Nav: Home

Stereotypes of romantic love may justify gender-based violence

February 13, 2019

The media have become key agents of socialization in the construction of teenagers' and young people's identities. In particular, media representations of sexuality and love become informal educational agents of the first order on these issues.

A very good example of this was the series for Spanish teenagers Física o Química (2008-2011), produced by Ida y Vuelta and broadcast on Antena 3, of which some episodes reached more than three million viewers. The series focuses on the stories of a group of high school students and their teachers. The success of the series extended to other countries like France, Portugal, Italy, the United States and countries in Latin America, where it received applause and support from the teenage audiences.

Física o Química also gave rise to social controversy, for and against, due to its the representation of sexuality, gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy, among others. "These polarized perspectives of Física o Química are neither new nor unique to this series", states María José Masanet, a researcher with the Department of Communication at UPF and co-author of a paper that performs a qualitative analysis of the contents of the series. This research was published jointly with Frederik Dhaenens, a researcher at the University of Ghent (Belgium) on 22 January in Journal of Youth Studies.

Analysing how young people interpret the representation of gender-based violence

The main goal of this study was to analyse how young people interpret the representation of gender-based violence in the series Física o Química, focusing on how the audience discusses the representation of male aggression towards women represented through the teenage characters Ruth and Gorka. In addition, the authors analysed how audiences are reflected in gender stereotypes and romantic inequalities and/or teenage sexual relations. In this fictional television series, the characters Ruth and Gorka have a stormy romantic relationship characterized by psychological abuse by the boy towards the girl. Although they split up on several occasions, they always end up getting back together and the abuse intensifies throughout the series until serious health problems arise and the relationship breaks up definitively.

"Studying the discourse of the young people about gender-based violence in Física o Química has provided us with an insight into their way of thinking about this issue and about romantic myths, as well as the role that the series plays in shaping adolescents' outlook on violence", say the authors of the study.

The authors analysed the feedback in the fans' forum of the series Física o Química and, more specifically, the comments dealing with issues or scenes related to gender-based violence among the adolescent characters. The aim was to explore the meanings the audience gives to the violence depicted in the series and how they reflect on gender stereotypes and romantic myths. For example, the work found that "participants in the forum did not identify Gorka's verbal and psychological abuse towards Ruth until the violence became unbearable".

These data agree with previous studies that have shown that Spanish young people and teenagers do not consider issues such as controlling time, money or friends, blackmail or threats and insults as being aggression. They perceive verbal abuse as just another aspect of the relationship and can go as far as justifying it 'in the name of love". Abuse is mainly associated with physical aggression.

As a result of the analysis, this study reveals that teenagers have internalized a set of stereotypes and myths of romantic love that can be very dangerous because they justify male violence towards women. The value of this work is twofold. First, it provides us with information on how gender-based violence and romantic relationships among adolescents are perceived and discussed in Spain, since the research exposes how they understand gender-based violence and the motives or actions that lead to justifying it or criticizing it. Secondly, "our work also has an educational value. We demonstrate that a teen series has the potential to explore and work to prevent gender-based violence. The series provides material for a debate on controversial and provocative representations without trying to lecture its audience on morals and providing a discussion on its fans' forum", conclude Masanet and Dhaenens.

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Barcelona

Related Violence Articles:

As farming developed, so did cooperation -- and violence
The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.
The front line of environmental violence
Environmental defenders on the front line of natural resource conflict are being killed at an alarming rate, according to a University of Queensland study.
What can trigger violence in postcolonial Africa?
Why do civil wars and coups d'état occur more frequently in some sub-Saharan African countries than others.
Another victim of violence: Trust in those who mean no harm
Exposure to violence does not change the ability to learn who is likely to do harm, but it does damage the ability to place trust in 'good people,' psychologists at Yale and University of Oxford report April 26 in the journal Nature Communications
Victims of gun violence tell their stories: Everyday violence, 'feelings of hopelessness'
Invited to share their personal stories, victims of urban gun violence describe living with violence as a 'common everyday experience' and feeling abandoned by police and other societal institutions, reports a study in the November/December Journal of Trauma Nursing, official publication of the Society of Trauma Nurses.
Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.
Teen dating violence is down, but boys still report more violence than girls
When it comes to teen dating violence, boys are more likely to report being the victim of violence -- being hit, slapped, or pushed--than girls.
Preventing murder by addressing domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence are at a high risk to be murdered -- or a victim of attempted murder -- according to a Cuyahoga County task force of criminal-justice professionals, victim advocates and researchers working to prevent domestic violence and homicides.
'Love displaces violence'
Art historian Eva-Bettina Krems on persistent motifs of peace in art from antiquity to the present day -- dove, rainbow or victory of love: artists draw on recurring motifs.
Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the University at Albany has found.
More Violence News and Violence Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Processing The Pandemic
Between the pandemic and America's reckoning with racism and police brutality, many of us are anxious, angry, and depressed. This hour, TED Fellow and writer Laurel Braitman helps us process it all.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Invisible Allies
As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they've come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm. To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe's biggest foe. This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen and Pat Walters. Support Radiolab today at