Who sings about dating, sex and love more often? Men or women?
Men sing about both romantic love and sex more often than women, according to a new analysis (in the US) of popular song lyrics from 1960 through 2008. Findings also revealed that female artists sing about romantic love in a higher percentage of their songs.
The difference is due to gender disparity in the number of songs, with male singers performing a higher percentage of popular songs than female performers during that time period. Conducted by Jennifer W Shewmaker, Andrew P Smiler and Brittany Hearon, the research examined sexual stereotypes in popular music lyrics across five decades.
According to researchers, women are expected to focus on romantic relationships and have sexually objectified bodies, while men are expected to focus on sexual behaviour.
The researchers’ media content analysis of 1,250 popular songs showed that gender-based differences in sexuality are indeed common and consistent with gender stereotypes. A total of 71% of songs referenced a dating relationship, including more than half of all songs in every decade, while 57% of all songs used the word love, most frequently as a romantic term. This includes more than half of all songs in every decade except the 2000s (at 49%).
Of the 1,250 songs, 827 were performed by men, 328 by women and 95 by co-ed groups. Among female performers, the proportion of songs referencing dating stayed relatively constant across five decades, 78-83%, while for male performers, it dropped over time, starting at 69% in the 1960s and falling to 59% in the 2000s, despite an increase to 78% during the 1980s power ballad era.
Among female performers, the proportion of songs referencing sex was at 6% in the 1960s, then jumped to 16-21% from 1970-2000, whereas among male performers, the proportion jumped from 7% in the 1960s to 20-29% through the 70s, 80s and 90s and then jumped to 40% in the 2000s.