This essay discusses the role television soap operas have in generating discussion about the issues

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This essay discusses the role television soap operas have in generating discussion about the issues of gendered identity and sexuality. It is based on the study conducted by Chris Baker and Julie Andre, who argue that because soap operas draw huge audiences and centre on the sphere of interpersonal relationships and sexual identity, the talk generated from them will reflect such aspects (Andre and Barker 21). The discussions generated from the study show examples of working through, gender differences, and add evidence to the ‘active audience’ concept discussed in early media audience studies and research, as opposed to research that proposes a ‘media effects’ orientated argument. To ensure honest opinions were provided, the research…show more content…
He was also regarded for his status as a “dickhead” and his wayward nature was admirable, traits we would assume to be of negative connotation (Andre and Barker 24). This can then be contrasted with less masculine characters, such as Ricky, who displays characteristics that the participants find undesirable in men. Ricky is regarded as ‘loser’ because of the nature of his relationships. He allows himself to be ‘pushed around’ by his girlfriend and is treated as a subordinate by her friends (Andre and Barker 24). Female characters were also used to stimulate discussion about what participants perceive as socially acceptable within gendered identity. East Enders character Natalie was described by female participants using derogatory terminology, such as “a right slag” and “a bit of a cow” due to her assertive and pushy nature, and confidence in her sexuality (Andre and Barker 26). Similar terms were given to the character Bianca, who was labelled “trashy” and “tarty” due to her promiscuous nature and licentious attire. (Andre and Barker 26) While these judgements may be regarded as sexist, as waywardness and promiscuity are valued in men and rejected in women, the discussions do not always enforce traditional gender roles. One participant criticised Helen, a character from Neighbours for her commitment to domesticity “all Helen does it sit there baking casseroles, giving advice” (Andre and Barker 26). Because soap operas are centred around interpersonal

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