By: A. M., IANtB Science Editor
“My family” decals. Some people think they’re cute. Some people can’t stand ’em. But they’re just stickers right? Not if you ask a sociologist.
Sociologist Lisa Wade of Occidental College in Los Angeles (founder of Sociological Images, which I highly recommend you follow on Facebook or wherever it is that you follow stuff) has been studying the stick family phenomenon — and the very anti-stickfamily reaction movement. Wade believes that stick families are a reflection of what American culture accepts as a “normal” family, i.e. the sort of family that one can be proud of. But what is most interesting to her is the blowback that precipitated from this phenomenon — the anti-stick family movement.
The original incarnation of the stick family consisted of a very heteronormative and formulaic set up. A “golfing dad,” a “shopping mom,” a little girl wearing a triangle dress, a boy with a baseball cap and a soccerball, and perhaps a dog, a baby, or even a baby with angel wings to acknowledge an infant loss. The anti-stick family movement ranges from the purely irreverant — such as a depiction of a dinosaur devouring a stick family, zombie stick families, or robot stick families — to images of families that boldly contradict the accepted norms that stick families represent, such as two parents of the same gender, mixed-race stick families, single-parent families, or families with no children at all.
The prevalence of people outwardly displaying their family structure noncomformity, Wade says, reflects a broadening definition of family in the United States. The vast majority of these stickers, however, still fit the heteronormative model, and by their simplistic nature reinforce gender stereotypes. Read the full article on MacLeans.ca.
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