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Negotiating Love and Gender Stereotypes among Youn People: Prevalence of “Amor Ludens” and Television Preferences Rooted in Hegemonic Masculinity

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This study was carried out in three Iberian-American countries, Colombia, Spain and Venezuela, to identify the stereotypes of love and gender professed among youth and compare them to those they prefer in television fiction series, i.e., those able to influence their identities and values. From an interdisciplinary perspective, the study involved a survey of 485 first-year university students, and a qualitative analysis of the media representations preferred by them. The results showed a preference for "amor ludens", based on enjoyment and the present moment, and a gap between the cognitive and emotional spheres of some youth who consider themselves distant from stereotypical, heteronormative and patriarchal models, but who choose media representations that match these models and the traditional gender portrayals.
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Negotiating Love and Gender Stereotypes among Young People:
Prevalence of Amor Ludens and Television Preferences
Rooted in Hegemonic Masculinity.
Maddalena Fedele1, Maria-Jose Masanet & Rafael Ventura2
1) Ramon Llull University, Spain
2) Pompeu Fabra University, Spain
Date of publication: February 21st, 2019
Edition period: February 2019 - June 2019
To cite this article: Fedele, M., Masanet, M.J., & Ventura, R. (2019).
Negotiating love and gender stereotypes: Prevalence ofamor ludens
and television preferences rooted in hegemonic masculinity. Masculinities
and Social Change,8 (1),1-43. doi: 10.17583/MCS.2019.3742
To link this article: http://doi.org/10.17583/MCS.2019.3742
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MCS Masculinities and Social Change Vol. 8 No. 1 February 2019
pp. 1-43
2019 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3605
DOI: 10.17583/MCS.2019.3742
Negotiating Love and Gender Stereotypes
among Youn People: Prevalence of Amor
Ludens and Television Preferences Rooted
in Hegemonic Masculinity
Maddalena Fedele Maria-Jose Masanet
Ramon Llull University Pompeu Fabra University
Rafael Ventura
Pompeu Fabra University
Abstract
This study was carried out in three Iberian-American countries, Colombia, Spain and
Venezuela, to identify the stereotypes of love and gender professed among youth and compare
them to those they prefer in television fiction series, i.e., those able to influence their identities
and values. From an interdisciplinary perspective, the study involved a survey of 485 first-year
university students, and a qualitative analysis of the media representations preferred by them.
The results showed a preference for amor ludens, based on enjoyment and the present
moment, and a gap between the cognitive and emotional spheres of some youth who consider
themselves distant from stereotypical, heteronormative and patriarchal models, but who choose
media representations that match these models and the traditional gender portrayals.
Keywords: hegemonic masculinity; youth; love relationships; TV series; Ibero-America
MCS Masculinities and Social Change Vol. 8 No. 1 February 2019
pp. 1-43
2019 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3605
DOI: 10.17583/MCS.2019.3742
Negociando Estereotipos Amorosos y de
Género en la Juventud: Tendencia hacia el
Amor Ludens y Preferencias Televisivas
Ancladas a la Masculinidad Hegemónica
Maddalena Fedele Maria-Jose Masanet
Ramon Llull University Pompeu Fabra University
Rafael Ventura
Pompeu Fabra University
Resumen
Este estudio se llevó a cabo en tres países iberoamericanos, Colombia, España y Venezuela,
para identificar los estereotipos de amor y género manifestados por los jóvenes y compararlos
con aquellos que prefieren en las series de ficción televisiva, es decir, aquellos que pueden
influir en sus identidades y valores. Desde una perspectiva interdisciplinaria, este estudio
incluyó una encuesta a 485 estudiantes universitarios de primer curso y un análisis cualitativo
de las representaciones mediáticas preferidas por los participantes. Los resultados mostraron
una preferencia por el amor ludens, basado en el disfrute y el momento presente, y una
brecha entre las esferas cognitiva y emocional de unos jóvenes que se consideran distantes de
los modelos estereotípicos, heteronormativos y patriarcales, pero que eligen representaciones
mediáticas que coinciden precisamente con estos modelos y con estereotipos tradicionales de
género.
Palabras clave: masculinidad hegemónica; juventud; relaciones amorosas; series de
ficción; Iberoamérica.
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 3
he importance of romantic relationships in our society has often
been emphasized (Alberdi, 2004), especially during adolescence
and young adulthood (Connolly & McIsaac, 2011; Erikson,
1980; Kimmel & Weiner, 1998). The following premises need
to be acknowledged. First, love relationships are linked to cultural, social,
generational, educational and other factors (Ackerman, 2000). Second, some
cultural images in amorous discourses are more prominent than others in the
social imaginary (Illouz, 1997). Third, the social imaginary, of course, is
shaped and legitimated in part by media discourse. Based on those premises,
it can be recognized that love is still associated with such myths as "the
transformative power of love", "true love as fate" or the "soul mate", "total
devotion" and "love as possession and exclusivity", among others. This
conceptualization favors the perpetuation of roles and stereotypes regarding
love and gender within romantic relationships, often translating into a
"masculine" view of love concerned with sex and hormones, and a
"feminine" one preoccupied with romance, caring and sentiment (Araüna,
Tortajada, & Willem, 2018; Lutz, 1996). These roles and stereotypes are
heteronormative, patriarchal and even sexist, and often play an important part
in excusing control-seeking, power-seeking and violent behaviors (Cantera,
Estébanez, & Vázquez, 2009; de Miguel, 2015; Lindsey, 2015).
Masculinities Studies pay special attention to the existing male models
and to the construction of masculine identities (Connell, 2012; Frosh,
Phoenix, & Pattman, 2002; Kimmel, Hearn, & Connell, 2004), showing that
gendered socialization of hegemonic masculinity is mainly enacted through
cultural elements. However, the hegemonic patterns and the most conflictive
dimensions of masculine identity are still being idealized (Feasey, 2008;
Guerrero-Pico, Establés, & Ventura, 2018; Hatfield, 2010). As for the Ibero-
America context, according to Gutmann & Vigoya (2005), the studies of
masculinities are often formulated using the term "machismo" and "macho".
Indeed, "machismo" (male-chauvinism) is a common Spanish-speaking
expression of sexism and male domination, which is based on the
subordination of women, the systematic homophobia and the cult of virility
(Fuller, 2012). Machismo is also related to gender violence and romantic love
T
4 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
(Pérez & Fiol, 2013; Rubio et al., 2012). Therefore, it can be hypothesized
that especially in the Ibero-America context the social constructions of love,
sexual and gender identities are strictly connected to the concept of
"machismo", that is, to patriarchal and heteronormative values and models.
Young people, who are in the identity-forming part of their lives, acquire
values, models and social roles (including affective ones) not only through
traditional socialization agents (family, community, school, institutions) but
also from communications media (Arnett, Larson, & Offer, 1995; Boyd,
2014; Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, Signorielli, & Shanahan, 2002).
Serialized fiction programs in particular (e.g. series, serials and sitcoms),
which generally top the list of youth television preferences (von Feilitzen,
2004), offer young people several role models, which are often stereotyped,
heteronormative and patriarchal, including those related to gender and love
(Galán-Fajardo, 2007; Guarinos, 2009; Lauzen, Dozier, & Horan, 2008;
Nogueira-Joyce, 2013; Scharrer, 2001; Signorielli & Bacue, 1999). Also,
these media products prominently feature love relationships, and frequently
present stereotyped representations based on the idealization of romantic
love and on archetypal or stereotypical models (Galician & Merskin, 2017;
Masanet, Medina-Bravo & Aran-Ramspott, 2016; Van Damme, 2010; Van
Damme & Van Bauwel, 2013). For example, teen series, those drama series
targeted specifically at teenagers and representing teens lives (Davis &
Dickinson, 2004; Fedele, 2014; Ross & Stein, 2008), are representative of
this matter. In fact, teen series frequently represent the lead couple - generally
heterosexual (Kirsch & Murnen, 2015) - through the myth of redemptive
love, in which a submissive, understanding woman saves the violent,
"baddie" man from himself through the power of love (Masanet & Fedele,
2019), as in Beauty and the Beast (Balló & Pérez, 1995).
Furthermore, studies have proliferated in recent years showing the
educational possibilities of communications media in the area of love
relationships. They see teenagers and young people as active participants
when interacting with audiovisual products, capable of making sense of
contents presented in the media (e.g. Albury, 2013; Bragg, 2006; Kennett,
Humphreys, & Schultz, 2012; Masanet & Buckingham, 2015; McKee, 2012).
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 5
Buckingham and Bragg (2004) indicate that teenagers and young people
often consider communications media as a more useful resource than
educational institutions or their parents in learning about sex and love
relationships. In this sense, as Masanet & Buckingham (2015) sustain, media
are more accessible, and often more entertaining while taking a less
moralistic tack.
Although media can promote harmful practices, they also have the
potential to make available to young people ideas and representations of
sexuality and love relationships that break with pre-established, hegemonic
discourses and help to generate debate around ethical question that go beyond
simplistic pronouncements about what is right or wrong (Masanet &
Buckingham, 2015; Ventura, 2013). Similarly, several authors (Cohen, 2006;
Hoffner & Buchanan, 2005; Ter Bogt, Engels, Bogers, & Kloosterman, 2010;
Ward & Friedman, 2006) indicate that teenagers and young people indeed
tend to seek out television series with young protagonists dealing with
relationships as couples, and that they can serve as an educational resource
to this audience. In particular, as for boys, as Zeglin (2016) points out, media
content as fiction and characters portrayals can contribute to the social
construction of male identity and masculinity.
Given this, the special relationship between young people and the media
can be used to understand teenagers' and young people's conception of love.
This is especially true since, when young people talk about a program, they
are talking indirectly about themselves, their preferences, their sensibilities,
their ideology, their models of attraction and identification, their
contradictions, and so on (Ferrés, Figueras-Maz, Masanet, & Hafner, 2017,
p. 117). Thus, through young people's opinions of serialized fiction and the
love and gender stereotypes portrayed in them on one hand, and the analysis
of those portrayals, on the other, we can understand how the youth think
about love, relationships and relationship models.
The principal objective of this study is to identify stereotypes and models
related to gender and relationships that young people claim to hold, and to
compare them with those that they consume in their preferred serialized
fiction programs, i.e. those that have the potential unconsciously and
6 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
emotionally to influence their conceptualizations and values. This objective
has been pursued with a focus in the period termed late adolescence or early
youth (18-19 years old), throughout a convenience sample consisting of
University students from three countries of the Ibero-American area:
Colombia, Spain and Venezuela. An interdisciplinary perspective has been
taken, combining the fields of Cultural Studies and Audience Studies (e.g.:
Hall, 1999; McQuail, 1997), and contributions from the field of sociology
(e.g.: Bauman, 2005; Giddens, 2008) and psychology (e.g.: Sternberg, 1989,
2000).
Analyzing Contemporary Love Relationships: Sternberg's Triangular
Theory of Love
The contemporary Western historical, social and economic context has
produced a new paradigm of emotional relationships, one which Beck and
Beck-Gernsheim (2001) define as the normal and everyday chaos of love.
The authors refer to the emergence of new types of family, sexuality, lifestyle
and more, in which feelings have come to occupy a prominent position. In
this context of uncertainty and questioning, love becomes all the more
essential for people: "romantic love, we are told by some, is the last
repository of the authenticity and the warmth that have been robbed from us
by an increasingly technocratic and legalistic age" (Illouz, 1997, p.1).
Likewise, Esteban (2011), indicates that in contemporary Western society
"Romantic thinking" has been established:
An articulated set of love-related symbols, concepts and theories
permeating all social, even institutional spaces, which directly
influences people's habits, structuring unequal gender, class and
ethnic relations, and is a concrete, heterosexual way of
understanding desire, identity and, indeed, the subject itself
(Esteban, 2011, p. 23).
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 7
Figure 1. Sternberg's triangle of love (1989, 2000)
This model is based on three basic elements: intimacy, passion and
commitment. "Intimacy" refers to feelings that occur in the relationship and
foster closeness, bonding and emotional connection with the other. It
encompasses traits such as trust, respect, sincerity, understanding and
acceptance, which are characteristic of friendship and fundamental for
intimacy. Building intimacy requires work on the part of the couple because
it needs to be balanced with independence and personal autonomy. "Passion"
can be understood as sexual attraction, although the author takes it further:
"passion is, to a great extent, the expression of desires and needs, such as
self-esteem, belonging, dominance, submission and sexual satisfaction"
(Sternberg, 2000, p. 22). Passion is closely related to intimacy, although they
may be manifested at different times. In some relationships, passion appears
immediately while intimacy needs to be built from the ground up.
8 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
"Commitment" is the third component of Sternberg's triangle. He
distinguishes between short- and long-term commitment: "the short-term
aspect consists of the decision to love a certain person, while the long-term
aspect constitutes the commitment to maintain love" (Sternberg, 2000, p. 24).
The combination of these three elements leads to seven different models
for love relationships:
- Liking: based solely on intimacy;
- Infatuation: based solely on passion;
- Empty love: based solely on commitment;
- Fatuous love: combines passion and commitment, but excludes intimacy.
"We occasionally associate this type of love with Hollywood marriages and
other flash-in-the-pan relationships where a couple meets one day, swears
eternal love and gets married right away" (Sternberg, 2000, p. 35);
- Romantic love: combines intimacy and passion. It is the love featured in
classic literary works like Romeo and Juliet, which have ended up becoming
an "institutionalized" model of desire (Sternberg, 2000);
- Companionate love: combines intimacy and commitment, but lacks
passion, usually associated with physical attraction and sexual desire;
- Consummate love: emerges from the combination of all three elements
and represents the most desirable model, but is difficult to maintain.
Sternberg himself has expanded and qualified his first proposal in "the
duplex theory of love" (1998, 2006), where he points out that this theory
captures two essential elements of the nature of love: first, its structure (a
triangular subtheory), and second, its development (a subtheory of love as a
story). The subtheory of love as a story is an attempt to specify how various
kinds (triangles) of love develop. We consider each of the subtheories and
the duplex theory as a whole (Sternberg, 2006, p.184).
Methods
As mentioned above, the principal objective of this study was to identify and
analyze the models and stereotypes of love and gender that young people
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 9
claim to hold, in order to compare and contrast them with those they select,
consume and interiorize from television fiction. Also, the study focused
specifically on late adolescents (18-19 years-old), through a sample of 1st
year University students from three Ibero-American countries: Colombia,
Spain and Venezuela.
This general goal translates into the following specific objectives:
- To identify stereotypes about love and gender among youth;
- To identify their preferences regarding serialized television fiction;
- To analyze stereotypes about love and gender portrayed in their favorite
programs;
- To compare stereotypes about love and gender among youth with those
represented in their preferred programs;
- To analyze possible gender bias;
- To compare results for the three countries studied (Colombia, Venezuela
and Spain).
In order to achieve these objectives, the study was carried out in two
phases and combined quantitative and qualitative techniques.
The quantitative stage consisted of an analysis of the youth audience through
a survey administered during the 2014-15 academic year to 485 young
university students in three Iberian-American countries: Venezuela (n=209;
43.1%), Colombia (n=82; 16.9%) and Spain (n=194; 40%).
The questionnaire, which was administered in paper or online, depending on
accessibility to each participating institution, to first-year Communication
students, included open questions, closed questions and 5-point Likert scale
items (where 5=Strongly agree and 1=Strongly disagree) about the following
items:
- Sociodemographic data (always ensuring anonymity): sexe, age, sexual
orientation, country;
- Stereotypes about love and gender, based on Sternberg's (1989, 2000)
triangular theory of love. In order to do this we created statements based on
the three elements of the Sternberg proposal: intimacy (ex: trust, respect,
sincerity, complicity), commitment (long-term commitment) and passion
10 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
(sexual satisfaction). The majority of these statements were taken from the
authors own reflections;
- Preferences regarding television fiction products (programs, characters,
plots) (Fedele, 2011; Masanet, 2016). In particular, participants were asked
to mention their favourite programs and characters in two open questions,
whose answers were codified a posteriori. Furthermore, two lists of plot
types and charactersadjectives (Fedele, 2011) were proposed to the
participants in order to be valued on a 1 to 10 scale. The adjectives used to
describe the psychological traits were also used in the qualitative phase of
this study.
The database was weighted by participant country, and descriptive and
bivariate analysis was carried out with SPSS (significance p<0.05). The final
weighted sample was 62,1% (n=301) female and 37,9% (n=184) male, with
a mean age of 19,45 (median=19; mode=18).
The qualitative phase comprised an analysis of media representations
regarding the serialized fiction characters preferred by those surveyed.
Qualitative analysis was performed on the 7 characters mentioned by more
than 5% of the sample for the following variables: physical characteristics,
social characteristics, psychological characteristics and types of love
relationships (García-Muñoz & Fedele, 2011; Masanet, Medina-Bravo &
Aran-Ramspott, 2016). As for physical characteristics, the variable used to
analyze the characters were: sex, age, race, physical build and dress. As for
social characteristics, we analyzed the social class, the family type, and the
leisure activities carried out by the character. As for psychological traits, we
used the following list of adjectives we had applied in previous studies
(Fedele, 2011; Masanet, 2015), and to describe the psychological attributes
of the characters in the questionnaire: Affectionate, Ambitious, Attentive,
Attractive, Authoritarian, Conflictive, Fun, Generous, Hard-working,
Helpful, Honest, Idealistic, Impulsive, Immature, Independent, Insecure,
Intelligent, Kind, Manipulative, Mature, Rebellious, Responsible, Romantic,
Seductive, Selfish, Self-assured, Sensitive, Tender, Tolerant, Understanding,
Violent. Finally, as for love relationships, we analyze the sexual orientation
of the character, their love and sexual relationship in the series, and the
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 11
possible narrative scheme behind them. Three coders analyzed the characters
by classifying them for all variables. To ensure coding reliability, the coding
criteria were agreed on in meetings prior and simultaneous to the analysis.
Results
Stereotypes of Love and Gender among Youth
Regarding youth stereotypes about love, the results reveal that participants
consider intimacy as the most important aspect of a love relationship, since
items connected with intimacy were the most highly valued, including "trust,
respect, sincerity, complicity" and "enjoying spending time together" (Figure
2).
Figure 2. Youth assessment of factors from Sternberg's triangle (%) (Source: own
data)
Aspects related to passion came in second place, including sexual
satisfaction and physical attraction, while aspects related to long-term
commitment came in last, chosen by less than one fourth of the sample. Thus,
it was shown that the young people in the sample prioritized the components
12 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
that together form Sternberg's (2000) romantic love. Commitment, a key
element for consummate love, comes in third place.
Bivariate analysis shows gender-related differences (Figure 3): more
males than females chose aspects related to passion, such as "sexual
satisfaction" (p=0.001), chosen by 50.8% (n=93) of males versus 34.8%
(n=104) of females; and "physical attraction"(p<0.001), chosen by 49.7%
(n=91) of males versus 30% (n=90) of females. In contrast, more females
than males selected intimacy-related aspects such as "trust, respect..."
(p=0.002), selected by 96% (n=288) of females versus 88.5% (n=162) of
males; and "partners support in decisions" (p=0.002), selected by 65.7%
(n=197) of females versus 51.4% (n=94) of males.
Figure 3. Gender differences in youth assessment of factors from Sternberg's triangle
(%). Source. Own data
Differences were also detected between the three countries (Figure 4).
Spanish participants in particular favored intimacy-related items such as
"trust, respect..." (p=0.003; Spanish: 96.9%, n=157; Venezuelan: 94.4%,
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 13
n=152; Colombian: 87.7%, n=142) and "enjoying spending time together"
(p=0.001; Spanish: 80.1% n=129; Colombian: 75.8%, n=122; Venezuelan:
62.7%, n=101); while they were the group that placed least value on "getting
along well with your partner's family" (p<0.001; Spanish: 8.7%, n=14;
Colombian: 17.3%, n=28; Venezuelan: 34.4% n=55).
Figure 4. Differences among countries in youth assessment of factors from
Sternberg's triangle (%). Source. Own data
Colombian participants, on the other hand, selected passion-related items
more than the other national groups, for example "sexual satisfaction"
(p<0.001; Colombian: 52.5%, n=85; Spanish: 43.8% n=71; Venezuelan:
26.3%, n=42), andromance(p=0.001; Colombian: 67.1% n=108;
14 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
Venezuelan: 52.2%, n=84; Spanish: 46.3%, n=75). They selected
commitment-related items less frequently than the rest of the sample,
including "sexual fidelity" (p<0.001; Colombian: 32.9%, n=53; Venezuelan:
54.4% n=87; Spanish: 64.6%, n=104) and "long-term commitment"
(p=0.001; Colombian: 18.5%, n=30; Spanish: 21.1%, n=34; Venezuelan:
35% n=56).
Lastly, Venezuelan participants tended to favor commitment-related items
compared to the rest of the sample, both in the case of "long-term
commitment" (p=0.001; Venezuelan: 35% n=56; Spanish: 21.1%, n=34;
Colombian: 18.5%, n=30) and "getting along with the partners family"
(p<0.001; Venezuelan: 34.4%, n=55; Colombian: 17.3%, n=28; Spanish:
8.7%, n=14).
These data were also corroborated by the degree of (dis)agreement
expressed by participants regarding three items corresponding to the three
corners of the triangle of love, on a 5-point Likert scale (where 5=Strongly
agree and 1=Strongly disagree): intimacy ("A relationship can never work
without trust and respect"; x=4.71), passion ("Sex is the key element in
consolidating a relationship"; x=2.96) and commitment ("One never knows
if a relationship is going to work", x=3.76). Once again, some sex-based
differences were found: males rated the passion-related item higher
compared to females (p<0.001; xmale=3.2, xfemale=2.82), and females did
so with the intimacy-related item (xfemale=4.82, xmale=4.52).
Lastly, as shown in Table 1, participants were asked about their degree of
(dis)agreement with items related to various stereotypes (and anti-
stereotypes) regarding gender and romantic love, based on the results of
previous studies and which stress the importance of romantic love for youth
(Aran-Ramspott, Medina-Bravo, Rodrigo-Alsina, & Munté-Ramos, 2014; de
Miguel, 2015).
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 15
Table 1
Youth ratings of stereotypes about gender and love
Stereotypes (s) and anti-
stereotypes (as) of gender
Romantic love ideal
x
Having sex is good both for women
and for men (AS)
Maintaining romance is basic in
any love relationship
4.13
In a relationship, women tend to be
more demanding than men (S)
I would like to meet the love of
my life
4.09
The more feminine a woman, the
more attractive she is (S)
If your partner does not make
you feel special, it is no use
continuing the relationship
3.64
Emotionally, men are more
independent than women (S)
I believe in the transformative
power of love
3.34
In general, men and women are
looking for the same thing in a
relationship (AS)
If you aren't jealous, you aren't in
love
2.08
"Bad boys" are more attractive (S)
Love involves suffering and self-
denial
2.05
Men want sex and women want
romance (S)
If you fall in love once, you
cannot fall in love again
1.63
Source. Own data
16 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
Participants agreed (4 on a Likert scale) or strongly agreed (5) both with anti-
stereotype-related statements like "Having sex is good both for women and
men" (x=4.57), and with statements related to the myth of romantic love such
as "Maintaining romance is basic in any love relationship" (x=4.13) and "I
would like to meet the love of my life" (x=4.09). Also, they disagreed (2) or
strongly disagreed (1) with statements obviously related to the ideal of
romantic love such as "If you aren't jealous, you aren't in love" (x=2.08) and
"Love involves suffering and self-denial" (x=2.05), as well as those
statements explicitly related to gender stereotypes, like "Men want sex and
women want romance" (x=2.33). Furthermore, contradictions were
observed: while participants rated the search for absolute or definitive love
very highly (the myth of the soul mate), they strongly disagreed with
statements representing this myth, such as "If you fall in love once, you
cannot fall in love again" (x=1.63).
Table 2.
Gender differences in youth ratings of stereotypes about gender and love
Stereotypes (s) and
anti-stereotypes (as) of
gender
xmales
xfemales
Romantic love ideal
xmales
xfemales
Having sex is good both
for women and for men
(AS)*
4.72
4.48
Maintaining romance is
basic in any love
relationship*
4.03
4.19
In a relationship, women
tend to be more
demanding than men (S)
3.39
3.30
I would like to meet the
love of my life*
3.86
4.23
The more feminine a
woman, the more
attractive she is (S)*
3.21
2.87
If your partner does not
make you feel special, it
is no use continuing the
relationship
3.53
3.71
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 17
Table 2 (Continued)
Gender differences in youth ratings of stereotypes about gender and love
Stereotypes (s) and anti-
stereotypes (as) of gender
xmales
xfemales
Romantic love ideal
xmales
xfemales
Emotionally, men are more
independent than women (S)
2.91
2.79
I believe in the
transformative power of
love
3.27
3.40
In general, men and women
are looking for the same thing
in a relationship (AS)
2.68
2.65
If you aren't jealous, you
aren't in love
2.12
2.06
"Bad boys" are more attractive
(S)*
2.38
2.81
Love involves suffering
and self-denial
2.17
1.98
Men want sex and women
want romance (S)*
2.14
2.44
If you fall in love once,
you cannot fall in love
again
1.65
1.62
Source. Own data
Once again, there are significant differences between sexes (Table 2),
since male participants tended to agree less with aspects connected with the
ideal of romantic love, such as "I would like to meet the love of my life"
(p<0.001; xmale=3.86, xfemale=4.23), and disagree more with certain items
related to gender stereotypes, such as "Men want sex and women want
romance" (p<0.001; xmale=2.14, xfemale=2.44) or " Bad boys are more
attractive" (p<0.001; xmale=2.38, xfemale=2.81), a fact which furthermore
18 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
shows a certain tendency to internalize stereotyped differences established
by heteropatriarchy.
Male participants, on the other hand, agreed more than females with items
related both to physical and sexual items like "Having sex is good both for
women and for men" (p<0.001; xmale=4.72, xfemale=4.48), and to classic
patriarchal stereotypes like "The more feminine a woman, the more attractive
she is" (p=0.005; xmale=3.21, xfemale=2.87).
Table 3.
Differences among countries in youth ratings of stereotypes about gender and love
Stereotypes (s) and
anti-stereotypes (as) of
gender
xCols
xSpa
xVen
Romantic love ideal
xCols
xSpa
xVen
Having sex is good both
for women and for men
(AS)*
4.61
4.71
4.39
Maintaining romance is
basic in any love
relationship*
3.99
3.95
4.45
In a relationship, women
tend to be more
demanding than men
(S)*
3.16
3.17
3.69
I would like to meet the
love of my life*
3.82
4.09
4.37
The more feminine a
woman, the more
attractive she is (S)*
2.85
2.47
3.66
If your partner does not
make you feel special, it
is no use continuing the
relationship*
3.61
3.41
3.90
Emotionally, men are
more independent than
women (S)*
2.87
2.61
3.02
I believe in the
transformative power of
love*
3.57
3.09
3.37
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 19
Table 3 (Continued)
Differences among countries in youth ratings of stereotypes about gender and love
Stereotypes (s) and anti-
stereotypes (as) of
gender
xCols
xSpa
xVen
Romantic love
ideal
xCols
xSpa
xVen
In general, men and
women are looking for the
same thing in a
relationship (AS)
2.79
2.74
2.44
If you aren't jealous,
you aren't in love*
2.01
1.86
2.37
"Bad boys" are more
attractive (S)
2.61
2.60
2.75
Love involves
suffering and self-
denial*
1.94
2.20
2.02
Men want sex and women
want romance (S)*
2.33
2.13
2.51
If you fall in love
once, you cannot
fall in love again*
1.80
1.48
1.61
Source. Own data
Lastly, regarding differences between countries (Table 3), it should first
be noted that Spanish participants tended to agree more closely than
participants in the other two countries on sexual aspects, i.e. "Having sex is
good both for women and for men" (p=0.004; xSpain=4.71;
xColombia=4.61; xVenezuela=4.39).
In general, Venezuelan participants tended to agree more with ideas
concerning romantic love, such as "Maintaining romance is basic in any love
relationship" (p<0.001; xVenezuela=4.45; xColombia=3.99; xSpain=3.95),
"I would like to meet the love of my life" (p<0.001; xVenezuela=4.37;
20 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
xSpain=4.09; xColombia=3.82), "If your partner does not make you feel
special, it is no use continuing the relationship" (p<0.001; xVenezuela=3.9;
xColombia=3.61; xSpain=3.41) and "If you aren't jealous, you aren't in love"
(p<0.001; xVenezuela=2.37; xColombia=2.01; xSpain=1.86), with the
Spanish participants taking the furthest distance from this ideal.
Also, Venezuelan participants tended to agree more with traditional
gender stereotypes like "In a relationship, women tend to be more demanding
than men" (p<0.001; xVenezuela=3.69; xSpain=3.17; xColombia=3.16),
"The more feminine a woman, the more attractive she is" (p<0.001;
xVenezuela=3.66; xColombia=2.85; xSpain=2.47), "Emotionally, men are
more independent than women" (p=0.005; xVenezuela=3.02;
xColombia=2.87; xSpain=2.61) and "Men want sex and women want
romance" (p=0.002; xVenezuela=2.51; xColombia=2.33; xSpain=2.13),
with Spaniards again taking the furthest distance from this ideal.
