second section of literature review will compare various theories of adolescent development to demonstrate the evolvement of a persons character and the factors that contribute to this process.

Theories of adolescent development

In the field of developmental psychology there are various approaches and theories that are supposed to explain and describe the formation of an individuals character and intelligence. As a rule scholars single out the following ones: Eric Ericsons Theory of Psychosocial, Brofenbrenners ecological systems theory, the theory of cultural identity, and socialization. Naturally, this list is far from being complete; however, the above-mentioned approaches are believed to be most comprehensive ones. They may help to explain how hip hop can impact juveniles.

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Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Stages

According to Eric Ericson, the individual’s growth throughout his or her lifetime is fraught with conflicts and crises. At each life stage, there emerges a dilemma that the person struggles with and the choice made the individual leaves a trace in the character. Crisis, in Eriksonian terms, should not be interpreted as threat of catastrophe but a crucial turning point when the personal traits are molded. In fact he has to choose between two options, for instance trust or mistrust, intimacy or isolation, autonomy and independence or doubt etc (Erikson, 1968). At these turning points an individual may either resolve the conflict or fail to master the developmental task. Whatever comes out of it is the result of decisions taken at each stage.

As a way to deal with a child’s upbringing, Erikson claims that people all over the world have the tendency to introduce to the child the senses of shame, doubt, guilt and fear. These build up the crises the child and subsequently adolescent undergoes in each life stage. However, such conflicts are seen as important because the individual needs to resolve them unceasingly to remain psychologically alive (Erikson, 1959). Thus, his ego integrity is sustained.

Ericson believes that adolescence is the fifth stage at which a person has to resolve the conflict identity and identity diffusion. In other words, the teenager has to decide whether it is better for him or her to act self-sufficiently and judge for oneself or to conform to the demands and standards set by other people. Adolescence is the time of transition between childhood and adulthood; it becomes a challenging time of testing limits, gaining more independence and establishing a new identity. There surfaces the need to clarify self-identity, life goals and life’s meaning, and failure to achieve a sense of identity results in role confusion (Erikson, 1963). Thus, Erikson states during the period of adolescence people determine the role which they want to play in the society; they assess their strengths and weaknesses and the coherence of their past, present with future life experiences (Waterman, 1988).

In order for adolescents to experience wholeness, they must feel the fluid and progressive continuity of their childhood towards his anticipated future. Lloyd (2002) concludes that while constructing their own identities, they constantly seek information about themselves from others within specific contexts. Peer interaction becomes a necessary involvement as the adolescent transitions from accepting his or her parents’ views into exploring his peers’ views and eventually coming up with his or her view of the self. Judging from that one can suppose that popular culture (and hip hop as its constituent part) act as such source of information; popular culture gives examples of behavioral patterns, it determines moral values and principles of the adolescence. Ericson claims to that some people often prefer conformity to self-sufficiency therefore they are almost bound to adopt everything that mass media can impose on them. This rule is quite applicable to violence, brutality, sexual promiscuity, drug use that are constantly being promoting by rap songs and videos. Ericsons theory of psychosocial stages confirms the hypothesis that hip hop may transform into a guide for the growing generation and this only aggravates the situation.

Brofenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

Another approach, which is quite popular among many scholars, is Brofenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory. Urie Bronfenbrenner describes the behavior and development of an individual as an interplay of the persons biological and personality factors, his private environment and the society and culture he was born into. He also claims that effects of interactions between the individual and the environment are two-directional or characterized by reciprocity. This means that while a person’s development is influenced and molded by his family, school and peers, he likewise influences and molds the behavior of others (1978). The growing child moves through five systems that inter-relate and affect his or her development.

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The most important element of an individuals environment is microsystem (family, friends, school, classmates etc). Direct contacts between the adolescent and his immediate surroundings result in behaviors such as dependence or independence and cooperation or competition. At this level, mass media cannot directly affect a child or adolescent, however, popular culture affects his or her parents thus there is a great likelihood that the juvenile will imitate the conduct of his parents. The second element or even level of environment is mesosystem, which comprises the linkages and processes that take place between two or more settings such as school and family, peer and school and so forth. In other words, an adolescent may adopt some principles and moral values from school and peers and this can immensely change their relations with other family members. Parents become aware of these changes only when they learn that their off spring assumes a disrespectful and defiant attitude towards mother and father. Muuss (1988) gives an example of an “impoverished mesosystem” wherein parents are not familiar with their adolescent child’s peer group and this later gives rise to a great cumber of problems, which they may have with their teenage son or daughter. Bronfenbrenner also notes that substantial changes in any of microsystems often necessitate an “ecological transition” within the mesosystem, such as when children move from junior high school to high school. (Muuss, 1988).

The third level which comprises linkages and processes taking place between two or more settings is the exosystem. This includes at least one setting that does not directly involve the child, but still influences the processes within the immediate setting of the child. An example is the parent’s occupation. The workplace of this parent may seem of no relevance to the child, but any changes at work may affect his development such as the hours spent there by the parent may influence the parent-child bond. The fourth system is the macrosystem which includes the customs, values and laws considered important in the child’s culture and upbringing. A peer or friend belonging to a different culture may celebrate special customs and traditions peculiar to host country. Mass media and popular culture may affect him or her through this channel and their explicit and concealed messages are most likely to manifest themselves in the juveniles behavior. In this case, much will depend upon parents who may or may shield child or adolescent from harmful influence of television, Internet or radio. The fifth and final element of environment is chronosystem; it refers to the time that transpires as the child relates in his various environments. An example is the change that happens to the child while he grows up moving from one system to another, like the westernization of the values of an adolescent, originally from an Asian culture.

This ecological model implies that the interplay and quality of the various systems and environments of the child will play different roles in influencing his development. In turn, the teenager will also change them. For example, if he or she starts smoking and is reluctant to break out of this habit, his parents will eventually comply with it. Bronfenbrenners theory of ecological system is of great assistance in the discussion of hip hop and rap, because it demonstrates those channels through which negative messages of rap songs and videos can enter the inner world of a teenager. In addition to that, one should not focus only on mass media because parents, school and peers may as well implant very dangerous habits.

The theory of cultural identity

The effects of hip hop and rap should also be discussed in connection with the theory of cultural identity. There are many scholars who advocate this approach to in developmental psychology. One of them is Jean Phinney who examines the formation of cultural identity and the stages of this process. There are many definitions of this notions, though in general, it can be interpreted as a sense of belonging to a particular group of people, who share common language, social status, moral values, etc (Hall et al, 1998). It is utterly impossible to develop this sense of belonging unless a person manages to find the ties that can connect him to this group. If this common denominators or ties are found the person has to display commitment to this group, and this can be done in several ways, for instance, by sharing similar artistic tastes. In her study, Jean Phinney does not focus on hip hop in particular; however, she believes that the ties, linking a person to a particular culture may eventually grow into bondage (Phinney, 2004). This means that even if an adolescent dislikes some musical style or cinematographic work, he may simply be afraid to say it. It should be also pointed out that a juvenile may find it rather difficult to balance between ones own likings and disliking and those of cultural group. One can observe a very curious paradox: on the one hand, cultural identity empowers an adolescent or gives an illusion of strengths but on the other hand, it deprives him or her virtually of all independence, and ability to think and judge, and this is most dangerous thing. In their book Questions of Cultural Identity, Stuart Hall and Paul Du Gay say that this feeling is essential for every individual, and to some extent everyone is dependent upon it, but there are for those people who are unable to discriminate (adolescence in particular) this dependence may prove perilous (1998). Similar case can be observed in rap. It gives many teenagers a false impression of strength; this includes practically every ethnic group living in the United States. As regards music, the authors maintain that this kind of art reflects the tendencies emerging in society; moreover, music gives insights into ethical standards, established in this community (1998, p 108). Judging from this premise, hip hop culture is the evidence of gradual degradation of young people. The theory of cultural identity should be used by sociologists and psychologists in order to explain the popularity of emerging sub-cultural movements like rap.

