Stranger Things: Boys and feminism

Catherine Driscoll, Liam Grealy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contemporary media discourse suggests that feminists exclusively understand boys and the experience of boyhood through such frameworks as ‘toxic masculinity’, positioning boys as the default inheritors of a ‘patriarchal dividend’. Media narratives might be expected to favour such agonistic oppositions, but the dominant forms of scholarship on boys also often take this line, or position boys as subjects at risk of harm done by either the contemporary expectations of masculinity or the historical impact of feminism that has helped produce them. This paper considers some cultural and intellectual problems arising from these dominant ideas about the relations between feminism and boyhood. Through close analysis of Netflix series Stranger Things in the context of the narratives about boys that surround it, we consider representations of boyhood heroism and the pressures on boyhood. We also outline a case for the necessity of feminist research that engages with ideas and images of boys and experiences of boyhood in affirmative terms, which avoids a presumed opposition between the interests of boys and feminism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-21
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


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