Sex, Porn and Teenagers, Radio 4, Monday<br/>Archive on 4: The Death of the Battleaxe, Radio 4, Saturday

These bands don't make beautiful music
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The Independent Culture

In case you were under any misapprehension, a shag band isn't a popular beat combo providing soundtracks for seduction scenarios but a colour-coded gel bracelet worn by schoolchildren.

It's yellow for a hug, orange for a lovebite, purple for a snog, pink for a flash of the boobs, red for a lap dance, blue for oral sex, black for all the way, and gold for all of the above. Snap somebody's band and they have to deliver whatever the colour promises. Apparently.

A spot of Googling suggests it's an urban myth imported from the US: the bands are worn, all right, but there doesn't seem to be first-hand evidence of anything untoward. I don't know if Sex, Porn and Teenagers tried to track down a teenager led into mischief by one – and we should have been told if they'd tried and failed. It was left to a few bemused primary schoolchildren to provide second-hand testimony.

"We had a trend," said one, "of boys giving them out as presents – special ones, green, I think, saying you had to sex someone if you broke it, and one of the boys broke one and refused to sex them, and that practically stopped it." Not exactly hard evidence, though the programme, presented by Miranda Sawyer, did make useful wider points about the damage done to teenagers by porn on mobiles and the internet. It was a bit "is the Pope Catholic?" – of course premature sexualisation must have deleterious effects – but it was interesting to hear articulate youngsters' responses.

It would be fascinating to see how premature sexualisation might pan out if there were a few old-fashioned matriarchs left. In the superb The Death of the Battleaxe, a paean to the ferocious females who terrorised younger generations over the years, Jude Kelly explored the origin of the species in the Industrial Revolution, its evolution as a comic stereotype through the music hall and radio eras, down to the modern incarnations, the social climbers and frustrated sirens.

The programme was full of thoughtful analyses and great lines, one of which was an aside from Kelly. It was apropos a scene between Sid James and Joan Sims from Carry On up the Khyber – "which in 1968 was a funny film," Kelly observed. "Now it's a foreign policy." Boom-boom, as it were.

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