Youth preferences in serialized fiction
Surveyed participants indicated more than 150 different serialized fiction
programs as their favorites. All programs mentioned by more than 10% of
the sample were from the U.S. The five most frequently mentioned programs
in the three open questions were The Simpsons (20.4%, n=87), The Big Bang
Theory (16.5%, n=71), Friends (16.1%, n=69), Game of Thrones (14.9%,
n=64) and Breaking Bad (13.5%, n=59).
Participants rated more highly plots based on mystery/suspense (x=7.78),
love (x=7.03) and action/adventure (x=7.02), while they rejected plots
based on violence (x=4.62) and physical appearance (x=4.56) (see Table 4
and Table 5).
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 21
Table 4
Youth ratings of plots
Source. Own data
Table 5
Youth ratings of plots
Source. Own data
Mystery/
Suspense
Love
Action-
Advent-
ure
Social
issues
Friend
-ship
Adoles
-cence
Mean
7.78
7.03
7.02
6.67
6.59
5.77
Median
8
8
7
7
7
6
Mode
10
10
10
8
8
5
S.D.
2.385
2.515
2.49
2.756
2.183
2.736
Sex
Sexual
diversity
Family
issues
Discri
minati
on
Drugs-
Alcohol
Violence
Physical
appearan
ce
Mean
5.61
5.46
5.45
5.24
5.23
4.62
4.56
Median
6
5
6
5
5.98
5
5
Mode
5
5
5
5
7
5
5
S.D.
2.73
2.86
2.57
2.89
2.8
2.91
2.77
22 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
Bivariate analysis revealed sex differences: males rated higher plots
related to action/adventure (p<0.001), violence (p<0.001), sex (p<0.001) and
drugs/alcohol (p<0.001), while female participants rated higher than did male
participants plots related to love (p<0.001), friendship (p=0.001),
adolescence (p=0.001) and family issues (p=0.005). These preferences are in
line with dominant gender stereotypes, as previous studies have shown
(Fedele, 2011).
Furthermore, bivariate analysis by country showed that Spanish
participants rate more highly plots based on sensitive or controversial topics
like sex (p<0.001: xSpain=6.09; xColombia=5.88; xVenezuela=4.84), sexual
diversity (p<0.001: xSpain=5.87; xColombia=5.7; xVenezuela=4.78),
drugs/alcohol (p<0.001: xSpain=5.65; xColombia=5.9; xVenezuela=4.54)
and violence (p<0.001: xSpain=5.2; xColombia=4.62; xVenezuela=4.03),
while it was Venezuelans who rated most highly plots dealing with love
(p<0.001: xVenezuela=7.53; xSpain=6.83; xColombia=6.76) and
Colombians, those dealing with social issues (politics, culture, health,
environment, education, etc.) (p<0.001: xColombia=7.45; xSpain=6.31;
xVenezuela=6.22).
The adjectives attributed to the characters most appreciated by
participants (on a scale of 0 to 10) were intelligent (x=8.73), fun (x=8.69)
and self-assured (x=8.3), while the lowest-rated ones were authoritarian
(x=5.25), manipulative (x=4.63) and violent (x=4.05). Participants also
highly value other traits such as independent (x=7.78), mature (x=7.58),
honest (x=7.25), seductive (x=7.24), attractive (x=7.22) and rebellious
(x=6.9).
In the open-ended items, participants listed more than 200 characters
among their favorites, although this variety does not translate into gender
equality: choices for favorite character were mostly male, from 78.4% (n=
301) for first choice to 69.9% (n=233) for third-favorite.
Indeed, the only seven characters indicated by more than 5% of the
sample were white, heterosexual males from U.S. programs from various
genres (sitcoms, drama series and animated series) (Table 6).
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 23
Table 6
Characters preferred by the sample
Character
Frequency
Percentage
Sheldon Cooper - The Big Bang Theory
61
16.8
Homer - The Simpsons
59
16.3
Walter White - Breaking Bad
36
9.6
House - House
31
8.8
Barney Stinson - How I Met Your Mother
23
6.4
Tyrion Lannister - Game Of Thrones
23
6
Damon Salvatore - Vampire Diaries
21
5.5
Source. Own data
Gender bias also manifests itself in these preferences: more female than male
participants listed female characters (p<0.001), sometimes by score
differences in multiples of ten. For their first choice, only 10.9% (n=17) of
male participants mentioned a female character, while for third-favorite
38.9% (n=77) of female participants did so. On the other hand, no difference
was found between the three countries.
Furthermore, male participants rated more highly "negative" characters
("baddies") with traits like authoritarian (p=0.018), impulsive (p=0.01),
violent (p<0.001), ambitious (p<0.001) and manipulative (p<0.001). In
contrast, female participants rated more highly the "positive" traits of
characters, with adjectives such as kind (p=0.002), honest (p=0.003),
affectionate (p<0.001), mature (p<0.001), self-assured (p=0.007), helpful
(p=0.003), sensitive (p<0.001), attentive (p=0.003), romantic (p<0.001),
understanding (p=0.002), generous (p=0.001), tender (p<0.001).
One exception to this tendency was that female participants rated
seductive (p<0.001) and attractive (p<0.001) characters more highly than did
males. Lastly, significant differences were observed in ratings for
24 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
affectionate (xmale=5.70, xfemale=7.04), romantic (xmale=5.70,
xfemale=7.57), manipulative (xmale=4.72, xfemale=4.48) and violent
(xmale=5.55, xfemale=4.09) characters.
Analysis of media representations
Results of the qualitative analysis are summarized in Table 7, which
describes variables related to the physical, social and psychological
characteristics of the characters preferred by the sample, as well as their love
relationships, analyzed across seasons of the series.
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 25
Table 7
Qualitative analysis of preferred characters
Character
Physical
Characteristi
cs
Social
Characteristi
cs
Psychological
Characteristi
cs
Love Relationships
Sheldon
Cooper
The Big
Bang
Theory
Build: Slim
Dress: Casual
Social class:
Upper-middle
Family: Flat
mate/partner
Hobbies:
Comics,
Series, Role
plays, Social
relations
Attributes:
Intelligent,
Fun,
Self-assured,
Honest,
Ambitious,
Authoritarian,
Manipulative
He loathes emotional
relationships; has a
"relationship agreement"
with his partner Amy;
hates physical contact and
is self-centered in the
relationship, which
follows the myth of
redemptive love.
Homer
The
Simpsons
Build: Heavy-
set
Dress: Casual
Social class:
Lower middle
Family:
Traditional
Hobbies:
Drinking,
Family
relations
Attributes:
Fun,
Rebellious,
Impulsive,
Affectionate,
Authoritarian,
Manipulative,
Violent
He is married to Marge,
with whom he has a
typical patriarchal
relationship (almost
mother-son), centered
around his carelessness
and self-centeredness.
Marge forgives all his
mistakes when he
apologizes and becomes
tender (a certain degree of
influence from the myth
of redemptive love is to
be felt).
26 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
Table 7 (Continued)
Qualitative analysis of preferred characters
Character
Physical
Characteristics
Social
Characteristics
Psychological
Characteristics
Love
Relationships
Walter
White -
Breaking
Bad
Build: Average
Dress: Casual
Social class:
Middle
Family: Traditional
Hobbies: Family
relations
Attributes:
Intelligent,
Self-assured,
Independent,
Rebellious,
Affectionate,
Ambitious,
Authoritarian,
Manipulative,
Violent
Married to Skyler,
whom he
considers to be the
love of his life,
alongside his
children (with
whom he is
affectionate, the
reason for which
he starts to
produce
methamphetamine
s.) But he also lies
to, manipulates
and even threatens
Skyler throughout
the series. When
she leaves him, he
attempts to redeem
himself by doing
everything he can
to get his money to
Skyler and his
children.