Socialization Theory

The theory of cultural identity is closely intertwined with socialization or the process of learning appropriate in a specific community. Emile Durkheim is one of the most famous adherents of this hypothesis. His studies are mostly dedicated to deviational behavior and its origins. His overarching thesis is that delinquency it itself is predominantly social phenomenon; most importantly crime is a response or outcome to those dangerous tendencies, which arise in the community (Durkheim, 1995). They can be identified only examining the agents of socialization. They are parents and closest relatives, educational institutions, friends or peers and undoubtedly mass media (Grusec et al, 2006). To some degree, socialization theory is reminiscent to Bronfenbrenners ecological systems because these agents of socialization constitute the environment of an individual. An adolescent can be exposed to adverse influence of popular culture practically by all these agents. Socialization can be regarded as the process of constant learning; at this point it is vital to determine who performs the functions of a teacher, if these functions are fulfilled by media, the results might be catastrophic. In the book, Jean Grusek and Paul Hastings show that in modern society, mass media have almost achieved superiority over educational institutions and parents. In part, this is the reason why modern trends in popular culture (including music, cinema etc) enjoy such demand and popularity.

To conclude, in this section theories of development have been analyzed; all of them indicate that the influence of mass media may be immense and that there are various channels through which the individual may be affected. At this moment, it is vital to review the literature, dedicated to the study of mass communications and interactions between an individual and media.

The impact of mass media on adolescents

General characteristics

The impacts of mass media on public opinion and adolescents in particular have been a subject of thorough sociological, psychological and criminological analysis. There is no consensus among scientists whether this influence is beneficial or harmful. Mass media have been imbued with the power to shape impressions and conceptions of normal behavior in given situations since it is the primary source of information about events and places that the audience may have very limited knowledge of. It has earned such power because a certain level of validity is imparted when reporting information (Davis & Bacon, 1981). An example of this influence is the argument of social critics that from watching violence on television, children learn that aggressive behavior is an acceptable, if not normal means of resolving conflicts (Donnerstein & Smith, 1997). Social learning theories are concerned that children imitate violent behaviors such children are exposed to (Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1963). It has also been argued and documented that television viewing patterns are predictive of an individual’s attitudinal and behavior patterns (Bushman & Anderson, 2001; Drabman &Thomas, 1975; Fowles & Horner, 1975). However, there are some scholars like Klapper (1960) who believe that mass media’s impact hinders rather than promotes societal or individual behavior changes.

Furthermore, the mechanisms of this influence have not been fully described. Nevertheless, there are several theories, which may throw light on this issue. Initially researchers regarded the first theory of mass communication as the “Instinctive Stimulus-Response (S-R) theory” as the most comprehensive and logical one. (Katz & Lazarsfeld, 1960) It was believed that media simply provided the stimulus via messages directly sent to its audience, and the masses received and obeyed them. At the time, the S-R theory was accepted as provable and consistent with both psychological and sociological theories of the period (Lloyd, 2002). Yet, the major drawback of S-R approach is the failure to account for indirect messages, which might be transmitted through other people. With time passing, changes in psychological and sociological beliefs took place and approaches to mass communication evolved as well. New thinking endorsed the belief that individuals have become selective about the type of information processed. They attend to messages which are consistent with preexisting attitudes and beliefs which support their own personal values (De Fleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1975).

Lloyd (2002) proposes the so-called Adolescent Identity, Media, and Sociocognitive Schema (AIMSS). He contends that the impact of media may be magnified during adolescence, especially if the adolescent is exposed to media images and these are discussed and socially reinforced. Such influences affect cognitive and behavioral processes which eventually contribute to the adolescent’s social competence. Media, specifically internet, television and music videos may serve as opportunities for the adolescent to identify cues for social behavior among his peer group as well as cognitively rehearse his how he would deal with certain social interactions (Lloyd, 2002). Devices of mass media offer opportunities for learning a whole spectrum of socio-cultural behaviors and practicing them mentally without risking peer rejection.

Self-concept is believed to be developed through interactions with significant others or intimate partners. This is a principle taken from the Symbolic Interactionist Theory of Cooley & Mead (Cooley, 1902). These proponents studied the influence of repeated images on developing individuals from people closely and frequently involved with him or her. This theory explains the relationship between individuals in a society and establishes ways for new members to join a certain culture. This would involve communication which is important in the process (Mead, 1934), especially the role of language and symbols which would represent culturally defined meanings (Newton & Buck, 1985). Such symbols and images, observed in their surroundings, are internalized by individuals. As media influences coming from various sources propagate, the messages received by an individual may or may not agree with his or her own family or cultural values.

The concept of “significant other” (Cooley, 1902) may be one way to view an adolescent’s identity formation. To him, peers become very significant to him as indicated in Erikson’s Psychosocial Development theory (1963). However, significant others may include music videos and interactive gaming and internet chat rooms. Lloyd (2002) posits some messages received via mass media are internalized. This means that the person views them as acceptable in terms of logic and ethics.

Integrating the theory of Lloyd’s Adolescent Identity, Media, and Sociocognitive Schema (AIMSS) to an adolescent watching a music video, the analysis is thus: Watching the music video is likely to affect the adolescent’s social competence in the formation of his identity. While watching, he undergoes cognitive processes of identity exploration being exposed to the video. The video serves as a spring board for him to try out different possible “selves” while simultaneously thinking how his significant others would interpret the video and ascribe various meanings of the video through their eyes. An adolescent’s perception of significant others encompass his or her standing with peers, certain tensions in a school context, family dynamics and membership in a group (Lloyd, 2002).

To illustrate the process of the development of sociocognitive schemas, a typical adolescent’s experience is analyzed. He, who may be in the “conformist stage” of ego development (Loevinger, 1990) watches a music video. He interacts with the video images like with that of any important “significant other”, seeing things in terms of social acceptance and belonging and cognitively associating behaviors with the group. Initially, he interacts with the medium cognitively and eventually, he determines the attitudes and behaviors observed in the video that are most valued within peer group culture he is most familiar with (Lloyd, 2002).

Lloyd states that the adolescent’s sociocognitive schema is refined through social interactions with peers providing him important socialization messages (2002). His need to learn about himself from others makes music videos or other media formats essential for understanding of adolescent identity formation in terms of peer relationships. The following section of literature review will provide closer examinations of mass communication theories.

Theories of mass communication

Schema Theory

The concept of schema has been actively used by psychologists and sociologists since the time of Jean Piaget. Overall, it can be defined as the framework which organizes the memory of a person and defines his or her assessment of new data. Schemas make attention of an individual very selective, which means that an adolescent can subconsciously disregard some facts even if they are obvious to others. Schema is predominantly based on previous experience, however, very often it takes its origins in stereotypes, prejudices and conventions that an individual (or juvenile) may held. Schema is both objective and perceived knowledge of reality. This is a mental construct for understanding and evaluation of reality (Harris, 2004). Educators argue that the importance of schema must not be underestimated because it is essential for learning; every text, audio message, visual image may be comprehended only with the help of background knowledge (McVee et al, p 533). A research, conducted by Roger Shank and Robert Abelson suggests that this background knowledge frequently distorts individuals perception of reality. The thing is that he or she relies on previous experience and expects something to be seen or heard (1977). The theory finds its application in mass communications. The messages that adolescents can receive via television or radio are well-designed and oriented toward certain layers of society. The major audience of rap songs and videos is adolescents. At this age, their background knowledge is neither diverse nor deep, which means that they take much for granted. This makes them extremely susceptible to many negative messages such as propaganda of drugs, prostitution, violent means of resolving problems and so forth.

Additionally, the messages transmitted by mass media soon transform into schemas, though in fact, they are just opinionated beliefs imposed by other people. With the help of schema theory, scholars can describe how the ideas, expressed in hip hop music, become life-long convictions. This correlation has not been examined and it seems that such research may contribute to understanding of this problem.

