The Benefits of Using Song Links  (1998)

by Laura Zárate, Arte Sana


Two-way Educational Experience

In order to use relevant song links, educators have to learn more about youth culture and the students they work with. 


Active Engagement of Students

Students are offered very few opportunities to be experts. Using popular music requires a constant dialogue with students wherein they become the technical assistants, educating the educator on meaning and language. 


Generation & Culture Bridge

Though the facilitator's culture, background, age, or gender may affect the delivery and interpretation of risk reduction messages, relevant music links may offer a common ground in which students may be engaged. 


Economic Vehicle

Internet search engines facilitate the acquisition of lyrics, and the music itself is also readily available. The best way to determine what music to use is to ask your target population for input.


How to Use Song Links 


§          Use songs as an introduction for a particular topic. 


§          Use songs in closing a particular topic. 


§          Ask the students to interpret the song.


Discuss what they heard, first impressions.

What seems to be the emotional tone set by the words and music?

What is happening, what is the story? 


§          Rate songs for possible rape danger messages.

(See song-rating sheet recommended for middle school age to adults)


§          Refer to the lyrics and give examples of how they reinforce any or all of the following sexual assault themes (Recommended for college age students and older):

Male entitlement

Phallic weapon

Sex with underage girls

Objectification of women



§          Ask the students to rewrite negative songs into positive ones. 


§          Use the surface message of a song to promote an alternative message. 


§          Ask the students to identify possible feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of song characters.

Possible questions:

Does this sound like someone you would like to date? Why or why not?

Does this sound like a happy relationship?

Do you think this person respects women? Why or why not?

Does it sound like he/she respects herself? Why?

Is this person being assertive, aggressive, or passive? Explain. 


DISCLAIMER: It is very important to remember that most men do not rape, the following information draws attention to those behaviors that men who are more likely to rape may exhibit.  It is offered as part of an exercise that is meant to show just how often violence against women messages are expressed through song.


"Friends" Raping Friends--Could It Happen to You?

Unfortunately, a nice, normal man can turn into a date rapist.  However, there are some men who are more likely to be sexually aggressive than others.

Watch out for:  

§          men who do not listen to you, ignore what you say, talk over you or pretend not to hear you. Such men generally have little respect for women and would be more likely to hear "no" as meaning "convince me."  

§          men who ignore your personal space boundaries.  

§          men who express anger or aggression towards women as individuals or in general. Hostile feelings can easily be translated into hostile acts. Such men often get hostile when a woman says "no."  

§          men who do what they want regardless of what you want. If a man does this in little ways--for example, if he makes all the decisions about what to do and where to go without asking your opinion--then he may also be likely to make the decision about whether you are ready to have sex with him. 

§          men who try to make you feel guilty, or accuse you of being "uptight" if you resist their sexual overtures.  

§          men who act excessively jealous or possessive.  

§          men who have wrong or unrealistic ideas about women (for example, "women are meant to serve men"). Such men are not likely to take your objections to sex seriously.

§          men who drink heavily. A "mean drunk" can often get sexually aggressive, angry, or violent if he is rejected.

Written by Jean O'Gorman Hughes, Research Associate, and Bernice R. Sandler, Executive Director, Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges, April 1987.  

"The following information was meant to be used in conjunction with the song rating sheet as a compliment to any sexual assault risk reduction presentation."

Rape Danger Signals Song Rating Sheet

Identify and rate the following possible ‘Rape Danger Signals’ expressed by the song's

protagonist/s in the song: ___________________________ by ____________________.

1) Disregard and disrespect of women in general 

  1                     2                   3

none              some             a lot



2) Disrespect of personal space boundaries 
  1                     2                   3

none              some             a lot


3) Hostility towards a woman or women 
  1                     2                   3

none              some             a lot



4) Power, control, and submission of a woman or women
  1                     2                   3

none              some             a lot


5)  "If you don't want it (or me) something is wrong with YOU"  message
  1                     2                   3

none              some             a lot


6) Excessive jealousy or possessiveness  
  1                     2                   3

none              some             a lot


7) Superiority complex - master of his universe 
  1                     2                   3

none              some             a lot



8) Utilization of alcohol (or any other substance) to gain sexual access  
  1                     2                   3

none              some             a lot


SCORE (Calculate the total): ______


8 = No rape danger message

10 - 16 = Some unhealthy and disrespectful messages against women

19 - 24 = High rape danger message, the lyrics of this song glorify violence against women

top of page | home | about us | services | information | resources | en español

Copyright © Arte Sana. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.