The Dangerous Myth Rom-Coms Really Need To Stop Spreading

Photo: Photofest.
New research suggests that romantic comedies (and romantic movies in general) can have major effects on your worldview, regardless of whether you consider them guilty pleasures or your life's blood. A study from University of Michigan specifically examined how the trope of the tenacious guy — the guy who won't take no for an answer because he knows you're meant to be with him — influences our views of real-life male behavior.
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The study's authors showed women films with varying portrayals of the common "love conquers all" narrative, all of which featured a male character who never gave up until the female character gave in. Some of the films were more lighthearted, like There's Something About Mary, and cast this behavior in a charming or funny light; others, like Sleeping With The Enemy, in which Julia Roberts's character is stalked by her ex-husband, depicted similar actions as far more menacing. Sadly, the researchers found that women who watched the romantic comedies were far more likely to accept this kind of aggressive behavior as normal.
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The researchers acknowledged that rom-coms and other forms of mainstream entertainment can perpetuate harmful gender dynamics and even rape culture. They added that a willingness to consider the threatening behavior in fiction as romantic may cause one to take real-life instances of male aggression less seriously. Shape reports that one of the study's lead authors urged women not to discount their first instincts when they believe that someone (herself included) is in danger, regardless of the media they've consumed.

Click through to Shape for more info on love, dating, and well-being. (Shape)

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