Objectification Theory

Mass media and popular culture also change persons perception of oneself. Such psychologists as Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) propose objectification theory which explains how a female internalizes an observer’s view to be the primary view of her physical self. Such a view leads her to habitually monitor her body and how she looks which, in turn, increases her shame and anxiety, failure to reach motivational peak states and diminish her awareness of her internal bodily states. Usually, this stems from sexualized gazing at another person which gradually transforms to sexual objectification. This occurs whenever a woman or occasionally man’s body or body parts become seen as objects of desire, separating it from her person and reduced to mere instruments or representations of her (Bartky, 1990). In such case, an objectified woman is treated as a mere body, an object that exists just for the use and pleasure of others. Although it may sound rather cynically she is reduced to material object, which is entirely deprived of any spirituality. Being desensitized to it, objectification functions socialize girls and women to likewise treat themselves as objects to be looked at and constantly evaluated which unnerves them to anxiously monitor their looks all the time (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). This self-objectification leads to self-consciousness and body monitoring in various degrees depending on the level of self-objectification of the woman.

Women become extremely sensitive to the opinion of other people especially if they are aware of their sexuality or attractiveness. Studies have shown that bodily image may be a determinant of her life expectations. Physical attractiveness seems to matter more to females than to males. Women deemed unattractive by their co workers are described more negatively and given less regard than comparatively unattractive men (Bar-Tar & Saxe, 1976; Cash, Gillen & Burns, 1977; Wallston & O’Leary, 1981). Nonetheless, it does not mean that males are resistant to self-objectification, as many of them are concerned solely with their appearance. Naturally, women are more inclined to behave in such way. Physical attractiveness is more highly correlated with popularity, dating experience and marriage opportunities for women than for men (Berscheid, Dion, Walster & Walster, 1971; Margolin & White, 1987). Objectification is the underlying cause of those stresses which women have to cope with because media set standards of physical attractiveness and females who do not meet them, may suffer from inferiority complex or even depression.

Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) mark out several psychological and experiential consequences of objectification. The first is the emotion of shame. This may be caused by not coming up to par when one compares herself to another and negatively evaluates the totality of her person instead of just the specific detail that comes short of her perceived standard or her specific action (Lewis, 1971). In other words, such physical drawback or disease as overweight is viewed as sufficient ground for depression. Such people may even deem themselves to be worthless. Another cause of shame is constant attention of others. This stimulates intensive self-evaluation, as she constantly pays attention to what others think while gazing at her (Darwin, 1872/ 1965). Thus, shame results from the combination of negative self-evaluation and the potential for social exposure. Certainly, one cannot presume that physical attractiveness should be entirely ignored but it must not be the topmost priority in the life of a person.

Another consequence of objectification is anxiety. It falls into two kinds: appearance anxiety and safety anxiety. Women experience more anxiety about their appearance than men (Dion, Dion & Keelan, 1990). This may have roots in childhood, if they have been negatively teased about their looks and compounded by the bombardment of beauty standards advocated by fashion. This may add to the anxiety as women try to conform to fashion trends while being aware of its exposure of some body parts that she now needs to regularly monitor. She is constantly in a dilemma balancing showing enough “skin” that would reflect her fashion sense, and feeling comfortable in what she wears (Dion, Dion & Keelan, 1990). The other kind of anxiety concentrates on her safety. She becomes anxious of threats to her safety and security, most especially the threat of rape. It has been studied that rapists often put the blame of their misdeed to the victim who looked as if she “asked for it” (Beneke, 1982). This shows that sexual objectification is a key element in sexual violence. Being vigilant about safety becomes a daily source of strain to women. Occasionally, this anxiety may transform into paranoia, and this is a very serious mental disorder.

The third negative consequence of objectification is the inability to reach peak of motivational state. Such person is utterly unable to gather his or her strengths in order to solve even minute problems. Usually, such individuals cannot contrite on one issue for a long time and they attach primary importance only to their bodily image, which is often very distracting. Habitual monitoring of ones appearance prevents him of her from achieving peak of motivational state, and making the most optimal decision. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) argues that it is necessary to become less self-centered in order to find the most optimal mindset. Yet, people who objectify themselves fail to do so.

The final negative consequence of objectification is the woman’s lack of awareness of internal bodily states. This may be seen in women resorting to dieting as a strategy to achieve ideal body weight. She can tune out her hunger pangs and other physiological cues just to reach her goals (Heatherton, Polivy and Herman, 1989; Polivy et al, 1990). Another explanation for this is since a self-objectified woman throws all her concentration on external factors related to the perception of her looks, she may neglect her internal body needs (Frederickson & Roberts, 1997). Therefore, by trying to emulate the images of videos, produced by hip hop or other performers, women begin to view themselves only as an object of sexual desires, which inevitably gives rise to moral degradation. Secondly, unattractive appearance is very likely to result in inferiority complex and depression. Thirdly, by concentrating only on physical appearance, females (and males) lose the capacity to contrite on other activities especially those ones, requiring mental effort, for instance studying.

Adolescent girls nurture psychological issues centering on “body image” and “body dissatisfaction”. As their bodies mature, they realize that gaining fat in a culture that glorifies thinness can erode self-esteem putting them at risk for both depression and eating disorders (McCarthy, 1990). They are socialized to believe that their bodies become less theirs and more of public domain since it becomes increasingly looked at, evaluated, commented on (Brownmiller, 1984; Dion et al, 1990; Martin, 1996). Self-objectification undermines cognitive capabilities as well as it diverts attention away from the needed tasks on hand (Grabe, Hyde & Lindberg, 2007). This is the consequence of not meeting idealized standards which may impair cognitive functioning (Bandura, 1991; Bandura & Jourden, 1991).

The theory of Objectified Body Consciousness (OBC), developed by McKinley and Hyde resembles to the approach advocated by Fredrickson and Roberts. OBC puts more emphasis on adolescent girls’ when the degree of sexual objectification increases. Over time, as they adopt others’ view of themselves. Actually, opinion of other people becomes the most crucial one and it may even substitute personal beliefs (1996). Such juvenile girls begin to perceive their bodies in terms of their outward appearance and their subjective experience are almost suppressed if not destroyed. The teenagers with high levels of OBC internalize standards of the culture they belong to and continually engage in body-monitoring thoughts and behaviors along with heightened body shame if they feel that their appearance does not come close to cultural standards (McKinley & Hyde, 1996).

Adolescents have heightened feelings of public self-consciousness with the perception that they are under the evaluation of an imaginary audience and that they are as concerned with their own thoughts and behaviors as themselves (Elkind, 1967; Elkind & Bowen, 1979). OBC focuses exclusively on the body and its appearance whereas public self-consciousness and imaginary audience behavior each represent a broader level of self-perception (Lindberg, Hyde & McKinley, 2006).

What aggravates sexual objectification is peer sexual harassment. When their bodies change, many adolescents get teased and sexually harassed. This is especially true of early maturing girls, their growing and more sexually appealing bodies causing them shame. This is linked to adolescents’ experiences of self-surveillance and body shame (Lindberg, Hyde & McKinley, 2006).

Parental modeling of attitudes towards the body also influences OBC. If parents are likewise concerned about appearances and body weight, they are likely to model it to their children (Pike, 1995). Specifically if mothers manifest body dissatisfaction and eating problems themselves, it is likely that their children will develop eating disorders themselves (Stice, Agras & Hammer, 1999). The literature uncovers that objectification, especially in adolescent girls more likely results in negative outcomes such as poor self-image. These scholarly works demonstrate that due to mass media many juveniles begin to look at themselves only as a material object. The effort to follow examples given by television or Internet brings only frustrations to these girls. They forget that the beauty is a highly subjective notion and there are no universal criteria according to which one can evaluate it. Attractiveness cannot be measured objectively, but many adolescents think otherwise and fall into the trap, set by popular culture.

