I was at the gym one afternoon and as usual, there was a music channel on in the background, but on this particular day, due to some form of staff negligence, someone had left it on VH1 rather than the usual pop/R&B/dance channels.

Respectable dad-rock reigned.

Well, it was nice to have something a bit different, I suppose. But more than that, after a while I realised that I felt a sense of immense relief at not being confronted with wall-to-wall tits and arses for a change (unless you want to be especially mean about Coldplay, Kings of Leon et al).

Yes, nothing brings out the Mary Whitehouse in me more than the modern popular music video. Sure, in ‘my day’ we may have had Madonna writhing about on the bed, and alarmingly often, we still do (put ‘em away now Madge, dear), but somehow things weren’t quite so… gynaecological.

Eurohouse ‘artistes’ are some of the worst offenders for g-string clad bottoms wiggling in your face at lunchtime and simulated sex dance routines, but pretty much everyone who’s not carrying a guitar is guilty of it. Sure, children don’t know what it signifies, but one has to feel a little uncomfortable at the thought of one’s kids dry humping the furniture to the sounds of the Pussycat Dolls. I don’t hold too much against Lady Gaga, as at least her imagery is less about pleasing men and more about being slightly alarming, unless lots of men are secretly harbouring fantasies about having a slightly rancid-looking mermaid in a tin in their shed.

My most hated trope, however, is the stone-faced hard-man, rapping or singing unmoved while women existing on the clothing/lingerie borderline writhe around him and are roundly ignored. Even Beyoncé pulls this one in the storming ‘Crazy in Love’ – I mean, I know Jay-Z’s her husband and all, but I figure he still pays her some attention without the need for a revealing one-piece and a mink stole.

Someone will probably come along in a minute and tell me that I’m just being horribly outdated and ignorant and that ‘gyrating pop video bird’ represents a ‘strong and powerful woman who gets what she wants’. But I still think that whether that’s the result of carefully researched media sociology or not, young kids looking at this stuff will generally absorb the idea that men should be tough, rich, unemotional and clothed, while women should remove as many clothes as they can without getting arrested for it, and swiftly try to engage said men’s attention by rubbing themselves up against them. Then he might buy her a nice handbag or take her for a drive in that car he’s been leaning against.

So it’s not about ‘The innocent kiddies must not see the sexing!’, but the gender roles. They so strongly portray the idea ‘women give, men get’ when it comes to sex, and maybe other stuff too, and in a context that is, of course, immensely glamorous to a child. It contributes to girls feeling that they are supposed to give sex on tap, and boys feeling they’re entitled to it – all part of the so-called ‘pornification’ of society.

Few things make me sadder and angrier than tales of areas where gang rape perpetrated by and carried out on young teenagers elicits negligible reporting from the victims because they shrug their shoulders, believing that this is just the lot of teenage girls, or what it takes to be accepted. In 2009, after Chris Brown’s well-documented attack on girlfriend of the time Rihanna, several parents or teachers of teenagers commented to me that they were shocked how many teenage girls seemed to excuse Brown’s actions, with comments such as ‘Well, Rihanna does have a bit of a mouth on her, so she probably wound him up’. It’s a queasy mixture of messages that gets sent out to girls – be sassy and outspoken and opinionated, yeah! But at the same time, don’t make a fuss if your man beats you up for being like that, you probably had it coming.

While I’m not sure there really are ‘areas where  11-year-old girls assume they should be giving oral sex’ (thanks for that bit of moral panic, Mail) there do seem to be too many girls being taken in by the message that their sex appeal, their ‘being hot’ is what being a girl is all about and is the source of their value as a human being.

Think about a girl who doesn’t see women who are working, or empowered in any way in their day-to-day life. Which role models will naturally present themselves to them? Which women do they see as being successful? Girls without clothes on, basically. Be they glamour models, singers, or even the anonymous girls slipping their bikini-clad derrieres into those expensive sports cars in music videos. The trouble is, for most women using your sex appeal in real life is less about sidling up to a rich and powerful guy at a glamorous beach or in an exclusive bar, and it doesn’t guarantee you the designer bag proffering boyfriend. On ground level it might end up meaning the mates of your ‘boyfriend’ queuing up to have a go with you at a party – everyone wants to be popular, right?

This is not to say that this is all pop videos’ collective fault, that’s oversimplifying grotesquely, but they are a medium that is beamed into our homes or whatever we’re watching them  on at all hours, with little seeming to be taboo or ‘unsuitable for minors’ – the stabilisers on the bike of pornification, if you will.

And much as I dislike a lot of the imagery and messages of contemporary videos, I’m not comfortable with the thought of censorship, though maybe I could accept the idea of a pop video watershed, which might at least encourage directors to tone it down a tad if they want their productions to be seen at peak hours. Cameron and co actually did suggest a rating system for videos in their ‘Letting Children be Children’ report (ugh, what the hell is this approved idea of ‘children’ anyway? Hmmm, I feel a blog entry forming), but it has been pointed out that it would be pretty damn hard to police. And can you then imagine the excitement of watching the forbidden stuff whenever you want on your phone or your mates’ phone anyway?

I suppose we’ll just have to put up with a collage of Eurohouse crotch grinding and Pixie Lott’s bum-shelf for the foreseeable when it comes to music videos and hope our kids recognise these women as the strong female archetypes they are. And don’t mistake them for, say, unclothed women looking for alpha-male approval.