Sunday, November 29, 2015

Masculinity in Children’s Tv : hegemonic & non-hegemonic masculinity

In her study, Kristen Myers examines four children’s shows to explore the ways their characters express masculinity. This study really interested me, because I have an elementary aged daughter and try to pay attention to the TV that she is interested in. Myers found that many of the shows she analyzed had characters who displayed non-hegemonic masculinity. Some of the TV shows went as far as to have feminized masculinity. The characters were “sensitive, non-athletic, and unsuccessful with girls” (Myers 140). The TV shows Myers used in her study are a little older, but the modern equivalent would be Ravi from Disney’s Jessie. He is contrasted against his brother Luke, whose character displays a hegemonic masculinity.
 I've watched this show a lot with my daughter, and I was so torn over these characters. What exactly was Disney trying to do? Myers says because of the popularity of these shows and the presence of so many counter-hegemonic masculinities, there exists that for young people to have altered gender expectations and possibly be more tolerant of different masculinities. HOWEVER, so many of these shows use counter masculinities as comedy. Myers actually uncovered a bigger problem. These TV shows actually use the non-hegemonic boys as "clowns" and "centered on the ways that these boys failed at masculinity." Even to the point that "the hegemonic boys "ruled over girls and boys of lesser status" (Myers 140). 
This is really troubling for the young children that are growing up watching these examples of masculinity. 

Myers, Kristen. "Cowboy Up!": Non-Hegemonic Representations Of Masculinity In Children's Television Programming." Journal Of Men's Studies 20.2 (2012): 125-143. SPORTDiscus. 

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