Social Comparison Theory

Objectification can be discussed in connection with social comparison theory as these approaches have many common elements. It is normal for individuals to compare themselves to others. Festinger (1954) conceptualized the Social Comparison Theory which states three components or premises. First, individuals have an innate drive to evaluate their own opinions and abilities. Second, in the absence of objective and non-social standards, people engage in social comparison of their abilities, intelligence, appearance, (Festinger, 1954). Third, as much as possible, social comparisons are calibrated with similar ones.

With the reference to physical appearance, research suggests that social comparisons tend to be upward rather than downward (Wheeler & Miyake, 1992). This means that individual bases their assessment on some perceived paragon of perfection, for example, a popular icon, film star etc. This usually creates lowered self-perceptions of attractiveness. In another study by Thornton and Moore (1993), subjects exposed to pictures of same-sex professional models got lower scores on a composite measure of self-rated physical attractiveness. In turn, those participants, who were not shown the pictures, were quite content with their bodily image. Likewise, the study of Martin and Kennedy (1993) and that of Richins (1991) revealed that the tendency of individuals to juxtapose one’s physical appearance to models in magazine advertisements negatively correlated with their self-evaluation of attractiveness. It is the stand of Social Comparison Theory that basing self-evaluations of physical appearance on iconic standards of attractiveness negatively affects perception of oneself (Morrison, Kalin & Morrison, 2004). Social comparison must not be considered as something negative because by following other peoples examples, adolescents may become more knowledgeable, erudite, independent, however in the vast majority of cases, adolescent girls emphasize only physical attractiveness.

 The theory of observational learning

The Social Learning theory, worked out by Albert Bandura has found many applications in psychology and sociology. His approach incorporates principles of both behaviorism and cognitive theories of learning. Basically, it explains the way people learn by observing the behavior of others (Krechmar, 2008). Bandura (1977) enumerates the four components that the process has namely attention, retention, motor reproduction and motivation. Scientists also suggest that environmental and cognitive factors can influence the process as well (Krechmar, 2008).

People may imitate behaviors of others even subconsciously. Keen observation of other peoples actions provides a powerful stimuli for an adolescent to exhibit similar conduct (Bandura, 1977). However, learning by observation entails attention and accurate perception of the significant features of the modeled behavior. Next, the observer should register what he or she has observed and hence retain in the memory. Proof of retention is demonstrated by means of two symbolic systems; 1) representation of the behavior in image form, as in a visual cue, or by verbal form, as in a series of instructions, and eventually this results in the ability to reproduce the behavior. The final component of motivation is the desire to act in the similar or identical way. Example of motivation is the reward of attention and praise from others. Bandura (1977) claims the expectation of reward can be as motivating as the reward itself.

Bandura’s theory can be applied to those adolescents, who are exposed to hip hop music and videos, particularly gangsta rap which is explicit about sex and violence. The audience is urged to imitate what they see, because they anticipate peer approval. Wingood et al (2003) suggest from their study that female teenagers may identify themselves with the characters and themes, shown in such videos resulting because television immerses them in this world, it comes real for them. Moreover, these adolescents want greater independence and rebel against parental restrictions and are likely to engage in risky behaviors. Poussaint (1974) observed that the glorification of drugs, violence and sex in films is particularly damaging to young juveniles who are not exposed to many positive role models in the media. This exposure to rap is of great danger to female adolescents because this video clips present the degrading portrayal of women (Wingood et al, 2003). Arguably, the theory of observational learning gives the most adequate analysis of this question. It is also compatible with socialization theory. Mass media become a guide to the growing generation, and the level of such dependence rises with time passing. One should not blame only hip hop, because such attitude would have been rather one-sided but the role of this cultural movement is more and more important nowadays and adolescents (irrespective of their ethnic origin, race, or sex) are more susceptible to its messages.

Cultivation Theory

George Gerbner (1996) is the author of the so-called Cultivation Theory or Hypothesis according to which mass media form a persons concepts of reality, society and those norms, appropriate in this society. Morgan and Shanahan (1990) assert that by examining cumulative exposure to television, sociologists and psychologists can predict the most stable patterns of behavior and ideology of adolescents (Lett, DiPietro & Johnson, 2004).

A study by conducted by Johnson, Adams, Ashburn and Reed (1995) tested African American adolescents’ acceptance of teen dating violence after viewing some nonviolent sexually suggestive rap videos. Results show that observation of nonviolent rap videos affects the attitude towards of teen dating violence. The effects of exposure to the rap videos were moderated by gender. Female, who watched them were more accepting of teen dating violence especially in comparison to those girls who were not. On the other hand, male acceptance of such violence did not vary. It is also possible to hypothesize that rap videos give birth to the stereotype of female inferiority because women are usually depicted only as the object of sexual desire. Johnson et al (1995) demonstrated that males, who observed violent “gangsta” rap videos, were more likely to accept violence against women than males who were not exposed. Again, this supports cultivation theory.

Therefore, every theory of mass communication confirms the initial assumption that exposure to rap music and video is almost bound to produce rather negative effects on adolescent. Popular culture can influence juveniles vie direct and indirect messages. In addition to that, teenagers acquire new modes of behavior through observation, comparison and imitation. New ideas and principles soon become consistent with the persons moral code and turn into schemas. Subsequently, with time passing they may be internalized and treated as acceptable. Another disturbing issue is that these changers within the character of a teenager may not be noticeable to others, they frequently exhibit themselves only after a long period of time.

The general characteristics of female juvenile delinquency.

At this stage, it is vital to examine general characteristics of juvenile delinquent girls or those adolescents, who are inclined to display illegal behavior. This section will not focus on the causes of criminality among teenagers, as it is not the primary question for this research; nevertheless, it is necessary to examine those personal traits of adolescent girls that may be conducive to deviant conduct. Secondly, the analysis of these features should be conducted in connection with hip hop songs and videos that can only intensify negative factors. On the whole, much has been studied on the area of family dynamics and its effects on its individual members. Rosenbaum (1989) found that female delinquents came from extremely dysfunctional homes characterized by chaotic family structures, criminality, violence, conflict and overall poor familial relationships. Therefore, they may simultaneously observe on television and experience it. It is rather difficult to measure cumulative of this phenomenon, yet one may presume the consequences are usually dire; brutality becomes an inseparable life and is treated as something ordinary.

Scholars presume that perception of care given by family members is another determinant which plays an important role in delinquency. Low care and rigid restrictions from parents were associated with higher levels of both male and female delinquency. Furthermore, a combined presence of the two factors appeared to be very harmful (Mak, 1993). On the other hand, adolescents who perceived high care and low protection reported the lowest levels of delinquent behavior (Mak, 1993). Protectionism of parents often gives birth to defiance and rejection. Rap music is a form or manifestation of this defiance. To some degree, it offers a good opportunity for escape from those rules that parents thrust upon them.

Kroupa (1988) interviewed incarcerated adolescent females and they reported that their parents had been less accepting, more rejecting, neglecting and more overindulgent and overprotective especially in comparison with those teenagers, who did not display any tendency towards deviation. Lack of parental skills deprives parents of their guiding role, and this functions is fulfilled another social agents, for instance mass media, peers, and they are hardly able to cope with this task.

Research has also shown that family violence (particularly physical and sexual abuse) is a predictor and precursor of female delinquency. Dodge, Bates and Pettit (1990) did a longitudinal study on the effects of abuse in early childhood as a risk factor for later aggressive behavior and the development of internalizing problems, specifically for girls. Their findings suggest that abused children and juveniles tended to acquire anti-social patterns of behavior (Dodge et al, 1990). As a matter of fact, this phenomenon is analogous to social learning, because acquisition of knowledge of knowledge, skills and behavior principles is also based on observation and practice, and sometimes delinquent juveniles act precisely in this way. This study confirms the hypothesis that constant observation and exposure to violence eventually leads to acceptance of such conduct.

Miller (1984) explains that adolescent female’s sense of self is primarily based on the ability and opportunity to establish and maintain relations with her coevals. Furthermore, the development of personal identity is utterly impossible if a juvenile cannot set objectives for her future. When a teenager girl does not hold any sense of one’s own individual needs and goals, she may see the goals and needs of others as her own. When connection to others is disrupted, she not only sees it as a loss of the relationship but a total loss of self. Brown and Gilligan (1992) found that occasionally young girls, who entered this age, lost their ability to think critically, their strengths, and desires for the sake of newly desired relationships. Scholars usually describe this phenomenon as peer pressure. In this respect, it should be pointed out peer pressure includes similar liking and disliking. The member of the group, who expresses an opinion different from that one of the majority, may be expelled from their community. Brown and Gilligan contrast juvenile females to younger girls (approximately seven or eight years old) who are confident enough to speak out when there are relational violations such as interrupting, ignoring, hurting people’s feelings, etc. Their adolescent counterparts are frequently afraid of airing their views on those problems, which they may have with their new friends, because in their opinion, approval is associated with their silence, being selfless and freedom from conflict (Brown & Gilligan, 1992). This selflessness should not be interpreted as altruism; this is mere desire to conform to others.

Morton and Leslie (2005) conducted an investigative study of female juvenile delinquents using interviews by trained clinicians and identified some other factors that are common among this population. One is the absence of connection in family relationships. This appeared to develop girls who were extremely needy for connection. It is explained by clinicians that the overwhelming majority of the young women who lived in mother-headed households with absent fathers, whose absence most often becomes permanent; felt abandoned and expressed feelings of anger and resentment toward them. Although their mothers were in their lives, they were consistently described as emotionally distant from family, not always physically available, and described as “benignly neglecting” their daughters (Morton & Leslie, 2005). The outcome of this neglect is that an adolescents looks for another alternative or source of consolation. Juveniles girl believe that such comfort can be offered by peers (or sexual partners to be more exact) and popular culture.

These young women talked of longing to be with someone who loved them, to be in a relationship with a male significant other. When they do cement this relationship, it becomes all-consuming for these young women that they go to the extent of engaging in delinquent behavior such as buying or selling drugs just to please their boyfriends. The level of devotion (or probably attachment) to the significant other was so high that some of juvenile girls (mostly the late stage of adolescence) committed crimes of passion because of their boyfriends. Two clinicians reported that girls in their group murdered another female in the course of fighting for their significant other (Morton & Leslie, 2005). As regards the lesser scale of criminal behavior, most clinicians had young women in their group who had assaulted other females in competition for a male. It can be observed that sexuality and its perceived benefits become the highest priority for such girls. The most dangerous thing is that such false beliefs are implanted by many songs and videos, which set stress only on womens sexuality or physical appearance.

Another factor discovered by the research of Morton & Leslie (2005) is that the self-esteem of the female juvenile delinquents was generally low, with poor sense of self, little sense of future goals and negative values about womanhood. This may be due to the fact that they had poor role models of women in their lives. Unfortunately, this may be due to deep-rooted stereotypes, established in modern society: women are usually portrayed as inferior to the opposite sex, and these stereotypes are further confirmed by rap performer, clip-makers and others.

The exception in the overall lack of identity is the teenage mothers in the group. The clinicians explained that the girls experienced difficulties in recognizing their own strengths, abilities and talents, while others were overconfident and placed emphasis on the material goods they possessed, their sexual life, and perceived independence. The clinicians presume that underneath this arrogant conduct there were shared feelings of worthlessness and failure to see their true positive qualities (Morton & Leslie, 2005). Again, it is quite possible to develop this idea and say that the feeling of worthlessness may often take its origin in the messages sent by mass media. The most peculiar feature is that such messages are mostly very implicit, and their true meaning cannot be deduced immediately and it is registered only on the level of sub consciousness.

A poor sense of self-identity also prevailed among the young incarcerated women. It was mostly based on what others thought of them, did to them, told them or by their association to them (Morton & Leslie, 2005). In part, these findings support objectification theory, proposed by Fredrickson and Roberts who argue that such juveniles tend to think about other peoples opinion about their appearance and actions. Objectification theory explains the origins of many crimes, committed by adolescent girls and one of them is the desire to please others.

The teenage mothers in the group exhibited a stronger sense of self and were able to identify a role for themselves as a mother. Having a child changed their perspective as they had more future goals than did the other young women. They nurtured hopes for a better life for their children and found consolation or even satisfaction in motherhood. The clinicians suggested that motherhood intensified the feeling of self-sufficiently and most importantly enhanced the sense of duty and responsibility to other people (Morton & Leslie, 2005).

The young women, being incarcerated, felt powerless in their “chaotic” and “dysfunctional” environments and tried to seek control wherever they could find it. It was a challenge for them to give up power in relationships, meaning there was a resistance to submit to others. Aggressive and manipulative behavior by the young women was regular in their interactions with people, and making themselves vulnerable to others was a risk the young women were hard-pressed to take (Morton & Leslie, 2005). From their standpoint aggressiveness and power are interchangeable notions and this is certainly a misconception.

Power and control to these women entailed anger. Assaulting others resulted in gaining power or control within oneself. These young women could not maintain esteem, dignity and power for themselves. The only possible strategy for them is to humiliate another person. Not being able to defend oneself becomes a sign of weakness. Being angry was a survival mechanism for them and hence, difficult to give up because it brought them power and control. This is especially because they are in an environment where these young women were afraid to be vulnerable (Morton & Leslie, 2005). Then the question arises how such philosophy of aggression arose in their mind. Who and what suggested an idea to them that rudeness or brutality is the best possible way to win an argument.

It was clear to clinicians that sexual behavior for some of these females was the basis for their identity and sense of self. There were young women who believed that their role as a female in the world was as a sexual object; it was their means to success. Moreover, the multitude of sexual partners was a sufficient ground for pride. Sex was the means to get pregnant and have children; the one role that the young women believed themselves to be capable of, and one of the few roles they could conceive of themselves achieving (Morton & Leslie, 2005).

Miller (1984) agrees that young women’s need to maintain relationships with the most important people in their lives. The data from the study, carried out by Morton and Leslie suggest that this population of incarcerated adolescent females is no different in their need for connections than typical adolescent females, except for the extreme degree of their need. Clinicians described the incarcerated females as being extremely needy for connection, wanting love, nurturing, and support from whomever would give it to them (Morton & Leslie, 2005). This study does not deny the fact that attachment to the opposite sex is quite normal but for some adolescents it grows in obsession bordering on slavery.

As formerly illustrated, initially, the young women had sought out relationships from parents, but were abandoned by their fathers, and then emotionally abandoned by their mothers. Young women turned to their boyfriends and peers to achieve a sense of connection. Occasionally the relationships, established by these juvenile girls were not based on equality and mutual help. They were dysfunctional, occasionally abusive, and contributed to the young women’s delinquent behavior (Morton & Leslie, 2005). Given these young women’s foundation of poor relationships and dysfunctional family environment, a relational mode sets them up for repeated failure in connecting to others. This pattern results in great cost to themselves and their developing identity. This may be the underlying cause of inferiority complex and inability to make independent decisions. The studies, discussed in this part of literature review, show that delinquency may stem from various origins and their may be a large number of contributing factors, and mass media along with hip hop may only intensify these factors.

Hip Hop Culture

Origins and Evolution

It is impossible to analyze the effects of hip hop on juvenile female delinquents without considering the origins and evolution of this cultural movement. For this purpose, the research article, written by Katina Stapleton who describes its evolution. The author emphasizes the idea that over the last three decades rap has transformed from marginalized musical style into an inseparable part popular culture. It should be pointed out that in its essence rap is a form of narration; the story tellers or griots act as purveyors or carriers of historical or ethical information from one generation to another (Stapleton, 1998, p 220). However, this narration is always closely intertwined with personal opinion, which can be biased or subjective. Katina Stapleton believes that rap has both public and hidden transcript. First, it started as a form of protest against the dominant white culture, and this was quite understandable because in early seventies racial question was still very acute in the United States. There are various theories, which may possibly explain popularity of this musical style. When it came into existent in late sixties and became more or less attractive for some layers of the population, rap was viewed only an attribute of African American culture. This style did not receive much appraisal and it was declared be as inappropriate for decent people. Adolescence was dissuaded from listening to these songs, in other words, rape turned into a forbidden fruit. To some degree, parents and educators had reasons to believe that it was not very beneficial for the growing generations. Nevertheless, the reaction of teenagers was just the opposite: as it has been noted earlier, the spirit of rebellion against the older generation is extremely strong in adolescents and they took more and more interest in this sub-cultural movement. In her article, Katina Stapleton suggests that rap acted as some kind of equalizer for young people whom from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds (Stapleton, 1998). Of course, psychologists and sociologists do not state that this musical style produced only detrimental effects. This was a common denominator for youth; this is why rap became so influential. Most importantly, parents and educators could not do anything with this blind admiration. This article is important for this discussion because it explains path to success and popularity, made by hip hop.

Yet, the author warns that hip hop is saturated with anger, aggression and violence, especially the so-called gangsta-rep, which often details sex acts, drug use, street fighting and so forth (Stapleton, 1998, p 220). In the scholars opinion, the most disagreeable characteristics of this style is the abundance of sexism, materialism, and violence (Stapleton, 1998, p 220). The main reason why so many researchers are so concerned with this question is that hip hop is no longer a subculture, it is widespread throughout the United States and all over the world.

In his article Powell (1991) argues that hip hop is now an agent of socialization, which means that its songs and videos do those tasks, which were previously done by parents and teachers. An entirely new phenomenon arose, the so-called street education, and in the foreseeable future, it may replace school education. At the moment, this pedagogical study was conducted; the negative effects of rap were not so conspicuous. But, the dangers of such street philosophy became apparent even in early nineties. In the previous sections of literature review we have enumerated several theories of psychological development, one of them is socialization theory, which advocates the belief that outcome of upbringing strongly depends on the person, group of people, or institution (school or college) that acts as a guide. Unfortunately, in this case, street and mass media attempt to act in this way. Many of rap performed may be even aware of this fact, and probably, they do not realize the degree of their power of juveniles.

In point of fact, many scholars speak about the so-called hip hop generation or people who were raised within this culture. Naturally, such word combination as “hip hop generation” is not entirely appropriate because these adolescents were influenced by other environmental factors. It is not quite permissible to shift all the blame only on rap. The effects of this musical style may be analyzed in close connection with other components of mass media. However, under certain circumstances, some elements of rap music and videos may be increase juvenile delinquency. The following part of this research will concentrate on the studies, dedicated directly to negative effects of rap music and songs. It has to be admitted scholars usually study hip hop along with other musical styles, because sometimes they produce similar effects.

Scholarly debate about hip hop

First, it should be taken into account that scientific works, reviewed in this section, should not be regarded as conclusive. Sociologists and psychologists agree that the net effect of hip hop as well as heavy metal is not beneficial. However, sometimes this effect may not be described or analyzed by numerical research techniques. Still, it does not mean that this works are invalid or not sufficiently grounded.

According to the findings of sociologists, juveniles exhibit rather predictable attitude towards media and it is believed that music occupies a privileged position for teenagers especially in comparison with television and this tendency is more noticeable during adolescence (Roberts and Christenson, 2001). On average, adolescents dedicate three or four hours a day to music. This time is approximately the same for both sexes (Roberts and Christenson, 2001). This data indicates that exposure to rap or other deviant music is rather high. On a larger scale, this constitutes approximately twenty-four hours per week, and there is a great likelihood, these twenty-four hours leave an indelible trace in the minds of adolescents. Listening to music is one of the most popular entertainments, though its role has dramatically changed over recent decades. For instance, Lloyd (2002) claims that those aspects of teenage life style, depicted in songs and video clips, such as fashion, language, decision making, risk-taking behaviors, character attitudes and relationships, may greatly influence the adolescent and his or her peer relationships. In the long term, they may become the most dominant ones. Popular musical genres ceased to be just an enjoyable pastime, for juveniles their frequently substitute both parents and teachers especially given the amount of time they spend on them.

Adolescents have been known to prefer various kinds of loud music. However, heavy metal and rap music have been controversial in terms of the effect they have on children and the youth’s moral formation. They have been targets in an ongoing moral crusade, aimed at protecting children from musical turpitude (Epstein, 1994). Some have called classified rap and heavy metal as deviant music. In some degree, such shift in public opinion is the outcome of collective efforts to safeguard the growing generation against hypothetical dangers created by these musical styles (Sanders, 1990). The word hypothetical is essential in this case; many scientists warn against this musical genre, however, they have to admit that their studies have limitations, and some of their ideas are based on assumptions. The major hindrance is that correlation between hip hop and violence is virtually improvable from scientific point of view, although at first glance, it may seem quite apparent (Lett et al, 2004). In order to substantiate this statement and demonstrate that rap is connected with juvenile delinquency, scholars need to isolate other contributing factors such as poverty, low educational level etc, and this obstacle is practically insurmountable. Nonetheless, the importance of these studies should not be underestimated as they identify the negative aspects of rap and other musical genres.

It is believed that music has the power to arouse strong emotions and shape collective values and behaviors (Frith, 1981). This is the reason why public organization pay so much attentions towards themes, explored in songs and videos, special emphasis is placed on the conclusions and inferences that teenagers can draw from rap misogynistic lyrics (Bayles, 1994). Some researchers point out that the effect of the same text (irrespective of its content, tone) may vary depending upon the person who reads or listens to it (Stapleton, 1999). This means that rap songs and videos may not stimulate any desire to behave anti-socially if the teenager is able to think critically. This controversy also presents problems to those psychologists and sociologists who study the effects of hip hop on juvenile delinquents. But on the whole, scholarly views are not favorable of this cultural movement.

Lynxwiler and Gay (2000) provide a short history of how people viewed rock, rap hiphop and other loud music, which fascinates adolescents. Anti-rap organizations stemmed from movements against rock music which was believed to have a sinful impact on the moral development of children (Sanjek 1972; Deniso and Schurk 1986). Moral crusaders included mostly conservative religious group; this resulted in record burnings and public sermons (McDonald, 1988). Their acts fueled public debates that went beyond morality issues pointing towards deviant behavior expressed through payola scams, juvenile delinquency and drug abuse (Wicke 1990; Martin and Segrave 1993). The controversy that surrounded such movements attracted enough attention of government to prompt Congressional hearings in the 1950s (Orman, 1986), 1960s (Fong-Torres, 1973), and 1970s (McDonald, 1988). This trend continued in the 1980s, when America’s current forms of popular music came under attack (Jones 1991).

Heavy metal and hip hop music, described as the overtly violent and sexually explicit segments of rock and roll music (Lynxwiler, 1988) earned the wrath of Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) and targeted a media campaign against it (Gore, 1987). The organization portrayed heavy metal music as dangerous to young minds because it emphasized the use of drugs, encouraged adolescent sex, endorsed sexist/ pornographic values, instrumental in delivering occult messages and caused brutal lawless behavior (Markson, 1990). Such claims created much controversy that it received national attention when Congressional hearings were held to determine if indeed heavy metal albums and other forms of popular music must be evaluated in terms of their impact on juveniles (Gray, 1989). The hearings did not produce great changes however, more and more organizations concerned with “child victims” such as conservative parental, religious and feminist groups pushed for the regulation of heavy metal music (Bayles, 1994). Still others began their own uprising against rap music (Binder, 1993). Nonetheless, these claims were both legally and scientifically improvable.

In this review, hip hop and rap are used as synonyms and some researchers agree with such approach: Jones (1997) claims that these terms cannot be distinguished from one another. However, Powell (1991) defines hip-hop as the beat of the music, whereas rap is the narrative representation. Hence, the use of explicit violence and sexual lyrics may be blamed down to rap. Powell (1991) also describes “commercial rap” as hip hop or dance rap. Hardcore or gangster rap is the one that raises much controversy.

