Gendered Grief: Depictions of Conjugal Bereavement in Contemporary Film
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This study analyzes the depiction of gender in the context of conjugal bereavement in mainstream film during the last decade (2002-2011). Understanding the gendered representation of grief can help to recognize the social construction of death and loss. I evaluate the portrayal of 21 recently widowed main characters in United States mainstream film through ethnographic content analysis. This study finds that though women are more likely to lose a spouse during their lifetime, they receive much less representation in film on the subject of bereavement and none past middle age. When depicted, women are much more reliant upon other men to help with routine needs and cope with the loss of a spouse. On the other hand, grief spurs men into action-based plots of thrill and adventure. The depicted expectations for bereaved men and women in film largely fall in line with traditional hegemonic norms. These findings support other research that confirms gendered representations in media. It also demonstrates that gendered norms and scripts exist in the common but often overlooked rite of passage of death and widowhood.