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Absent Non-Fathers: Gendered representations of voluntary childlessness in Swedish newspapers
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2014 (English)In: Feminist Media Studies, ISSN 1468-0777, E-ISSN 1471-5902, Vol. 14, no 1, 22-37 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article applies a media frame analysis in order to highlight representations of voluntary childlessness in Swedish newspapers. The analysis identifies how childfree couples are framed as carefree, fulfilled and content. Childfree women on the other hand are framed as struggling with problems, stereotypes and doubts. Childfree men are absent and implicitly framed as unconcerned and unaffected. Even in the only newspaper article that draws attention to men and voluntary childlessness the voice of the childfree man is absent. Instead of a childfree man a father of six is interviewed and presented as an exception. To explain these different frames this article argues that gender stereotypes, maternalism, pronatalism and heteronormativity influence who is constructed as newsworthy when news media report on voluntary childlessness. While the feminine identity and women's social role is conflated with motherhood, the link between fatherhood and masculinity is weaker. Because men's parenthood roles are indistinct so are men's roles as non-parents. As a result a father to a daughter in a previous relationship can be represented as part of a carefree and childfree couple. Consequently, childfree women are more newsworthy than childfree men, and a father of six is more newsworthy than a non-father.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2014. Vol. 14, no 1, 22-37 p.
Keyword [en]
voluntary childlessness, Swedish newspapers, media frames, pronatalism, maternalism, heteronormativity
Keyword [sv]
Frivillig barnlöshet, barnfrihet, media studier, feministiska studier
National Category
Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-76931DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2012.680196ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84897756788OAI: diva2:523857
Inte (bara) mamma. Frivillig barnlöshet i Sverige.
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2007-0939
Available from: 2012-04-26 Created: 2012-04-26 Last updated: 2015-03-27Bibliographically approved

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