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Love, American Style: Gendered Representations of Marriage in the Media

  • Melissa Ames
  • Sarah Burcon

Abstract

On Valentine’s Day 2014, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was videotaped as he dragged his unconscious fiancé, and now wife, Janay Palmer, out of an elevator after delivering a punch that knocked her out. The incident, which Janay Rice claimed was a one-time event, served to draw attention to domestic violence — which is much needed given some sobering statistics about this widespread problem. For example, 4,774,000 women in the United States experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year; 18,000 women have been killed by men in domestic violence disputes since 2003; and 40–45 percent of women in physically abusive relationships are raped and/or assaulted during the relationship.1 While the coverage of the Rice incident prompted media commentary on domestic violence — bringing awareness to grim statistics such as these — it also provided an opportunity for people everywhere to voice their strong, unsolicited opinions about how Palmer should have reacted to the situation. Countless negative posts were made by the general population in the comment sections of online news stories covering the event, with many posters criticizing Palmer’s decision to stay with her husband after his abusive act. (This negative commentary prompted an equally strong online conversation, #WhyIStayed, a hashtag that encouraged women to tell their stories of domestic violence.)

Keywords

Domestic Violence Wage Earner Wife Beating American Style Hollywood Film 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 4.
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    Edwards, Tim. Cultures of Masculinity. London: Routledge, 2006, p. 8, emphasis in original.Google Scholar
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    Erickson, Rebecca. ‘Why Emotion Work Matters: Sex, Gender, and the Division of Household Labor’. Journal of Marriage and Family 67.2 (May 2005), p. 339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    As young adults began living more and more in urban areas, they became independent of their parents, which enabled them to seek spouses based on emotional attraction. Also, ‘as industrialization proceeded in the 20th century, the need for child labor declined,’ which led to a decline in the number of children. This meant that ‘wives and husbands could choose to spend several years together before having children and could expect many more after they were finished raising them […] suddenly more space opened for companionship and personal growth’. [Cherlin, Andrew. The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today. NYC: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, pp. 66–7.]Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Melissa Ames and Sarah Burcon 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa Ames
    • 1
  • Sarah Burcon
    • 2
  1. 1.Eastern Illinois UniversityUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganUSA

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