Teach Me How To Love: Constructions of Heterosexual Romantic Relationships on Black Relationship Blogs

2015-03-02T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Tamara D. Springle
Recent marriage statistics indicate that African Americans have the lowest rates of marriage and lowest probability of ever getting married (Goodwin, Gill, & Chandra, 2009), yet when taking into account cohabitation, the racial disparity in long-term relationships disappears. These findings highlight the need to examine how African American adults conceptualize romantic relationships and how these conceptualizations impact relationship behaviors. Romantic relationships receive a great deal of attention in African American media. Yet, while it is accepted that media serves as an important socializing agent for African Americans (Ward, Hansbrough, & Walker, 2005), little research has examined blogs in this capacity. Using scripting theory (Simon & Gagnon, 1986) and Intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) as conceptual frameworks and employing an ideological discourse analysis (Van Dijk, 1985), this study explored the discursive construction of heterosexual romantic relationships on 13 popular Black relationship blogs over a three-month period. The analysis revealed that blogs are used as a tool to empower readers to subvert existing heterosexual and heteronormative ideologies that serve as barriers to healthy, sustainable, relationships. The blogs were also used to educate readers about and alter prevalent discourse around cultural blind spots (biases and misconceptions) that impact relationship patterns within the broader African American population such as colorism, absentee fatherhood, street harassment and sexual assault, interracial and interfaith relationships, and help-seeking.