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 27
Table 7 (Continued)
Qualitative analysis of preferred characters
Character
Physical
Characteristics
Social
Characteristics
Psychological
Characteristics
Love Relationships
House -
House
Build: Average
(Limps)
Dress: Casual
Social class:
Upper-middle
Family: Lives
alone
Hobbies: Art,
Culture, Drugs
Attributes:
Intelligent,
Fun,
Self-assured,
Independent,
Honest,
Rebellious,
Generous,
Impulsive,
Ambitious,
Authoritarian,
Manipulative,
Violent
Solitary and ill-tempered,
misanthropic and
narcissistic, House makes
fun of, treats badly, lies to
and manipulates
everybody, even Lisa
Cuddy, his boss, friend
and (for a time) girlfriend.
Although the relationship
with Lisa redeems him
temporarily, his
relationships are doomed
by his self-centeredness
and lack of emotional
communication.
28 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
Table 7 (Continued)
Qualitative analysis of preferred characters
Character
Physical
Characteristics
Social
Characteristics
Psychological
Characteristics
Love Relationships
Barney
Stinson -
How I Met
Your
Mother
Build: Average
Dress: Formal -
Elegant (suit)
Social class:
Upper-class
Family: Lives
alone
Hobbies:
Hooking
up/having fun
(drinking,
partying)/Social
relations
Attributes:
Intelligent, Fun,
Self-assured,
Seductive,
Attractive,
Rebellious,
Generous,
Impulsive,
Ambitious,
Authoritarian,
Manipulative
An inveterate womanizer,
sexist, narcissistic, self-
centred, liar and
manipulator of women,
whom he sees as sexual
objects, terrified of short-
and long-term
commitment, falls in love
with his best friend
Robyn, whom he marries
and for whom he decides
to change. When change
is impossible, they
divorce and he returns to
his previous life, only
truly and unselfishly
loving his daughter.
Although the redemptive
love with his partner fails,
the love in Barney's
father-daughter
relationship works. He is
also generous with his
friends.
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 29
Table 7 (Continued)
Qualitative analysis of preferred characters
Character
Physical
Characteristics
Social
Characteristics
Psychological
Characteristics
Love Relationships
Tyrion
Lannister -
Game Of
Thrones
Build: Normal
(dwarfism)
Dress: Formal
Social class:
Upper-class
Family:
Dysfunctional
Hobbies:
Drinking/Sex
Attributes:
Intelligent, Fun,
Self-assured,
Independent,
Mature,
Honest,
Rebellious,
Romantic,
Understanding,
Tolerant,
Sensitive,
Impulsive,
Attentive,
Manipulative
A lover of sexual
pleasure, he mostly has
relations with prostitutes
(due to his physical and
social condition), until he
falls in love with Shae. To
protect her, he keeps their
relationship secret, but
ends up killing her when
she betrays him. He treats
the women he loves
protectively and with
respect: Shae, his teenage
bride, Sansa, with whom
he decides not to have
sexual relations due to her
young age (and because
he is in love with Shae);
his queen Daenerys, with
whom he shares a deep
friendship.
30 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
Table 7 (Continued)
Qualitative analysis of preferred characters
Character
Physical
Characteristics
Social
Characteristics
Psychological
Characteristics
Love Relationships
Damon
Salvatore -
Vampire
Diaries
Build: Average
Dress:
Casual/Trendy
Social class:
Upper-middle
Family: Other
types/Dysfunctio
nal
Hobbies: Having
fun (Drinking,
Killing), Social
Relations
Attributes:
Intelligent, Fun,
Self-assured,
Independent,
Seductive,
Attractive,
Rebellious,
Romantic,
Affectionate,
Sensitive,
Impulsive,
Ambitious,
Authoritarian,
Manipulative,
Violent
Rebellious,
manipulative, a "bad
boy" and self-centered
with women, until he
falls in love with his
brother's girlfriend,
Elena, for whom he
attempts to change,
and with whom he
maintains a typical
relationship based on
the myth of
redemptive love (he is
romantic, affectionate
and sensitive only
with her). He often
makes mistakes,
becomes violent, even
kills his friends, but
she eventually
forgives him and
"saves" him, literally
(turning him human).
Source. Own data
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 31
The most frequently chosen favorite characters are, except for Homer, all
intelligent, fun, and self-assured (the three most highly-rated characteristics
by the university students of our sample), but at the same time, most are
manipulative, authoritarian and violent (the lowest-rated traits).
Most have some sort of addiction, belong to upper or upper-middle classes
or possess some sort of power (except for Homer), and belong to
dysfunctional homes or families, or non-traditional family situations (only
Homer and Walter have a traditional family situation). Only two of them,
Barney and Damon, also fit the archetype of the attractive womanizer; the
rest are not very (or not at all) attractive (and two of them, Tyrion and House
possess physical handicaps).
As for psychological characteristics and relationships, they are all
heteronormative, patriarchal characters, narcissistic and/or self-centered with
their partners (Tyrion being the only exception to the latter). As it is shown
in Table 7, all the characters analyzed are well rounded ones, with complex
personalities, since they combine different psychological traits, which are
sometimes in contrast with each other. For example, Sheldon is both honest
and manipulative, since he is always sincere about his opinions and feelings,
but he also tends to manipulate others using his intelligence. On the other
hand, Homer is both affectionate and violent, since he loves his family and
especially his wife very much, but, at the same time he is irascible and often
physically violent, for instance with his son Bart.
Regarding love relationships portrayed in the series, they are all
heteronormative and nearly exclusively depict relationship models
characterized by gender differences. For instance, Barney Stinson is a
compulsive womanizer, treats women as objects and shows very little skill
in terms of feelings. Likewise, Homer Simpson demonstrates many instances
of sexism towards his partner and the family model they represent. None,
except Tyron, is truly capable of being completely open and sincere with his
partner, or of working on the facet of relationship that Sternberg (2000) calls
"intimacy".
Most match the archetype of the rebel or "bad boy" who always shows a
sensitive, affectionate or tender side with the person he loves. Thus, they can
32 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
be considered "rebels who are good deep down inside", and so exemplify the
erotic attraction of the "baddie" discussed by Figueras-Maz, Tortajada &
Araüna (2014), an erotic attraction always associated with men, and which
can foster violent attitudes within a relationship. Furthermore, other
attributes such as, for example, sensitivity and romance are scarce among the
characters chosen, and always associated with their loving partner.
Lastly, in most of the love relationships experienced by these characters,
various myths of romantic love are promoted and exploited, including
"redemptive love" (Damon and Elena, Sheldon and Amy), "the soul mate"
(Damon and Elena, Homer and Marge) and "the transformative power of
love" (Barney and Robyn, House and Cuddy), and the idea of jealousy as an
indicator of love is promoted.
