Use of Popular Media and Gender Studies to Educate Young Adults About Intimate Partner Violence
Methods: A purposive sample of young adults (n=22, 11 males/11 females, Age: M=20.7, range=18-22) was recruited from a public university in the Southwestern US. Participants were interviewed in 6 focus groups for approximately 1.5 hours, beginning with questions about media consumption, followed by a “Love the Way You Lie” video screening, then questions eliciting responses to and interpretations of the video. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed then coded independently by two researchers for content related to participants’ 1) education, 2) experiences, and 3) social identity. Emergent themes were noted. The third researcher independently reviewed the first two analyses and marked commonalities/differences before all three researchers determined final results.
Results: Participants were like-minded in their harsh judgment of Rihanna and her involvement in an IPV incident, and many excused the violence of male performing artists. However, participants’ responses varied dramatically according to education, experiences, and social identity. Many participants contributed to the reproduction of myth-based beliefs, though education (particularly women’s studies classes) and first- or second-hand experiences with IPV and intimate relationships generally yielded more nuanced and complicated interpretations of the video. Education about IPV occurred among participants within groups, indicating that peer-education may be prompted through popular media depictions.
Conclusions/Implications: Findings support the notion that young people are experts on their experiences and perceptions, as well as the media culture they inhabit (Pittman & Wolfe, 2002), but interpretations of IPV depictions will be diverse. Social workers practicing with young adults in schools or other settings should consider popular media as a starting point for discussion among heterogeneous youth groups. Positive responses to gender studies courses may warrant a focus on feminist theories, including texts that explore the intersection of pop culture and feminism, for educating youth about gendered interactions and preparing future social work practitioners (Anderson- Nathe, Gringeri, & Wahab, 2013).