Domesticating patriarchy: Hegemonic masculinity and television's "Mr. Mom"

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Abstract

This essay examines television news treatments of stay-at-home dads (Mr. Moms) during the late 1990s and argues that these news accounts represent a challenge to more traditional masculine identities depicted in media. While offering a nominal challenge, however, these representations reinscribe significant aspects of patriarchal privilege within domestic space. Through a combination of discursive strategies compatible with the commercial needs of contemporary media organizations, television news programs' Mr. Moms operate ideologically to legitimate domesticity and nurturance as appropriately masculine. In so doing, they challenge some traditional notions about men while further solidifying a connection between these men and heterosexuality in the context of mainstream television news representations of middle-class family life in the contemporary United States. This process of legitimating nurturance and domesticity also and concurrently reverses the genders long articulated to particular advertising target segments within the commodity broadcast audience. This representational process reifies and naturalizes the class specificity of these Mr. Moms while it fuels television's continual need to produce and satisfy new audience niches in order to survive and compete in the media environment of today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-375
Number of pages24
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2002

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