Discussion and Conclusions
The data reveal that the ideal love relationship among young people belongs
to Sternberg's (2000) conceptualization of romantic love and fosters the
myths that it comprises. Young people value items based on intimacy and
passion above those based on commitment. As Medina et al. (2007) has
already stated, this state of affairs should be connected with the dissolution
of older love and family structures mainly based on commitment, which has
led to an emphasis on feelings within relationships, and thus intimacy, the
aspect most highly valued by youth. Sharing and enjoying time together,
emotional complicity and supporting one's partner have become some of the
most important items for the young people in the sample. Bauman's concept
of "liquid love" (2005) matches this way of understanding love perfectly:
leaving commitment in third place, it leads to relationships that are more
fragile and difficult to maintain, because they are based on more unstable
elements. It could be said that young people, and boys in particular, live their
relationships in the present moment and give great importance to enjoying
experiences shared with their partner, forming a sort of "amor ludens" - a
"here and now" love that can be difficult to maintain if the costs of the
relationship increase and the benefits associated with mutual enjoyment (and
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 33
often passion) are lost from sight (Bauman, 2005). "Amor ludens" is a
contribution that emerges from the results of the present study, where it has
been observed that "commitment" has become a secondary component of the
relationships and not a key element, as Sternberg (1989, 2000) would
understand it. As it has been observed in this study, the young people in the
sample emphazise statements related to the "enjoyment of time" and "fun"
with their partner. We have found some indicators of this "amor ludens" but
obviously it should be explored in detail in future qualitative studies.
The most notable differences in the Iberian-American setting studied here
can be summed up as follows: Spanish youth depart more from the ideal of
romantic love and identify more with "amor ludens"; Colombians tend to
more towards infatuation; Venezuelans, of the three, value commitment and
identify with romantic love the most.
Furthermore, gender differences are observed in youth understandings of
love. Males emphasized items dealing with passion and the physical and
sexual and, thus, to values corresponding to heteronormative and patriarchal
stereotypes. On the other hand, females attributed more importance than did
males to items related to intimacy and the romantic ideal and, thus, to
feelings. In this way, it is demonstrated that the romantic ideal and the myths
associated with it do not permeate both sexes equally, since males tend to
associate romantic relationships less with emotions and with these myths.
This could lead to a situation in which women are more willing to be
subordinate and passive in relationships (de Miguel, 2015) or even to a
somewhat slave-like relationship model (Illouz, 1997), being men more
active and dominant. It can be observed that traditional gender stereotypes in
love relationships, including those related to the "machismo", are still active
in the youngest generations in the Iberian-American setting. Additionally,
these stereotypes are constructed within an environment of
heteronormativity, which legitimates differences between men and women
and dissociates itself from any form of love that could exist outside the
normative bounds of heterosexuality (Guerrero-Pico, Establés & Ventura,
2017; Ventura, 2016).
34 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
This is also reflected in their preferences in serialized fiction. While males
prefer those based on violence, sex or drugs and alcohol, females prefer plots
based on personal relationships - love or friendship. Again, stereotypes are
observed that associate males with violence and action, and females with
more intimate, labile and emotional aspects.
Furthermore, the youth in the sample reported a preference for characters
that embody positive attributes such as intelligence, fun and self-assuredness,
while the characters they like least are authoritarian, manipulative and
violent. Again, gender differences were observed: male participants’ rate
attributes such as authoritarianism and violence higher, while females
participants do so with friendliness and affection. These are worrisome data,
because they show that males understand these traits as highly positive and
thus models to follow. Furthermore, when these data are related to the
preferred series characters, it is observed that although young people claim
to prefer non-stereotypical, more gender-equal characters, a majority chooses
men that embody gender stereotypes and heteronormative and patriarchal
values. Paradoxically, youth are cognitively capable of rejecting stereotyped
beliefs when rating traits of characters in the abstract, without associating
them with any specific character, but emotionally they prefer and defend
fictional characters that embody these self-same beliefs. In other words, there
is a gap between cognition and emotion. As previously observed (Ferrés et
al., 2017), understanding and critical thinking, associated with cognition, are
essential yet not sufficient without an emotional component to, here, confront
stereotypes and gender differences, and to attempt to depart from them.
Some young people, who claim to look for positive attributes in their
preferred models, but later follow gender stereotypes and choose violent,
sexist and authoritarian characters, demonstrate a dissociation between what
they understand, intellectually, to be right, and what attracts them
emotionally and constitutes itself as an unconscious model. If egalitarian
societies seek to transform the structures that produce gender inequality, then
it is necessary to work on new communicative strategies to help youth reject
- not merely cognitively but also emotionally - characters that embody
MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 35
heteronormative and patriarchal values and gender differences, in order to
ensure that youth do not unconsciously adopt them as models of reference.
Also, regarding love relationships, there is an apparent disconnect
between the cognitive and emotional spheres. Youth prove to agree with
items related to the romantic ideal, although they rate more highly items far
removed from stereotypes and defend equality in relationships.
Paradoxically, they preferred characters exemplify love relationships that do
not challenge the romantic myths, reproduce heteronormative models and, in
most cases, are far removed from egalitarian models.
In fact, these data not only make possible studies that delve into the way
youth incorporate media representations of love in their daily lives. They also
make possible the development of applied research focused on raising
awareness in adolescents and youth of gender and heteronormative
stereotypes, sexist behavior and different kinds of gender-based violence that
can sometimes coexist with the romantic ideal (e.g. Connolly & McIsaac,
2011; de Miguel, 2015; Kirsch & Murnen, 2015; Lutz, 1996; Van Damme,
2010; Van Damme & Van Bauwel, 2013). Youth consume and talk with each
other about fiction series, which suggests their potential to become useful
educational and transformational tools to help promote equality-based
models and impact youth attitudes in their current and future love
relationships. Series' potential to influence youth could help facilitate
conversations aimed at challenging gender stereotypes and helping them
build healthier, more equalitarian love relationships.
Acknowledgement
The authors thank Robert L. Bailey for the language review
36 Fedele, Masanet & Ventura Negotiating Love
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MCS Masculinities and Social Change, 8(1) 43
Maddalena Fedele is postdoctoral researcher at Blanquerna Universitat Ramon
Llull in the Faculty of Communication and International Relations, Spain.
Maria-Jose Masanet is lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Communication
at Pompeu Fabra University, Spain.
Rafael Ventura is lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Communication at
Pompeu Fabra University, Spain.
Contact Address: Direct correspondence to Maddalena Fedele, Facultat de
Comunicació i Relacions Internacionals Blanquerna-URL, Plaça Joan
Coromines, 08001 Barcelona, Spain, email: maddalena.fedele@gmail.com
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Esta investigación analiza el tratamiento que se dio en prime time a la sexualidad en la serie televisiva española Física o Química (Carlos Montero, 2008-2011). A través de una metodología cualitativa de análisis textual se persigue el objetivo principal de analizar la representación de todo aquello relacionado con las relaciones sexo-afectivas en la primera temporada de la serie. Los resultados muestran que se aprecia cierta presión social en los adolescentes por tener una vida sexual activa (y por adelantar su primera experiencia sexual) en un contexto hipersexualizado, lo cual deviene en trastornos afectivo-sexuales. Además, se vislumbra la falta de educación sexual en cuanto al uso del preservativo, y las posibles consecuencias como las enfermedades de transmisión sexual o el embarazo no deseado. Se llega a la conclusión de que esta serie supone un avance en lo que a el tratamiento de los temas sexuales por las series de televisión para los adolescentes se refiere; y que estos se muestran marcados por un importante sesgo de género, siendo las mujeres las que más sufren por estas temáticas.
