Pop music usually isn't known for its depth and substance, but as a child I remember the powerful voices and personalities of women in the music industry. Women like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey actually had something positive to say for a few years, until they fell into a life of drugs and sex, respectively. And as I became a teenager there was Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera -I think we all know how those two ended up. Positive role models were far and few in between.
Young girls, if they so choose, can at least find some decency if they listen to the Disney Channel. But eventually they're going to figure out there are other radio stations out there and will start listening to mainstream pop music. And no doubt many of their friends have been listening for years thanks to their oblivious parents. It's one thing if a twenty-something-year-old chooses to find some sort of strength in Rihanna, but I wouldn't call her a great role model for a ten-year-old.
Kids are going to be exposed to mainstream music eventually and there isn't much parents can do about it. Artists like Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, and Nicki Minaj aren't aimed at young children. These are mature women singing about sex and partying and whatever else is on their vapid minds. And it's fine if I decide to listen, but it's scary to know that young children are too. I went to a Katy Perry concert and it was shocking how many young children were there and singing along to "Peacock," a song not about the majestic animal in any way, shape, or form.
Now on the one hand it can be argued these women should be better role models because younger girls, and boys, are listening to them. But on the other hand, why should these women have to completely censor themselves for a demographic that shouldn't be listening to them in the first place. Lady Gaga has been trying to straddle both lines and I can't say she's been flawless about it. Her musical content is mature. She talks about sex and relationships quite often but then she puts out a song like "Born This Way" which is encouraging and inspirational to everyone. When she speaks she does so with the intention that literally the entire world is listening. She's a very positive role model overall, but that doesn't mean her music is the best for a five-year-old to hear.
I guess you could attempt to hide your children from the music world, but I listened to songs I shouldn't have when I was little. I turned out okay, but I can't speak for everyone. It's an interesting paradox; one in which I have no viable solution except maybe singers should talk less about S&M and more about cultural and societal issues.