Are Pop Stars Too Sexy For Our Children?

15/05/2011 14:17 | Updated 22 May 2015

Rihanna"Mum, what's S&M?" asked my 12-year-old daughter and I nearly choked on my toast.

I'm not often lost for words but I struggled to find a reply.

"It's something grown ups play to hurt each other," I smiled weakly, attempting to change the subject. "What did you say you needed for your history homework again?"

Inevitably, my poorly thought out answer simply piqued my daughter's interest further.

"What do you mean, play to hurt each other? Why would anyone want to do THAT?"

There was no way my next response – smiling again and saying I didn't know - was going to satisfy her curiosity. But at 10 past eight on a school morning, it was the best I could muster.

So I cursed Rihanna and her pink rubber hat under my breath.

I resolved to perhaps accidentally disable my PC, the one my daughter may want to watch Rihanna's video on again. But not before I watched it myself of course.

According to news reports the video was limited to viewers aged over 18, yet here she was, my very innocent and cosseted 12-year-old knowing about it having watched it at a mate's house.

It features Ri Ri cavorting with Perez Hilton on a dog's lead and whipping assembled members of the press into a frenzy. And as she does so, she sings "Cause I may be bad/ But I'm perfectly good at it/ Sex in the air/ I don't care/ I love the smell of it".


This was as close to family viewing as Charlie Sheen is to Babysitter of the Year.

So what? You may say, she's a global superstar, a multi award winning artist and a strong woman, confident of her own sexuality, she can do what she wants.

Well yes she can, but I don't want it marketed at my 12-year-old daughters and their friends who have helped this best-selling diva reach the superstardom she enjoys today.

It's my money, and that of many another mum which has helped allow her record company pay for a video featuring a man on a dog's lead and the suggestive munching of bananas – how grubby and clichéd can you get?

RihannaI for one will be voting with my purse and not buying any more of her stuff.

To me, Rihanna's foray into the dark world of sado masochism is even more disturbing than a super cocky Robbie Williams gloating from my TV that he was "rich beyond his wildest dreams." And I was pretty disgusted with that.

My daughters have a friend who, aged nine, went to see Rihanna in concert. It was, says her mum, a massive shock as she felt as if she'd stumbled into a Spearmint Rhino club – not exactly what she was expecting after last seeing her on Strictly Come Dancing.

Of course it's not just Rihanna. Beyonce and Lady Gaga, at the pinnacle of their success, choose to act and dress more like a marketing man's fantasy than women who love their music. There's no doubt these women are powerful role models in so many ways – independent, feisty, rich beyond our wildest dreams, so why the gratuitous raunch?

When the Barbadian beauty appeared on X-Factor last year, her raunchy routine stirred up a storm. At least that time, actually she looked like Julie Andrews compared to Christina Aguilera and her dancers, strutting and lunging as if they were on an adult channel rather than our biggest Saturday evening prime time TV juggernaut.

I never thought I'd see the day when I morphed into a latter day Mary Whitehouse but there's no escaping it. I'm troubled by these powerful music industry women shaking their booty in my kids' faces. Yes I can turn it off and turn it off I do.

But is it really so naïve of me to want them to show off their beautiful voices, their strength as women and jaw-dropping (non-sexual) dance moves?

With Rihanna, as she sings "Sticks and stones/ May break my bones/ But chains and whips/ Excite me," you can't help but wonder what on earth is she doing?

My daughters know who Chris Brown is. They know what he did. They don't do irony and they know little about sexual politics or arguments about consent. Faced with these muddled lyrics, I'm left saddened and confused.

And of course what starts in the US soon comes to our shores. Look at today's crop of homegrown girlbands – The Saturdays pour themselves into hotpants to pout their way through ads for bodyspray while B*witched have morphed into a cobbled together version of Gaga. Their latest reincarnation Barbarella was rightly panned. The camel toes alone should have seen them off.

It's not just me being a fuddy duddy where Rihanna is concerned. My friend Nicky has two boys, aged 10 and 14. She says: "I do my best to teach my boys to respect and treat women for the people they are, not to be too dazzled by their bodies. I know what a tricky age this is for them, I want to be there to help and guide them, I don't want to see the woman they loved singing about losing an umbrella losing all sense of decency in front of them.

"Of course I'm careful about what they watch and how they watch it, we have all sorts of parental controls on our home computer, but rather stupidly, we didn't know we had anything to worry about with Rihanna."

Someone who rises above this for me is Adele. Aged just 21, the award-winning songstress is rightly being hailed across the world for her breathtaking vocals and stage presence.

And yet my girls aren't impressed.

"I don't think Adele would suit a pink rubber hat," jokes my daughter and I'm soon spitting out my breakfast again.

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