Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lucia Perpetuation of Heteronormativity

Heteronormativity. What a word! My spellchecker doesn't even recognise it. But then my spellchecker doesn't recognise spellchecker either, so maybe that's not really saying much.

So what does "heteronormativity" mean? The following will explain.
"Despite the assumption that children's media are free of sexual content, our analyses suggest that these media depict a rich and pervasive heterosexual landscape," wrote researchers Emily Kazyak and Karin Martin, in a report published in the latest issue of the Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) publication Gender & Society.

Kazyak and Martin said they studied the role of heterosexual relationships in several of the highest-grossing G-rated films between 1990-2005.

The results, say the researchers, illustrate two ways that the children's films "construct heterosexuality": through "depictions of hetero-romantic love as exceptional, powerful, transformative, and magical," and "depictions of interactions between gendered bodies in which the sexiness of feminine characters is subjected to the gaze of masculine characters."

"Characters in love are surrounded by music, flowers, candles, magic, fire, balloons, fancy dresses, dim lights, dancing and elaborate dinners," the researchers observed. "Fireflies, butterflies, sunsets, wind and the beauty and power of nature often provide the setting for - and a link to the naturalness of - hetero-romantic love."

The SWS press release on the research blamed what they called the "old ideals" of romantic relationships, specifically those found the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, which in many instances inspired the films' storylines, for "such heavily gendered depictions and glorified portrayals of heterosexual relationships."

The team says the results point to heterosexuality achieving a "taken-for-granted status" "because hetero-romance is depicted as powerful."

"Both ordinary and exceptional constructions of heterosexuality work to normalize its status because it becomes difficult to imagine anything other than this form of social relationship or anyone outside of these bonds," they concluded.

"These films provide powerful portraits of a multifaceted and pervasive heterosexuality that likely facilitates the reproduction of heteronormativity."
If you didn't understand all that, it basically says that Disney films perpetuate this idea that men and women are attracted to each other and that this shown to be a good thing. In this way, children are subjected to a type of propaganda where man loves woman is the norm, therefore ensuring the continuation in society of "heteronormativity".

Apparently this reproduction of heteronormativity is a real problem because it's "a less inclusive message, leaving those outside its confines with little to build their own dreams of happily ever after."

Right then. What is normal is not inclusive enough. Inclusivity is one of the new virtues. My spellchecker doesn't like inclusivity, either.

So when is Disney going to take the plunge and splash out on King and King in order to rake in the dough from all the parents out there that want their little ones to see two men in love?

Probably not any time soon.

Better step up those educational programmes in schools then.

Related Link: Team of Researchers Blames Children's Films for Perpetuating "Heteronormativity" ~ LifeSiteNews

2 comment(s):

KG said...

"..the latest issue of the Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) publication Gender & Society."

Good grief Lucia! I see a title like that and it's reach-for--gun...
Turgid, pseudo-scientific lefty feminist drivel.

Psycho Milt said...

Well, it's Women's Studies, isn't it. Back in the 80s, a number of women found sociology depts would pay you a good salary for publishing turgid gibberish like this. Performance-based research funding has pretty much killed off that racket in NZ, but obviously there are still overseas universities with money to waste.

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