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Title: Discourses of friendship between heterosexual women and gay men
Author: Shepperd, Daniel Peter
ISNI:       0000 0004 2702 8580
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2010
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Gay men and heterosexual women may share some common interests in critiquing heteropatriarchy. However feminist ideologies and gay politics do not always coincide and the role of individual subjectivities in recognising oppressive discourses of normativity remains debated. To address the discursive construction of friendship between these identities, interviews were conducted with seven friendship dyads of heterosexual women and gay men. Transcripts were subjected to discourse analysis, which show management of heterosexist friendship norms. The analysis highlighted ambiguity over the ‘male’ status of gay men, a concern with constructing the friendships as legitimately asexual, and the use of parody in the face of homophobia to disrupt normative assumptions. A second strand of analysis considered discourses of excess consumption (e.g. cocktails, clothing) in constructing the friendships as fun, but are also implicated in the performance of some visible gay identities. There was tension between construction of friendship in terms of fun and individualism, suggesting an interpersonal rather than political discourse of friendship. Interviewees drew upon media representations of gay male/heterosexual female friendship. To examine these accounts, and discourses ‘missing’ from interviews, identifiable media representations were collected with the help of internet participants. This suggested the emergence of a relatively new discourse of friendship between heterosexual women and gay men. A discourse analysis, focused primarily on the sitcom Will & Grace, suggested common sexual interest in the same man potentially threatens friendship. While Will & Grace has received attention for its gay representation, it is seldom considered in feminist terms. Analysis showed instances where Will’s help was deeply patriarchal and ridiculed Grace in ways that are not easily accommodated within the construction of friendship. This indicates the potential for gay male sexism to be treated as a breech of friendship norms rather than as a matter of sexual politics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available