How Has Cultural Heterosexism Affected Thinking about Divorce? Asymmetric Framing of Same-Gender and Mixed-Gender Divorces in News Media and in Minds

Hegarty, Peter; Szczerba, Aleksandra and Skelton, Rebecca (2020). How Has Cultural Heterosexism Affected Thinking about Divorce? Asymmetric Framing of Same-Gender and Mixed-Gender Divorces in News Media and in Minds. Journal of Homosexuality, 67(8) pp. 1118–1134.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2019.1603495

Abstract

Herek’s notion of cultural heterosexism describes an ideology that works implicitly through language, and leads non-heterosexuals to be framed as “others.” National statistics in many countries indicate group differences between same-gender and mixed-gender couples in divorce rates, and we used media accounts and individual interpretation of group differences in divorce to operationalize it here. We found qualified support for three hypotheses in two studies. In Study 1, analysis of 412 English-language news articles on divorce indicated that comparative statements overwhelmingly positioned same-gender couples as figure and mixed-gender couples as ground. In Study 2, 88 participants read about how same-gender couples differed from mixed-gender couples, or about how mixed-gender couples differed from same-gender couples in their reasons for dissolving relationships. Results indicated that participants showed higher perceived legitimacy of inequality, higher sexual prejudice, and higher estimates of global divorce rates in the former conditions. Analysis of participants’ explanations of group differences in divorce rates indicated that they spontaneously contrasted mixed-gender couples against same-gender couples more of the time. As the media discourse focused on male couples (Study 1) and the effects of linguistic framing was evident only when male couples were described (Study 2), we discuss how these studies, which operationalized and evidenced cultural heterosexism, may point to the emergence of homonormative ideologies that recognized gay men more than lesbians in twenty-first century politics.

Viewing alternatives

Metrics

Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions

Export

Recommendations