Media Literacy with Music



Date of Publication
November, 2015

For many of us music can have an important and influential role in our lives. It's more than just a means of enjoyment though, it can also be a platform for communicating social norms. That's why a lot of prevention efforts include media literacy skills. As preventionists, one of our biggest roles is to facilitate meaningful conversations that will help lead communities towards prevention that is personal and more likely to be effective. Therefore before diving right into the fun of analyzing and discussing messages in music, it's important to have a framework to understand the importance of media literacy skills and its relationship to sexual violence prevention work. If you want to work on developing your expertise around media literacy, check out the WCSAP resources listed under Related Content.

Discussion Guides

The Women's Center, Inc. in Southern Illinois created a useful packet of resources and discussion guides. Download the Dialoguing Pop Culture: Facilitating Critical Consciousness in Prevention Education resource packet.

Included are definitions of gender violence prevention approaches and feminist frameworks, making the connection between gender violence prevention and popular culture, instructions on preparing a "Dialoguing Pop Culture" program, tips for facilitating and evaluating these programs, and program outlines for three songs:

  • "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction
  • "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem and Rihanna
  • "Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Frank Loesser

Music Scoring Tools

Start Strong teen peer leaders and staff at the Boston Public Health Commission created a fun and engaging activity called the Sound Relationships Nutritional Label. This media literacy tool helps youth (and anyone) examine popular songs.

The Boston Public Health Commission created a similar scoring tool to use with music videos!

Educational Films

The Media Education Foundation (MEF) produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical thinking about the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media. MEF offers free study guides for many of the films on their site; each guide features video section summaries, key points, discussion questions, writing and research exercises, and additional resources.

We've highlight two films that explore the relationship between gender violence and music culture: