“(De)Coding Masculinities: Towards an enhanced understanding of media’s role in shaping perceptions of masculinities in Portugal” (DeCode/M) is the first-ever comprehensive study on Media and Masculinities in Portugal. It seeks to identify and critically analyse representations of masculinities that are (re)produced by both mass media and online social media in Portugal, following an intersectional approach. It will identify which notions of masculinity prevail, while exploring why these choices are made and how these particular representations are appropriated, co-opted and contested by audiences and content producers. At the same time, it will examine whether prevailing notions and representations promote gender-equitable and/or non-gender-equitable perspectives of social relations.

The project adopts a feminist epistemological approach built on the constitutive role of discourses, combined with a three-fold approach of media agency (production, message and audience) and an ecological approach to media discourses, practices and representations.

DeCode/M aims to address the complexity, non-linearity and heterogeneity of representations and attitudes regarding masculinities and gender relations within the Portuguese mediascape. In order to do this, it aims to answer the following questions:

  • How have media been representing gender, particularly men and masculinities?
  • Do those representations vary according to media type and/or media format and/or thematic areas?
  • How do these representations interact with other forms of privilege and discrimination?
  • Do these representations tend to promote or hinder gender equitable social relations?
  • How and which audiences engage with those different representations? How and why are particular notions of masculinity appropriated, co-opted or contested by audiences?
  • How can critical media literacy promote gender-equitable media both concerning media professionals and media audiences?

DeCode/M will also create research-based intervention tools and develop media and community campaigns designed to promote gender equality. This entails:

  • Developing a Media and Masculinity Literacy Toolkit/Manual for media production groups to promote media literacy around harmful masculinities;
  • Developing a Toolkit/Manual on media literacy for teachers and/or for non-formal education contexts, targeting a young audience to promote skills and provide tools for the deconstruction of biased media messages;
  • Developing a “Gender Messaging in the Media” Module that can be integrated as part of sexual education to secondary school students, in order to raise awareness and promote critical reflection on harmful gender norms around masculinities and femininities in the media.
  • Developing videos, infographics, memes, and opinion-editorials aimed at wider audiences.

DeCode/M is a project of the Centre for Social Studies, funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology.