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Research question #4

How did forum board participants disclose and report referential involvement to the Muslim cultural thematic presented by the telenovela “El Clon”?

In an attempt to answer this question the qualitative content analysis of the posted messages consideres referential involvement as the degree to which the messages relate the telenovela content or the subject discussed in the forum to their own lives. Once more emphasizing that the messages reflect different sub-dimensions, the messages are categorized according to the strongest sub-dimensional component expressed. In many of the examples cited previously it is possible to clearly identify referential involvement, even though the messages are also expressing affective, cognitive, or behavioral interactions. Many of the posters refer to their Muslim background when talking about the subjects brought by the telenovela educational theme. However, non-Muslims also demonstrate referential involvement in their posts. From the 310 messages analyzed, 17% (52) express referential involvement.

In the following set of examples, the messages reflect referential involvement by non-Muslim participants. They are able to make the correlation between the experiences played by the telenovela characters, to the experience of Muslim women in general, and then relate it to their own life.

The posts relate to the divorce of Jade and Said according to the Muslim law, as it is portrayed in the novela.

how can muslim women stand it
These men! THEY are the only ones who could divorce the women and the women have to stay married to them even if they don't want to and THEY are the only ones that can remarry them if they so choose?

Re: how can muslim women stand it

Part of it is what you've grown up with.

Part of it is the customs of the country you're in.

And part of it is ignorance or misuse of the Koran which does state that women can divorce their husbands, too. Of course, if the women are stuck in a country in which they need the "protection" of a man to survive, forget it.

In Jade's case, she does have the option of not accepting the terms of marriage at the time of the ceremony, but that would bring down disgrace on the entire family and I doubt that anyone, even her beloved Tio Ali, would support her in that. Certainly not in the early years of this story. The family reputation would have been ruined, making it difficult to find spouses for other family members. This had been a fear of Latifah's for herself and, later, of Mohammed for the futures of their children.

In tightly knit communities, family reputations and the threat of social stigma are huge factors in controlling the behavior of individuals.

Remember, too, Jade is currently wrestling with the power that Said has over her with regard to Kadijah.

That’s very true T..it really is what you grow up with
I think and I don't think it's really too far beyond understanding to see why it would be accepted by most women when it's what they've grown up with...realistically we who have been raised in our culture here would never ever be able to understand it fully...but for me the question is: why would a woman want to CONVERT to Islam..knowing the restrictions that Muslim women face? I know that there are good reasons but I just can't imagine it..especially if one were forced to move to the country that will enforce each and every restriction..one of the things that I found terrifying in Clon was the fact that Jade couldn't even TRAVEL and leave when she wanted to..not without permission...I couldn't imagine that at all!!!!

Re: That’s very true T..it really is what you grow up with
I agree with you on being puzzled about why a woman would convert to Islam with all of its restrictions. Having been raised a Catholic at a time when there were plenty of restrictions on women's freedom, to me it would be like "jumping out of the frying pan into the fire."

But, then again, there's the factor of marrying into a particular culture. As we've learned on this forum, it's very often the various cultures that impose restrictions on women, not Islam itself. For a basically religious woman, it might not be any different than it was for the millions of Catholic women who used to willingly become nuns. Now there was a restricted life! It's remarkable that, in the Sixties, when Pope John XXIII lifted the restrictions and ordered the nuns to leave off their habits to rejoin the world, they left the convent in droves. In effect, he singlehandedly destroyed the backbone of the Catholic Church.

Frankly, I'm pretty fed up with ALL religions anymore. There are other ways to communicate with your god or goddess and lead a rich spiritual life.

As previously noted, according to Papa et. al. (2000) behavioral change as a result of audience exposure to media characters is less likely to occur if the audience does not experience referential involvement, if they cannot relate the experience of the telenovela character to their own life. In theses messages there is an attempt to understand and relate the situation lived in the novela by Jade and by association by other women that convert to Islam. While one message tries to situate Jade’s behavior in the context of her background and the required rules of her social environment, other message encounters some difficulties in relating to the situation. The message express the writer’s dialectic struggle trying to relate the restrictions suffered by women and imposed on Jade’s character in the novela to her own experience. The writer discloses that for her, it is not possible to imagine living with such restrictions. In an attempt to answer these contradictions, the writer poses a question trying to understand why some women convert to Islam. In Freire’s (1970) terms this can be analyzed as though the writer has opened herself up to the dialogical encounter with the other. Moving back and forth between Jade’s struggles and the Muslim religion restrictions on women, the message conveys referential involvement, even though in absolute terms the writer affirms she “couldn’t imagine it at all”, for she already does.



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