One hundred and thirty-nine young adults viewed one of three episodes of a television program about a female action hero titled Xena: Warrior Princess. Programs varied in portrayals of Xena's shadow, the dark but also life-preserving facet of the personality. Participants of both genders who had higher levels of traditionally masculine personality characteristics were most likely to perceive Xena as a role model. Men were more likely than women to perceive Xena as a role model when she was portrayed with very little male shadow. Story themes describing women's heroic roles involved using your mind, not the sword, as well as the value of compassion during conflicts, themes that are in keeping with traditional feminine values. The results suggest that viewer acceptance of heroic qualities in women depends on viewer characteristics as well as program themes that include valued feminine qualities. Implications for portrayals of heroic women characters are discussed.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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