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The process of design and validation of the content and structure of a tool for the analysis of gender stereotypes applicable to feature films, short films, and television series, both realistic and cartoonish, is presented. The model is called EG_5x4 and consists of five dimensions (corporal, attitudinal, social, affective-sexual, and audiovisual), being novel because of its distribution into four pairs of items per category. The methodological process began with the writing, based on previous instruments on gender stereotypes, of a draft of the items, which were distributed in dimensions and organized in pairs to be able to independently relate each statement to the male and/or female gender. This draft was evaluated by 35 experts (inter-judge validation). The global results of this phase determined the objective validity of the construct (CVI of 0.709 points). The qualitative contributions were considered, and the final writing and design of the instrument was reviewed, being applied to the analysis of 23 animated films. The coincidence in the items (analyzed separately by two researchers) and the wealth of nuances in the results led to the conclusion that the EG_5x4 instrument is valid and reliable for analysis of gender stereotypes in the audiovisual field. Resumen Se presenta el proceso de diseño y validación del contenido y estructura de un instrumento de análisis de estereotipos de género aplicable a largometrajes, cortometrajes y series de televisión, tanto realistas como de dibujos animados. Se trata de un modelo denominado EG_5x4, constituido por 5 dimensiones (corporal, actitudinal, social, afectivo-sexual y audiovisual) y que resulta novedoso por su distribución en 4 parejas de items por categoría. El proceso metodológico se inició con la redacción, a partir de instrumentos previos sobre estereotipos de género, de un borrador de los enunciados, que se distribuyeron en dimensiones y se organizaron en parejas para poder relacionar de manera independiente cada afirmación con el género masculino y/o femenino. Este borrador se sometió a evaluación por 35 personas expertas (validación interjueces). Los resultados globales de esta fase determinaron la validez objetiva del constructo, pues arrojaron un CVI de 0,709 puntos. Se consideraron las aportaciones cualitativas y se revisó la redacción y diseño finales del instrumento, que se aplicó al análisis de 23 filmes animados. La coincidencia en los items (analizados separadamente por parte de dos investigadoras) y la riqueza de matices en los resultados llevan a concluir que el instrumento EG_5x4 es válido y fiable para el análisis de estereotipos de género en el ámbito audiovisual.
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Las cuestiones sobre diversidad sexual han experimentado un incremento en los medios de comunicación. Estos pueden contribuir a asentar idearios estereotipados, pero también juegan un rol fundamental en los procesos de visibilidad y normalización. Por ello, numerosos académicos del área de la comunicación han tratado de explorar diversas cuestiones sobre la diversidad sexual en su relación con los medios. Este artículo plantea una revisión de las últimas tendencias de investigación en este campo. Para ello se apoya teóricamente en el concepto de heteronormatividad. Finalmente, se detecta un desequilibrio entre el desarrollo de marcos conceptuales y la exploración de nuevas metodologías. Palabras clave: Heteronormatividad, representación mediática, diversidad sexual, tendencias de investigación, LGBT.
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This article contributes to the debates around toxic fan practices by focusing on the regulation and management strategies activated intra-fandom in order to combat fan toxicity. In particular, the social media boycott campaign against the teen series The 100 (The CW, 2014-) is examined after the death of a popular lesbian character in March 2016. This event propelled an online movement termed 'LGBT Fans Deserve Better', dedicated to improving the representation of lesbian and bisexual women on television and of characters infamously subjected to the occurrence of the 'Dead Lesbian Syndrome' trope. To frame this study, we discuss television representation of lesbian love and its effects on young queer females, and draw some necessary conceptual distinctions within what we call the spectrum of conflict formed by fan-tagonism, anti-fandom, and toxic fan practices, and how that spectrum relates to current research on fan activism. Then we apply a qualitative methodology based on grounded theory, discourse analysis, and reception studies to the study of The 100 fans' online interactions in a lesbian forum and on Twitter in the wake of the character's death. The results confirm the existence of a toxic fan faction that harassed producers on social media. However, three key self-regulation strategies are exemplified at the same time. First, fear of industry retaliation based on internalised social prejudices towards LGBTQ individuals; second, strategic thinking; and third, the common good of achieving a positive LGBTQ representation over time.
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Araüna, N.; Tortajada, I. & Willem, C. (2018). Portrayals of Caring Masculinities in Fiction Film: the Male Caregiver in Still Mine, Intouchables and Nebraska. Masculinities and Social Change,7(1),82-102. doi: 10.17583/MCS.2018.2749 (Open Access). Abstract: This article analyzes the male caregiving characters Driss in Intouchables (2011), Craig in Still Mine (2012) and David in Nebraska (2013) in terms of hegemonic masculinity and its variations (Connell 1990; Connell and Messerschmidt 2005). Caregiving is a complex social situation normally assumed within kinship relationships, and traditionally attributed to women. We briefly review feminist analysis of caregiving since the 1970s (Fine and Glendinning 2005), and use critical studies on men and masculinities to show that the uptaking of caring tasks by men would and is contributing to equality between women and men (Elliott 2015). We have looked at the portrayal of the male caregivers in these films, and if and how they challenge hegemonic masculinity in terms of positive experiences. Our findings show that despite the tension men experience between giving in to and challenging patriarchal privilege of a care-free life, strategies such as humour, complicity, outdoor action and a general concern for the dignity of the care-receiver can be identified as some of these features of (imagined) caring masculinities and open new spaces for defining care as a gender neutral activity.
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Este artículo explora los mecanismos de autorregulación de las fans en situaciones de conflicto con productores, alentadas por el tratamiento injusto que reciben los personajes LGBTI en ficciones televisivas y que se engloba en el llamado Dead Lesbian Syndrome («Síndrome de la Lesbiana Muerta»), cliché narrativo que implica un final trágico para los personajes femeninos LGBTI. A partir de una metodología basada en los estudios de recepción y el análisis del discurso, se analiza la campaña de boicot organizada por las fans lesbianas y bisexuales de la serie juvenil de ciencia-ficción The 100 (The CW, 2014-) tras la muerte en la tercera temporada de un carismático personaje lésbico: la Comandante Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey). Los resultados muestran que las fans utilizan el miedo a las represalias de la industria, el pensamiento estratégico y la representación positiva para los personajes LGBTI) como estrategias argumentativas destinadas a contener la acción de los fans tóxicos que acosan a los productores en las redes sociales, y a proteger la misión social del fan activismo.
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Are children today growing up too soon? How do they - and their parents - feel about media portrayals of sex and personal relationships? Are the media a corrupting influence, or a potentially positive and useful resource for young people? Drawing on an extensive research project, which investigated children's interpretations of sexual content in films, TV and print media, this book considers how young people (aged 9-17) use such material to understand their experiences and build their identities, and how they and their parents respond to public concerns about these issues. The book offers a clearly written and entertaining insight into children's and parents' perspectives on these difficult issues - perspectives that are often ignored or trivialised in public debate.
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Masculinity, an expression of sexual identity, is typically considered the enactment of male identity. The current analysis is a deductive summative content analysis of three popular “guy movies” using the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI). Results indicated that Emotional Control, Risk-Taking, Violence, and Dominance were the most frequently represented CMNI factors. Winning, Self-Reliance, Playboy, Primacy of Work, Power Over Women, Disdain for Homosexuals, and Pursuit of Status were significantly less frequently displayed. Analysis of the four salient factors indicated that these qualities can be conceptualized as positive and prosocial masculine norms. This suggests that “guy movies” earn that title not because they display gratuitous and stereotypical masculinity but because they allow the viewer to identify with the positive qualities of his own masculinity. The concept of viewer–character dissonance is proposed as a possible explanation.