Hip Hop and Condoms
June 27th, 2008
Hip hop has been blamed for contributing to urban ills for years. It is said to promote violence, misogyny, and homophobia. And with songs like the late Old Dirty Bastard’s ode to unprotected sex, one might also question its influence on safe sex.
As a push began this week to get every adult in the Bronx (hip hop’s birthplace) tested for HIV, and with a recent survey by the city on New Yorker’s sexual practices, the question might seem especially timely.
So, do b-boys, as hip hop’s participants are wont to be called, engage in risky behavior when it comes to sex? Not necessarily, a study published this month in the American Journal of Public Health has found.
Involvement in hip hop culture – defined as “urban social and artistic expressions, such as clothing style, breakdancing, graffiti, and rap music” – doesn’t affect young men’s likeliness to use a condom during sex, the study showed. In fact, it found that young men who say they really enjoy listening to hip hop are actually more likely to use a condom.
But there are problems: the report said that those who frequent hip hop nightclubs are much less likely to use a condom. Still, this may be more associated with night club scene, rather than hip hop. “Having sexual intercourse under the influence of alcohol or drugs, situations often associated with visiting nightclubs in cities such as New York,” the report notes, “is likely to be the major reason for limited condom use.”
The researchers, who are affiliated with Columbia University, surveyed 95 black and Latino men aged 15 to 25 in Manhattan and the Bronx over four years.
“Popular discourses on young men’s health risks often blame youths’ cultures such as hip hop culture for increased risk practices,” the report said, “but these discourses often neglect to critically examine how risk emerges in the lives of urban young men and what aspects of youths’ culture can be protective.”
One thing that surprised the researchers, was that survey respondents’ perceptions of hip hop didn’t relate to the frequency they used condoms. It didn’t matter whether the young men viewed the culture as being linked to drugs and drug trafficking, something that is urban and hip, or an expression of young people.By Mike Muller on June 27, 2008, 11:40 am
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