Researchers have suggested that this musical style, deep-rooted rooted in African-American culture is a medium through which youth developed and expressed an authentic coloured identity (Clay, 2003). They saw the music as a reflection of their lives and asserted that music related to empowerment, cultural connection and positive development (Sullivan, 2003; Berry, 1994). At the present moment, rap has become nationalized and representatives of many ethnic or racial groups take considerable interest in it. On the one hand, it is a unifying force, and some of its elements may be wholesome.

However, critics of hip hop and rap argued that juveniles may be very susceptible to the influences of hip hop role models, promising money, power and special or even privileged status to males who show disrespect for women (Squires, Kohn-Wood, Chavous & Carter, 2006). Mahiri and Conner carried out ethnographic study of middle school and ascertained students manifested resistance in the negative images emanating from rap songs (Squires et al, 2006). This study suggested the use of these images related to social and gender roles as a point of reference from which participants could verbally evaluate, compare and contrast their own beliefs and attitudes. Adolescents in the study of Squires, Kohn-Wood, Chavous & Carter (2006) claim that the messages, produced by rap videos may be reduced to the following: women can be “nasty” and may “choose” to be abused, and that abusive men may be products of their environment. The scholars show great concern about the representations of men and women in hip hop because such stereotypes become internalized. Their criticisms revolved around women’s individual behavior and style. Such perceptions of gender roles based on hip-hop seemed to extend to the participants’ evaluations of women’s and men’s responsibility and attitude towards sexual aggression and violence (Squires, Kohn-Wood, Chavous & Carter, 2006).

The problematic aspects of rap music are usually connected with its most acrimonious strain, gangsta rap. Narratives in such strain are extremely troubling in their glamorization of violence,, materialism, misogyny and sexual transgression (Mahiri & Conner, 2003). However, Dyson (1996) argues that the vulgarity expressed in gangsta rap is strongly linked with market-driven strategies. This vulgarity is the dominant force in gangsta rap lyrics because in this way performers intend to create a resonance, sensation in order to attract attention of potential audience. By exploiting widespread prejudices, gangsta rappers try to boost the popularity of a song or album, and this is nothing but a commercial trick. Therefore, Dyson noted, the debate about gangsta rap should be situated in a much broader critique of how these narratives essentially mirror ancient stereotypes of Black identity and sexual proclivity. They mirror the stereotype, that Black men have a strong inclination towards sexual harassment, whereas women are sexually promiscuous, to put it very mildly ( Dyson, 1996). Dysons work is an important link in this discussion, because it makes scholars to view hip hop only as a part of pop culture, which relies on the exploitation of false beliefs and misconceptions, and to crown it all, this methods, employed by musicians are deliberate and well-planned.

Moral custodians of US culture accuse gangsta rappers of being prime instigators of juvenile delinquency (McLaren, 2000). These rappers have become the new superheroes to their listeners vested with dangerous, ambiguous, uncontrolled and uncontrollable powers that may be allegedly have (McLaren, 2000). This may affect both males of females: teenage boys who try to emulate the behavior of these “supermen” may think that they acquire their strength and superiority over others. Adolescent girls may presume that the role of women is to follow and assist such supermen in every possible way. This attachment to the opposite sex grows into bondage, slavery, and possible illegal action. These views are supported by the investigation conducted by Morton & Leslie who maintain that delinquency among female juveniles is often motivated by strong dependence on their sexual partners.

Psychologists say that rap music had its own share of controversy, and their songs were immediately subjected to public scrutiny and criticism. In 1988, a record store owner in Alabama was arrested on obscenity charges for selling a rap album by 2 Live Crew (Toop, 1991). Charges were dropped later; however, the band received more media attention when the state of Florida declared this album to legally obscene. The ruling was overturned in 1993. The controversy surrounding rap music snowballed enough to be used as a political issue in the 1992 election year (Garofalo, 1997). The presidential candidates, Clinton and Bush no less singled out rap music and its artists such as Ice-T and Sister Souljah are contributory to rising levels of youth violence, sexuality and in the United States (Mills, 1992). In 1993, it earned more negative press when rap artists such as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tupac Shakur and Flava Fav were arrested on charges ranging from violent misconduct to murder (Nelson, 1993).

African American political organizations such as the National Political Congress of Black Women (NPCBW), the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the National Rainbow Coalition staged demonstrations and boycotts against rap music (Nelson, 1993). These organizations fought for the regulation of rap music to stop its proliferation of lawless and obscene lyrics promoting amoral youth violence, adolescent sexuality and misogyny (Binder 1993; Bayles 1994). Critics have suggested that rap is rooted in the assumption that women are merely objects of male sexual satisfaction (Johnson, Adams, Ashburn & Reed, 1995). Knowing rap music’s power to attract young listeners, these groups advocated the boycott of rap music until they deliver positive messages and endorsed positive role models (Martin and Segrave, 1993).

Despite censorship, warnings of social workers and psychologists rap along with heavy metal continue to enjoy immense success. Researchers advocate further restrictions on such performers, but they doubt whether these measures will be of any avail (Grossberg, 1992). Judging from this discussion, we can single out several important points: first, the negative effects of hip hop are very difficult to prove especially if researchers comply with scientific standards. Secondly, the main message, conveyed by rap lyrics may be ambiguous and different recipient may interpret it differently. Some hip hop performers take full advantage of widely-held beliefs and stereotypes, established in American community. At this stage, it may be prudent to narrow the scope of the research and discuss those scholarly works exploring the connections between rap and delinquency among adolescent girls.

Correlation between rap music and delinquency among adolescent females

Interest in the effects of rap music on its listeners has spurred many studies, as seen in the rich literature. These researchers give rise to many interpretation and hypotheses. This part will analyze the role of rap as a contributing factor to juvenile delinquency among girls. Further it will describe the messages transmitted by hip hop performers and internalization of these messages, the reasons why they are accepted by teenagers, and how they change their behavior. One of the most dangerous impacts is objectification of women; because it may be directly related to criminal behavior. The theory of objectification has already been presented in the previous sections, yet now it may be linked with anti-social conduct among adolescent females. However, it has to be acknowledged that this problem has yet to be thoroughly examined. Although, there are several sociological works, which analyze the link between delinquency and pop culture. Scholars usually discuss rap lyrics and videos only as a component of mass media.

Objectification of Women

From the foregoing literature, it has been established that rap lyrics has acquired the status of socialization agent and guide. This statement is consistent with many theories of developmental psychology (Bretthauer, Zimmerman & Banning, 2006). For example, the theory of observational learning asserts that the messages individuals get from society and media shape their personal and relational ideologies. Additionally, according to this hypothesis, gender identity stems from enculturation and modeling, the role of such models can be played by parents, teachers or popular icons such as singers, television actresses or music performers (Burr, 1998).General opinion is that rap songs is closely interconnected with anti-social habits among girls.

Feminists argue that modern artistic trends and hip hop as one of them contribute to coerciveness and sexual assault toward women because the theme of violence against the opposite dominates in many works of these musical performers (Linz & Malamuth, 1993). Subsequently, the idea of brutality and sexual harassment may be accepted as appropriate by female juveniles. Linz and Malamuth believe that the dangers of objectification may not be self-evident but they may be magnified by other determinants like poverty and lack of education, and this only aggravates the state of affairs (1993).

Adolescents have been resorting to popular kinds of entertainment for information about sex, drugs, alcohol and violence (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999). Songs and videos provide them with such information but it is usually immensely distorted, misrepresented or even deliberately falsified. Analysis of Music Television (MTV) has shown that men appeared nearly twice as often as women and were engaged in significantly more aggressive, dominant behavior and women were shown as engaging in more implicitly sexual and subservient behavior. They were depicted to be frequent objects of explicit, implicit and aggressive advances by men (Sommers-Flanagan, Sommers-Flanagan, & Davis, 1993). It is usual for women in these videos to be used as decorative objects, and only a few videos show men and women are treated equally (Vincent, Davis & Boruszkowski, 1987). Females are presented as servile and submissive to men. This makes girls reconsider their perceptions of gender roles and the status which women occupy in modern society. It should also be noted that such false beliefs may turn into schemas and juvenile females may perceive reality and their actions only through this mental construct. If the crisis reaches this peak, educators simply will not manage to dissuade girls from such attitude towards themselves.

