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The perpetuation of romantic myths may justify gender violence

The perpetuation of romantic myths may justify gender violence

Such is the conclusion of a study published in the journal Young by María José Masanet, Pilar Medina-Bravo and Joan Ferrés, researchers with the Department of Communication, who have studied in depth the response by adolescents to series targeting young people.

05.02.2018

Academic research into communication has often highlighted the role of the media in adolescents’ process of socialization with regard to amorous relations and, therefore, gender roles. Adolescents find themselves at a fundamental stage characterized by the construction of their identity, and communications media can become a key point in this process, through the representation of various themes of their interest, such as amorous relations.

Fictional series are one of the most consumed media products by adolescents and, through their representations, they can present certain societal values and roles that foment gender stereotypes. But, they can also be used as an educational tool, becoming a source of information that helps them deal with their own amorous relations.

A paper published on 23 January in the journal Young by María José MasanetPilar Medina-Bravo and Joan Ferrés, analyses which are the discourses of young people  on the romantic roles of the characters in the series Los Protegidos. The main goal was to observe whether the fans of the series judge differently the relations and behaviour of the different characters in their amorous relationship based on their gender.

María José Masanet, first author of the paper, comments: “adolescents can go as far as considering the media as being a more useful source of information than school or even their parents”. “And, in fact, there are already several studies that highlight that some series have aroused greater awareness in teenagers on different issues such as gender-based violence within the couple or the normalization of homosexual couples”, she adds.

Through the analysis, this research explores how stereotypical myths and beliefs of romantic love are preserved. Myths such as ‘the power of love’, ‘predestined true love’, ‘the total surrender of love’ or ‘redemptive love’, among others, are present in the discourses of adolescents and young people”. “Romantic love disguises violence with affection”, states Masanet. The participants in the forum of fans of the series Los Protegidos evaluated the behaviour of the couple differently based on gender stereotypes: justifying gender-based, aggressive behaviour by the boy towards the girl and blaming the girl for the abuse she suffers. From these results, we can reflect on how the perpetuation of romantic myths justifies violence within a loving relationship.  

The research ‘Myths of romantic love and gender-based violence in the fan forum of the Spanish teen series Los Protegidos’ arose from the doctoral thesis by María José Masanet, supervised by Pilar Medina-Bravo and Joan Ferrés of the Department of Communication at Pompeu Fabra University. The thesis, titled Representació mediàtica i interpretació adolescent de la sexualitat i la relació amorosa en la ficció seriada (Media representation and teenage interpretation of sexuality and amorous relations in fictional series) was read in 2015 and this research has given rise to various articles that go into greater depth on the representation of affective relations by Spanish TV series targeting adolescents and the meanings that the adolescents and young people attribute to such representations. In  this context, three teen series, Física y QuímicaLos Protegidos and El Barco, and the comments made by adolescents in the fan forums on the amorous relations presented in the series were analysed.

Interview with María José Masanet:

“La violencia machista en el medio audiovisual“, Programme La Zurda, 3 de December  2017.

Reference works:

María José Masanet, Pilar Medina-Bravo, Joan Ferrés (2018), “Myths of Romantic Love and Gender-Based Violence in the Fan Forum of the Spanish Teen Series Los ProtegidosYoung”, 23 January,  online edition, 26(4S), 1-17. doi: 10.1177/1103308817748432.

María José Masanet (2015)Representació mediàtica i interpretació adolescent de la sexualitat i la relació amorosa en la ficció seriada (Media representation and teenage interpretation of sexuality and amorous relations in fictional series) doctoral thesis read on 6 March at Pompeu Fabra University, supervised by Pilar Medina-Bravo and Joan Ferrés.

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