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Prime-time narcos: the Mafia and gender in Colombian television


Through a content analysis of 532 programs screened on various national television networks in Colombia, this paper examines portrayals of women in the country’s narconovelas, fictional series derived from the telenovela genre that resonate forcefully with the public. We do so in order to gain a better understanding of their role in representing gender in Colombia. Relevant topics include: the widespread violence against women in a traditional, patriarchal country, the ineffectiveness of policies targeting gender discrimination, and ideologies of machismo and Marianismo. These practices are discussed as factors that may prevent women’s social empowerment and participation in the workforce and politics of the country. Our results show that, as per Colombia’s prevailing social relations, narconovelas demonstrate a gendered power imbalance and mestizo heteronormativity via macho plots that glamorize violence against women. Women are rarely key characters in narconovelas, and when they appear, they are dependent on men, and attain status through men or their families. In addition, the genre represents continuous verbal and physical aggression against women, especially if they belong to ethnic or racial minorities.

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