One study of media and sexuality revealed that exposure to MTV among college females was the most powerful predictor of sexual permissiveness and promiscuity (Strouse & Buerkel-Rothfuss, 1987). Likewise, in video games, a more sexist orientation and graphic violence against women is getting prevalent. Overall, content in various media such as television, video games, music videos communicates that women are to be objectified, sexualized, dominated, assaulted and even killed (Bretthauer, Zimmerman & Banning, 2006). Only by observing these images, adolescent girls will get accustomed to the idea that physical attractiveness is their only virtue, and this is the only way in which they can acquire firm social status.

It has also been previously discussed in this current review of literature that the genre of rap music has been identified to advocate violence and misogyny (Barongan & Hall, 1995). Constant exposure to rap music with violent themes may lead individuals to develop a greater tolerance for violence in dating situations (Johnson, Adams, Hall, Ashburn,&Reed, 1995) and may lead to a higher degree of male acceptance of violence, including violence against women (Johnson, Jackson, & Gatto, 1995).

Kubrin (2006) analyzed the “street code” of African American communities from which most rap music is based on. Male artists in rap music gain and maintain status and self-respect by engaging in dangerous behaviors but also with their female conquests and sexual exploits. They boast of maintaining independence from conjugal ties and deriding conventional family life (Anderson, 1999). Promiscuity is hailed as a virtue in the street code and sex is an essential symbol of local social status. Women become sex objects, their bodies and minds are the object of a sexual game to be won for male personal aggrandizement. The winner gets the status and sex is prized as a testament not of love but of control over another human being (Anderson, 1999). Thus, these clips and videos encourage tolerance of sexual abuse and may promote anti-social conduct such as prostitution.

Bretthauer, Zimmerman and Banning ( 2006) conducted a qualitative analysis of lyrics of popular songs to determine the prevailing themes. They found out that in general, the theme of men and power expressed that males have “ownership” ideology of women. Even if most of the artists in the songs were men, the few women artists adhered to “appropriate” and accepted gender roles by fulfilling the males’ demands and by functioning as an object possessed by the male. Society’s patriarchal nature has traversed media in contributing to women’s adherence to gender role prescriptions. The authors of this research claim that all struggles, conducted by feminist movement may be reduced to zero, if adolescent females to be exposed to this pernicious influence (Bretthauer et al, 2006).

It is surprising that a significant portion of lyrics coded under the sexual violence theme talked of men sharing their plans and intentions to commit sexual violence against women. The male artists were portrayed as perpetuators who were adamant in their decision to conquer their female victims. Women were presented only as mens sexual partners. Some female artists sang songs of not being able to live without their significant others (Bretthauer, Zimmerman & Banning, 2006). This only increases girls dependence on the opposite sex, especially if this girl cannot establish productive relationships with her parents or close relatives, and they are must vulnerable to these messages of rap songs.

Female performers of hip lyrics are portrayed as sexually objectified. Although they admit that they may be treated brutally, and that they feelings may be hurt, they do not protest against such attitude, their tone is mostly permissive and indulgent. It stands to reason that their behavior may be adopted by girls. The audience may draw a conclusion from their songs that women are not worthy of respect and that they are created only to indulge by mens wishes (Bretthauer, Zimmerman & Banning, 2006). We cannot say that this attitude will be assumed by all girls but some of them may follow this example.

Overall, the gender roles depicted in the popular music analyzed may be dangerous for both women and men and are not conducive to basic respect for humans, especially females (Bretthauer, Zimmerman & Banning, 2006). The danger is evidenced in prevalence rated of violence committed against women even in intimate relationships (Garcia-Moreno, 2000). Based on the tenets of both social learning and feminist theories, it is reasonable to assume that men often play roles in which they dominate females, objectify them and their basic human rights. American society runs a risk that in the future such role models will be legitimized (Bretthauer, Zimmerman & Banning, 2006).

Internalization of Rap/ Hip Hop Music

The steady relation between rap music and deviant behavior could be explained by the fact that certain adolescents assimilate the values communicated by rap songs. An adolescent, listening to these lyrics or watching these videos may be engaged in an intense and individual experience distinguishable from its related social aspects. For example, an adolescent with antisocial values choose to listen to rap music for the cultural reinforcement it would provide him and this artistic product often lives up to his or her expectation This would then be in line with Roe (1995) and Arnett (1995) who have suggested that it is youths, who select media according to this social and moral values. The works of Roe and Arnett indicate that rap will always be in great demand among teenagers unless parents and educators teach them foster tolerance and respect in them in childhood.. This supposition would also be in line with Steele and Brown (1995), Steele et al. (1999), and Brown et al. (2002) who suggested that adolescents can interact with media attempting to prove that their behavior is normal and appropriate.

Hansen (1995), Johnson et al (1995) and Gan et al (1997) demonstrated a direct influence of rap music based on the mechanisms of social schemas, cognitive priming, and social heuristics. They suggested that rap music and videos, depicting deviant behavior, activates antisocial schemas through cognitive priming. In their opinion, cognitive priming can be defined as significant influence that new information has on schemas stocked in memory. These authors also suggested that regular listening to antisocial messages of rap lyrics could constantly activate and reactivate the same antisocial schemas in adolescents’ memory. Thus, maintenance of these antisocial stereotypes would eventually develop into social heuristics and then possibly into actual criminal behaviors (Hansen,1995). Therefore, it is through cognitive priming that hip hop can possibly influence adolescents’ conduct. However, we have speak of several limitations that these studies have: 1) they sets stress only on the role of hip hop while propensity to crime may take its origins in other aspects of their lives such as family, peers, school etc. 2) Secondly, the authors claim that hip hop messages are only harmful. But other scholars state that that this depends upon the personality of the listener of viewer (Stapleton, 1998).

Miranda and Claes (2004) found a link between listening to rap music and a tendency to delinquent behaviors in French-Canadian adolescents. Results indicate that adolescents’ preference for French rap music is significantly linked to more deviant behaviors (violence, street gang involvement, mild drug use) and their preference for gangsta/hardcore rap is significantly linked to more thefts. On the other hand, hip hop/soul is significantly linked to less deviant behaviors (thefts and hard drug use) and American rap is significantly linked to less thefts.

As far as female juvenile delinquents are concerned, the earlier example given by Morton & Leslie (2005) shows that a young woman, longing for love and belongingness will do anything for her boyfriend, to the extent of putting herself in danger just to be with him. Such an adolescent has objectified herself, following gender roles dictated by media and society. Her role is to be subservient and considered a property of her boyfriend ((Bretthauer, Zimmerman & Banning, 2006).

Cultivation theory applied to these young women would mean the words they listen to in rap music will eventually be suggested to them and enable them to act out the behavior that they hear or observe (Johnson et al, 1995). Social learning theory would support these adolescents’ need for approval by imitating what others do, in this case, the rap video exemplify such guidelines (Bandura, 1977). The articles that have been reviewed in this section share some common features: they try to find the correlation between delinquency among adolescent girls and rap, presuming that teenagers interpret these messages in similar way and this is not quite true. Secondly, many authors attempt to describe this impacts of hip hop in numerical ways, and this is not always possible.


However, literature review is of great assistance in this investigation. Although this specific question has not been closely examined, the analysis of scientific works dedicated to similar issues, helped to identify the major difficulties in studying the effects of mass media on the growing generation. It also confirmed the initial assumption that hip hop culture may be propitious of violence and sexual abuse. Furthermore, in this way we were able to demonstrate interactions of mass media and juveniles. The discussion of psychological theories explains why some teenagers are more or less sensitive to the mass media and hip hop messages. Finally, the study of available literature shows that the major dangers of hip hop lie in sexual objectification of women.


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