Men Watching Sex and the City, My Little Pony, and Oklahoma

The most recent issue of Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies contains an article I wrote based on the study I conducted for my dissertation. I wrote this article with the help of one of our fine undergraduate students at Dominican University, Kevin Miller, who is now pursuing his graduate school career.

The article’s title is: Men watching Sex and the City, My Little Pony, and Oklahoma: The interpretation of gender appropriateness in the reception of cross-gendered media products.

The article focuses on a specific segment of my dissertation, which was interested in how people perceive the issue of gender appropriateness when they engage with gendered media products (i.e. media products they interpret as being meant for men or for women). I was interested in how interpretations of gender appropriateness would impact how they engaged with media they saw as meant for their own gender, and media meant for the other gender.

What was most interesting from this study was how the men were discussing engaging with media meant for women. Unlike the women in the study, the men appeared to feel more apprehension about their cross-gendered media engagings. I wanted to explore this apparent result further, and that exploration led to this article.

Here is the abstract for the article: To achieve the goal of gender equality, more research should be conducted on men’s media engagings, and particularly those times when they engage with media targeted at women. Are men able to do so comfortably, or do they experience anxiety when resisting sociocultural expectations about what is appropriate for their gender? This study presents interviews with men who recalled times when they engaged with media they perceived as meant more for women. The analysis focuses on the reasons men gave for such engagings, and how their perceptions of gender appropriateness relate to their reasons for these engagings. The results indicate that if a gendered media product is deemed as useful to the man at a particular time in his life, then such determination may help him ignore any restrictions to the engaging caused by perceptions of gender appropriateness.

Now, this data is becoming a bit old — it was collected in 2008 — but I do think that this pattern still holds today. I hope to do more research on this topic, and I would love to hear your thoughts on how men are engaging with media they interpret as being meant for women.

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